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What would you do?

The car is a 2000 Toyota Camry V6 with 120K miles now. 2 years ago at 86K miles the timing belt job was done; with water pump and tensioner. Saturday the motor died on my son and he was about 200 miles from home. AAA was called for a tow. It turns out the timing belt was shredded and the shop repaired it on Sunday. They report that the water pump bearing failed and the pulley locked up shredding the belt. Fortunately this is not an interference motor, so $850 was the repair bill, for essentially another new timing belt with water pump and tensioner. I requested the shop keep all the old parts for me to inspect.

I plan to take the car the shop that did the timing belt 2 years ago, because this failure shouldn’t have happened. Yet, I know the warranty on the repair has long expired and mystery failures can happen. The question is if you were the shop owner what would you do for a customer who has comes in to report this experience? This is my “go to” shop and it has done timing belt jobs on two of my other cars. I don’t plan on making any “demands” but if I was a shop owner I’d like to know if there were quality issues with the parts I was getting. Thoughts?

Truthfully, I think that your only gripe lies with the manufacturer of the water pump, rather than the folks who installed it. Unfortunately, that company is unlikely to give you any compensation.

Yes, a failure after only 2 years indicates that the water pump was not properly manufactured in the first place, but I really doubt that The Acme Water Pump company (or whoever made the pump) is going to respond positively to your complaint. Venting to them may make you feel better, but is unlikely to be anything more than a waste of time in the long run.

As unfortunate and as expensive as this situation has been for you, I don’t really think it is appropriate to expect the shop owner to give you any freebies as a result of this failure. That would just make the shop owner a co-victim (is that a word??) of the fallout from that defective part. You might want to casually mention this situation to the shop owner when you are next there, so that he is aware of the early failure of this part, but I would suggest that you make it clear from the get-go that you know he bears no blame.

If you still have the paperwork for the water pump, you could try that route, if you do have the bad pump in hand. If they decide to honor any warranty (which they might, but I don’t recall seeing one that long), they probably won’t replace anything else, so the most you’re likely to get is a free $30 water pump, or a refund of the cost. Unfortunately, the rest of the repair will still be on you.

Every warranty I’ve seen on parts were for the part only. I’ve seen many of these papers, and there’s always language that states it’s only for the part itself, and not any susequent damage.

Thanks for replies so far. My son is still away from home, so I’ve yet to inspect the old parts.

Sorry but you would get a look of sympathy and a cup of coffee and donut if it were me. 2 years, 34K, just too much water under the bridge. Was it a Toy dealer? Toy new parts or aftermarket? Coolant flushed, etc. Stuff happens is all.

2 years is more than most companies warrant water pumps for. Even if the water pump had a lifetime warranty all the pump manufacturer is going to do is replace the water pump excluding labor for replacement. Most such products come with 90 day -1 year warranty. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but just be glad you have a non interference engine or the damage would have been much worse. The installer shouldn’t have any obligation, they just put the part on and had no way of knowing it would fail in 2 years. Over the years I’ve heard of many instances where a new/rebuilt part was bad directly out of the box.

Yes, tell the shop owner so he can find a better source for water pumps. He might simply buy another off brand and then hope that one works. Next time you might want to specify a genuine Toyota pump so your car is not used for part quality tryouts. It is likely that the shop used a less expensive pump in good faith anticipating that the quality was acceptable but it did not work for you.

There seem to be a good many parts that come in good, better, best categories, rotors, wheel bearings, maybe water pumps also. The lowest price repair due to an inferior quality part is not the best option, sometimes maybe?

Look at the invoice for the original repair. Was a remanufactured water pump installed? If so shame on the that shop. You always install a NEW water pump if it’s driven by the timing belt.


Take heart in the knowledge that rubber timing belts are pretty much a thing of the past as consumer pressure has forced car makers to abandon that cost saving design feature…$850 water-pump replacements are simply not acceptable…

Too much time and too many miles have elapsed to do anything about it. That being said, some food for thought might be:

A. Coolant loss for whatever reason and the water pump gave up for that reason.

B. Aged coolant (if original) and the pump gave up because of that. *

C. Mechanic got the timing belt too tight which put undue pressure on the pump shaft and this caused the failure.

*Regarding B, some years ago my son’s Camaro went through 3 water pumps (original and 2 replacements) in less than 100k miles. Apparently DexCool had something to do with this because after Pump 3 I flushed it completely out, ditched the DC, and at over 250k miles and 8 years later Pump 3 is still fine.

Went to the shop that did the timing belt job just short of 2 years and about 40K miles ago. Started by saying that the shop has been and will continue to be my “go to” shop for repairs, and added the story of the break down last Sat. Before looking at the parts the owner said it is likely the water pump failed and a look at the parts confirmed the water pump had clear evidence of leaking and failure. Owner said he had stopped using NAPA as his water pump supplier due to failures and the part number on his invoice confirmed it was NAPA pump that had failed. He say’s NAPA is aware of the problem and claims to have made changes to eliminate the failures but the owner has not gone back to NAPA pumps. The new pump just installed is a “good” one in his opinion and the problem should not recur.

He made copies of his invoice from 22 months ago and the new invoice for the work done due to the failed pump. He is sending all this to NAPA and states that I might get something back from NAPA. All that sounds good, but I’m not expecting anything - we shall see.

Aside from being out the money for a redo of a timing belt job my other concern is two other timing belt jobs due by this shop on other vehicles both of which have interference motors. If one of these pumps fails it will take out the whole motor in the process. I went home and got the invoices for both cars and the owner checked the part numbers and neither was a NAPA pump. It seems the other 2 vehicles should be OK. End of story. Thanks to those who shared their opinion on my question.

So was it a NAPA rebuilt or a new pump? Big difference. I quit using any NAPA rebuilt years ago in favor of new. If the other pumps put in are rebuilts, regardless of from NAPA or not, I wouldn’t feel very comfortable with it. With all the shake ups that have gone on in the parts business in the past years, I’m starting to only trust OEM and even then you never know if its a Chinese part or not.

Your goodwill probably ended the minute you had a different shop do the second repair. If you went back to the original shop first they might have worked with the parts supplier for some compensation.

AL5000- Failure was while car was on a trip, over 200 miles from home. If happened locally I would have gone back to the shop that did the original job.

Bing- the invoice says “NEW WATER PUMP” part # 42340 with a price of $103.60. The invoice date is 08/06/09. If that info helps you on the knowing if it was a refurbished or new pump.