Regardless of how meticulously you maintain a vehicle, the radiator water pump will eventually fail. This engine component is responsible for continuously pumping coolant throughout the cooling system. It is subjected to extreme temperatures, and because it is attached to the engine, spins at very high revolutions. The radiator water pump is driven by fan belts, and as such, has tension placed on it in order to spin it. The pulley is attached to the shaft of the pump, which is mounted through a bearing and water seal. Here are three symptoms of a bad radiator water pump:
1. Temperature Fluctuations
If the cooling system is operating correctly, the temperature should remain stable throughout a range of vehicle operating conditions. However, if your temperature gauge starts bouncing between normal and hot, this could indicate a bad water pump. Since this symptom can also be due to a faulty radiator, more investigation must be performed.
Coolant drips under the part of the vehicle that houses the water pump could indicate a bad water pump. If coolant drips are found, an under-hood inspection must be performed. Once cool, check around the engine for signs of coolant leaks. Note that if the leak is minor, the drips will have dried, leaving a distinctive trail.
3. Groaning and/or Grinding Sounds
Once the water seal has been compromised, coolant leaks into the bearing and washes out its grease. Without grease, the bearing will overheat and cause a groaning or grinding sound to be emitted from the water pump. This noise can be heard from the outside of the engine compartment, and will get louder as engine speed increases. If the problem is not immediately fixed, the bearing can actually break apart, and cause the pulley to fall off the pump. If this happens while driving, there will be a loss of engine derived power functions, because the belt will have come off.
There are all major and common symptoms of a bad water pump. Drips and odd sounds should never be ignored, because ignoring them could cost you higher repair bills.