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Water pump nightmare

I have a 2000 Alero with a 2.4L Twin Cam (NOT the Eco engine) with a leaking water pump. (Steady drip while running) I have “heard” there is a way to remove it WITHOUT tearing the whole car apart… I know I have to take some off, just prefer the minimum. Although it would be better for me to ditch the car, I can’t at this time. I would prefer serious advice/tips/tricks, please. (I already know they’re a pain and a lot of work) Thank you.

There are no tips/tricks in replacing the water pumps on these engines. If there were, I would have heard of them by now.

You have to go through the pain and a lot of work to replace the water pump.

That’s why people almost drop to the floor when you tell them how much it’s going to cost to replace the water pump when they have this engine.


This is an estimate to replace the water pump in your car at a $ 80 labor rate(you can customize it)

Be glad you don’t have a Toyota Sienna. I had to have the water pump replaced on my 2011 Sienna. The bill was $975 at the Toyota dealership. Originally I had been quoted a price of $1546 as the service writer thought it involved pulling the engine. I had agreed to have the work done. I received a call after the technician began the work and told the cost would be less than the original estimate as the engine could be rotated and lifted.
I relish the good old days when I was able to replace a water pump on a rear wheel drive car in an afternoon of work. We sold the 2011 Sienna to our son this week. I wanted it in good shape because our grand daughter is getting her learners permit and we want the family to have a safe car. Interestingly, the 2006 Chevy Uplander I sold to our son 7 years ago has 200,000 miles and never had to have an expensive repair like this.
I replaced the 2011 Sienna with a new 2017 Sienna. I hope that the new Sienna doesn’t need a water pump after 90,000 miles as the 2011 did.

I had looked up the cost prior. That is why I am willing to tackle it
myself. Thank you still.

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speaking of your Uplander, 3.9 liter V6, I presume

Anyways, we have a few in our fleet, and on some of them, we’ve had to reseal the coolant transfer manifold, which is on the front of the engine. It’s a fair amount of work, including removing the belt, alternator, idler pulleys, power steering pulley, washer reservoir, moving the fuse box out of the way, etc.

I suspect the book time labor is nearly as high as the water pump on that Sienna you mentioned. I’ve done a water pump on my brother’s Highlander . . . identical engine . . . and it was no quick job. The car was almost 10 years old, and had about 120K miles at the time.

I guess the only advice I can offer besides that mentioned above is that even if there is a “short-cut”, it probably isn’t something a first time diy’er for this job should attempt. Risking that could turn into an expensive “long-cut” instead, and besides that, it may involve special tools and access to a car lift. I expect you can do this yourself, but just follow the shop manual procedure step by step. You don’t have to do it all in one work session, take a lot of breaks, drink a lot of cups of coffee, and just go through the list methodically step by step. You’ll likely be finished in a day or two.

One side note, there may be some recommendations here or elsewhere on other things that make sense to do as part of this job. It might make sense to replace the timing belt and tensioner for example, if your engine uses one. Take a look at any CV or steering rack boots too, if any are showing signs of splitting, now might be a good time to fix those too.

If you have to get this done fast b/c this is your only car, which you need to get to work or for essential tasks, think of a back-up plan, like renting a car, taking public transport, rides from friends etc, before embarking on this yourself. You dn’t want to place yourself into a position where you must complete the job fast, as that is not conducive to success for a diy’er.


This engine has a timing chain, which drives the water pump.


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@db4690 I think the Uplander I once owned before it went to our son had the 3.5 engine. As I have said before, that Uplander has 200,000 miles and has never had a cooling system problem. Our son and family drove it from middle Tennessee to upstate New York and back this past July.
It’s difficult for me to accept the fact that there is less that I do for myself. I used to do a lot of my own maintenance and repairs on my cars including water pump replacement. Now, I don’t even do my own oil changes. I repaired my television and high fidelity system. The upside is that cars require less maintenance–no 10,000 mile spark plug and ignition points and condenser replacement and electronic equipment no longer has vacuum tubes to burn out. There is no mechanical tuner to clean on the television. If it weren’t for Mrs. Triedaq, I might still be driving my 1978 Olds Cutlass and watching my tube type black and white Philco television. Mrs. Triedaq says I need to keep up with the times or I will become old.
I thought in retirement I would do more of my own maintenance of our vehicles and repairs around the house, but I have become so involved in so many activities that I am looking for a job to retire from retirement

Have you tried any coolant system sealer that emphasizes " water pump seal conditioner"?

Also, my daughter’s old Cavalier had an external coolant leak of the head gasket. She was losing about a quart a week. It was coming up to cool weather (like now) so I loosened the pressurized coolant reservoir cap and safety wired it so it wouldn’t fall off. She made it through the winter with little more loss, and gave it to a friend of a friend who was happy to get it as a project car.

Thanks Tester. I figured as much. The crazy part is, at times it goes days without issue. Others, it needs fluid twice in a week! I checked the oil, nothing strange… I had initially thought my coolant loss was the intake, but I changed that and I was still losing fluid. My assumption is that it is the pump since the car has to be running to leak. Although it is just a fairly steady drip.

Just as an aside. I just looked at the estimates to replace the water pump on my 2013 Camry 3.5. I think I may just sell it when it needs a water pump.

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@PvtPublic. I think every vehicle ever made had something that is hard to replace. My 1954 Buick and 1965 Rambler each had an enclosed driveshaft so the rear end had to be dropped to remove the transmission. My 1971 Ford Maverick had factory air conditioning. When the heater core sprung a leak, the dashboard had to be disassembled and the air conditioning discharged to move the evaporator. On my 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass the heater core was under the hood and not too difficult to replace, so it was actually an improvement. On the Studebakers that came out after WW II, the engine had to be removed to take off the oil pan.

It’s not as complicated of a procedure as the OP’s water pump, but even on my Corolla replacing the water pump is not a simple chore. I doubt most diy’er would attempt it, as it requires removing a motor mount and loosening two others, and raising the engine. As I recall on my old VW Rabbit replacing the pump was a simple procedure. On my 302 Ford truck, it’s a bit of a time consuming fiddly job as the fan blade has to be removed in order to remove the fan shroud, but it’s still pretty simple. I “redesigned” the fan shroud into a two piece version, so I can now remove the shroud w/out removing the fan blade.