How to Tell if my Water Pump is Bad

Unhealthy Circulation

The water pump moves coolant through the radiator and around the engine to dissipate heat buildup. Rapidly moving, closely connected metal parts generate a lot of friction, and thus, heat. Too much heat and you end up with components that are warped, melted, fused, broken and otherwise structurally compromised. The water pump is usually pulley driven by the accessory drive belt, serpentine belt, or timing belt. A worn out belt can prevent your water pump from operating at peak efficiency. Internally, there is an impeller that keeps the system circulating. Over time the impeller can actually wear down due to contaminants in the coolant. Cavitation can also cause the impeller to erode and lose the ability to pump coolant.


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7 signs of a bad water pump 

As we mentioned earlier, to keep your engine from overheating and self-destruction, you must ensure that there are no problems with your water pump. One of the best ways to confirm that your water pump doesn’t have any problem is to keep an eye for signs of a bad water pump.

Many of your vehicle internal components let you know that they are going to fail before they do, and the water pump is one of the best examples.

In this section come out, we will provide you with the top 10 signs of a bad water pump as reported by automobile experts. 

If you notice any liquid leaking from your vehicle, you must take action and not ignore it. This is because the problem could be related to severe issues with your vehicle, and the vehicle must be taken to a professional mechanic as soon as possible.

One of the different types of fluids in your vehicle is the coolant. The coolant might leak if the pomp’s components dry up, crack, break, or wear out over time of use. 

To confirm that it’s your vehicle’s coolant, you can check the color of the fluid puddle under your vehicle. If the fluid is green or sometimes red, it is your vehicle’s coolant. If that’s the case, you must take your vehicle to a professional mechanic as soon as possible to inspect the water pump. 

Another sign of a faulty water pump is hearing a whining sound coming out of your motor. In general, any weird sounds coming from your vehicle indicates internal problems that might be inspected and fixed immediately. 

The sounds type can indicate where the problems are coming from. For example, if you started hearing high pitched sounds like whining or buzzing, this indicates an issue with your water pump.

The water pumps pulley might become loose over time of use, which could cause this whining sound. Another reason for the whining sound could be a worn bearing. Unfortunately, if the water pump bearing wears out, there is no way you can repair this water pump, and you must install a new part. 

Since the water pump’s job is to maintain a continuous coolant flow around the engine to cool it down, a completely failed water pump could result in engine destruction. If you noticed that the temperature gauge is indicating a significant increase in the engine’s temperature, it’s an issue with your water pump.

Engine overheating is a type of problem that must be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might sacrify your vehicle’s engine and be dealing with high repair costs. 

If you notice that steam is coming out of your motor, this is an indication of severe engine overheating. It is never a great choice to drive with an overheated engine as you sacrify your vehicle’s engine and cause it to destroy itself. 

As we mentioned earlier, if you notice any sign of engine overheating, you must pull over and contact a professional mechanic. In some cases, you might not even have the time to drive your vehicle to the repair shop and must tow it.

In some situations, the coolant might start leaking slowly, and you will not be able to detect it by looking under the vehicle for a water puddle. In this case, look around the water pump and check for signs for pitting or cavitation, which was caused by the coolant leak. 

As your water well pump gets older, the outer seals start deteriorating and breaking apart. Then, when you look at the dry side of the water pump, you might see some holes indicating that the water pump is getting close to failure. Therefore, you must have your water pump inspected by brush, my mechanic, as soon as possible. 

When the coolant leaks slowly, you will not have a failed pump immediately; however, the vehicle will start running on low coolant, and this is another bad situation that could lead to potential damages to your pump and engine. 

What You Should Know About Bad Water Pump Symptoms

A failed water pump shares some symptoms with other bad components in your vehicle:

  • Coolant leak. A bad hose, gasket or radiator may also leak coolant. But the water pump glossy, green leak (or whatever the color of your coolant is) will usually show up on the floor right under the water pump or close to it.
  • Engine overheating. Also, a stuck thermostat or clogged radiator will cause your engine to overheat.
  • A whining, sometimes a grinding, noise coming from the front of your engine. A bad accessory pulley, slipping or misaligned belt can become noisy, as well.
  • Coolant warmer than normal during the hot summer months.
  • Not much heat coming out of the heater during the winter, accompanied by low coolant level.

Since these symptoms may appear when other components go bad as well, you still need to confirm the failure of your pump.

A clogged radiator will prevent coolant circulation.

Photo courtesy of Bill Wrigley on Wikipedia

2. Rust, Deposit Buildup, and Corrosion of the Water Pump

Gradual leakage over time will cause different minerals to build up around the pump. Check under the hood, and you may notice rust on the pump’s surface from contaminated or non-compatible coolant mixtures or a defective pressure cap that lets in excess air. The wrong coolant will also cause deposit-buildup inside the pump, which slows the ideal process of engine cooling. In addition to these signs of wear, you may also notice small holes from corrosion in the metal, or cavitation – vapor bubbles in the coolant liquid that collapse with enough force to create cavities on the mounting surface. Should you notice these symptoms, replacement of the pump should be sought out immediately.


