Was I Ripped Off: Water Pump Replacement

I brought my Toyota for replacement of the coolant and the main belt that connects everything. Belt was cracking.

My water pump was “leaking,” but the coolant level never fell below filler neck.

Was I “ripped off” ?

What year Camry, what engine, and how many miles on it?
It’s possible that a water pump may exhibit some drips out of the pump weep hole and the coolant level drop will barely be noticeable. This does mean that a pump is needed.

What I’m trying to determine here is any timing belt situation that may exist.


What year and mileage Camry? Chances are it has a timing belt, and the belt drives the water pump. If the timing belt was changed as part of the service, the water pump is also normally changed, leaking or not. Even if it lasted the first 60-90 thousand miles, chances are it will not make it to the next timing belt change, and most of the cost is in the labor to get to the belt, so the pump replacement is just added insurance.

If they just replaced the accessory belt(s) and not the timing belt, but did the water pump and refitted the old belt, I think you may have been ripped off unless the timing belt has less than 30,000 miles on it.

Not if your pump was leaking. You can ask them to show you and explain. As ok4450 noted you can have a small leak that wouldn’t be obvious in terms of the coolant level. For a water pump any leak - no matter how small - is not something to try to get by with.

Interesting, and thanks! The car is a 4-cylinder 2004 Camry LE LE [limited edition with 16" wheels and other frills] made in Japan, not USA. Only 27,000+ miles by careful driver. Never recalled!

2004 Camry LE LE [special edition with 16" wheels and other frills] made in Japan, not USA.
27,000+ carefully driven miles and never subject to a recall. This forum is wonderful.
The timing belt was not changed, just the coolant, belt “which connects everything” [it was cracking]—and water pump for ~~$300.

Finally, I have learned something today! Thanks!!


As others have said, 2004 Camry has timing CHAIN (no routine changing,and rarely fails), not a timing BELT (needs routine changing). Leaking water pump (usually the shaft seal) should be replaced to remove the risk that it will suddenly “let go” and leave you stranded. (My own 2004 Camry did develop a water pump leak at 25K miles; replaced under warranty. But two incidents do not indicate a trend.)

Keep to the maintenance schedule for your “main belt” (I think Toyota calls it the drive belt, AKA serpentine belt). A diagnosis of “cracking” is not specific enough. My Haynes manual says that transverse cracks in the v-ribs are “acceptable”, but cracks running parallel to the V, or some pieces of the ribs missing, are “unacceptable”.

I don’t think $300 is a ripoff for the work (if it was needed). Just for removing the drive belt, Haynes says to remove the right front wheel; remove right side fender apron seal; remove right side engine cover assembly; remove upper engine control rod… I’ve replaced a few serpentine belts, but all that convinced me to pay my trusted independent mechanic do it, when needed.

Your in luck. The 2004 4-cyl uses a chain, so the question of timing belt is out the window. The car is 7 years old. Is this the first time they changed the coolant? Even with long-life coolant, seal conditioners, water pump lubricants and anti-rust additives break down after 5 years. This can play havoc on everything in contact with the coolant, like radiators and water pumps. Did you ask if they could show you the leak? If I’m unaware of it, I ask to see it if they claim it.

If the replacement of the "main belt" (serpentine?) belt meant replacing the water pump would be easy because it would be exposed, then replacing it was a good idea.  Often replacing a water pump is 95% labor and 5% parts.  If that 95% was going to be done anyway to it make good sense to have it replaced even if it showed no evidence of a leak.

If the timing belt was changed as part of the service, the water pump is also normally changed, leaking or not.

I respectfully disagree. We are talking Toyota here, not Dodge, and at least on my Sienna, the manufacturer’s recommendation is INSPECT water pump when you replace timing belt. it is not the nature of a dealer to pass up on expensive jobs, and they do not routinely replace the water pumps when they do the timing belt. On Sienna chat, there are very few water pump failures.

My Sienna is at 173,000 miles and I do think I will have a new one put on this time. If the original goes 180,000 the new one will last as long as I drive the car.

Of course, this also depends upon coolant maintenance.