Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Water Pump Pulley

In order to maintain a consistent and safe operating temperature, your vehicle utilizes a coolant system that circulates coolant from the radiator, through the engine block, to a heater core and back to the radiator. Typically this system runs for years with routine service and maintenance including replacing fan belts, water pump belts and flushing the radiator fluid. However, one of the more common mechanical parts that can fail sooner than later is the water pump pulley.

The water pump on any vehicle uses a system of belts and pulleys to operate. Most modern cars, trucks, and SUVs use a serpentine belt which routes around the engine, turning pulleys, which operate various accessories including AC systems, and alternators. When the water pump pulley wears out, the pulley will refuse to turn, which results in a water pump that doesn't efficiently circulate water throughout the engine.

In order to reduce the potential of having your engine overheat or other major mechanical problems developing, having the water pump pulley replaced before it breaks completely is recommended by all mechanics and automotive manufacturers. There are a few warning signs that you can be aware of that will indicate a problem with your water pump pulley exists.

1. Physical damage to the water pump pulley

The most obvious sign that a problem exists with your water pump pulley is if it's physically damaged. There are multiple ways this metal component can be damaged, including having an incorrect sized or improperly adjusted water pump belt installed, vehicle accidents or problems with the internal bearings that allow the pulley to spin. This symptom is commonly recognized by oil service technicians when they are under your car and changing your engine oil or oil filter. If one of these technicians tells you that your water pump pulley looks damaged, don't wait for it to fix itself. Contact a local ASE certified mechanic to replace the water pump pulley before it causes significant damage to your vehicle's engine.

2. Extensive wear on the water pump or serpentine belt

Another common symptom of a damaged water pump pulley is when you or someone else looking under your vehicle's hood notices extensive wear on the belts that come in contact with the pulley. If the pulley is loose it can cause the water pump belts to shake and develop more heat. When this occurs, the belts can crack or literally shred; as most of these belts are made out of rubber and nylon cords for strength. If it's discovered that the water pump or serpentine belt is wearing out sooner than it should, it's likely a problem with the water pump pulley.

3. Grinding sound from the front of your car

Most of the time, the problem with a water pump pulley is not the pulley itself, but the bearings inside the pulley. When the bearings wear out, it will create a metal-to-metal grinding sound which is commonly due to lack of lubrication or a faulty bearing. This sound is very difficult to notice while driving, however if you can hear a grinding sound while the car is idling, pull the car over, pop the hood of your engine and listen closely to the front of your motor. If you can hear a constant grinding sound, close the hood and drive home safely. Contact a mechanic to inspect this problem and have them replace the water pump pulley as a precaution.

4. Engine overheats

If your engine temperature is running in the "red zone" on your dashboard temperature register, that is an instant sign that a problem exists with the coolant system. Whether it's low coolant, a problem with the radiator, the fan or the water pump, it's something that should be inspected by a certified mechanic as soon as possible. One common misdiagnosis that unexperienced mechanics will make is assuming that the water pump is broken, when in fact it's the water pump pulley that has ceased to function correctly.

Anytime you hear or recognize any of the above warning signs, make sure to contact an experienced ASE certified mechanic to inspect, road test, diagnose, and repair your car, before it causes additional damage. Replacing a water pump pulley can be rather inexpensive, so be proactive and contact YourMechanic as soon as you notice any of these warning signs.


Next Step

Schedule Vehicle Engine Cooling Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Vehicle Engine Cooling 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 Cooling Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(146,098)

Rating Summary
136,734
5,133
1,039
737
2,455
136,734
5,133
1,039
737
2,455

Ben

40 years of experience
1191 reviews
Ben
40 years of experience
Dodge Durango - Car is not starting - Houston, Texas
Prompt
Toyota Highlander - Window Motor / Regulator Assembly Replacement (Passenger Side Front) - Houston, Texas
b

Glenn

20 years of experience
38 reviews
Glenn
20 years of experience
Pontiac Grand Prix - Vehicle Engine Cooling Inspection - Indianapolis, Indiana
Ok

Tyler

26 years of experience
178 reviews
Tyler
26 years of experience
Jeep Liberty - Starter - Galveston, Texas
Tyler texted me he was on his way and arrived on time. He is very friendly and completed the repair quickly and provided photos of his work. Great service.

Jose

9 years of experience
285 reviews
Jose
9 years of experience
Kia Optima - Alternator - Clearwater, Florida
Jose arrived on time, was very efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, polite, helpful with questions, and overall I am very satisfied with Jose and the Your Mechanic experience. Thanks!

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 Long Does a Crankshaft Harmonic Balancer Last?
The The crankshaft harmonic balancer is also known as the crank pulley damper. It is connected to the crankshaft on the engine and reduces vibrations that originate from your engine. In addition, it serves as a pulley for the drive...
How to Buy a Good Quality Timing Belt
You You car’s timing belt is a big part of what makes your car run smoothly. This belt is responsible for controlling the camshafts that are in the engine. It closes and opens the valves at the exact right moment,...
How Long Does a Water Pump Belt Last?
There There are a variety of components that make up the cooling system of a car. Most people fail to realize just how much heat their engine produces. Having the components of a car’s cooling system running at peak condition...

Related questions

Radiator hose rubbing on pully or a belt

Hey there. If the accident caused the hose to move closer to the pulley, then you may not have much choice but to get the body shop to pull the frame back. If you can move the hose, then you...

What would be a price estimate of replacing a timing belt but not the the component kit?

The timing belt on your vehicle is recommended to be changed every 60,000-90,000 miles. If a timing belt fails, the engine will stop running, and you may damage the engine. To get an idea of the cost involved to replace...

Can a bad water pump cause water in the oil

Hi and thank you for your question. Water pumps are designed to pump water through the engine, radiator, and heating system. Water pumps will not cause oil to enter the cooling system. The oil coming into the water can be...

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