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.
- 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.