3 Things You Need To Know About Your Car's Water Pump

There are many car parts on your ride that you probably don't expect to replace over the vehicle's lifetime. While internal engine components will eventually wear out, many people can drive on their original engine or transmission for hundreds of thousands of miles. Unfortunately, the various accessories, sensors, and other parts surrounding your engine are typically far less durable.

Your water pump is one such part, although it's one that you might not spend much time thinking about until it fails. However, it's worth giving this humble component a little more thought. These three facts will help you understand more about your water pump, why it matters, and when you should consider buying a new one.

1. Water Pumps Are Preventative Maintenance Items

Most manufacturers don't like to list costly components like water pumps as routine maintenance. Instead, you'll typically find items such as brake pad replacements or oil changes on your service schedule. Unfortunately, this situation doesn't mean that you should wait until your water pump fails before dealing with it.

A faulty water pump can bring your car's cooling system to its knees, potentially leaving you stranded or damaging your head gasket. If your vehicle uses a timing belt, you may want to consider changing your water as a preventative maintenance item when you replace that belt. If not, you may still want to consider a replacement once you begin to approach the 100,000-mile mark.

2. You Can Upgrade Your Pump

If you buy a replacement pump from your car's dealership, you can expect this part to provide similar performance and last about as long as your original water pump. While there's nothing wrong with this approach, you can potentially do better by choosing a quality aftermarket upgrade. You may even save a little money in the process.

Upgraded pumps can offer a few benefits. For example, if your car's manufacturer used a plastic impeller, upgrading to a metal impeller can mean a longer life and reduced chance of failure. A higher flow pump can also improve your car's overall cooling efficiency, which may be beneficial if you've already modified your vehicle in other ways.

3. Failure Can Be Slow

It's easy to imagine catastrophic water pump failures that cause your engine to overheat rapidly, leaving you sitting on the side of the road with steam billowing from under your hood. In reality, your water pump may fail slowly, losing performance over time. Common failure points include the impeller, pulley bearings, and the seals that keep coolant contained.

If you notice any unusual sounds from your water pump, that's a solid indication that it may need attention. Slow coolant leaks around the water pump are another sign that you may need a replacement. Instead of waiting for your car to overheat, take heed of these warnings and install a new pump as soon as you notice them.