Water Pumps


New member
This my first post, so hopefully I'm doing it right....

The water pump on my 85 is going south. I have a feeling that the fan belts I had replaced in April were put on too tight.

Replacement looks difficult.The photos in Bentley make it look like the engine needs to be out. Can this be done by a weekend warrior, or is it better left to the pros? I couldn't find anything in the postings or archives.

[ 08-25-2001: Message edited by: Capt. Mike ]

Capt. Mike

Replacing the water pump with the engine in the car is doable. It just takes a pretty good assortment of wrenches & extensions, lots of perserverance and extreme dexterity.

You must first remove the other belts to get them out of your way, a thrill in itself. Most of us do the replacement by detaching the right side engine head connection as it's easier to work with than the connection from the pump to the cross-over pipe. That will require a new gasket that will not be in the new waterpump kit.

Reaching the nuts & bolts is always the most difficult and often requires sockets, wobble extensions, universals and wrenches not in the average collection. It's also a very good idea to hit the various nuts & bolts with shots of PB Blaster a couple of daysbefore starting. Don't force anything that might break off a stud.

You may well be right about excessive belt tension wiping the old. A common cause as too few follow the wisdom of tightening just enough to keep the belt from squeeling.


New member
Good day gentlemen, (87 Westy)
Spring in not so far and I found out that my rear engine noise (another post) come from the coolant pump (Water pump). After removing the belt (alternator-pump) I found out that the pump bearing was finish!!! So, by Bentley 19.14 (the only info in that bible on the pump - no specified info on removing this one!!!) I can see 3 bolts holding the pump; the upper one and the lower left one look accessible but the lower right (view from the back of van or in Bentley -) seem to be a problem, the crankshaft pulley (the big one) is in the way of this bolt, even with a flexible ratchet it will be difficult to reach. Second problem, all those bolts are rusted to the bone, even with some loose nut and heating I am not sure I won't break thoseÂ…
For those who have done this job, any suggestion!!! (Ex: did you remove any exhaust part, engine mount or the crankshaft pulley)
Regards, Ben /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Note: I need to change all parts shown at page 19.14 and many other one like all water line, heater valve, front ant rear.

Capt. Mike

peege Junior Member posted August 04, 2002 07:32 PM

hi all,
my 1989 westfalia has "eaten" 3 belts in 12 mos. anyone else have this problem or hazard a guess on the solution?
thanks in advance,

A. Cooper Member posted August 05, 2002 11:33 AM

Eating Belts

Sounds like a misadjustment problem: either too tight or too loose. I suggest you refer to the appropriate section in the Bentley Service Manual to learn how to adjust the correct belt tension.

Typically, a belt that's too loose will often squeal loudly, sometimes quieting once warmed-up but then squawking again upon the next cold startup. Or it may just squeal all the time when running. Or it may not squeal at all, just silently slipping and wearing out your belt quickly. Look for signs of 'glazing', sh iny areas on the belt's running surface that indicate slippage, friction, and heat. Also watch for contamination by oil or other fluids; a leaky engine seal could allow oil to be flung onto the belt, causing it to slip or even dissolve and rot.

A belt th at is adjusted too tightly usually won't give any audible warnings, it'll just wear down more and more until it finally breaks. Look for evidence of black dust near and around the belt pulleys; that's where your belt material is going. Besides eating up b elts though, such overtightness can often wear out the bearings in your alternator or water pump -- a lot more expensive than a belt!

After installing a new belt and adjusting it correctly, adjust it again after driving it a hundred miles or so, then aga in after 500 miles. Checking the belt tension and condition should be a part of your routine maintenance schedule.

peege Junior Member posted August 10, 2002 04:51 PM

thanks a.c,

all those were checked. on tear down, the water pump bearing had failed, not by seizing or leaking, but by backing out just enough to slightly misalign the pullies and add enough friction to heat the belt. hard to detect, but enough to eat belts. anyone else seen this?
paul sipe


New member
I just found out that my water pump is going south and will be replacing it this weekend. As soon as my knuckles heal and allow me to type I will let you know how it went.


New member
Well I did it, I replaced the water pump in my 87 van. I was expecting nothing but frustration after I read about the accessibility of the coolant pipe bolts. But, when I finally got to them I discovered them to be a 6mm allen bolt, what an invention. This made it a dream to remove them if you have the right tools. I used a long handle 6mm allem wrench on the right bolt of the right tube and the 6mm allen socket on the left bolt of the right tube. I had to use a 6-inch extension and the 6mm allen socket to remove the top bolt of the left tube and the 3-inch extension and 6mm allen socket on the bottom bolt of the left tube. Of course you had to remove the belts and water pump pulley first.

