Water Pumps: To Replace, Or Not To Replace? That Is The Question!

At Mr. Clutch, we are always asked the question, “Should you change your water pump when you are replacing your timing belt?” The answer is, “It depends.”

Replacing a water pump depends on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. It also depends on how many miles are on the car.

There are other factors, too.

Is the water pump driven (rotated) by the timing belt?

Also, how much does it cost if you have to go back in and do it in 6 months? If it is cheaper to replace the water pump the same time you are changing the timing belt, you should do it right then and there. If you can change the water pump without too much additional labor, you can do it later.

But wait! There is more to consider. If the car has 60,000 miles on it, this is the first time you are replacing the water pump, and none of the seals are leaking, you might be okay. If the water pump fails, and the engine cannot be further damaged, the labor costs are around $200. Factoring all this in, maybe its worth the wait to replace the water pump.

However, if you have a replacement that will require more labor, it likely cost you more. For example, if you own an Audi, a Mini Cooper, a Honda Odyssey, or an Acura TL, (just to name a few) where it will cost  more that $400 in labor to go back in and do the water pump replacement, you might not want to gamble. Just get that water pump replacement done.

Also, if your car is on its second timing belt already, then you probably want to replace the water pump, as well as the other belts. While you’re at it, you’ll want to replace the cam, crank seals, and belt idler pulleys on the car.

Think you’re done with the decision making process?  Nope. Not quite yet.

One more thing to consider is your type of engine. For example, does your car have an interference engine?  If yes, why does this matter?

Well, manufacturers usually produce interference engines. They do this because they are looking to get a little more performance out of their high compression, small engine design. Cars like the Honda Civic, Acura TSX, Volkswagen Jetta, and the VW Beetle, all use small displacement engines that produce a large amount of power for their size. In an interference engine the valve opens further into the combustion chamber than a non-interference engine. So, if the timing belt breaks due to the water pump or some other component failure, both the piston and the valve it strikes can and will be damaged. Ouch! Damage of this nature will result in either a best case scenario, like a major and costly repair; or worst case scenario, like a complete engine replacement.

Okay, so back to the original question:  Should you replace that water pump now or later? Well, if you are the kind of person who strongly dislikes breakdowns and want your vehicle to be as safe and sound as possible, go ahead and replace that water pump now. If you are a risk taker and you enjoy the chaos that ensues after a water pump fails, go ahead and replace that water pump later. Not to be too facetious, but auto repair shops make a whole lot more money off of people who procrastinate, so they don’t mind helping you pick up the pieces. But for those auto shops, like Mr. Clutch, who really care about the safety of their clients, we feel much better about taking a proactive maintenance approach to keep you and your water pump out of trouble. More often, our team will recommend replacing that water pump BEFORE it has a chance to fail.

Still have questions about that water pump? Give us a call and let’s discuss it further. You can always count on Mr. Clutch to provide honest answers and terrific workmanship for any and all auto repair concerns.

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