Damage from Water Pump Failure

Hi, we experienced a water pump failure on our car, which caused the battery to drain out and the car to overheat. We were driving late at night on a dark highway, and a battery warning went on for a while and then eventually the temp gauge went to the top. I suspect we had been driving for a bit at high speed before realizing what was going on, as it was dark and couldn’t see the steam, etc. Once we pulled over, the battery was completely drained and engine smoking.

The car only has 30K miles and is under warranty and the dealership is going to replace the water pump. I had two concerns I wanted to ask for advice on:

  1. Should I also ask that they replace the battery, or can it be recharged back to normal?

  2. Should I be concerned that gaskets, pistons, etc. may be damaged and thus replaced? I am concerned that this incident may have caused damage to engine parts that may not become so obvious until down the road when it will be my issue, instead of a warranty issue.

Any advice appreciated. Thanks!

The engine may be damaged as a result of driving without water cooling. You should ask the dealer how they can inspect for warped heads or scored cylinder walls and any other damage that might occur. Responsibility is a little less clear since you drove a while after overhearing. Hopefully the dealer and Cadillac will work with you on the engine. Remember that the dealer acts as a representative for Cadillac. The manufacturer makes all decisions after consulting with the dealer.

Yes, engine damage can result from severe overheating. It varies, but can involve scored cylinders, failed head gaskets, seized piston rings, and even washed out crankshaft bearings/valve train components.

Not stated is how often you raise the hood to inspect the motor oil level, but oil consumption can rise after a severe overheating incident.
The battery might be a question mark as they have their own warranty. The year model and date of service (meaning the day you bought it) is unknown.

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If the battery is over three years old, your best bet would be to replace it, but that will be at your expense. Any other engine damage, short or long term, may very well not be covered because you chose to ignore the temperature gauge rather than call for roadside assistance. But those are legal issues depending what warranty states.

Likely what happened is that the pump failed and the serpentine belt slipped off causing the battery light to go on. Depending on how long it was driven with no water circulating, but I’ll go out on a limb. Your car should be programmed to reduce engine performance when it overheats to prevent damage. Even my Pontiac has this feature. They will replace the pump, charge the battery, and away you go. The repair will be noted if there is any future problem, so just monitor for any oil consumption issues. Yeah an explanation should be in the owners manual.

How long it takes your battery to drain would be a way to find out how long you drove it for.

The old Ford model T came without a water pump! The water circulated naturally.

Good point about reduced performance (a version of limp mode),
Yes the OPs vehicle should have that, slipped my mind.