How to Tell if my Water Pump is Bad

how to tell if my water pump is badHaving a bad water pump can cause a lot of problems with your vehicle.  If you’re asking “how to tell if my water pump is bad”, then you’re probably already experiencing some of the problems associated with it.

The water pump in your car is the motive force behind the cooling system.  Every vehicle on the road today is equipped with a radiator at the front of the car to cool the antifreeze in your vehicle.  In most vehicles, the water pump draws the coolant out of the radiator and pushes it into your engine block, cylinder heads and any other components that need to be cooled like an oil cooler, the throttle body or turbocharger if your engine is equipped.  From there, your engine coolant is pushed, still by the pressure of your engine’s water pump, back into your radiator to be cooled and start the journey again.

If the water pump in your car fails, the motive force for the coolant quickly goes away allowing the water in the engine to heat up very quickly and your engine to overheat, possibly causing damage.  There are really 3 main ways your water pump can fail, catastrophic failure, bearing failure or seal failure.

First, catastrophic failure to your water pump is possible but unlikely.  This would include things like the actual pump impeller coming off the shaft, pump blades chipping or falling off or other damage that would cause water to stop flowing.  Although unlikely, this type of water pump failure is the most dangerous.  Catastrophic failure of your water pump will cause either a complete or partial loss of coolant flow and rapid overheating.  If this happens to your vehicle, it may be accompanied by engine noise or a broken engine belt, but will definitely result in your engine temperature gauge rising quickly.  If this happens to you, quickly pull over and shut down your engine.

How to tell if my water pump is badA more likely failure of your engine’s water pump is a bearing failure.  Your engine’s water pump is spinning with your engine so the bearing in your water pump can wear out the same as any other bearing in your vehicle.  Your water pump bearing is either a sealed bearing or lubricated simply by the coolant so it has the opportunity to wear out much more quickly than the oil lubricated bearings in your engine.  A worn bearing in your water pump will usually manifest itself as pump noise as it will allow the pump pulley to wobble as it rotates.  In extreme cases, you may be able to see the pump pulley or belt wobbling as your engine idles.  With your engine off and cold, you can try grabbing the water pump pulley and wiggle it to see if you can feel bearing movement.  If you do, the best option is to simply replace your water pump.

The last way your water pump can fail is a seal failure.  This can include the shaft seal or the water pump seal to the block.  The shaft seal can fail due to wear or a bad bearing and the block seal can fail due to overheating, improper installation or simply old age.

If the shaft seal is worn and leaking in your water pump, the best course of action is to simply replace the pump.  If you’ve got a water pump to block seal leak it is important to check around the water pump for cracks in your block first.  The area around your water pump is due to significant amounts of stress due to the heating and cooling of your engine in that area and can be prone to cracking.  A crack in this area will leak small amounts of coolant, especially when warm, and can easily be confused for a water pump seal leak.

If you do discover a cracked block near your water pump, you can quickly and easily seal the leak using BlueDevil Radiator and Block Sealer.  BlueDevil Radiator and Block Sealer is specially formulated to seek out cracks in your radiator and block and form a seal and stop the leak.  BlueDevil Radiator and Block Sealer seals the leak in your block without clogging or harming any other area of your cooling system!

For more information about BlueDevil Radiator and Block Sealer, click on the banner below!


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Pictures Provided By:

water_pump.jpg – By ooiphotoo – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link
water_pump_pulley.jpg – By AppleEyesStudio – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link

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33 responses to “How to Tell if my Water Pump is Bad

    1. J. Taylor-Bey-

      If the water pump stopped working while you were driving the vehicle, the circulation of water/coolant would be greatly restricted, water/coolant flow would stop and the vehicle would eventually start to overheat. Feel free to contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 with any other questions.

      Thank you!


  1. I have a 2014 Cruze- notorious for heating/cooling issues. Just replaced a few things due to leaks, however I am now getting a coolant smell through the vents but only when I’m idling in drive. No smell while idling in Park. Also- car smells hot, but temperature gauge remains normal. Has been suggested that it could be a bad water pump. Thoughts?

