Question: I have a 2001 4WD XLT Ford F-150 with 128,000 miles on the clock. I've had it almost since new, and it's been bulletproof, driven easy, maintained, garaged, and a real joy to own and drive. It still has the original water pump. Would it be a good idea to replace the pump with a new one, or should I just wait and see how much longer it lasts? My mechanic said I could hold off and it'll most likely give me some warning signs of leaking antifreeze or running a little hot on the temp gauge. I have flushed the antifreeze yearly and a few years back replaced all the hoses and thermostat with a failsafe type.
Answer: A lot of maintenance decisions boil down to your budget, and how much you love the truck. It sounds to me like you're more than fond of this particular F-Series, and are planning on keeping it for some time to come. If that's the case, my answer is yes, replace the pump. All engines are a bit different as far as longevity, but a lot of water pumps do fail right around your mileage range. That's why when working on a timing belt-equipped engine (where the T-belt drives the cam(s) and the water pump), it makes sense to replace the pump with the belt at about 100,000 miles. If you do decide to let it ride, don't wait for the coolant temperature gauge to tell the story. A high reading means you've lost enough coolant to aerate the system, and/or overheat the engine -- possibly causing damage. There are two symptoms to look for. Is it leaking, making noise, or both? Checking for noise is a no-brainer. Just pop the hood and listen for that distinct water pump rattle, or anything else out of the ordinary. When checking for leaks, it's a good idea to find out exactly where the "weep hole" is located on the pump. It's usually just below the shaft where the pulley rides, facing downward. That's where you'll first spot coolant when the internal seal deteriorates. You might want to get yourself a mirror with an extension to get a clear view. Often the first sign will be a dry whitish trail leading from the weep hole because the small amount of coolant has evaporated before you got there. When you do the pump, go with the OEM Ford part.
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