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Old 09-16-2007, 05:23 PM   #1
rreuben
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Default How to detect a water pump leak

Hi folks,

Need some advice on what to do about a low coolant level and possibly leaking water pump.

This morning, I peered under the hood to check coolant, brake and steering fluids on my 99 SL2 (93K miles) and found that the coolant level had gone low. When I pulled the car back a bit, I noticed the ground had some fluid on it (smelled like coolant)

I got one of those $9.95 oil change specials 2 days ago from a local Saturn dealer which came with a 27 pt inspection. Inspection said that the water pump is leaking. However, the water pump is about a year old (got it changed at a local Meineke). About 6 months ago I took the car back to Meineke to check on the water pump (the previous '27 pt safety inspection' at the dealer noted a leaking pump) and upon pressure testing, I was told by Meineke that the system is ok and that the dealer is probably seeing an old stain, thereby drawing the conclusion.

What confuses me now is who to trust, the dealer, Meineke? Is the lower coolant level in the reservoir and the fluid on the ground this morning a warning sign? Coolant does not automatically evaporate, does it?

Any advice on what to do next would be much appreciated. I am considering topping off the reservoir and keeping a close eye on it for the next several days.

Thanks.

Ron
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Old 09-16-2007, 05:38 PM   #2
oseberg
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

The coolant doesn't evaporate because it's in a sealed system where any air in the system quickly becomes saturated with water vapor prevening any more from evaporating.

You'll have to top off your coolant reservoir and then the next time you drive it, park somewhere dry, then look to see exactly wheret he puddle forms before you move the car.

Hopefully you'll be able to see where it's dripping and then find the trail to the drip.

You can also remove the right front tire and the plastic access panels behind it to see the water pump and look for leaks.

To remove the access panels, you'll need a small flat head screwdriver to pop out the center pin of the fasteners. Then the rest of the fastener will pop right out. Reinstalling the fasteners should be pretty self expanatory once you've removed them and seen how they work.
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Old 09-16-2007, 07:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

Forget next few days. Do this now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oseberg View Post
You can also remove the right front tire and the plastic access panels behind it to see the water pump and look for leaks.

To remove the access panels, you'll need a small flat head screwdriver to pop out the center pin of the fasteners. Then the rest of the fastener will pop right out. Reinstalling the fasteners should be pretty self explanatory once you've removed them and seen how they work.
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Old 09-17-2007, 02:47 PM   #4
chadfend
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

^^^^^^^^^ what they said. If it is the water pump it will only get worse (I know from experience ) But lucky for you it's a relatively easy fix. Unless you're plagued with big hands syndrome as I am. I had this same problem earlier in the year.
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Old 09-17-2007, 02:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

Oh yeah....fill up the res, crank up the car and just stare. If it's leaking you should notice it right away. I didn't take off the panel under the tire as mine was leaking pretty bad.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:49 PM   #6
edlee
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

A coolant leak can be very subtle. If you see orange residue around the bolts of your water pump, that's a clue. You might just need to tighten your bolts around the water pump. I verified the coolant leak that I had by putting a sheet of aluminum foil under my engine on the passenger side of the SL1. Left overnight, there was just one orange drop of liquid on my aluminum foil the following morning. I then poured a small bottle of Bars Leaks into my coolant reservoir. The coolant continued to slowly leak for a week or so but then stopped. Some other people say that Bars Leaks will cause your heater core to become clogged, but that hasn't happened to me yet in over a year.
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Old 09-18-2007, 09:22 AM   #7
DonP
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

From experience, when a water pump starts to leak, it can go fast, in a matter of miles in worst cases, or last for a while - no good way to predict. However, you don't want to deal with paying for a tow.

What was the warranty on the replacement water pump you received?

.
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Old 09-18-2007, 11:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

^^^^^ I have to agree. My water pump started leaking while I was taking my wife to the hospital to have our beautiful daughter. So of course I didn't change it immediately. Within 2 weeks it you could fill up the res., crank the car, run inside for 2 mins and when you came back out it would be empty. Wonderful times.
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:09 PM   #9
kornphlake
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Default Re: How to detect a water pump leak

When mine went it was fine one day and emptied as fast as I could add more water the next day.

I'd say the clue to a leaky water pump is water getting flung at you from the serpentine belt and a puddle under the car, I suppose it could be a slower leak, but that's not what has happened with water pumps I've seen.
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