As for the pump itself, I had to use a universal with the 12mm socket and 3” extension to remove the bottom right nut. This is the location that is obstructed by the crank pulley. With out the universal I think you would have to remove the crank pulley. The other nuts were removed with the same tools minus the universal.

I would say it took approximately 4 hours if you don’t count the trips to the auto part store for a few metric tools ($30). Here in California it would have cost me ~$400 for the job but by doing it myself it cost about $120 including tools I had to purchase. The tools that were required included the following;

3/8 drive universal
3/8x3” extension
3/8-6mm allen socket
Long handle 6mm allen wrench (make sure it has the end that will allow use at a max of ~25 degrees)
Screw drivers
3/8 x 12mm socket
3/8x13mm socket
3-inch extension
6-inch extension

I hope this helps and good luck


New member
Hey all, I think my water pump bearing is going bad. I hear vibrating/dull squeeking sound coming from that area. Has anyone else had a similiar sounds??? At first I only heard it once or twice. Once during a cold (-15c) start up and just for a second. Then today when I was looking at my temp. sender (sender worked fine ??? Thanks Capt.) when I started it up the noise was constant(w/a little varation) at idle and then would possible go away when I gave it some gas and then return at idle.

Thanks Kitesurfer
for the tool list looks like I might be replacing it soon.

Thanks for all the help, David

UPDATE: I looked at the belt and it seemed a little tight so I slackened the belt and the noise stopped !!??! Thanks Capt.

Further Update: After 400km The pulley started spraying brown type substance all over inside of engine compartment and is loose and wobbles on shaft so I am replacing water pump. Previous owner had belt "way" to tight.

Capt. Mike

Those noises can also come from belt adjustment and/or belt wear. Thoroughly clean, check tension, etc., first -- changing water pumps is not to be done lightly. If you first remove the belt, you can also feel or hear or feel water pump bearing problems turning it by hand. Are you leaking at the pump pulley shaft -- that's also a sign of bearing failure becuase the pulley now moves enough to effect the seal.


New member
Hello All,

Well I just replaced water pump and it went very well.
I have noticed though that temp. needle at normal driving is a little to the hotter side after pump replacement. When I say a little I mean befor the needle would "sit" just below the red light (coolant Low) and now it "sits" above the red light. I have driven it 600 KM since the replacement was done and coolant level is good. Any ideas why???

Thanks Boyz, David

PS Sorry if this is in wrong topic.

Mike Robinson

New member
The 'new' needle position is still within normal guidelines, however I would say that as it has changed since the waterpump replacement that something may be done to get back to the 'old' position.

I would rebleed the cooling system - drive around for a week and rebleed. Whenever I have flushed the coolant it takes a couple of goes to get all the air out. If there is air in the radiator them there is less water, less cooling happening and therefore a rise in temp.

Secondly check the water:antifreeze ratio. being a fellow Edmontonian I feel the temtation to put pure antifreeze in to top up the coolant to help with the -40c 's, but it is the water that does the cooling - not the antifreeze. In summer I increase my water ratio as it makes a noticable difference on the gauge. You can get a quick test gauge at crappy tire.

I have no idea - and would love to know - how many degrees difference the gauge reads - ie how many degrees for the change between above and below the led. I bet it is not much.

Take care

'82 diesel


What is the consensus of replaceing the water pump (2.1) preventativly? I have 50,000+- on mine. I have never had a problem, keep my belts adjusted. I carry a spare, but the idea of replacing it in the middle of nowhere daunts me. Somehow it seems to make sense to do it before another transcontinental trip. (I drive coast to coast a couple of times a year)

I am a bit hesitant to do it, as I don't want to do it myself, and I am contimplating an engine conversion in the next year and just as soon not throw money away.

I have 120,000 on my wbx and with the way we drive, I'm begining to look ahead.



Capt. Mike

I know many who advocate a version of that -- replace at those kind of mileages IF the engine is out for any other reason. My guru, Jimmy at Southern States, always changed waterpumps during a reman swap. The worse killer of waterpumps is not necessarily the mileage but too-tight belts.

My own history is spotty. Changed at 33K, 92K 125K and still going at 167K on the current one. I wouldn't want to change one with only the emergency tool kit on a muddy road, but on the other hand, most pump failures are leakers that will make the next town and a shop. It is the only major spare part I carry on long trips. I haven't thought about it much, but I guess if I've got the engine out or some similar excuse, I'd change too. New OEM waterpumps have become reasonable in price.


