If the water pump goes out or starts to go out on your engine, replacing it ASAP is crucial. If the pump is fully out, your engine can overheat.
This can cause damage to other parts of the engine and can even result in fires and warped parts.
While you can often fix a clogged pump by simply flushing it out, sometimes the pump burns out. When that happens, you’ll have to take it out and replace it.
In most cases, water pumps cost $150-$300 depending on brand make and model. In addition, you’ll pay $150-$500+ in labor. That’s because taking the pump out and putting a new one in can take several hours. So, the total cost of repair runs between $300 and $1500+.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of water pump replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
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How Much Does Water Pump Replacement Cost?*
A water pump normally costs anywhere between $150 and $1500+ to replace. Normally, these costs depend on factors like your mechanic’s hourly rate, the make and model of your vehicle, and any other parts that require replacing.
For example, it’s best practice to replace the thermostat with the water pump. You might also have to replace the lines, the timing belt, and any parts around the faulty water pump.
And, if your water pump has gone out because of clogs in the radiator or other issues, it might be important to replace that as well.
However, the most important factor is always the make and model of your car.
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*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Water Pump Replacement Price Factors
There are a lot of factors that can affect the price of replacing your water pump. Here, the most important factor is the make and model of your car.
However, other parts, your mechanic’s rate, and the number of hours the job takes are also all important.
Make and Model
The make and model of your vehicle is one of the most significant factors of cost. For example, Toyota parts are often cheap. You can normally get a Toyota water pump for around $100-$150.
On the other hand, if you have an Infiniti, you won’t likely find many options under $300.
Costs vary per vehicle, per model, and even depending on the age of the car.
Some vehicles are obviously a lot more expensive to repair than others. On average, you probably already have some idea of how the make and model of your car affects normal repair costs. That will hold true for the pump.
Aftermarket or OEM
You can often choose to buy an aftermarket pump rather than an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) one. This means that an aftermarket brand has made a version of the pump that fits this vehicle.
Chances are, it’s been designed to fit as many vehicles as possible, meaning there may be some slight differences from the original pump. This can save you as much as 50% on the cost of the pump, depending on the original cost.
However, it’s not always a good idea and they might not be available.
Remanufactured or New
It’s also an option to choose remanufactured or refurbished water pumps for your car. This can also greatly reduce the cost of the new water pump.
However, like choosing aftermarket, it isn’t always a good idea. You may want to discuss your options with your mechanic.
It’s also a good idea to consider the mileage on your car. If it’s over 100,000 miles, you may not care as much about getting a new pump.
However, getting a remanufactured pump may mean its lifespan is lower than the average 100,000 miles on a new pump.
Other Damaged Parts
If your water pump goes out, it can cause damage around the pump. It’s common to have to replace the water lines, the timing belt, and some other parts when your pump goes out.
In addition, you might need a radiator or other parts of the coolant system.
Labor & Cost of Labor
Labor is the most significant part of replacing a water pump in your car. Here, mechanics charge $15-$215 per hour, for an average of $60 nationwide.
Large national chains like Midas often charge around $87 per hour. If a water pump replacement takes 3.5 hours, you’re looking at $300 in labor costs.
Unfortunately, these costs are difficult to predict without knowing what mechanics usually charge in your area. Therefore, you can consider the normal hourly rate your mechanic charges for other work when considering the cost of repair.
On average, the job takes 2 to 4 hours for an expert. However, some engines may take as many as 8 hours.
5 Signs of a Bad Water Pump
If your water pump is going bad, you’ll usually notice. In most cases, the car will overheat, which causes noticeable side effects.
However, you might be able to resolve any of these symptoms by simply flushing your pump.
This means it’s always important to check the pump to see if it’s working properly or clogged before having it replaced.
1. Increased Coolant Temperature
If your coolant is heating up or your engine keeps overheating, it’s a good sign something is wrong. The water pump, clogged lines, and other issues could all cause this problem.
However, whatever the issue is, it needs to be fixed and immediately. Here, the pump works to keep the engine at safe levels by circulating coolant through the engine.
The coolant picks up excess heat, which is then dispelled through the fins of the radiator and the heater core.
Importantly, if your engine is too hot, your car will probably shut down. That’s because most have safety features built in to ensure you don’t drive the vehicle in unsafe temperatures.
If your car overheats, simply wait for it to cool down.
If you have steam pouring off your radiator, it’s a good sign coolant isn’t circulating properly. The water pump forces coolant to move, so that it picks heat up and then lets it go.
If the pump isn’t working, water stays in one place and collects heat, which can cause it to evaporate.
In any case where your car is steaming, you should stop driving immediately. Steam can also result from other parts of the vehicle.
For example, if the radiator is bad or clogged. Or, if you’re running low on coolant. And, if your thermostat has gone bad, that might cause the vehicle to overheat and steam as well.
