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Water pumps all the same?

Is a water pump just a water pump, or are there advantages to using the more expensive ones? I haven’t been able to find much info online but it looks like Bosch and Beck Arnley are good quality but I don’t know how to tell one from another as far as quality goes. Any specific brands you guys recommend?

Get a pump that meets or exceeds the OEM specs.

The car makers don’t make water pumps.

They purchase them from a vendor/supplier.


Anything wrong with remanufactured OEM ones?


Remanufactured OEM parts have improvements over the original design so they last longer.


There are differences and the important differences aren’t easily noticed. The pulley base can be pressed on too shallow or too deep. The bearings can be poor quality and the shaft could have been polished to clean up a wear groove that was beyond tolerance and the impeller can also be inferior and improperly installed leaving too much clearance front or rear causing poor coolant flow at low rpms. A-1 Cardone was for many years a quality rebuilder whose products were sold under various labels and I never got a bad one. The BRAND NEW pumps with lifetime guarantees from McParts stores are the least reliable part on the market in my opinion…

Just searched ebay and there are tons of Cardone pumps for my car. Both brand new and refurbished. You give better odds on the brand new ones?

You can do a little research and find out what brand of pump your car maker uses.
For instance Aisin is common on Japanese makes.
Or you can simply buy a replacement from the dealer.

Back in the day I had a friend with a 1980 Accord.
He was buying water pumps every 15k miles from a popular parts chain (anyone remember Trak Auto?).
He thought maybe there was something else wrong ruining the pump.
I convinced him to bite the bullet and buy a pump from a Honda dealer.
It was 2X what the aftermarket cost, but it lasted the rest of his ownership.


I never saw a NEW Cardone water pump. I suspect it’s a Chinese knock off that is being rebranded and personally I would avoid it. All the parts marketed as NEW that I have seen sold at the McParts stores are Chinese junk. The NEW CV axles sold at chain stores are often not worth installing, likewise the water pumps. The water pump for the Cadillac 4100 engine in particular was a piece of trash. I have seen them leak at the shaft seal and gaskets right out of the box.

For several years I did warranty work for 2 chain parts stores here locally and quickly learned to look at the sales slip before looking under the hood. It wasn’t worth my getting involved in a dispute so I just refused to inspect the car and let them send it to another shop. When an advertised price is too good to be true leave it alone. It’s impossible to build quality CV axles and water pumps from scratch and sell them with a lifetime warranty cheaper than a rebuilt part.

I always tried to buy new for my 3800s. One new one still only lasted a year (30K). The thing with the 3800s was even a slight wobble in the pulley from wear, would cause the serpentine belt to walk off. Sometimes you could put it back on and it’d last a few miles but other times it would walk off again while you watched it. No belt, no cooling, power steering, of alternator.

I agree with you 100%

You’re better off buying a quality rebuilt half shaft or even bringing your old half shaft to one of those mom and pop shops that specialize in such things

I had a hard time installing a water pump from O’Reilly’s - the cheapest one they had. The O-ring wouldn’t stay in place while I manipulated it into position. I took it back and asked if they had any others that would fit. They brought out a couple other ones and pointed to the one they said was same as OEM. It was an obviously higher quality casting in a more complex shape. The O-ring fit in place well and did not spring out of place. They gave me full credit for the cheap one. The price diff was pretty small - maybe $20 - and well worth it. I now often ask to inspect the alternatives before making a purchase, and find the people there are very willing to help.

I don’t have any brand recommendations, but here are my recent experiences with three different brands.

Back in 2012, the water pump on my father’s '03 Trailblazer EXT 5.3L started leaking out the weep hole. I replaced it with Autozone’s Duralast brand (don’t know who actually made it then, but now they may be made by Airtex). As soon as the engine got up to temp after the pump install, it started leaking where the upper hose nipple is pressed into the housing. So off it came and went back to AZ. They didn’t have another in stock, so went to another local parts store (Federated Auto Parts affiliated) and they sold me a new GMB brand pump. That pump had to be replaced last fall due to a profuse leak out the weep holes. The third pump is a new Gates. We’ll see how it goes.

Back in 2017, I helped my brother with some preventive maintenance on his then new-to-him 2004 Chevy Silverado 1500 5.3L, which included a new Gates water pump. This pump started leaking a couple months ago. Gates does have a lifetime warranty. Others might too.

That’s a rather substantial difference, in my opinion

Nevertheless, it proves your point . . . you get what you pay for

My brother recently ran into this fitment problem on his car. A new Chinese-made half shaft wouldn’t fit properly, which caused noises AND a rather substantial leak

A more expensive part. . . rebuilt oem, not new Chinese . . . solved all of the problems

Asking if cheap McParts store water pumps are as good as OEM is like asking if a $5 frozen pizza is as good as a pizza from an expensive restaurant. This goes for other kinds of parts too.

The big-box auto parts stores have a lot of overhead, and the way they maximize their profits is by sacrificing quality and charging top dollar. Much better to buy the real OEM parts online for a fraction of what AutoZone or O’Reilly would charge for their cheaply made knockoff parts.

In order to give customers their money’s worth while making a profit I found it necessary to shop around for parts and compare quality and price and often the best bang for the buck was not the dealerships. As an example I found that the Ford EDIS-6 module ~30 years ago was awfully expensive and they were failing often and not always when the dealer was open. The NAPA part was as expensive as Ford’s but the cut rate brand at Auto Zone was less than $20 while their better brand was as expensive as NAPA’s. But while at A-Z I inspected the cheapest brand module and found that it was the Motorcraft part. I had the failed original in my hand and every mark on the two were identical. It often pays to look behind the door.

Heh heh. I stopped by the Acura dealer and picked up refills for $26. Then I thought hey, I should put new blades on the Pontiac too. Last time I bought them at a dealer for $26 each and took them a day to get so it was two trips. So this time I ordered them from a GM parts outfit. $16 each instead of $26. OK but then it was $16 shipping but I thought hey, it’s still the same $50 price and saved me a trip or two to a dealer (the low cost dealer is about 30 miles away). Well I’ve been waiting about 3 weeks now but they are promised for Friday Fed Ex. Saturday because Fed Ex hands off to USPS and takes another day. Evidently due to catch up due to the GM strike 'cause they are special order. No mail on Sunday, and I’m gone two weeks on Monday. I just don’t want my $50 wiper blades bent in two in a post office bin. I gotta feeling they were in stock in the MPLS GM warehouse and maybe should have taken the two day deal. So’s the point of all this is it just depends.

I don’t need any advice. I buy the whole blade and they have a special snap connection that you only get on the OEM blades. They last a long time and do a good job and have used plenty of the after-markets before with non-stellar results. Acura inserts are very high quality and the same as OEM if you put them on correctly.

Some Toyota dealers allow you to order online (at online discounted prices) and pick up in person. Last week I bought front brake pads for $37, as opposed to the $55.00 list price. I did have to drive 10 miles, but there was no $13 shipping charge to pay.