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The water pump is a belt or chain-driven engine accessory bolted to the engine above the crankshaft pulley. The pump housing has an impeller that circulates engine coolant through the cooling system passageways in the engine block and cylinder head, on to the radiator, where the coolant temperature is reduced. . The lower temperature coolant then flows back to the water inlet on the engine and the water pump continues the cycle.
No. Should the water pump only leak a little bit, you can drive the car. However, a small leak could suddenly enlarge or the pump bearing might unexpectedly seize. Either circumstance would likely cause engine overheating. If a defective water pump causes the overheating, it is not safe to drive because of the damage to the engine.