Water Pump Gasket
A water pump gasket forms a tight mechanical seal between the water pump and the engine block. Depending on the design of your water pump and engine, the water pump gasket can be made from a paper-based material or steel reinforced. Regardless of the material it is fabricated from, it serves to prevent coolant leaks from the water pump area.
The coolant circulates throughout your engine and cooling system under high pressure. This allows the coolant to boil at a higher than normal temperature, which significantly improves its absorbing capabilities. At the same time, this requires the water pump gasket to withstand harsh operating conditions to prevent coolant leaks and engine overheating. If the water pump gasket fails, coolant leaks will be the best of a bad lot, so it should be replaced once the problem is detected.
A failing water pump gasket can alert you of the problem in several ways. Here are the most typical signs of a bad water pump gasket:
Drops of coolant on the ground underneath your water pump are an indicator of a failed gasket. Inspect your water pump gasket for damage and get in touch with your mechanic.
If you notice a distinctive sweet smell inside the cabin or outside the vehicle, you should pay attention to the condition of your water pump gasket as it may leak.
Low coolant warning light is on
If the level of the coolant gets lower than the “min” mark, your dashboard low coolant warning light will come on to make you aware of the problem. If so, wait until the engine cools down and top up the coolant before driving a vehicle.
A failed water pump gasket can become a source of a huge coolant leak. If this happens on the go, you may lose a lot of coolant, resulting in engine overheating. In most cases, you’ll see that the low coolant warning light and check engine light are on if the engine is getting overheated. In addition, you may see steam coming from under the hood, and notice that your coolant temperature gauge shows high readings. None of these signs should be ignored if you want to prevent severe engine damage. Don’t wait until this happens. Shut down the engine and contact your mechanic for advice.
If your engine is getting overheated or there is a big coolant leak, it’s not recommended to drive the vehicle even if you are on the way to your mechanic. It should be towed to a repair shop to prevent additional damage to the engine and cooling system components. This will save you a lot of headache and money in the long run.
How to fix a bad water pump gasket
It is going without saying that a water pump gasket is not repairable. It must be replaced with a new high-quality gasket to fix the leaks. If no damage has been caused to the engine and cooling system components, the repair process will involve removing your drive belt, water pump and the gasket, cleaning all mounting surfaces, and installing a new gasket along with the water pump and the belt. Once installed, the water pump’s bolts must be properly tightened to prevent possible coolant leaks. Lastly, the mechanic will fill the system with new coolant and start the engine to check everything for leaks.
Since the repair process involves removing and reassembling a water pump, a drive belt or chain, and, in some cases, several other components, the labor can be pretty expensive, while a new gasket itself is usually cheap. That’s why, it is always a good idea to inspect the water pump and the drive belt or chain for signs of wear, and replace them if necessary.
Can I replace a water pump gasket myself?
While at first glance replacing a water pump gasket seems to be an easy job, don’t get confused by its false simplicity. Your water pump can be located in a tight space or deep inside the engine bay, so it can be difficult to access the gasket. Moreover, you will need to disassemble and then reassemble the water pump and the drive belt to replace the gasket. It’s better to leave this job to a professional to prevent occasional damage to the engine or cooling system components.