Leaking Truck Water Pump
A defective truck water pump can be a big problem within a truck cooling system. Whether you have a Ford water pump problem or a Chevy water pump problem, the results will be the same, overheating and a possible breakdown. You might be able to avoid a vehicle breakdown if you understand your cooling system and know what to look for during any truck inspection.
In this Truck Radiator cooling system guide, we will discuss your water pump, what it does, how it works and the symptoms of a bad water pump starting to fail. If this is a truck water pump repair or a car water pump repair, the steps will be about the same.
Your Water Pump is the Heart of Your Cooling System
Along with your truck radiator, the water pump’s job is to maintain proper coolant flow and temperature. Many water pumps use an external belt system to turn a pulley.
This pulley turns a shaft, which moves through a bearing, turning an internal propeller. This propeller pushes coolant through your cooling system removing the heat that is generated from your engine. The water pump then pumps that heated coolant into your truck radiator where it is cooled and then returned to the engine. Some vehicles do not have an external belt system and use an internal timing belt or chain to turn the water pump. Whichever system you have, make sure you perform scheduled system checks to help avoid a breakdown. Normal wear and tear will take a toll on your pump and eventually all water pumps will fail.
Diagnosing a Defective Water Pump
- Noise — In many cases you can hear a water pump starting to fail. While under the hood pay attention to any strange sounds. Do you hear a bearing noise, like a grinding sound or do you feel a vibration? Unusual noise may indicate that your water pump is starting to go bad. If ignored, the water pump shaft could break allowing the fan to fly off causing a truck radiator leak. I have seen a fan come off and destroy a truck radiator. If you don’t want to deal with a truck radiator repair or a new truck radiator cost, pay attention. If you hear a new or strange noise, have your system inspected.
- Gasket Leak — water pump gasket leaks happen and checking your water pump closely is important. Look for steam or seeping leaks around the water pump and gasket. Also look for dry spots were a leak may have stopped but still shows itself.
- Electrolysis — Electrolysis can destroy your water pump and truck radiator. We will go into more detail about electrolysis in a future article. For now, it is important that you know that the pH of your cooling system is critical, and if not kept in balance the metal parts of your cooling system can become compromised and fail. Electrolysis can eat away and dissolve your metal parts, so it must be controlled.
- Weep Holes — water pumps have weep holes that act as vents. In many cases, a leaking water pump is just the weep holes doing their thing. These vents help protect the bearing and should seep a little. These little holes allow the seals to remain seated properly and should not be leaking a lot of fluid. If not sure have it checked.
- Loose Belt — a loose belt or bad tensioner can cause a water pump to not work properly or fail. All rubber parts will need to be checked and changed on a fixed schedule. Check your belts for cracks and wear and if you hear a high-pitched squeal when starting your engine, it may indicate a belt that is loose and slipping.
- Vibration — a loose fan blade or pulley can cause a vibration. So can a bent fan blade or bad clutch fan. If you feel any vibration, check the fan blades, the water pump shaft, and seal and make sure it is not out of balance or loose. Push and pull on the water pump pulley, does it seem loose? If so your water pump is going bad.
- Seal Leak — if you have a water pump seal leak you will need to replace your water pump. Coolant leaking out of the water pump will usually start slowly, but it is always important to watch your temperature gauges and lights. If there is coolant on the ground, steam or if you smell antifreeze have your complete cooling system checked as soon as possible, and you should not drive the vehicle until checked.
NOTE: Many water pumps are located directly below your thermostat housing, a gasket or two, maybe some hoses. If you think you have a water pump leak, check all of these spots for leaks as they are usually simple fixes. Any of these items may leak down onto your water pump and make it seem like the water pump is leaking. Make sure you check around your water pump and check for loose hose clamps and other leaks before changing your water pump.
Diagnosing a defective water pump might seem easy, but many other components of your cooling system can cause overheating symptoms similar to a defective water pump. Check your cooling system at regular intervals and be prepared for the road. Unexpected breakdowns will happen, but you can reduce your chance of this happening to you with proper preventive maintenance.