Water Pumps & Timing Belts


#1

If your water pump were to fail, would you replace the timing & other belts if they showed no signs of wear or problems and were not near or past the time span in which belt replacement is recommended? If not, then why replace a perfectly functioning water pump when changing the timing belt?

Do you believe that a water pump is like a filter or belt and its replacement should be a scheduled maintenance? Why isn’t it?

I know the logic involved. Changing the water pump on its own would be more costly than including it with replacing the timing belt. But if the water pump is working fine, why replace it?

I’ve never had a water pump fail on any car I’ve owned. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but that’s why I’m asking the question.


#2

Several months back I was in a parts store getting a full timing belt kit (belt, pump, tensioner) for a Dodge Neon. I struck up a conversation with another guy while we were both waiting for parts to come up from the back. It turns out that his daughter has a Neon and he had done the belt, but not the pump. About 10K later the pump bearing seized, shredded the belt, and he was still waiting to see if the head was destroyed, given that the Neon has an interference engine. Our conversation began when he wanted to warn me about this. I assured him that I wasn’t messing around with it.

In addition to the interference design, getting to the Neon timing belt is a complete PITA, requiring completely removal of the front (pass side) engine mount, which itself requires torque strut removal, and jacking the engine up and down to a seemingly destructive extent. The crank pulley is also a complete PITA requiring special removal and install tools. Add all of that up and I will do the pump every time.

However, the last time I had the belt off of my Escort I did not do the pump. First, it was not having any problem. Second, the Escort is not an interference engine. Third, getting to the timing belt is a complete piece of cake, with no mount removal or engine jacking or special issues with the crank pulley…etc. Finally, I do the work myself so going back in costs me nothing but time and I actually don’t mind doing it. There is still the risk of the pump seizing or something and stranding me, but I also have a road side service. And I will replace the pump - next time.

So anyway, the pump with the belt is a good rule of thumb. But there’s nothing wrong with deciding on a case by case basis. I’d imagine the Hyundai threads raised the issue. If the change interval on a belt is 60K and the cooling system has been maintained, and if I was doing the work myself, I’d probably do the pump on every other belt change (120K). I am paranoid about the tensioners and idlers though so I actually do those every time.


#3

I’ve had at least one and maybe two water pumps fail on me over the years. I’d rather trust a new water pump to last the next seven years (in my case) instead of one that’s already seven years old, especially because I have an interference engine.


#4

Why take a chance with a water pump that is used when you can install a new one? Consider it maintenance if you have to but make sure the water pump is replaced when you install a new timing belt. Besides…a water pump that suddenly fails can lead to engine over-heating and we all know what could happen then. It’s just not worth it to me to re-install a used water pump. No way…no how.


#5

ah , a gamblin’ man ye be eh , joe guy ?
It’s also a matter of labor and down time. Doing a timing belt job is …ALL… the same identical labor for a timing belt driven water pump. If you don’t do the pump now, you’ll pay again for the exact same labor and down time…exactly.
The only addition to the timing belt labor is the price of the pump.


#6

joe

Here’s an interesting question . . .

What do you consider a “failed” water pump to be?

Bearing seized, and it destroyed the belt

Bearing noisey, but it’s not yet seized, and it’s not yet leaking

Leaking coolant, but it didn’t seize, and no noise

I consider all of these to be “failed” water pumps, by the way


#7

All of the above. Whether it’s not working correctly or not working at all, it has failed.


#8

Customers don’t like to pay for the same job twice. If the timing cover comes off, everything gets changed. If you’re already paying for most of the ride you might as well provide the maximum benefit.


#9

Db, I consider them all “failed”.
Some might argue that the one that’s making noise but not yet seized or leaking is “failing” and not “failed”, but only a fool would “fail” to change it.


#10

Since the cost is mostly labor for both events, I would change them all out at once. The complete kit for most of these is less than $100, while the labor is usually $600 or more.


#11

I’ve known a couple of guys that gambled on keeping the water pump when doing a timing belt. Both guys regretted it. One water pump gave up 12,000 miles later, the other lasted another 35,000 miles. They wound up redoing the job to replace the water pump, pulling a timing belt back off without putting half the life expectancy on it.


#12

“I know the logic involved. Changing the water pump on its own would be more costly than including it with replacing the timing belt. But if the water pump is working fine, why replace it?”

Really, you answered you own question.

“I’ve never had a water pump fail on any car I’ve owned. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but that’s why I’m asking the question.”

Yes, maybe you have been lucky so good for you but it is a gamble as others have already mentioned. The risk of losing that gamble varies depending upon whether you have an interference engine or a freewheeling engine but it is a risk nonetheless. Taking that risk is up to you.


#13

Nobody has answered this question: If your water pump were to fail, would you replace the timing & other belts if they showed no signs of wear or problems and were not near or past the time span in which belt replacement is recommended?


#14

It depends on how old the other belts are. I’d be less concerned with the engine belts since they are relatively easy to change. I don’t have a set mileage but if you just replaced a timing belt a few thousand miles ago or less, then probably not. If the timing belt was near one half of it’s life expectancy, then I would change it. I consider it false economy to try to squeeze the last possible bit of life out of a timing belt and you can’t always tell its condition just from looking at it.

Not replacing the timing belt while you are in there is similar to not changing the water pump while you were in there before. Would you not have learned your lesson when you gambled on leaving the old water pump in and having it fail now and now have to redo the job?


#15

If I was paying for a mechanic to do it @JoeGuy , yes, on my Corolla at least since I know what work is involved, and mechanic hourly rates, I’d replace the timing and other belts at the same time. It’s cheap insurance. If I was doing the work myself I’d let a visual inspection at the time decide.


#16

Joe, you’re right.
Yes, I would absolutely change the belts. I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine anybody not doing so.


#17

It’s the cost of labor (if you pay someone) or the cost of time (if you do it yourself). On vehicles I had timing belts on…I replaced the water pump every other time I replaced the belt. If the pump failed (even if the belts only had 20k miles on them)…I’d still replace them. I have to remove them anyways just to get to the pump.


#18

I’m in the process of changing struts (waiting for the parts, and I’m replacing everything with rubber. Upper bushings, lower bushings, upper mounts, and even the bumpers. I never reuse anything with elastomers when doing a job of any significance. I recommend the philosophy for ANY job of any significance. My daddy taught me never to try to use anything made of rubber a second time. {:stuck_out_tongue:


#19

Hey mountainbike, I know that I don’t need to tell you - but be careful with those things.


#20

Absolutely! {:slight_smile: