Can I Change Water Pump Without Timing Belt? Answered!

Changing the water pump without a timing belt is possible. You can change the water pump only if your timing belt is still in good condition. However, it is best to change both together as they have a similar lifespan. Changing both of them together is more cost-effective and doesn’t require additional labor hours. 

This article is about finding the answer to “can I change water pump without timing belt?”. Several factors can help to decide whether to change the water pump alone or change timing belt with it. Keep reading. 

Can I Change Water Pump Without Timing Belt?

Yes, you can change the water pump without changing the timing belt. You can replace only the water pump if your car timing belt is in good condition. 

However, it is highly recommended to change the timing belt, idler pulley, and tensioner pulley while changing the water pump for better engine performance. 

How To Change Water Pump Without Timing Belt? 

Knowing the proper steps to change the water pump is essential to ensure the job is done correctly. Here’s the whole process. 

Step 1: Turn off the vehicle and wait a few minutes to let the engine cool down. Disconnect the negative cable from the battery to prevent electrical accidents. Use a wrench and loosen the bolt on the negative battery and carefully remove the cable. 

Step 2: Locate the radiator drain petcock (in the bottom corner of the radiator) and put a drip pan underneath it. Now, remove the drain plug to drain the coolant into the pan. After draining, reinstall the drain plug. 

Step 3: Remove the timing cover with a compatible wrench. Clean the timing belt and surface around it with a brush to ensure dust can’t enter the engine when removing these parts.

Step 4: There should be a mark on the camshaft and crankshaft sprocket and engine compartment to ensure proper timing alignment. But over time, the marking fades. So, Mark the position of the crankshaft and camshaft sprockets against the engine compartment mark with a marker.

Moreover, you must mark the position of the timing belt on the sprockets to ensure that it is properly aligned when it is reinstalled.

Step 5: Remove the bolt that is protecting the belt tensioner with a wrench and then loosen the tension and carefully take out the timing belt. Check for visible damage in the pulleys and the timing belt tensioner. If there is any crack or damage on them, you have to remove and replace them as well.

Step 6: Remove the water pump bolts or fasteners with a compatible wrench that is holding the water pump in place. These bolts may be located on the front, back, or sides of the pump, depending on the design of the car. 

Step 7: Once the bolts are removed, gently move the water pump away from the engine block. The pump can be stuck due to gasket or sealant material. Carefully remove those sealants and gaskets. 

Step 8: Clean the surface with a brush before installing the new water pump. 

Step 9: Position the new water pump in place and secure it with the bolts that were removed earlier. Make sure to use new gaskets or seals as needed to prevent leaks. 

Step 10: Install the timing belt by aligning it with the marks you made on the sprockets and any other timing components. Make sure that the belt is properly tensioned and aligned. 

Step 11: Refill the radiator with coolant. 

That’s how you change the water pump without the timing belt. 

Why Should You Change The Water Pump And The Timing Belt Together?

It is highly recommended to change the timing belt when you change the car water pump. There are several reasons behind this, which are given below. 

The Timing Belt And The Water Pump Have Similar Lifespan

A water pump has a lifespan of around 60,000 miles to 100,000 miles of driving. A timing belt also has the same lifespan of about 60,000 to 100,000 miles of driving. Both of the components of your car will likely be worn out around the same time. 

So, consider replacing the timing belt when you change the water pump. 

The Timing Belt Drives The Water Pump

The timing belt drives the water pump by transferring rotational energy from the crankshaft to the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant throughout the engine. 

The teeth on the new water pump pulley can be a slight mismatch with the old timing belt. Especially when the timing belt is already a few years old. This can cause a slip between the water pump and the timing belt.

So, even if you have a new water pump, you can’t expect the smoothest engine operation if the timing belt is old or slightly damaged. 

The Timing Belt Might Already Be Damaged

The previously damaged water pump might have already damaged your timing belt as well.

For example, if the water pump was stuck, it might have put extra tension on the timing belt to rotate. As a result, the belt might also be strained. So, there is a good chance the timing belt is damaged. In fact, the belt can stretch over time.

