Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Water Pump Belt

Whether you have a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle, your primary source of keeping the engine cool is a fully functioning coolant system. Included in this system is the radiator, water pump, coolant hoses, and a fan attached to the radiator that cools heated coolant after it has circulated through the engine block. When all of these parts work perfectly, the engine runs smooth and maintains a consistent temperature. However, the most common cause of engine overheating issues is a broken water pump belt.

The water pump is responsible for circulating coolant from the radiator, around the engine and then back to the radiator to cool before beginning the process again. The pump is operated by a serpentine belt made out of rubber and nylon cords that also operates your other accessories, including the power steering pump and air conditioner compressor. Over an extended period of time through normal use and exposure to high temperatures, this water pump belt will become brittle, crack and eventually break.

Replacing your water pump belt is part of normal maintenance. If it breaks, it can cause multiple components in your vehicle to stop working and put your vehicle completely out of commission. In order to avoid this problem, staying on top of routine maintenance and service would significantly help. However, there are a few common symptoms that hint towards having a failing water pump belt.

1. Cracks or frayed nylon cords in the belt

Upon visual inspection, it's pretty simple to notice that a potential problem exists with your water pump belt. A normal belt is clean and has no cracks or frays in the belt. However, if you look under the hood of your vehicle and can see visible cracks on the surface of the belt or you see what looks like strings coming from the sides of the belts, this is a sure fire indication of a belt that is about ready to break. If you notice this warning sign, contact a local ASE certified mechanic to replace your water pump belt. This process requires specialized tools and experience in replacing the belt, as it needs to be looped through multiple components to work correctly.

There are many different types of water pump or serpentine belts that power the water pump and additional systems. Some of them are grooved while others are smooth. If you or another mechanic notices that grooves from a belt are missing, it's also a good indication that the belt is ready to break and needs to be replaced.

2. Squealing noises coming from the front of your car

As belts are used to power water pumps, AC units, and alternators, they tend to stretch over time. As they stretch, they don't fit quite as snug as they once did. When this occurs, the belt will create a harmonic sound as it circulates around each of the pulleys on every device it powers. This is common with alternator belts, air conditioning control belts, and water pump belts to name a few. If either of these belts fail, it can have a serious impact on the operation of your vehicle. However, when the water pump belt breaks, it can lead to overheating, broken engine components or complete engine failure. If you notice a squealing sound coming from the front of your vehicle when the motor is running, contact YourMechanic and one of our local ASE certified mechanics will arrive to your home or office to replace your water pump belt if needed.

3. Burning rubber smell coming from the engine

Another common symptom of a broken or seriously worn out water pump belt is burning rubber coming from the engine. As the belt wears out, it stretches and develops more heat as it circulates around different pulleys and individual engine components it powers. This additional heat can get intense and cause the belt to burn. If you notice the smell of burning rubber coming from the front of your vehicle, safely drive your car back home and contact a mechanic as soon as possible to inspect the problem and replace the water pump belt if needed.

The water pump of any vehicle is a critical mechanical part that can last a very long time without having to be replaced, as long as the water pump belt is replaced as recommended by the manufacturer. If you recognize any of the above warning signs, contact YourMechanic so we can set up an appointment with a local ASE certified mechanic to diagnose the problem and deliver an affordable solution.


Next Step

Schedule Vehicle Engine Mechanical Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Vehicle Engine Mechanical Inspection. Once the problem has been diagnosed, you will be provided with an upfront quote for the recommended fix and receive $20.00 off as a credit towards the repair. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Vehicle Engine Mechanical Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(171,627)

Rating Summary
161,099
5,644
1,174
834
2,876
161,099
5,644
1,174
834
2,876

Chris

22 years of experience
2223 reviews
Chris
22 years of experience
Volvo 244 L4-2.3L - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Newport Beach, California
Toyota Tacoma - Battery - Irvine, California
Chris was great! He got here early, was very friendly and finished the job quickly.

Rusty

23 years of experience
512 reviews
Rusty
23 years of experience
GMC Sonoma L4-2.2L - Vehicle Engine Mechanical Inspection - Arlington, Texas
Great overall impressions. Vechile is driveable and runs terrific now.

Raymond

37 years of experience
402 reviews
Raymond
37 years of experience
Cadillac Brougham V8-5.7L - Vehicle Engine Mechanical - Las Vegas, Nevada
Talent and passion for what you do in any field is critical, Raymond seems to have both. I have dealt with many Mechanics in my day Raymond is one of the best. Thank you sir.

Andrew

15 years of experience
499 reviews
Andrew
15 years of experience
Ford Ranger V6-2.9L - Car is not starting - Portland, Oregon
Really nice! Really knowledgable and fast. Thank you so much!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How to Find Car Insurance Records
Buying a car is an exciting and challenging time. It’s possible to go through the whole process of buying a car, transferring the title, and obtaining car insurance without asking the previous owner whether there were any...
How to Diagnose and Repair Noisy Brakes
Squeaky car brakes are hard to drive with. If your car brakes are making noise, check the brake pads and brake rotors to see if they are worn down.
How to Replace an Air Conditioning Belt
Replacing an AC belt can be challenging, as you have to locate specific parts in the car in order to do so, and use proper tools to complete the task.

Related questions

Ongoing coolant leaking issues - 2003 Grand Cherokee Jeep
Hey there. Odds are that the water pump (https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/water-pump-replacement) is leaking. I would have a technician pressure test the cooling system. It will push the coolant out from wherever it is leaking to help find the issue. Rule of thumb,...
My Small SUV is squealing while I'm slowing down and I'm not pressing on the brakes.
Hi there. The noise could be the brakes indicator rubbing on the rotors on the front of your vehicle. This is the reminder to have the brakes (https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/squealing-noise-from-brakes-inspection) replaced. If the brakes are new or have lots of friction material...
oil drain plug
You would use a bolt-out spiral fluted socket. A common example of this tool is the Craftsman 10 pc. Damaged Bolt/Nut Remover Set Low Profile Bolt-Out (Item # 00952166000P Model # 52166). However, Irwin makes a set as well and...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com