What is a water pump pulley?

A water pump pulley helps your vehicle’s water pump to work. The water pump, which is turned by a pulley, circulates coolant throughout your engine to cool it off.
It’s rare for a water pump pulley to wear out. However, car accidents can cause a water pump pulley to be damaged, as can incorrect installation of a water pump belt.

How to replace a water pump pulley

Diagnosing a problem with your water pump pulley involves professional expertise. Your car’s coolant system may involve your water pump, radiator, thermostat, water pump pulley, and/or hoses and belts, and you’ll need the knowledge of where to look to find the issue.
If your mechanic determines that your water pump pulley is damaged, they will likely take the following steps:
  • The mechanic will lift the hood and remove the drive belt (AKA serpentine belt).
  • Then the mechanic will remove the damaged water pump pulley (and may recommend that you also remove the water pump as well).
  • The new pulley will be installed—possibly along with a new water pump.
This process may sound straightforward, but it may wind up being more involved. Always ask your mechanic to explain what needs to be done if you want to know more.

When do I need to replace my water pump pulley?

Normally, a water pump pulley does not go bad from average wear and tear on a vehicle. But if you’ve been in an accident, it may need to be replaced, or the bearings inside of the water pump can go bad. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
  • Overheating or engine running hot. Engine overheating is a general sign that something is wrong with your engine’s coolant system.
  • Grinding noises when idling. This is another rather general indication that something is wrong with your vehicle’s engine.
  • Damage noticed during an oil change or other maintenance. When you take your car for an oil change, a mechanic may notice physical damage to the water pump pulley.

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