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Water Pump: The Engine's Cooling System

The water pump is an essential component of the engine. It provides the cooling system in the engine through circulation of the coolant or antifreeze. The water pump pushes and drives the coolant into the passages of the cylinder head and engine cylinder block, then out to the radiator. The engine is kept from overheating as the hot coolant passes first through the radiator to cool down before it goes back to the engine.

Water Pump
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How Water Pump Works

The water pump is a part of the engine's cooling system. It is driven through the drive belt by the engine or sometimes by a timing belt. The belt is attached to the engine's crankshaft. The component is actually a simple centrifugal pump that circulates fluid when the engine is moving. It is through the centrifugal force that the pump is able to send fluid outside while spinning wherein this fluid is continuously drawn from the center. The narrow opening of the water pump is right at the center so that fluid coming from the radiator strikes the pump vanes. The pump vanes then throw the fluid to the outer part of the pump to be able to enter the engine. The fluid that leaves the pump runs through the engine block, to the cylinder head, into the radiator and then finally back to the water pump.

A water pump is generally made up of the housing body, the main shaft, flange, impeller, bearings, seals, and gasket for sealing against the block. The rotating shaft on the bearing is compressed inside. A pulley with the shaft mounted on it is at the outer surface, while the impeller acting like centrifugal pump and a seal can be found at the inner part to keep the coolant from dripping out.

Typical Problems

The cooling system of most trucks consists of the water pump and the radiator. Water circulates around the engine's cylinders through passages and then moves through the radiator to cool. The most common problems involving the engine's water pump usually include the following:

  • Leakage of engine coolant caused by failure of the shaft to seal
  • Defective bearing creating some rattling or squeaking sound
  • Corroded or damaged impeller

These problems may be addressed easily if discovered early, and sometimes only the damaged part needs to be replaced. When the water pump is defective and is still allowed to work despite its failing condition, it might lead to overheating of the engine, which most often results to more serious engine damage. The internal engine and the cooling system may completely fall apart. In this case, the whole water pump unit has to be replaced and may even include replacement of the timing belt or the drive belt whichever is used to drive it. As the engine RPM is increased, the pump's flow rate equally increases, and the life span of water pump is usually between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. It is advisable to check the water pump condition regularly, and if it needs replacement, only high-quality parts must be used to avoid untimely failure.

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