Moreover, if you only change the water pump, the relatively sharper teeth of the new one can get mismatched friction with the timing belt pulley. As a result, the teeth of both components will wear out more quickly than usual.

It Is Cost-Effective

If you are replacing the water pump at a mechanic shop, replacing the timing belt with it will be cost-effective.

Changing the water pump or timing belt is time-consuming. You need to remove the timing cover, fan, and other engine components before you can reach them. 

This is why mechanics charge a high amount of money for replacing the water pump or timing belt. The replacement cost for the water pump is around $400 to $800.

While changing the water pump, you have to remove the timing belt first anyway. So, instead of paying more money again to replace the timing belt, consider changing it with the water pump. 

The timing belt is not very costly. You can get the whole kit, including a timing belt, water pump pulley, tensioner, idler pulley, and seals, for around $150 – $300. 

All these components are recommended to be replaced together. 

Summary:

You can replace the water pump without timing belt. However, you should replace water pump with timing belt for better engine performance. 

When Do I Need To Change The Timing Belt With Water Pump? 

Replacing the water pump doesn’t strictly require replacing the timing belt as well. However, sometimes it becomes mandatory to change them both together if – 

  1. The timing belt lifespan is almost over.
  2. You find any crack or fray on the timing belt. 
  3. The timing belt is missing a tooth. 
  4. The timing belt is discolored or has oil on it.

Changing the timing belt regularly is important (1). If you notice any of these signs, replace the timing belt immediately. 

For changing the timing belt along with the water pump, you can follow the above-mentioned steps under how to change the water pump without a timing belt. Just instead of marking the old timing belt and using it again, install a new one.

However, not all cars come with timing belts; some have a timing chain instead of a belt. Here’s whether a BMW 328i has a timing belt or a chain. Check that out anytime you need.

Things To Remember While Changing The Water Pump 

Keep the following things in mind while changing the water pump. 

  1. Make sure you have disconnected the battery, and while doing that, disconnect the negative connection first, then disconnect the positive one. 
  2. Wait a few minutes and let the engine cool down before starting the operation. 
  3. Have a helper to hold the pulleys in place while you loosen and tighten the bolts. 
  4. While reassembling everything back, ensure that the timing belt is completely tensioned and properly aligned (2). 

How To Maintain Car Water Pump?

Following some basic maintenance rules will keep your water pump in a good condition for a long time. Those rules are given below. 

  1. Make sure the coolant is at the proper level as specified in your car’s owner’s manual.
  2. Look for any visible signs of coolant leaks, such as puddles under the car or a low coolant level. If you find a leak, repair it immediately.
  3. Don’t mix different types of coolant together. Also, don’t forget to use compatible coolant only. 
  4. Coolant can become contaminated over time, so it’s important to change it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 
  5. The water pump is usually driven by the timing belt, so it’s important to make sure the belt is in good condition. If the belt is worn or damaged, it could cause the water pump to fail. If you notice any damage in the timing belt, replace it. 

FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Change A Water Pump?

Generally, it can take around 2 to 3 hours to change a water pump. The timing depends on the car’s model and the mechanic’s expertise.

What Are The Signs Of A Failing Water Pump?

Some signs of a failing water pump include leaking coolant, harmonic whining noise, engine overheating, and a lack of coolant circulation. Moreover, you will notice steam coming out from under the car hood. 

What Happens If Water Pump Breaks While Driving?

If the water pump breaks while you are driving, the water pump won’t be able to circulate the coolant through the engine. As a result, the engine will overheat. 

Conclusion 

If you ask, can I change water pump without timing belt? Then the answer is yes. However, if you ask, should I change the water pump without the timing belt? The answer would be no. 

Changing them together will save you time and money. Moreover, ensure the smooth operation of the engine. 

That’s all for now. Good luck and Goodbye.

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Aaron Byrne

Hi, Aaron Byrne here. I'm an expert automotive mechanic with 10 years of experience. I work on engine parts especially timing belts for their repair, maintenance, and replacement.