    1. Jessie-

      Thank you for asking about your Chevy Cruze. Depending on the manufacturer, it is typically recommended to have the water pump replaced every 90,000 miles. However, if the vehicle isn’t overheating, more than likely, the water pump is functioning properly. Are you still continuing to lose water/coolant? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


  2. Hello
    I have ford taurus 2015 SE 3.6 V6. I had a minor front accident, which broke front bumper grill and shutter grill and the radiator is fine. One mechanic checked it and told me that the water pump is effected and failing slowly. My question is that is it possible that it’s failing too slowly in my case, whereas, my car did not reduce any amount of coolant water, no smells, no water marks under, with highway drive plus city drive. with and without AC. The car is fine but i have the doubt about what mechanic is saying
    Please guide
    Bundle of thanks

    1. Asif-

      Thank you for asking about your Ford Taurus. It is possible that the mechanic could have inspected the water pump and found a seep or some kind of build up, leading him to believe the water pump was starting to go. You wouldn’t necessarily see water/coolant dripping or leaving a mark on the ground. It is also possible that you wouldn’t really be noticing a loss of water/coolant, especially if it is in the beginning stages of starting to fail. The water pump is responsible for circulating water/coolant throughout the system and is typically recommended to be replaced every 90,000-100,000 miles. Based on your description, it would be a good idea to have the water pump replaced to prevent further issues from happening down the road.

      Thank you!


  3. Thanks Blue devil pro for previous reply.
    Can you please guide about octane also. Does octane affects car’s acceleration? and power?. I was previously using 95 octane, now i am using 91 octane and tires are not spinning. whereas, on 95 octane car was doing good burnout. Does that mean that car’s power is reduced. or it has something to do with tire traction, weather etc.

    1. Asif,

      Thanks for your question about octane. It is possible that using lower octane is reducing the amount of power your car can make. The higher the octane rating of the fuel, the more resistant it will be to knocking or preignition. If using a lower octane fuel is causing knocking, your motor will sense that and reduce the engine timing to compensate for the lower octane fuel. Reduced timing means less power and could be what is causing your car to not have enough power to spin the wheels.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  4. I have a 08 Impala 3.5 engine. V6. I was told my water pump is leaking coolant . I was wondering if you a product that would repair the leak?

    1. Bob-

      Thank you for asking about your Chevy Impala. Unfortunately, we do not manufacture a product intended to stop water pump leaks. Having the water pump replaced may be your best option.

      Thank you!


  5. Hello guys 🙂
    I have a ford focus 2.0 TDCi that i was driving last week and i noticed some kind of smoke coming out the engine and i pulled over i noticed that my engine was waay hot than normal, but what puzzled me is that the expansion tank water was at normal temp so was my gauge. what could be the problem?

    1. Malvern-

      Thank you for asking about your Ford Focus. How many miles are on the vehicle? Typically, it is recommended to replace the water pump at 90,000 – 100,000 mile intervals. If it has reached or surpassed that mileage, it would be a good idea to replace the water pump. The smoke you are seeing could be due to water/coolant leaking from the water pump gasket on to the engine but, you would also be seeing the temperature guage rising in most cases. If the issue continues, you may want to bring it to a shop for a proper diagnosis.

      Thank you!


    1. Samuel-

      Is the vehicle overheating at all? You can check the thermostat to see if it’s functioning properly by removing it and placing it in boiling water, to see if its opening at the proper temperature.

      Hope this helps!


  6. I have a pontiac g6 it overheats quickly and causes the car to not have acceleration i changed the thermostat and the top radiator hose as well due to a hole hopefully its nothing serious as blown head

    1. Courtney-

      Thank you for asking about your Pontiac g6. Your next step may be to have the water pump replaced. If the circulation of water/coolant is poor, it could cause the vehicle to overheat rather quickly.

      Thank you!


  7. Toyota sienna 2004 213000 mile. Car was perfect drove yesterday A/c felt like had no gas and just throwing Air parked the car notice cold air is coming out. Turn A/c off then realized my car was over heated. Filled up Antifreeze to top drive 2 mile car start to heat again. I cannot see no leaks. Water pump fill cold pump coming out from coolent reserve tank seems as it going away but the small pipe to the engine is way to hot. The guy that help me said it’s my water pipe is that even making any sense?

    1. Shira-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Sienna. Based on your description, it is possible that a faulty water pump is the reason your vehicle is overheating. If the flow in the cooing system is being restricted, and overheating that quickly, it is most likely time for a water pump replacement. You can also check to see that the thermostat is functioning properly and opening up as it should. A faulty thermostat could also cause the vehicle to overheat, as you have described.

      Thank you!


