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'09 Toyota Corolla 75,000 miles

The garage where I have my car serviced 2X a year (oil change, minor tune-up at 7K miles) says the water pump is starting to leak. I haven’t noticed anything, but the mechanics suggest a $600 repair. First, is this a common problem with my model car? Second, is the estimated fee appropriate? Is the car or am I in any immediate danger (how long can I put this off)? I’ve only been going to this garage for a couple years as my previous CarTalk-referred mechanic retired. I’m not sure whether to trust the new guys (no longer a single individual, but a group of mechanics in a middle class residential suburban neighborhood).


If you doubt the diagnosis, get a second opinion. In the meantime, check your radiator overflow tank in the morning to see if the level changes over a week to 2 week period. That will tell you how much coolant you are losing. If you can find the water pump, inspect it for water on the outside. You can also look under the engine where the pump is located to see if there is water on the road.

If this mechanic has really been selling you a “minor tune-up” every 7k miles, then I would have to doubt anything & everything that he tells you. Just for the sake of discussion, could you list which parts he replaces every 7k miles?

Yes, your water pump may be weeping slightly, or it may be leaking, but I would suggest having a different mechanic inspect that area of the engine before you decide what to do and where to have the work done. If you use the “Mechanics Files” link at the top of this page, you can locate recommended mechanics in or near your zip code, and most of them would probably not be charging you for a “minor tune-up” every 7k miles.

@VDCdriver Agree, Corollas, and for that matter no other modern car, needs a “minor tuneup” every 7000 miles. My 2007 Corolla gets an oil and filter change every 5000 miles and it has yet to have a “tune up”, or any other repair. Next year I will change the coolant; the car now has only 40,000 miles on it. Spark plugs are usually good for 65,000 miles or so.

What does you mechanic do and what does he charge for a “minor tuneup”?

Read your owner’s manual; and do what it says.

However, at your vehicle’s age an mileage the coolant should have been changed and the transmission fluid and filter changed as well.

Also get a second opinion on the leak.

I also recommend a second opinion. If you are mechanically inclined…you can check the weep hole with an inspection mirror. Just use a bright flashlight and the mirror to find the weep hole and take a good look at it. If you see coolant in the hole or dried brown streaks…you need a new water pump.

Make mine another vote for a second opinion. And if they confirm the leak, have them show you. Any reputable mechanic will be happy to show you what he finds.

@bwiddey–We have all given our best efforts to help you with your questions.
Now, could you please answer our questions regarding the “7k tune-up” that your mechanic provides?

Not only do I agree with all the above, but I would be very concerned if the water pump was change unnecessarily. Toyota uses a very good quality water pump, you would be asking for trouble if you removed a good Toyota pump and replaced it with a cheap aftermarket pump as the mechanic would no doubt do.

And no, $600 is NOT appropriate. An aftermarket pump runs $41 to $62, add 40% markup so $87 max. Then coolant, $23, labor 2 hours max (slow mechanic) $200. Total $310. A little more if there are environmental fees and a new serpentine belt, then $350 tops.

It would be very unusual for a Toyota water pump to fail at this age, but you are due for a coolant system drain and refill and for a new mechanic.

I wouldn’t expect a $41 water pump to be very good quality

If you don’t want to get a Toyota pump, at least get a japanese Aisin pump

The $87 was based on an Aisin pump from RockAuto with 40% markup. Thats the one I would get too if I wasn’t getting a Toyota pump.

I put an Aisin timing belt kit (including water pump) on my Camry last year. Absolutely no difference to the factory parts, except it doesn’t say Toyota. The old pump was labeled toyota and aisin. The new pump was only labeled aisin

As a matter of fact, I got the parts from rock auto

Hard to say without looking at it, but if the water pump is indeed leaking, it should be replaced. Otherwise, if you ignore it, you’ll end up paying a towing charge too in addition to the water pump bill, or worse, needing a replacement engine. Water pumps on transverse mounted 4 bangers are a bear to replace, involves the engine and transmission mounts, so I’m not surprised by the fee quoted. At 75k, it probably makes sense to replace the timing belt too, if your engine sports one of those. I think an 09 probably uses a timing chain though. In any event have all the coolant replaced as part of this job, and the thermostat should at least be inspected, if not replaced. If you think the price is out of line, no harm done to get another quote. This is a job that most any shop can do. No need to use a dealership (unless this is required for continued warranty.)

It would be very unusual for a Toyota water pump to fail at this age

This reminds me of a post office seen on Seinfeld;

Jerry asks “define rarely” (on the topic of damanged packages)

Newman replies “frequently”

I replace alot of Toyota (Lexus) water pumps, mostly serpentine belt driven pumps. The timing belt driven pumps rarely leak, they seem to be of higher quality or better protected from dirt/contamination being under the timing belt cover.

Toyota revised the water pump for this vehicle, Bulletin T-SB-0362-09.

Some 2009 – 2010 model year Corolla and Matrix vehicles may exhibit a small coolant leak and/or
abnormal noise from the engine compartment originating at the water pump assembly

George, it has a timing chain.

Water pump failure on a 2009 Corolla is common. Yours lasted longer than most.
See the link

The typical sign of a leak is a pink stipe (coolant) running front to back on the underside of the hood dirctly above the serpentine belt. I changed the pump myself, so I can’t say how much it should cost.