Internal combustion engines are powered by tiny little explosions. These explosions produce a lot of heat, which can damage the engine if left unmanaged.

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Fortunately, the cooling system in each vehicle prevents this from happening by using a water pump to allow coolant (also known as antifreeze) to circulate throughout the components of the engine.

Below, we’ll go over five common bad water pump symptoms that can present themselves along with the average cost to replace a water pump if needed.

How a Water Pump Works


Cost for replacement of the water pump vary greatly depending on the size, make, and age of the car, though you can expect to pay anywhere from $310 to $730 total. Expect to pay more at a dealership or with certain types of vehicles.

Parts alone (water pump and additional parts) will run about $70 to $400. For labor, expect to pay about $240 to $330 (using a typical $80-$110/hr. rate). On average, water pump replacement is a 3 hour job.

You may pay less if you buy the pump yourself and give it to the mechanic to install, though use caution and make sure to buy the parts from a reputable source. Make and model of vehicle can have a significant effect on total cost. Fees and taxes may increase these figures depending on your location.

Though water pump replacement can be expensive, engine replacement is much worse. The vehicle should not be driven until needed repairs are done.

If you’re not sure when your water pump was last replaced, doing it soon is cheap insurance for your engine. Most people like to tackle the water pump with the timing belt while they’re in there.

Replacement Process

Water pump replacement should be done by a professional unless you have mechanical experience, as it can be a difficult task.

First, the existing coolant is drained from the vehicle and parts that obstruct access, such as the timing chain or belt, are removed. The water pump and related parts such as hoses are inspected and replaced if needed.

The thermostat and radiator cap should also be replaced at this time, along with any gaskets or seals. The radiator itself may be replaced if it leaks or shows signs of age.

Finally new coolant is added and the system is tested for leaks. A test drive will confirm proper functioning of the new water pump.

As the mechanics remove parts that obstruct access to the water pump, they may come across other items that should be replaced, such as the timing belt or chain. It’s always wise to obtain an estimate before agreeing to any additional repairs.

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It’s important to remember that coolant reaches scalding temperatures and is under a lot of pressure while the vehicle is running and for a few hours after it’s shut off. Never remove the radiator cap or touch any part of the cooling system until the engine has cooled completely.