A loose accessory belt will cause a whining noise that increases with acceleration. The fix for this could be as simple as tightening the belt, replacing the belt, or replacing the belt tensioner. If you hear a grinding or growling noise from the front of the engine, however, that indicates a bad bearing. There are other bearings on the front of the engine that can fail, but in any case you should immediately take it to a mechanic to confirm and repair the problem.

8 Signs of a Bad Water Pump

In order to keep your engine system from problems such as overheating and other self-destruction issues, you have to ensure that your water pump has no significant issues whatsoever. One of the sure ways to avoid water pump failure is to be on the look out for any symptoms of a bad water pump.

That way, you’ll be able to avoid so much damage by taking care of the problem as soon as you can. The good thing about vehicles is that you will be able to know beforehand when a component is going to fail, way before they do. The water pump is one of such components.

Below are some tips on how to tell if the water pu

Below are some tips on how to tell if the water pump is going bad.

1. Leakage of the Coolant at the front part of the Vehicle

This is one of the most outstanding signs of a bad water pump. If you notice that you have any liquid leaking from your vehicle, you have to take immediate action. The reason as to why the leakage happens, in most cases, is mostly because the components of the pump tend to wear out, break, and crack after a long time of usage.

You can tell for sure that the leakage is one of the signs of a failing water pump by check the exact color of the puddle of fluid, forming under the vehicle. If the color of the leaking fluid is either red or green, then that is the coolant from the vehicle. This is one of the ways on how to tell if a pump is bad.

The solution for this is trying to flush the system for cooling thoroughly. Also, you could try and get the system refilled with the right coolant from the vehicles’ manufacturer.

2. Significant Rise in Engine Temperature

This is also another of the very many bad water pump symptoms. This is so because the main function of the water pump is to maintain a cooling flow continuously around the engine. Any changes in the temperatures could therefore signify a problem with the water pump.

If the temperature gauge shows a significant change in the temperature of the engine in terms of an increase, then this is a sure way on how to tell if your water pump is bad. Issues to do with overheating of the engine are quite sensitive. The latter must therefore be treated as soon as possible, or else you may end up spending so much in dealing with the repairs.

You may solve this particular problem mostly by overhauling the whole system for the water pump and getting a replacement.

3. Rusting of the Pump as a result of Coolant Leak

There are some cases in which the coolant may begin to leak, as a way to show the water pump failing. You should thus check around for the pump for water pump car symptoms such as cavitation and pitting that may be caused by the leak, and that might bring about rusting of the pump.

This rusting is often a result of the constant rusting and it may be one of the signs of water pump going out. This symptom of a bad water pump can be dealt with by flushing the entire cooling system thoroughly, before replacing the water pump.

4. Strange Whining Sounds

When you start hearing some sounds of whining, thi

When you start hearing some sounds of whining, this will be a great indicator of the many signs of water pump failure. This whining sound is often a great indicator of the fact that the pump pulley has issues. Though in a general view, any unusual sound should be an indicator of the fact that your vehicle has issues.

Most of the time, the symptoms of a bad water pump are signified using sounds that are high pitched, that often come off like a buzzing or whining sound. This is an easy way on how to tell if you have a bad water pump. The water pulley is affecting because it may become quite loose after some time. This is actually what exactly leads to the whining sound.

In the event that the bearing of your water pump wears out, it may be one of the signs of a failing water pump; in which case you may be forced to get a new replacement.

5. Low Coolant Levels

This is another of the symptoms of a bad water pump system. It is a very sure way on how to tell if your water pump is bad. When your coolant begins to slowly leak, at first you will actually not notice that your pump is failing. So, you may ask, how do I know if my water pump is bad? One of the signs of a water pump going out is when the vehicle begins to run low on coolant.

The problem of low coolant is quite dangerous and could lead to very gruesome damages to both the engine and the pump. You have to take care of this problem by getting a professional mechanic to either fix it or get a new water pump altogether.

6. Steam coming out of the Vehicle’s Alternator

Severe overheating of the engine can be indicated by the presence of steam coming out of the front part of the engine system. This is one of the most common bad water pump symptoms. Operating with an engine that is overheated can be quite dangerous since it could lead to further damage to the car, through a self-destruction mechanism.

If your vehicle develops any signs of a bad water pump that is related to overheating as signified by steam, you must look for a mechanic to check out the underlying issue.

7. Formation of Holes on the side of the Water Pump that is Dry

Another great way on how to know if your water pump is bad is by looking at any formations on holes on the dry part of the water pump. This happens mostly because when a pump gets older, the outer part of the seal tends to start breaking apart because of deterioration.

Therefore, when you look at the side of the pump that is dry, you will begin to notice that some holes form. The formations of these holes is a sure way to know how to tell if my water pump is bad and needs a replacement.

8. Cavitation

This is often signified by the presence of some ca

This is often signified by the presence of some cavities which appear like bubbles. This is often brought about by a collapse in the cooling system that is as a result of an explosive force from the pump. This will lead to pockmarking of the individual components in the pump, which then leads to these areas being corroded as a result.

All this is caused by the formation of bubbles at the inlet in the pump that is meant for cooling. For this reason, any formation of bubbles is a symptom of the bad water pump. You can take care of this issue only by getting a new replacement for the water pump system.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them. Follow Justin on LinkedIn.


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