Leaky water pump

I Have an 03 Chevvy Cavalier, 2 door, 4 cyl car with 36,000 miles. I have been told the water pump leaks, and have been advised to have it replaced for #450 to $900 (from the dealer). I have added coolant as necessary. It leaks only when running, not when parked. It requires a special tool and involves the timing belt.Do I need to replace the water pump, or can I continue to add coolant as needed?

The leak will probably get worse over time. You can add coolant for a while, but the leaking coolant may damage the timing belt. Replacing the water pump is the smart move.

You don’t have to pay dealer prices for this. Get estimates from a couple of independent mechanics and see if you can save some money.

I don’t understand the price range you were quoted from the dealer. Why such a wide range?

Is it peeing on the ground or just seeping ?
Does it over heat or get hot between top offs ?

You know the future, start saving now.

It is just a slow leak. It does not overheat. I add coolant every 10 days to 2 weeks. Could it be the weep hole

The dealer originally quoted $1,100.00, but brought it down to $930.00 because I am a senior. I have received a couple of estimated in the $450.00 range. What is the probability of damaging the timing belt if I just keep adding coolant?

Probably. But the weep hole isn’t a leak …it REVEALS the leak of the shaft seal.
Replace the pump and belt when you can afford it…sooner than later.

I would replace the water pump, as well as the timing belt and tensioner, as soon as possible. You would have to do it at service interval (whatever that is on this car) anyway, plus the coolant has already weakened the belt. If you put this off too long, the timing belt may indeed fail on you, which will leave you stranded and will likely cause severe damage to your engine since it is an interference design.

You have very little mileage for an O3. I suspect you are now due or close to it for a new timing belt (replace it at time or distance whichever comes first as indicated in your owner’s manual.) I would suggest combining them as most of the cost is shared and you need both.

There is no need to have this work (or any work not covered by a new car warranty) done by the dealer. Dealer mechanics are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics but they are almost always more expensive, but they due generally have nicer waiting areas and coffee.