I did change it as preventative medicine. 60k miles, no sign of imminent falure,,, however the real reason to change it either yourself or in your local shop is rusted bolts! Didn't break any, but long breaker bars, lots of heat and a good bit of patience, all items that would might be in short supply broken down on the road side. Total tab under $300 usd, labor and parts. My final choice to do it now was that a couple o nights broken down in "whoknowswhere" would cost as much as doing in shop,


Capt. Mike

Now the next scenario -- rebuild for reuse? We know waterpumps are rebuildable-- VW sells a reman -- so would one want to do a maintenance R&R, rebuilding the other pump in between?

I do that for my antique car hauler trailer brakes -- it's easier to replace the entire assembly and then put in new shoes, etc., at my leisure on the bench. Hmmm.?


A resounding NO! Given the dificulty of R&Ring the pump in the field, I would no more rebuild and reuse a pump to save my life. (Having said that, I will now carry the old pump as a spare, rather than buy another new one) I suppose that I would use a re-manned one that is rebuilt by a good source, but to do it myself,,,, no way. Given the compartativly low price of a new o.e.m. I don't see a lot of advantage,


Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Jerry Johnson Junior Member Posted June 21, 2005 07:19 AM

I bought an 85 Westfalia about a week ago. When I took it for its first drive around Milwaukee to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for the required testing and then to a second stop, the engine overheated and the coolant overflowed. The mechanic, who tended this vehicle for the last five or six years, recommends adding an auxillary pump to get the coolant from the back to the front. This auxillary pump is standard on a later model VW bus. At this point, according to the mechanic, my Westfalia overheats without the water ever reaching the radiator, the thermostat & the fan. I understand that the last owner drove it almost exclusively on trips on the open highway and that that would limit the overheating which he hardly ever experienced.

The mechanic can't guarantee success. In his words, "it's an experiment." Should I try a new water pump first and then add the auxillary one if that still gives me problems? Or vice versa, auxillary first followed by a new water pump if needed?

What does anyone think? Anyone tried adding the auxillary pump before? Did it solve the overheating problem?

Jerry Johnson

icarus Super Member Posted June 21, 2005 10:20 AM

You've got another problem(s); over heating will not be cured with an "add on" pump. I first suggest you find a different (more familiar with Vanagons) mechanic. After that I would look to bleeding the cooling system, water pump failure, thermostat, plugged radiator core, collapsed hoses or coolant lines, bad head gaskets or what ever. (The coolant bottle overflowing idicates possible headgaskets.) I have 200,000kms on my 2.1 ltr water boxer and have never had it over heat. Read through (all) the cooling system posts, as well as the mechanics listings, but don't drive anymore till you find the real problem.

"If it aint broke, don't fix it, but if it is broke, fix it right!"

Good luck, Icarus

PS. I have driven my Westy Syncro in temps over 110°F with the a/c going, and in temps of 90°F+ in stop and go traffic and never had the gauge leave the middle range. (You might also check the gauge and the sending unit. Occasionaly "overheating" will be a function of bad infomation).


New member
I am always in the camp of preventative replacement of parts known to be weak links. On a Vanagon, that has to include the water pump and belts.

I look at preventative replacements from the point of: What will leave me stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. I own a Westalia so I can go off the beaten track. That means few facilities and almost none of the kind that knows what they are doing with a Vanagon.

A leaky waterpump might not, but it just might leave you stranded. There is no real way to duct tape it, like you would a split hose.

Also on this list are: fuel pumps and belts. I replaced the fuel pump before it failed and carry the old one as a spare. I replace belts before there is any signigicant sign of wear -- about 15,000 miles or so -- and carry the old ones as spares as well.

Even with the ability to sleep in a Westfalia, the last time my Westy broke down was in Winnipeg during the Canada Day weekend. There are no campgrounds in the city and it was filled with a Zodiac inflatable boat on top of the bed, anyway. I paid for two nights in a hotel. That would have paid for most of a water pump repair, for instance.


I would figure out what is going on with your drive pulley before I put a new pump in. If for some reason the pulley is running out of true, it could be putting a pulsing sort of uneven presure on the pump bearings. 20k is too few miles for a routine change.

Good luck,


Capt. Mike

If your drive pulley is warped, the tension of the belt is applied to the water pump pulley at different angles with each revolution, thus having the equivelent effect of trying to pry the pulley up at one edge. This constant changing, off-center torque on the water pump bearings leads to premature failure.

Just being off-center (pulleys not exactly parallel and in line) has the same effect, even if not warped.


New member
enough push?

I am still battling with the overheating of my westy. I have replaced the thermostat and still it overheats. I am wondering if my water pump is shot. When I have the front of the westy raised by 10 inches and the westy is just idling, it does not push out any coolant at the radiator screw. It will at 2000 rpm. Is this normal.
Thanks for all the help so far.