Should You Replace a Diesel Water Pump Before It Fails?

This article was originally published on FleetEquipmentMag.com.

Water pumps are touchy. Some only go 50k miles before they fail, and some are still running perfectly after a million. But if one fails when you’re driving down the road, they can be a major headache to repair. Not to mention the risk of engine damage. Does your diesel powered truck have more than a few hundred thousand miles on it? You might be wondering about preventative water pump replacement. Here’s what you need to consider.

When a Diesel Water Pump Fails

Replace water pump

When a water pump is leaking on a diesel engine, it should be replaced as soon as possible. Water pumps that are “weeping” or which have lost their seal are likely going to fail sooner than later. And failure can lead to costly engine problems.

Most diesel engines don’t have a water pump maintenance interval. The water pump is expected to last the life of the engine under normal use. However, many of these engines don’t see what’s considered “normal use”. And many see far more than the expected mileage on the engine. Should the water pump be replaced as preventative maintenance?

Preventative Maintenance

In general, service professionals tend to wait until things are broken before replacing them. Water pumps are labor intensive to replace. So they’re often not replaced until they’re showing signs of corrosion, leaking, or other red flags. However, sometimes the vehicle will be idled for some time for other maintenance. The pump may as well be replaced at this time to save all the hassle if or when the pump fails. Preventative maintenance is a lot easier to manage than unplanned repairs.

If the decision is to replace, finding the correct pump for the job is the next step. To keep costs down, many opt for rebuilt/remanufactured units. However, several companies offer brand new, OEM-spec diesel water pumps for about the same price as a remanufactured unit.

Pump it Up

For diesel engines that see a lot miles, the preventive cost of a water pump replacement is a drop in the bucket, especially compared to towing fees and lost wages incurred from a breakdown.

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