In most cases, you can get your car back on the road by topping up the coolant with water or coolant and driving to a garage before that burns off.
3. Engine Whining
If your engine is whining or squealing, it’s usually a case of things being too hot. However, that’s not always the case.
Your engine might be whining or squealing because of pulleys or belts rubbing as well. However, this can be a sign that the bearings are out in your water pump.
It might also be a sign that the broken water pump has resulted in timing belt damage.
4. Leaking Fluids
If you’re getting coolant leaks, it’s often a sign that the pump itself is having issues. Here, the seals and gaskets in the pump are prone to cracking and breaking.
If this happens, you might be able to have it repaired. More likely, you’ll have to replace the pump entirely.
Most coolant is brightly colored to discourage people and animals from drinking or trying it. That isn’t always the case.
However, if you have bright green leaks, your coolant system is certainly leaking.
Water pumps have weep holes which are designed to allow excess coolant out in case of a problem. You can always check these holes to see if there is a leak.
5. Inconsistent or Very High Temperature Readings
If the temperature gauge in your car is oscillating up and down, it’s a problem with the sensor or with the coolant system. Here, you should stop and inspect the lines, the pump, and the radiator.
If you’re not sure, you can have your car checked by a mechanic before moving forward.
Replacing Your Water Pump: Step by Step
If you want to replace the water pump in your car, you can usually do so in a few hours. Here, it’s a good idea to buy supplies upfront, based on your make and model of car.
Things You’ll Need:
- Large flat screwdriver
- Drain pan
- Ratchet and socket set (most cars use 13 or 15mm bolts for this, although there is no standard)
- Wrench set
- Gasket Sealer
- Replacement Water Pump
- Water Pump Gasket
- Optional: Belt Tension Gauge
Before you start, park your car on a flat and dry surface. Park it with the wheels straight forward and allow the engine to cool down.
Unplug the battery from the negative post and push the negative post safely out of the way of the battery, where it’s not touching metal.
- Use a drain pan to drain the coolant out of the system. Normally, you’ll find the plug at the bottom of the radiator. Replug this after it finishes dripping out.
- Put gasket sealer on the water pump and put the new gasket on the new pump.
- Then remove the brackets in the way of the water pump. Not all vehicles have brackets in the way. However, some do.
- Remove the hoses attached to the water pump. These might require using a screwdriver to undo a clamp. Drain them out into the drain pan if there’s still liquid inside. Keep in mind that coolant can be toxic to humans and to animals.
- If necessary, remove the pulley attached to the water pump. Here, you can use a wrench to loosen the bolts on the fan belt. Then, you can pull the belt off.
- Remove the retainer bolts on the water pump and pull it out.
- Then remove the gasket seal if it’s stuck in the fixture. This might require some scraping and cleaning.
- Replace the pump and make sure it’s tightly fitted into place. Use gasket sealer to ensure it does not leak.
- Then, put everything else back. Make sure your hoses and clamps are all snug so that they do not leak.
- You can use a belt tension gauge to get the belt tension to the correct length. However, you want to put the pulley in, tighten the bolts, and then put the belt back on.
Make sure you refill the system with coolant before starting the engine. You can then sit and idle for a few minutes to make sure everything is working properly and that nothing is leaking.
Water pumps usually only go out after over 100,000 miles. If you’ve driven with low or no coolant, that could change. Therefore, you’re probably not used to the water pump going out.
These related questions might help.
Can you drive with a bad water pump?
Usually, you cannot drive with a bad water pump. If you drive slowly and it’s cold outside, you might be okay for very short distances.
However, the coolant system is an important part of your engine. It keeps you and the rest of the car safe.
Driving with a bad water pump could cause irreparable damage to the rest of the vehicle. It could also leave you stranded if the engine overheats and then refuses to start back up.
Essentially, the only time you should be driving with a bad water pump is to pick up a replacement or to go to the mechanic. And, if you do, make sure you have extra coolant in the car.
What is the sound of a bad water pump?
Bad water pumps can squeal and whine. This is usually the sound of the bearings grinding.
However, you might get other sounds like belts overheating as well.
Is a water pump worth fixing?
If your vehicle is otherwise in good shape, it’s normally a good idea to fix a water pump.
You can have the work done for as little as a few hundred dollars. If you’re trying to save money, it’s also not an extremely complicated job to do yourself. However, you will need the right tools.
In addition, some vehicles put the water pump behind the engine, which can make accessing it quite difficult. Therefore, you should always assess your engine before deciding if you can fix it yourself or not.
In most cases, you can easily change your water pump. However, you can expect to pay $100-$800 for parts and around $100-$400 for repairs. In most cases, the cost averages out to about $400.
You can also save money by changing your water pump by doing the work yourself. However, this can be complicated with some engines.
Good luck changing your water pump.
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