Can you drive a car with a bad water pump?

water pump repair

How long do water pumps last?

A car water pump moves water from the radiator, through the motor and then returns it back to the radiator. It repeats this process over and over to make sure the motor stays a constant temperature regardless of the weather. The car water pump is vital to the car’s operating correctly and smoothly. 

A car water pump’s average lifespan is between 60,000 miles and 90,000 miles, the same lifespan as the timing belt. Why did we mention the timing belt in answering this question? Because a car water pump and timing belt will usually go out at the same time. If you’re having one replaced, ask your mechanic to check the other. Maybe they’ll give you a discount to get both of these replaced at the same time. 

Making sure your car has plenty of coolant will help your car water pump last longer. Dirty or inadequate amount of coolant will shorten the life of a car water pump. The quality of the car water pump will have an effect on the longevity too. The better the quality, the longer they last. 

How do you know if your water pump is going bad? 

Don’t wait for you mechanic to tell you that your car water pump is going out. Keep an ear and an eye out for the following and you’ll know that it is time to book an appointment with your mechanic:

  • Coolant Leaking: The car water pump is leaking around one or more of the several gaskets inside the pump.  Those gaskets wear out over time, bet damaged, and then you’ll see coolant dripping or leaking under your car. That fluid will be either a green or red color and will typically be coming out from enter of the car toward the front. 
  • Whining Sound: When the belt that goes around the water gets loose, it begins to slip and with that it begins chirping or whining. As soon as you hear that noise, call your mechanic. It could need a belt replaced or tightened, or it could be the bearings inside the car water pump are bad. In that case, you’ll need a new water pump. 
  • Engine Overheats: Since the main purpose of a car water pump is to keep coolant and water moving through the engine to maintain the temperature, if it isn’t working right, the engine will overheat. This isn’t an issue to ignore and put off until next payday because letting that continue, you’ll do more damage. It can crack the cylinder head, damage the head gaskets, burn the pistons, and more. 

What sound does a bad water pump make?

If your car water pump is going out, it is usually the bearings inside the pump that will be making a grinding, squeaking, or ticking while the car is running. This is happening because the shaft bearings are freezing up or locking up inside the water pump housing when the serpentine or timing belt is putting pressure on the bearings.

This why we stated earlier that if you’re need to get your car water pump replaced, or the belt replaced, have the mechanic check the other. These two components work together. 

Can a water pump go out without leaking?

Yes, a car water pump leaking isn’t always visible. In some cases, there can be a slow coolant leak that isn’t detected under the car, like a water puddle. Other indication that a car water pump is leaking is the around the water pump will have cavities or pitting from slow coolant leaking. This is the sign your mechanic will check when they’re changing the belt, because they know these two things are often going bad at the same time. 

radiator smoking

How long can you drive a car without a water pump?

 To clarify, when a car water pump broken, it doesn’t just “blow up” or quit working. There are weep holes that the coolant and water start leaking from first before it starts around the gaskets. This will appear like a slow drip, which is a good time to change out your car water pump. However, if you need to drive it until pay day, with low mileage and easy driving habit, you could make it a week with a bad water pump. Every car is different, every water pump is different, this isn’t something to count on as an exact. 

If it is summertime and you’re accustomed to having air conditioning in your car, be prepared for the air conditioning to stop when the car water pump quits. A car water pump and ac go hand in hand, and if the water pump isn’t keeping the motor cool, the air conditioner could quit working or cause the motor to get hotter faster. Call 630-932-4427 today for your water pump repair in Lombard and Wheaton, IL.