Here, you will find useful basics and important tips on the topic of coolant pump and/or water pump in vehicles.
Important safety note
The following technical information and practical tips have been compiled by HELLA in order to provide professional support to vehicle workshops in their day-to-day work. The information provided on this website is intended for use by suitably qualified personnel only.
Coolant pumps, also often referred to as water pumps, are mostly powered mechanically via a sprocket or V-ripped belt, and transport the coolant through the engine's coolant circuit. The pumps can be found either directly flanged to the engine or installed at a distance. The designs are very different.
Coolant pumps must withstand enormous temperature variations (- 40°C to ca. +120°C). Changing rotational speeds (500 - 8000 rpm) and pressures of up to 3 bars require great bearing and sealing resistance.
For saving fuel, more electrically powered and electronically controlled coolant pumps will be used in the future.
Drive wheel and impeller are installed on a common shaft. A mechanical seal serves to seal the pump shaft towards the outside. Through the rotary motion of the impeller, coolant is transported within the cooling system. Impellers usually consist of plastic and metal. The bearing strain is lower in plastic wheels. They are at the same time not as liable to cavitation. Plastic wheels will however become brittle over time. The coolant ensures that the mechanical seal is always lubricated and cooled. Due to construction constraints, tiny amounts of coolant can enter the free space behind the sealing ring and exit at the pump's relief bore. The possibly visible coolant traces are not a clear sign of a defective pump.
The design life of a coolant pump is highly dependent on the following factors:
Mechanical coolant pumps directly propelled by the engine continuously transport coolant when that engine is running, even when no cooling is required. Electric coolant pumps and their integrated electronic control, however, are variably activated according to the required cooling needs. They can be used as main, minor or circulating pumps. They operate independent of the engine and as required. The cooling pump does not initially run in case of a cold start. This helps the engine to reach its operating temperature more quickly. Even when idle or after turning off the engine, the electric coolant pump can provide sufficient cooling power since it is not linked to the engine's RPM. This customized engine cooling reduces power consumption and therefore friction losses and fuel consumption. Electric coolant pumps therefore help reduce emissions in modern cooling systems.
An additional advantage consists in the ability to install electric cooling pumps individually and outside of the engine. They are relatively light and maintenance-free, thanks to the brushless installation. At an operating voltage of 12-360 volts, it currently reaches outputs of 15 to 1000 watts. Coolants reduce the temperature of the coolant pump's electric motor. A pulse width-modulated (PWM) signal control makes flexible adjustment possible. This, in turn, enables controlling the transported volume according to the actual needs and independent of engine rotation, thus allowing keeping the cooling temperature constant as required by the respective system. Thanks to their inclusion in the wiring system electronics, electric coolant pumps can also be diagnosed. Depending on the drive type (internal combustion engine, hybrid, electric) and the system, one or even several pumps can be installed in the vehicle.
Electrical coolant pumps have many areas of application:
When replacing the coolant pump, always note the instructions of the product package insert and special installation requirements by the vehicle manufacturer. If the cooling system is contaminated, rinse it. You can for example use the HELLA cooling system cleaner.
The cooling system should only be filled with coolants matching the vehicle manufacturer's specifications. Fill and/or ventilate the system according to vehicle manufacturer specifications. A wrong installation can lead to engine overheating, belt drive damage and/or engine damage.
Information on the use, specifications and change intervals of coolants is situated in the respective "Coolant" technical information.