Water Pump Replacement jobs can vary wildly in difficulty. Depending on what you drive it an older vehicle with a longitudinally mounted motor and a timing chain you may have the water pump out and back in in less than 2 hours. Vehicles with timing belt drive water pumps add a whole another level of complicity to the job and can take 4-8 yours!
In the video above we’re talking about a water pump on a 2008 Toyota Highlander V6. Besides a timing belt driven water pump, the water pump on a transversely mounted V6 is one of the most difficult to change. On this vehicle, it’s even more difficult due to the shape of the water pump.
In any engine, the coolant has to flow through both the engine block and both of the cylinder heads. Most “V” shaped engines like a V6 or V8 will have some sort fo water crossover pipe between the cylinder heads to make sure the flow is the same and to make sure temperatures stay the same on both sides of the engine. On this engine, the water pump serves as that crossover as it is connected to both cylinder heads, a pipe to send coolant to the back of the motor, and the thermostat housing. For our job, that means 2 things: There are a bunch of bolts and the water pump is a goofy shape.
The other reason water pumps on a transversely mounted V6 are such a chore is because transversely mounted motors are usually smashed right up against the frame rail to make room for the transmission. That means you’ve got almost no room to get a wrench on the bolts or remove the water pump once you get it loose.
That was exactly the hangup we found on this job! We had 1 bolt that we just couldn’t get to come out of the water pump. It was a pretty long bolt due to where it was attaching the water pump to the motor and the head of the bolt would bump into the frame rail or AC line before it was all the way out of the motor. Our creative solution for this was to remove a motor mount and loosen up another one so we could move the motor a little bit to get enough room to get the bolt out.
Loosening up a motor mount isn’t a bad idea as long as you make sure the motor is always supported. Most transverse motors have a transverse motor mount that stops the rocking motion of the motor. These mounts can be removed as long as the engine isn’t running without any danger. The other motor mount we removed actually carries some of the weight of the motor so we had to support the motor before we loosed that motor. Often times the only place to support a motor like this is by the oil pan. Oil pans aren’t made to hold the weight of the motor so make sure you use a big block of wood near an edge of the oil pan on top of your jack to spread the load out.
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