Yesterday while driving my Chevy Prizm 1998 my steering wheel started to lock up, I heard a slight squeaking noise and my battery light came on. I immediately pulled over and popped the hood to find the serpentine belt loose and coolant starting to leak out. I did not drive the car any further and left it sitting in a parking lot while I figure out my next move. Any thought on what the problem is and the cost to fix it?
You’ve probably lost the water pump. The coolant leaked on the belt and tossed it off everything including the power steering.
There are websites that give estimates for car work in your area.
The battery light came on because the belt came loose and the alternator not charging. Were you able to see where in the engine bay it was leaking from? As already said, could be the water pump, but could also be a busted hose, radiator or something else.
I agree. A bad water pump is a likely culprit. However it will need to be assessed to be sure. We can’t tell from here.
A badly leaking pump or one with a bearing that failed could lead to a shed or slipping belt, causing a steering loss (because that same serpentine belt operates the power steering pump, too) and coolant loss.
Chicken or egg? Cause or effect?
It should be noted that something else, other than the water pump, could have failed and caused rapid over-heating that would also result in coolant loss. A failing/failed serpentine belt could do it, for just one example.
My information shows 2.2 hours of labor for water pump replacement, plus parts. Parts and coolant shouldn’t be really expensive.