A water pump is perhaps one of the most vital parts associated with the life of your engine.

What is a Water Pump?

A water pump is so important because it helps keep coolant running through key vehicle components including the engine block, radiator, cylinder head and more, preventing your engine from overheating as it runs. Your water pump works by using the energy triggered by the vehicle’s engine power to propel coolant throughout the parts that make up the cooling system.

In most modern vehicles, your water pump will be operated by the engine’s timing belt, which is important because if your car’s serpentine belt – another vital car part – snaps, your vehicle won’t overheat.

But there are still plenty of issues that can cause your vehicle to heat up, and most are associated with your car’s water pump.

Symptoms of Water Pump Problems

When your water pump goes on the fritz, your vehicle’s temperature will run high, leaving you at risk of serious car trouble – or a blown engine.

There are many different signs that you may be experiencing problems with your water pump.

Some include:

  • Coolant leaks. You may not notice them at first, but small puddles of sweet-smelling liquid beneath your car are the first signs of a water pump issue and should be taken care of quickly, not only for the health of your car’s engine but also for the health of pets that could be attracted to the sweetness of antifreeze. Coolant leaks are also serious because they could cause timing belts to slip, which is a headache when it comes to your engine.
  • A frequent need to replace antifreeze. If your coolant is low regularly, there is most likely the beginning of a water pump issue, especially if you haven’t noticed any puddles beneath your car. As the pump begins to fail, coolant will trickle slowly, usually drying up before you notice it beneath the vehicle, but it will eventually develop into a full-blown leak.
  • Your engine overheats often. Many people associate an overheating engine with the radiator (and it could be), but in most cases, it all begins with the water pump. If your temperature gauge regularly reads hot, a faulty water pump is likely a problem, leading to the potential for serious issues. Steam coming from the radiator is a telltale sign that your engine is overheating, and you should pull over and get a tow to a mechanic before anything more serious occurs.
  • Tapping noises. This will be the first audio clue that you might be having water pump issues. The noises will become progressively worse.
  • Grinding noises from the engine. While the tapping noise might initially be quiet enough that you don’t hear it, eventually, the tapping will become a grinding noise – caused by bearings inside the pump going bad – which will be impossible to miss.

What if I Ignore Water Pump Issues?

While you might not initially notice a water pump problem, by the time you do, it’s best to take care of it as quickly as possible.

A water pump itself usually costs from $50 to $200 depending on the make and model of your vehicle, so it would make sense to replace a water pump that is giving you problems with or without warranty coverage.

Ignoring water pump issues could cause extensive engine damage, leaving you begging for rides to work, or looking at a very pricy $5,000-plus price tag to replace an engine.

Are Water Pumps Covered Under Warranty?

However, because of the importance of water pumps to the health of your car’s engine, the parts are covered under your car’s initial powertrain warranty, which is an extension of a bumper-to-bumper warranty that usually covers most of the pricier car parts that tend to fail prior to reaching a certain number of miles.

Water pumps, however, usually last longer than that powertrain warranty, suggesting that an extended warranty could help save a good amount of money after the initial warranties expire.

Do I Really Need an Extended Warranty?

Essentially, extended warranties cover items that break down due to normal use – such as water pumps – so you don’t have to worry about having to foot the bill yourself.

An extended warranty – if you purchase an appropriate plan that covers parts that are more likely to fail on your particular vehicle – can cover what might initially be considered a small out-of-pocket expense, but over time can add up to a considerable amount of money.

And while a water pump on its own may not be a huge expense – $200 plus labor is a high estimate to cover the costs – you may not initially notice the signs of that faulty water pump, triggering a host of other expensive issues and causing the need to replace the pump, perhaps the radiator, and more.

Not only do most extended warranties cover water pumps and other associated parts as part of all of their warranty packages, most include it in the plans at the lowest price point.

More to an Extended Warranty Than Parts Alone

An effective vehicle protection plan often provides plenty of perks, too, such as 24/7 roadside assistance as well as rental car and towing assistance. Many allow you to use your own dealership or your own mechanic, and some are linked to sites across the country, so if you break down on the road while on vacation, that unexpected expense won’t spoil the entire trip.

An extended warranty saves money over time as well, because the cost of both parts and labor are certainly not expected to go down as years pass, which has been made especially clear during the years of dealing with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of prices on some of our most necessary items.

An extended warranty that is in place for miles to come can help erase concerns about an unexpected breakdown, keeping your car on the road for as many years of roaming around as possible.

