What Is a Water Pump Pulley?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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A water pump pulley is a pulley attached to the water pump system in a car to connect it with the timing belt. The timing belt wraps around a number of pulleys in the engine compartment to control the function of accessory systems in the vehicle. When it is time to replace the timing belt, a mechanic may also replace the water pump and pulley along with other key accessories, as they can be hard to reach.

The timing belt is one of the most important belts in the car. When it is not installed properly or when it snaps, the car cannot operate. In addition to going around the water pump pulley, it also makes stops at the air conditioner pump pulley, power steering pump pulley, and alternator pulley. The belt is kept in a state of tension to run these accessories while the car is in operation. It controls the timing of many key engine functions.

Water pump pulley designs can vary between years, makes, and models. They usually have a very basic design and may be convex or concave, with holes to mount them on the water pump assembly. It is possible to buy spacers if the pulley is not quite in alignment. These spacers are important, as a misaligned belt wears down more quickly and may fail. In addition, it could create problems with other systems attached to the timing belt.


To replace a water pump pulley, it is necessary to disconnect the timing belt and take out various engine components to access the water pump. This can require a lot of work, which is why many mechanics recommend servicing parts connected to the timing belt at the time the belt needs replacement. The mechanic can remove the necessary engine components, check and replace anything that looks worn, and put everything back together again.

Some signs that the water pump pulley may need replacement include overheating, leaking fluids, and unusual noises from under the hood, like whining and squeaking. These indicate that something is going wrong with the cooling system. It may be the pump, pulley, radiator, or another component. Drivers who aren't familiar with the systems in their cars can ask a mechanic to take a look. A quick diagnostic check is often free of charge, and the mechanic can also provide a free estimate on how much it will cost to fix the problem.


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