Guidelines for replacing water pumps in 13 easy steps

When to replace a car water pump

The average water pump handles 1.7 million litres of coolant in about four years, or 100,000 km (62,000 miles). A water pump that is failing causes an engine to overheat. If a water pump does fail, the damage to the engine could be catastrophic. Therefore, it is important to check the water pump at each service interval.

The 'standard time' for installing a belt kit usually includes fitment of a water pump. A decision to change the belt now, but not to replace the water pump at the same time, assumes that the water pump will last for another complete duty cycle of the belt. Do the job once!

Gates recommends changing water pumps whenever belt kits are fitted and recommends the replacement of old gaskets and seals with new ones.

Our water pump kits include everything for a complete drive system overhaul. Check our online catalogue to see if there is a kit available for the model that you are working on.

It's essential to check the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations before attempting to replace any water pump. Each engine design is likely to have its own belt drive system configuration, so observe any specific instructions. Ensure that you use the correct tools.

How to install water pumps in 13 easy steps


Safety first
Always wait until the engine is cool before working on any part of the cooling system.


Remove the belt drive components following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended procedures.


Remove the hose attached to the water pump.
Be aware that a considerable amount of coolant can pour out of the hose when you take it off.


Loosen the bolts and remove the old water pump.


Remove the old seal/gasket or old sealant remains and make sure the mounting surface is clean.


Before installing the new water pump, inspect the other cooling system service parts: coolant hoses, thermostat and pressure cap(s).


Install the new water pump. Do not force the pump on by striking the pump shaft.
Old gaskets and seals should be replaced by new ones. Carefully follow installation instructions. Only apply sealant if specifically recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Put an even bead of sealant along the edge of the part, but don’t use too much sealant. If you do get too much sealant on the part, wipe off the excess before mounting the new water pump. Too much sealant compromises the correct installation and will break off within the cooling system, contaminating it. Sealants are also made with different drying rates, so respect the sealant's printed instructions.


Tighten the bolts evenly to the manufacturer’s torque specifications.


Re-attach the hose.


Refill the cooling system with the correct vehicle manufacturer’s recommended coolant.


Manually rotate the pump and make sure it rotates freely.


Make sure the belt drive system that will drive the new water pump is in perfect condition and installed following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended procedures
The belt drive system works hand in hand with the water pump. That is why according to Gates changing the water pump, belt and other drive components at the same time is good preventive maintenance.


Do a final visual inspection to ensure there are no leaks after the cooling system refill.
When a water pump is new, some seepage from the weep hole is normal as it takes about ten minutes of operation for the pump’s internal mechanical seal to properly seat itself (break-in period). More pronounced seepage and drips from the weep hole after this break-in period or leakage from the mounting surface are abnormal and signal part failure or faulty installation.
Keep in mind that some leaks will become obvious when the engine is cold, but others only when it is hot.