Imagine driving down the road at a normal rate of speed and hitting a bump that was hidden from view by pavement or the angle of the sun, and then bumping your head on the roof of your ca. If you’re really lucky, you spill hot coffee on yourself at the same time.

That’s a very likely picture of every single commute to work or trip to the store without a car’s suspension system, vital to ensuring that your car not only rides down the road but also does so without being a danger to yourself and others.

What Is Your Car’s Suspension?

The car suspension system, according to one history, was invented in 1904 when William Brush was driving his brother’s Crestmobile (a touring car made from 1901 to 1904 by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Crest Manufacturing Company), which took a curve at 30 miles an hour and hit a rut that was hidden from his view. Brush wrecked his brother’s car, of course, but it led to an important invention by that brother, Alanson. Two years later, Alanson, in an effort to keep cars more stable on the road, especially curves, had come up with an innovative suspension system. It featured coil springs mounted on flexible hickory wood axles, which acted as shock absorbers when hitting potholes or bumps.

 Today’s vehicle suspension – while born from Alanson’s brother’s driving – is a much more complicated system made up of tires, springs, shock absorbers, and connectors to the vehicle’s wheels. They work to not only provide a smooth ride with good road handling but also to allow movement between the wheels and the rest of the car.

It includes, in addition to tires:

  • Springs to absorb energy.
  • Shock absorbers or struts, which combine springs and shock absorbers, depending on the vehicle make and model, to stop the energy generated by driving over the bump from continuing, like lowering the height of a bouncing ball.
  • Anti-sway/roll bars. These metal bars connect each side of the suspension together via the axles, and basically work together to take pressure off one wheel when necessary to help limit the amount of sway that occurs.
  • Control arms. These connect the front tires in two places (back tires too if you also have a rear suspension system), and are the key to the suspension system. They differ somewhat in vehicles that have struts.
  • Spindles. Spindles connect the control arms at each tire – again, all four if your vehicle has a rear suspension – with ball joints that allow the spindles and control arms to move.
  • Ball joints. Ball joints join the spindle to the control arms and not only allow smooth motion going forward but also prevent the vehicle from swaying.

Without a suspension system, riding in a car would be a game of ducking our heads during bumps. There would be few road trips, so suspension systems were an absolutely magnificent invention, beginning more than 115 years ago when a brother wasn’t careful with his brother’s car, which would have likely been priceless today. (Or maybe not. In 2017, a 1901 Crestline – the first year the car was made, sold for just under $40,000).

Signs You Have a Suspension Problem

There are, as with any vehicle problem, things to look out for to determine if there are any issues going on with your suspension that demand your attention.

Here are some that could be cause for concern:

  • There’s a bit of a tip forward when your car comes to a stop. This could be a sign of worn shocks, and could cause you to have trouble coming to a stop in an emergency, which could be deadly depending on your rate of speed.
  • Your vehicle pulls to one side while you’re driving. This might not be a suspension problem – it could be your tires requiring replacing or it’s time for an alignment – but it could mean your suspension is becoming worn out and needs attention. Seeing a mechanic is the best way to find out which of these is your real issue.
  • Your car sags on one side. If all of your tires are inflated to the proper weight, the sag could be letting you know exactly where your suspension issues are occurring.
  • Your car is difficult to control around corners. If your vehicle feels as if it is pulling around corners, your suspension system is not doing its job, which could lead to a rollover accident.
  • If there is more than one bounce when you hit a pothole, you might have a suspension issue. The suspension system is there to keep you from bouncing too much when you hit a bump in the road, so if you do, your suspension system is not stabilizing the car as it should.
  • Your ride is rough. If a once-smooth ride is now a little bumpy, getting your suspension checked out is a smart thing to do.

Is My Suspension Under Warranty?

Of course, the big concern keeping many from making an appointment with the mechanic is the cost of repairs.

If you’re concerned over whether or not your car’s suspension is covered by your vehicle’s factory warranty, the answer is both yes – if it was a factory or manufacturer’s defect it is covered – and no. Suspension problems are considered a wear-and-tear issue, and for wear and tear, we turn to an extended warranty.

Depending on the warranty itself, an extended warranty will likely cover suspension issues for a period of time that’s quite a bit longer than your initial warranty provided, oftentimes the life of the car under current ownership.

Finding the best vehicle protection plan will help ensure that your ride is as smooth as possible by protecting your vehicle’s suspension system. An extended warranty also helps keep your financial situation equally smooth by protecting your bank account from unwelcome vehicle expenses.

Brake pads are vital to one of the most important things your car needs to do…which is stop.

