Toyota Tacoma:  Signs of a Bad Water Pump

Your Toyota Tacoma’s water pump is one of the most crucial parts of the engine.  If it doesn’t pump water through the engine, it’s going to overheat and do a lot of damage.  Typical signs of a bad water pump include overheating, white smoke, a bad smell, rough idle, and more.

P0118 Toyota Tacoma

A water pump works by pumping water through the engine.  If nothing turns it, it can’t pump any water.  Taking a look at the health of the drive belt is always a great place to start if you are trying to figure out if your Tacoma’s water pump is bad.

It is possible for the water pump to last for the entire life of the vehicle.  But it is a simple machine with moving parts, which means that failure will inevitably strike.  The only question is how long will it take to happen.


Bad Water Pump Signs: Toyota Tacoma

Here are the most common symptoms of a bad water pump in your Tacoma:


1. Noise

A noisy water pump can indicate that it has a bearing that is going out.  The problem with most engine noises is that they are difficult to hunt down.  

If your water pump is easy to reach, you can gently place a really long screwdriver tip against it.  Then, place the handle end of the screwdriver against your ear.  You should be able to hear the noise clearly coming from the water pump.

Be careful, there are a lot of moving parts around the water pump.


2. Leaking Water Pump

Water leaking from around your Tacoma’s water pump is a sure indication that the water pump could be bad.  It could be the water pump or the water pump gasket causing the leak.  

You have to pull the water pump to replace the gasket.  Due to the relative low price of a water pump in relation to how much work it takes to get off, we recommend replacing the water pump even if the gasket is bad.


3. Low Coolant Level

If the coolant is leaking out of the water pump from somewhere, you’re going to get low coolant.  The problem is that low coolant can indicate a lot of different problems.  It can indicate a bad radiator, radiator hose, or thermostat housing as well.


4. Overheating and/or Steam

If your Tacoma has leaked enough radiator fluid, there won’t be enough left to properly cool your engine, and it’ll overheat.

Steam will rise out of the hood if engine coolant is leaking onto the exhaust.


Bad Water Pump Behavior

Toyota Tacoma Bad Water Pump Symptoms

It can be tough trying to figure out if your Tacoma’s water pump is bad.  The signs of a bad water pump are the same as a lot of other radiator components.

A water pump that is struggling to function will cause your Tacoma to run hot.  If you have a temperature gauge and you see that your Tacoma is running hotter than it should be, try parking and revving the engine a bit (in neutral or park).  If the gauge goes down, that would be a very strong indicator that the water pump is bad.


Bad Water Pump Causes:  Toyota Tacoma

Here are some of the most common problems that can lead to a bad water pump:


Dry Rotation

Your Tacoma’s water pump is designed to rotate with coolant inside of it.  This helps create a watertight seal that can withstand the pressure in the cooling system.

Without water the fluid cushion between the two rings (shaft and stationary) is lost.  These rings will quickly fail and you’ll be stuck with a slow leak from the water pump.

This can happen when you’ve allowed your Tacoma to run without coolant, or if you’ve recently replaced the water pump and dry started it without any coolant.


Bad/Improper Seal

Over time, the seal can go bad around the water pump.  It’ll start leaking water and go bad.  A big mistake that people make when they put a new water pump on is to use a bunch of gasket sealer.  Most manufacturers will only recommend a small amount in a few key places or none at all.


Wrong Coolant

It is imperative that you follow the Toyota’s directions when it comes to the type of coolant that you use.  The wrong coolant can eat away at the gasket.

Contaminants in the cooling system can wear down the gasket and seals as well.  Using the wrong coolant can cause internal rust and corrosion.  This corrosion will effectively water blast the water pump.


Bad Bearings

Your water has bearings in the rotating assembly.  They can fail like any other bearing.  If the bearings are bad it usually won’t do so quietly.  A horrible squeaking noise that goes up and down with your Tacoma’s engine RPM should be observed.


Serpentine Belt

The serpentine belt can cause the water pump to go bad if it’s been improperly installed, or if there’s too much tension on it.  Here are some common signs that a serpentine belt is bad.  


Conclusion:  Tacoma Bad Water Pump Symptoms

A bad water pump has the potential to cause a lot of engine damage.  Getting ahead of it before your Tacoma overheats will save you a lot of money.  

Thank you for reading.  We really hope that this helps.  Please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or concerns that you may have.