Roadwolf's portal for his random thoughts and ponderings

2010 VW Routan Water Pump Replacement

Blog and Journal

Sadly, my van encountered issues with the water pump recently, which required it to be towed home so I could fix it. With over 160,000 miles on the vehicle it isn't surprising for the water pump to need replacement. I am just surprised at how fast the bearing failed. Now, it isn't the first time I have had to change out a water pump. Such things happen, and I've probably swapped out a half dozen over the years. Maybe even more? But this vehicle has a transversly mounted engine, which makes access a little more difficult. Not to mention the water pump is not driven off the accessory belt / fan belt, but is driven off of the timing belt!

A timing belt or timing chain is an essential and special part of the engine which is very precise. It times the cams in relation to the crankshaft, so that the valves open and close at the correct times. Any mistakes and the engine could be toast. I did some research, and ordered the parts I needed. I also ordered replacement parts for all other 'wear' items I would be removing in the process, as I figured it was worth replacing anything I came across. I like to order from if I know I have time to plan out repairs. I save tons of money this way.

All in all it took about 3 days of work to complete the job for me. The dissassembly was the most time consuming, as I wanted to inspect everything and ensure things didn't break as I removed them. I did have to drill out a wheel stud which was cross threaded, so that was fun. When I finally got the timing belt cover off, I initially thought an animal had crawled in there and got chewed up by the belt. Hair and fibers and bits of greasy sticks were what I found. But after further investigation it was the old timing belt which was being chewed up. So it is a good thing that I was ready to replace it!

After marking the old belt with white paint marker, and also marking the pulleys on the camshaft's and the crankshaft, I removed the old belt and water pump. I also removed the old tensioner system as I had purchased a new set. I cleaned the area up and reinstalled the water pump with some RTV sealant in addition to it's rubber gasket. I torqued the bolts to spec in an opposing manner, and it seemed to be all set. I pressure tested the coolant system after a little while to ensure it was not leaking before I began to reinstall the timing belt.

With the new water pump installed, it was now time to begin figuring out how to install the timing belt. I replicated the markings from the old belt onto the new one, ensuring that I counted the slots between each marking to ensure accuracy. I found that most youtube people suggested that you start with the forward cam shaft, and then somehow it magically aligns. But this wasn't working for me. I lined up the rear camshaft, and then used the springy tension fromt he front camshaft to line up the belt and then tension it. I then lined the belt markings up with the crankshaft and turned the crankshaft to tension the belt in the proper space there.

After it all looked lined up, I installed the tensioner and pulled the pin. My friend Jake was there and he helpped to ensure that my cam shafts were lined up TDC (Top Dead Center) while I was under the car looking at the crankshaft ensuring it was lined up TDC. I then rotated the crankshaft with a ratchet and he watched the cams to ensure they all lined up. I used strips of cardboard to hold the belt in place while I did this.

Everything lined up nicely, so I began putting things back together. Jake replaced my temp. sensor for me which was on the other side of the engine, while I worked on getting things buttoned back up. Eventually it came time to put coolant in the engine. I had vacuum tested the system, and indeed it held vacuum for quite some time. So I knew there were no leaks. I then used the vacuum to try to pull in new coolant. Sadly this didn't quite get rid of all the air pockets in the system, as the rear heating coil is still vapor locked.

But the engine turned over and after an oil change she seems to be running nicely. I think it is the injectors which are making noise but there is for sure a clicking, but it isn't a knock and like I said the engine is running nice with no codes, so I don't believe that any flaws occured with the timing. I do still have to get those air pockets out of the cooling system, and in vans it can be a bit tricky. But I'll get it.

All in all a fun fix, and I probably saved myself $2000. I think all in all the parts came up to about $400 including some unexpected fixes like the motor mount which was cracked. But there are about 8 new parts installed on the engine now, so that isn't a bad deal.

March 31st Update:

Buying a used vehicle with so many miles on it always has it's downsides. One of which is you have no real idea of the history of the vehicle. One almost has to go through and replace every wearable component in order to have peace of mind. I wish I had spent a little more time taking care of the van prior to the water pump issue. Now sure, the water pump was likely due for replacement. But I believe the cause of this was likely a stuck thermostat. I had neglected to replace the thermostat in the initial rebuild, but it is now replaced and I am keeping an eye on it. Another issue which I noticed was that there was a head gasket leak between the coolant system and one of the cylinder heads. Luckily k-seal seems to have worked to fix that issue. I am no longer registering exhaust gasses in my coolant.

So came time to bleed the system again to attempt to get the air pockets out of the heater cores. This requires a funnel attached to the radiator cap which has a valve on it to allow coolant to flow or not flow. This funnel removes the ability of the radiator cap to act as a pressure relief valve however, so care must be taken to operate it properly.

Dealing with hot liquids - especially liquids which are poison such as coolant is a tricky thing. But when steam gets involved it becomes even more dangerous. As I was bleeding the system, the engine was at temp, and some steam pockets were escaping through the partly filled funnel. I was regulating the valve so it wasn't super violent, but still allowed steam to escape, and it was spraying hot liquid around. I was then approached by someone and in turn I shut the valve to protect them from the steam. I believe it was this which built up pressure enough in the system to pop the new seals on the new water pump again. As that is now leaking once again.

So alas, I'll have to go back in there and do this all over again to replace the water pump. Luckily it will only cost about $100 in parts, and another $50 or so in coolant if it all goes well. Sadly I am unable to determine if the water pump it's self is bad, or just the seal around it is leaking. I figure to play it safe, I am replacing the water pump and seal. As there is no way to really test this once I have the pump exposed*. It seems to only leak at operating temp, so I assume it is the gasket seal, but...

In any cast I am not really happy with this whole situation. The van's cooling system ended up being such a headache.

* Note: At the time of writing there was no way I could, but I have since purchased a coolant pressure test tool, so I should be able to test for leaks with the vehicle off now.

Post a comment

111 views since Feb 2 2024

Next Workers and Resources: Soviet Republic