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Self-rotating water pump symptoms: what are they and what to do?

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Pablo Mayo Sanz
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What is the car water pump?

The car water pump is a fundamental component of every car. Its task is to circulate the coolant, often simple water, within its circuit.

The car engine reaches very high temperatures, often around 90° C, during daily operation. Without the work of the water pump and coolant it would be impossible to avoid overheating.

Engine overheating is one of the most serious car problems with potentially fatal consequences. If the engine overheats, the pistons, being made of steel, expand and can seize inside the cylinders. The engine head gasket can heat up and cause oil or engine coolant leaks. These are just a few of the problems caused by a car's water pump malfunctioning.


In short, a water pump failure can cause thousands of euros of damage to the car's engine. For this reason it is essential to ensure the perfect functioning of this component and to know the symptoms that indicate an ongoing problem.

How does the car water pump work?

The operation of the car's water pump is relatively simple. The water pump is part of the car's cooling system in which the coolant flows. The coolant itself is almost always a mixture of distilled water and glycol, a common antifreeze.

The water pump is driven by the service belt. In the absence of problems, the car's water pump runs as long as the engine is running.

When the car is running, the coolant draws heat from the engine and passes through the radiator where, thanks to cold air taken from outside, it is cooled. This keeps the engine temperature at an acceptable and safe level.


The car's water pump is responsible for pushing the coolant into the circuit, preventing it from freezing in one place and accumulating too much heat. No water pump, no fluid circulation, no heat removal.

What are the symptoms of a broken water pump in a car?

Due to its complexity and the fact that it is always running, the water pump in the car can wear out and not work properly. In this case, the circulation of coolant within the coolant circuit can be compromised with potentially catastrophic consequences.

To quickly detect car water pump problems and avoid serious engine damage, it is useful to be aware of the symptoms of a dying car water pump.

Let's see what are the symptoms of a broken water pump in a car:

  • Rapid engine overheating.
  • Coolant leakage.
  • Strident noise from under the bonnet.

Replacingthe water pump is a procedure that is usually done when the engine belt and the service belt are changed.

1st symptom broken water pump: engine overheating

In this case we see that the coolant temperature rises rapidly after a few kilometers of driving. This is due to the fact that the broken water pump does not circulate liquid in the circuit.

If the coolant stagnates and does not move, it tends to increase in temperature. Just keep an eye on the coolant temperature gauge. If the lever reaches the red zone, we must immediately turn off the engine and check that there are no fluid leaks or obvious problems with the water pump of the car.


2nd symptom broken water pump: leakage of coolant

This broken car water pump symptom is quite easy to notice for those who park their car in their indoor garage. If you notice a puddle of coolant, then there is a leak in the circuit or a water pump failure.

Before driving, check that the coolant reservoir is full and top up if it is empty.

It is best to call a mechanic immediately as a leak is unlikely to be resolved by refilling alone. If possible, avoid driving the car but have the car towed to the garage.

3rd symptom broken water pump: squeaking noise

As explained above, the car's water pump is driven by the service belt. Like the timing belt, this belt tends to wear out over time and needs to be replaced.

If the service belt is too worn it can come off one of the belt tensioner rollers and this causes a sharp , high-pitched noise. As soon as you hear this noise, or any other noise, you should stop the car immediately.


If the service belt is damaged, it should be replaced immediately, which should be done by a professional.

What to do if the car's water pump is leaking?

If the water pump is leaking, it has probably broken somewhere or one of the seals or fittings that connect it to the cooling system has worn out. In either case, it's best not to drive before the problem has been resolved.

The best thing to do if the water pump is leaking is to have thecar's water pump inspected. A mechanic will have to locate where the leak is and then replace the leaking part or repair it if possible.

Changing the water pump: cost?

The cost of replacing the water pump is nothing compared to the cost of the damage a broken water pump can cause. That's why we always recommend replacing or repairing a water pump as soon as the symptoms of a broken water pump appear.

Replacing a broken water pump usually costs between 300 and 700 euros. This large price range is because the cost depends very much on the model of car in question.

Some cars have a water pump that costs less than 100 euros, others have more complex pumps that cost several hundred euros. Also, the position of the water pump in the car affects the price of the replacement. A pump that is easy to access can be changed in a short time, a pump that is difficult to access can force the mechanic to work hours, thus increasing the final cost of the replacement.

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