    1. Ron,

      Thanks for your question about your car overheating. If your car is overheating, but not all the time it could be caused by a clog in your radiator or a problem with your water pump. Similarly, a low cooling system level can cause overheating if the ambient temperature fluctuates drastically from day to day or the distance you travel each trip fluctuates also.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  8. So I have an 04 2.4l eclipse that I’m having an overheating issue with, I’ve replaced the radiator, the thermostat. Coolant, checked all the hoses and the water pump. Now the car only overheats after I’ve driven for a while and had 2 stop alot or if it’s really hot outside n I stop only a few times, but averages maybe 20 miles before any kind of overheating starts.once the overheating starts it goes to about a quarter of the way from the top n just kinda sticks there. Sometimes it will go back down in temperature if I have a straight drive with no stops. I’ve tried everything including a compression test that came back with zero problems. I’m at a loss

    1. Paige-

      Thank you for asking about your Mitsubishi Eclipse. Based on your description, there is most likely some kind of restriction in the system, causing an issue with the circulation of water/coolant. Depending on how many miles are on the vehicle, it may be time for a water pump replacement, as it is typically recommended every 90,000 miles or so to have this service performed. Another possibility is having an air pocket trapped in the system. You may notice a bubbling or a boiling over if that is the case. Have you attempted bleeding the system? If the vehicle doesn’t have a bleeder valve, you can accomplish this idling the vehicle with the radiator cap off. It usually will take around 15 – 20 minutes. You should eventually notice the coolant stops bubbling up every so often. As it bubbles up the coolant level will drop and you should top it off.

      Thank you!


  9. I have a 2004 Audi A6 Quattro 2.7T that has been leaking coolant as of late. It seems to leak coolant on occasion while parked after driving. It does not leak everytime and the leak seems more serious at times. I’ve had it looked at and a leak was not found at the time. Does this seem like it could be the pump, or possibly the seal?

    1. Barrett-

      Thank you for asking about your Audi A6 Quattro. Based on your description, it seems more likely that a hose connection is loose than something to do with the water pump. If the leak was water pump related, that would have been detected at the time the vehicle was looked at. Are you noticing any other symptoms such as overheating? Have you had to add water/coolant? Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


  10. I have a 1995 Ford Ranger, 2.3L engine. It was overheating, I replaced the radiator, thermostat, heat sensor, HCL valve and flushed the heater core. The vehicle no longer overheats, but I cannot get the heat to turn on. When I check the water hoses, the one on top gets a little warm, the one on the bottom stays cold. Also neither of the hoses connected to the heater core are that hot. Is it possible that the water pump is going bad?

    1. Willie,

      Thanks for your question about your 1995 Ford Ranger. It is possible that your water pump is starting to go out and not able to push water through your heater core. If that was the case you would probably have a large temperature difference across your radiator as well. It’s also possible that your heater core is still clogged so it may be worth removing the hoses and pushing water through with a garden hose just to make sure it isn’t still clogged.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

  11. I have a 2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade, in August I noticed a trickle of anti-freeze like fluid running down the side and underneath the engine creating a spot on our garage floor. If the engine has been running & under pressure, no leaks occur. After a day or two of being parked a small drip was taking place. When I operated the A/C there was an intermittent whining sound. Now in November I’m not running the A/C, the heater & defroster work and no leak. I thought the water pump may have leaked fluid through the “weep” hole. So far the radiator and all connections have been checked by a mechanic and given the ok. No overheating. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    1. Mark-

      Thank you for asking about your Jeep Liberty Renegade. Based on your description and the mechanic’s “ok,” it does not sound like your water pump is going bad. Typically, when the water pump starts not functioning properly, you would have an issue with overheating and more than likely, notice antifreeze leaking from the weep hole. Also, the fact that your heater is functioning properly indicates that you are getting proper flow, which means the water pump is circulating and functioning as it should.

      Thank you!


  12. I have a toyota camary 2.4….if i drive this for 3hrs The coolant water goes dry…i had to stop and topup the water again…no rising in happen once when the water goes dry and thw car just stoped, i quickly check the temperature and it was at normal stage. I have to wait for the radiator to cool.when i checked the water inside the coolant reservoir and radiator has gone dry off.please what should i do please.

    1. Williams-

      Thank you for asking about your Toyota Camry. Are you noticing any other symptoms, besides the loss of coolant? It seems strange that you are not noticing a rise in temperature, even with the extreme loss of coolant you are experiencing. Please contact our technical support line at 888-863-0426 so that we can get a little better understanding of the vehicle’s condition and be able to make any appropriate recommendations.

      Thank you!


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