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What is an Automobile Water Pump?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 23, 2024
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An automobile water pump is part of the cooling system that is used inside most car engines. A functioning water pump is mandatory for the car to work, as it keeps the engine temperature below a certain threshold. Most vehicles have a combustion engine, which generates a considerable amount of heat.

Most cars use a liquid-based cooling system. Fluid is circulated through a series of built-in passages through and around the engine core. The heat from the engine is absorbed by the liquid, reducing the overall engine temperature.

This liquid flows to the radiator, which distributes it over a wider surface area and allows the heat to escape as air is moved across the surface of the liquid. The air absorbs the heat, and the dispersion allows the liquid to be quickly cooled. An engine temperature gauge was added to the dashboard to inform the driver when the engine was getting hotter. The driver would add additional water or other cooling liquid directly to the system. Alternately, the driver would lift the hood and wait for the engine to cool.

Antifreeze was developed to enhance the efficiency of the temperature management system of the engine. This liquid is a mixture of water and alcohol and was originally designed to prevent the automobile water pump from cracking when the water turned to ice in the winter.

The automobile water pump is really a centrifugal pump. As soon as the engine is running, the pump forces the liquid to circulate. A belt connects the engine crankshaft to the water pump, providing the power needed to operate the pump.

An automobile water pump has an inlet and exterior side. The inlet is built into the center of the pump. Radiator fluid is pulled into the pump and is moved to the outside of the water pump through centrifugal force.

The cooling liquid is moved through the engine, cooling it as it travels. There are a series of passages build into the engine block to allow liquid distribution to the most important areas of the engine. The force of the automobile water pump ensures that the liquid moves along the passages at a predetermined pace.

A broken water pump will result in a steadily increasing engine temperature. If the car continues to operate without a cooling system, then the engine will overheat and stop working. A trained automobile mechanic is required to replace a broken water pump.

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Discussion Comments
By chivebasil — On Sep 16, 2011

Most people end up getting their water pump replaced whenever they get their timing belt replaced. This is because in most cars the water pump must be removed in order to access the timing belt. It is often easier and necessary to just replace it with a new one rather than to put the old one back in.

I remember when this first happened to me I thought the mechanic was trying to trick me. I needed a timing belt and here he was trying to sell me a water pump too. But it is really a good idea to get it replaced at the same time because if you are getting your timing belt replaced you have probably put enough miles on your car that it is time to do the water pump too. Trust your mechanic on this one. They know what they are talking about.

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