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My baby's water pump is going


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I just got the rotors replaced on my 280 ZX 2+2 non-turbo, and on the way home from the shop, she started making some bad noises, and I pulled over and called Advanced Auto, who said it may be my power steering fluid. I immeditely went there and filled her up. She still made part of the noise (I guess it was part power steering fluid problems) and I asked them what it could be. They said it was my water pump and that I should flush my cooling system and see if it helps. I know Z cars have problems with their water pumps, so I was expecting it. But will it actually help to flush the system? Its making kind of a cluning noise, kind of, and kind of squeaky...

Can I drive her? Will it make the problem worse? I havent since I got her home last night, an dI have a substitute car for a couple of days, but after I flush the system, can I make it a week or so, however long it takes to get the part and get it installed?

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Z cars don't have problems with their water pumps any more than other cars do. I changed the one in my 78 8 years ago, and the one in my 810 is the one that was in it when I bought it in 2003. If I had to replace mine, I'd go with an OEM Nissan unit not a chain store replacement. May cost more but you'll do the job less often. The clunking could be a loose impeller and the squeaking is the bearing. Pretty common with chain store replacements. I'd fix it asap.

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I agree with Stephen on this one, replace the unit asap, and don't drive until then. The job itself is not that difficult.

But are you sure that it is the water pump?

When my idler pulleys started to fail, I couldn't figure out where the noise was coming from. The sounds from the front end (which varied with speed) were droning squeaks and intermittent (and alarmingly frequent) wails.

The only reason I mention this is because I do not want you to spend the time and money on parts you do not need.

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Flushing the cooling system won't help but it is reccomended before replacing the pump if your coolant is full of particulate. (rust) The seal on the new water pump will last longer if the coolant is clean.

I've owned my Z for 18 years and have replaced the pump four times. The first two were due to the heavy metal fan which was replaced with a newer/lighter plastic fan like you have. I drove mine hard which may have contributed o the W/P's demise.

IF your water pump does "go" then the bearings inside will allow your fan to impact and destroy your radiator. (This is very expensive) To check the condition of the pump loosen the belt driving the pump and wiggle the fan. While wiggling the fan observe whether there is ANY play in the pump shaft. There might be a little play in your fan clutch but you can ignore this. If there is any play in the pump or you see water coming from the pump's spill hole then the bearings are bad and the car should not be driven until fixed.

Changing the pump is fairly easy. On the ZX there are several things you need to remove to get to it but it's not that bad... Just time consuming. When reassembling use anti-seize compound on the W/P bolts and be sure that all of the old gasket material is off the mating surface.

There are threads here with opinions on how a pump gasket should be treated prior to installation. I use anti-seize on the engine side of the gasket and loctite water pump silicone on the W/P side. The loctite is really just an aid in securing the gasket to the pump face IMO. Don't over torque the W/P bolts when installing. If one should break it's not fun. (Ask me how I know these things)

Hope this helps,


PS Here's a picture of the W/P taken head on. Obviously there's no fan or pulley attached.


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Good call, David. I forgot about the idler pulleys. I guess because my Z doesn't have them but my 810 does. They too can squeal and clunk when bad. But either way I'd make certain what's making the noise and fix it. I had a 78 510 whose water pump impeller came loose and knocked a hole in the back of the timing cover.

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I dont know if it is the pump, Im just going by the opinion of several guys at an auto parts place.

Ill check the pump, but Im not quite sure what some of what you guys just said actually means. What is the idler pulley? How long will this process take? My dad is visiting soon and can help, but we were also going to change my rear brakes ahd hes only going to be here for 2-3 days.

I really have no experience in cars, which is why I have so many questions.

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Their talking about the a/c idler pulley. If the ZX style is the same as the 280 style which I think its, the assembly is held on by three bolts to the left of the a/c compressor and needs to come off in order to take the the bearing out. Once you get the bearing out, take it to an auto parts store and they should be able to match it up, if not order one from online.

In fact, here's a picture of one that someone sent me when I was putting one on mine, it is just on the left side of the compressor that the belt is hainging off of.


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The idler pulley is what adjusts the tension on your belts. The pulleys are the blue units on the left and right of the top photo.

In the second photo, the pulleys are on the left side and between the water pump area and the AC compressor (far right)

These were taken when I changed my water pump, so I know what you are about to get into.

When I did this, I removed the radiator to give myself the needed room for work.

When the time comes, I would be happy to provide you with radiator removal advice, as would anyone else on the site.




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First up, slacken off the alternator and other belt tensioners and remove the drive belt.

Then give everything that rotates the "finger tip test".

Gently wobble spin and otherwise tickle all the roundy round bits and see if you can detect any lumpyness in their operation.

Often a dose of WD40/CRC5-56 into idler pulleys will shut them up...temporarily.

At least that will determine the offending article.

If you don't know the age of the water pump, it is probably time to renew it anyway.

Do the thermostat as well.

Cheap insurance, especially if you then refill the system with a good coolant mix.

I personally recommend "Nissan Long Life Coolant".

Quite cheap and you guessed it, formulated for Nissan engines.

Why is this thread so wiiiiiiiiide?

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I have updated information. I called my dad and had him help me test a few things.

The squeaking has gone, it was the power steering being low on fluid.

The "thud" is more like a whirring sound, almost like something is hitting something, but only in drive and reverse, not neutral or park.

My fan is crooked-looking, which makes a sound, also, and may part of this sound.

One more thing, the sound is pretty quiet. I can barely hear it over my engine.

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