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Replacing Waterpump (Buick '98 Century)

My car goes through coolant like it’s going out of style, several mechanics at Jiffy Lube looked under the hood and determined the problem is a leaking Waterpump. When the engine’s running you can actually see a fine mist being sprayed into the air from the general location of the pump and lots of hardware in the area is covered in white-ish droplets.

I can get it replaced at a Kragen for about $250; but right now I’m tight on funds. How hard would it be for me to replace it on my own? So far I’ve successfully replaced an airfilter in my car, that’s about it. But I’m smart and a quick study :slight_smile: Appreciate any input. I’ve let this repair go for over 8 months and I’m starting to think it’s not going to last a whole lot longer. The car’s a 1998 Buick Century Custom.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

This would not be the best place to start learning. If you don’t have a repair manual either buy one or take a look at the library and read the procedure. Just depends on how well you can follow the instructions and how good a feel you have for mechanical things.

You need to drain the coolant and refill when you are done. Remove the serpentine belt, disconnect the power steering pump using the access holes on the pulley to get at the bolts. You need to unbolt the water pump-and using the proper technique and feel, hope that the bolts come out without breaking one out. If you break one, its a whole 'nother problem to fix. Clean the gasket surfaces and reinstall everything again. The main thing I would worry about is breaking the bolts-I always coat them when I reinstall so that they don’t sieze again.

You can save $200 by doing it yourself-unless you have to have it towed out to finish it.

What size engine do you have? I have a 96 Buick Regal with the 3.1 Liter 6. The water pump job was a piece of cake on that engine, right up at the top and out in the open. I did not have to remove the power steering pump to get this water pump off. Hopefully you may have the 3.1 engine if a 98 Century uses it, and it would be a relatively easy job for you to do using a repair manual. And if the price quoted is $250, parts and labor, that is a cheap price for a garage these days, so it sounds like your water pump job won’t be too bad.

I believe it’s a 3.1; but don’t quote me on that… I only drive the thing. :slight_smile: But 3.1 sounds very familiar. The pump certainly isn’t up on top though, it’s somewhat down towards the bottom of the engine and I believe (like Bing had said) the serpentine belt is definitely in the way, along with a hose - which I believe connects to the radiator. As I contemplate taking it into a garage vs. going through a repair manual, am I looking at causing any serious damage to my car by waiting. Provided of course I keep up on the coolant level?

Thanks for the advice so far you two!

I would not wait to fix it or get it fixed. The risk is that the pump will eventually completely fail and a massive coolant leak will happen. If the shaft gets too loose the blades could scrape and lose pieces inside the cooling system. In any event you will be stranded at that point.

one way i found out for sure that it was the water pump is to disconnect the serpentine belt – start it up with no fan wind blowing the fluid around and you will see for sure if it is the water pump. you will get a good look at it. if your positive the jiffy lube people are very sure than go for it? but i would try this first good luck

From what you describe I think you might just have a hose leaking.

if you do try to challenge yourself in replacing the water pump- be carful. it has 2 “plastic tubes” that will break if you twist it too much. they will be corroded. one is top of the pump and the other is behind the pump.

I think you should check your hoses before replacing the water pump. “Spraying a fine mist” sounds like the water is under pressure indicating a pinhole in a hose. Normally a water pump has a weep hole which will leak when the pump begins to fail. Coolant will leak out of the weep hole but it wouldn’t spray.

Thanks for all the advice everyone…

What’s a good way to check the hoses? Replacing a hose sounds at lot easier (and cheaper) then replacing the water pump if that’s the only problem. Also, not sure if this helps in internet-diagnostics, but the Jiffy Lube guys also commented that the constant “wheezing” sound my car makes while running, is a symptom of the waterpump failing. It’s hard explain but from the moment the car is on, even when idling the car sounds rough; even without asking the JL guys about it, they said that with a new waterpump, that would shut it right up.

I’ve looked continually and never seen any leaks below the car, whether from running or sitting cold over night or after days of not moving. But after about 200 or so miles, either my reservoir will be empty, or the entire radiator will be. I do know that the coolant absolutely needs a flush, it looks like chocolate syrup caked inside the reservoir; but I think I need to figure out what’s leaking my coolant first.

To question what Golfnut said, if I disconnect the serpentine belt (how hard is that? :stuck_out_tongue: ) and let the engine run, how exactly will that tell me if it’s the pump or not. If it’s not the pump, then does that mean it could only be a hose? And is a weep hole in the pump a good thing or not?

Thank again!

several mechanics at Jiffy Lube looked under the hood …

Most of us would agree that there are no mechanics at a quick lube place.  Really with all the problems we hear about them, it would be good to avoid them at all cost.  Pay a little more and find a good local INDEPENDENT mechanic.  

In this case they may well have been right, but then it may just be a hose near the water pump etc.

if some of these guys can advise you on how to get the belt off.i’m not to good at details? but with the belt off and no fan to interfere (WIND BLOWING) if you let it run for a short time when the thermostat opens up you will see where the leak is coming from, if it’s the pump it will be coming out the front bottom, called the weep hole or hopefully, if it is the hose you will see that too. water pumps are kind of fickle they leak, they don’t. if this has been going on for 8months it could be the pump let us know how you made out hope i was some help?

I agree, I’m not about to jump at the suggestions by the Lubers; it’s kinda like working at Blockbuster but for cars. But that’s neither here nor there.

Let me throw something else out there. I spoke to a friend of mine, she’s owned no less then 5 of these exact cars over the past decade (her brother owns a dealership). According to her, from her “experience” she suggested I pop the hood and check to see how securely the pump is in place. If any part of it jiggles, feels loose, or otherwise not as solid as a rock, then the problem could very well be the pump. However, she said that if it doesn’t feel the least bit loose, then the problem is almost certainly a problem with a hose. She feels as certain as day follows night on that idea.

How does this logic sound?

FYI: The pump is solid as a rock and not loose in the least.

i hope when you checked the pump to see if it jiggles you were moving the fan blades back and forth to see if there was any play with the fan blades? i still think if you had someone take the belt off where the fan is not blowing the fluid all over the place you will get a better picture of what’s going on. if the pump is leaking or the hose has a leak you will see it good luck

well if you knew anything about the 3.1L engine in this car you would know there is no fan attached to this water pump. and it could be a hose or it could be the pump but it sounds to me like ( no offense toasty squirrel) that you have no clue what you are looking at under the hood so do yourself a favor and have someone competent look at this before it dumps all of your coolant on the pavement and then you are walking. these are also famous for intake gasket leaks( i have changed a ton of them) but they dont spray out as you have described.