The first part of the brake system to show signs of wear and tear – a term that means no traditional factory warranty will cover them – you will know when your brake pads begin to fail.

What Are Brake Pads?

Brake pads are part of disc brakes, and are composed of steel plates with a friction-triggering material surrounding the brake rotors.

The plates and the material stop the car through that friction, or the conversion of kinetic energy to thermal energy, or heat.

Disc brakes generally tend to have two brake pads per rotor, so that’s eight brake pads that could require replacing if you don’t tend to brake problems as soon as you realize you might have something negative happening.

Any issues should also show up in any routine vehicle tune-up if you have a thorough, dependable mechanic.

Symptoms of Brake Pad Problems

Unwelcome symptoms of brake pad failure – or the beginnings of brake pads problems that can lead to failure – include:

  • Taking a longer distance to brake and come to a stop.
  • Hearing a grinding or screeching noise when you press your brake pedal. That’s the metal part the pad is meant to protect impacting your rotors.
  • Your brake wear indicator light comes on.
  • Your brake pedal feels spongy when you touch the brake pedal. An unstable brake pedal could spell serious problems for your vehicle and brake system, depending on the problem, which might not be related to brake pads.
  • One side pulls hard in that direction when braking.
  • There is a burning aroma when you apply the brakes of your car.
  • For those automobile aficionados who recognize them because they pay studious attention to their precious rides if there are scratches on the brake rotor surface you probably need new brake pads.

‘They’re Only Brake Pads. They Can Wait’

Brakes are important, so it comes as a surprise that traditional warranties don’t cover any portion of the brake, including the pads.

According to experts, brake pads can last about seven years, which is perhaps one reason why an auto manufacturer warranty doesn’t cover them. The warranty would most likely run out well before the pads, meaning you would pay for them anyway. But if you think about ignoring that noise that sounds so much like your brakes that you know it’s your brakes, there are myriad reasons why you shouldn’t.

Here’s the thing about brake pads. Replacing them can cost you as little as $115 or as much as $300 – the more high-end your car, the pricier the job will be – without an automotive protection plan.

But if the pads go bad (usually rear brakes begin to deteriorate first), and you ignore it, you run the risk of having your rotors warp or break, which could cause your entire brake system to overheat, leading your brakes to fail. That’s not something you want to have to occur while road-tripping along the narrow roads that curl through the Black Hills of South Dakota, or while coming close to a mailbox, a house, or anything other than a freshly-fallen snowbank, really.

What you want is a vehicle protection plan or extended warranty, so you don’t have to choose between being safe behind the wheel by purchasing new brakes or making a house payment.

Vehicle Protection Plans Save $$$

If you don’t have an extended warranty, you are left to pay the price for car parts and labor, the cost of which never seems to land on a payday when there is extra money available to more easily cover the expense. New brakes, which could include not only brake pads but also rotors and calipers, range from $300 to $1,000 (luxury models will be more), depending on the car make and model.

Car parts are never cheap, and although you can purchase more affordable parts online, there are so many outlets offering substandard products that taking your car to the dealership or a brake specialist is the smartest option in order to ensure the best results. An extended warranty will help defray the costs associated with the brake work. Otherwise, work you trust will be expensive.

And if you’re debating the benefits of an extended warranty shortly after you purchase a vehicle and hedging in any way, it’s smart to take time to think about future automotive needs. That includes having the type of warranty that will cover those needs, which will not only help you stay on the road longer, but also more safely.

Reasons to Consider an Extended Warranty

An extended warranty – if you purchase the right plan such as a high-end bumper-to-bumper warranty that covers wear, one of the costliest of automotive issues – can better ensure coverage for parts such as brake pads and other items, so they do not end up being be an out-of-pocket expense for you, especially if your entire brake system is close to complete failure, which as we’ve said, ramps up the costs considerably more than brake pads alone.

Extended warranties cover items that break down due to normal use – such as car parts that require replacement due to the wear-and-tear that are almost always excluded from traditional factory warranties – making them an important part of your money-saving arsenal.

While many a car owner has likely told you to avoid an extended warranty – with that air of expertise that suggests he or she knows much less than he or she thinks – having an effective vehicle protection plan, such as one that has connections to locations across the country so you can use them in an emergency, can save you many headaches on the road.

That might mean that while you’re enjoying the gorgeous sites the United States has to offer, the “expert” who advised you to skip the extended warranty all those years back can’t go on vacation, because his vehicle is giving him trouble and his factory warranty has expired.