Why Leaks Occur in a Mini’s Water Pump Housing
Posted on July 6, 2020 by Keith Cox
Leaks can be a clear indicator that your water pump is starting to fail. Damage to the water pump housing can cause the water pump to fail and allow fluid to leak from the system. Let’s look at some of the common causes of water pump leaks in your Mini.
Cracking Caused by Coolant
This type of issue is caused by driver error. When an engine overheats, you might think that the logical move is to help it to cool down by adding coolant. While this is a well-meaning move, it actually causes more harm than good. This sudden and rapid cooling cause a thermal shock and can crack the housing of the water pump. The same can be said for running the engine after a water pump replacement before adding coolant. If your engine overheats let it cool down naturally before you add fresh coolant.
Where metal and liquid meet, rust is likely to form. Add water with a high mineral content and you’re at an increased risk of rust damage. Rust produces fine particles that chip off. These are abrasive and can work their way through the water pump housing, resulting in leaks.
When the pump is replaced, the O-rings must be well-lubricated with either coolant or oil to stop them from becoming dry or cracking. Don’t try to patch this problem using a silicone sealant, as you’ll only end up blocking the weep hole.
Cavitation occurs when liquid rapidly changes pressure and partially becomes a vapor, creating voids. When the pressure rises, the voids release strong shockwaves. These can damage the water pump and its housing.
Some water pumps are fitted with a fan to help increase their performance and efficiency. If the fan becomes damaged, such as becoming bent or warped due to impact or high heat, then it can damage the water pump or its casing and contribute to leaks. Excessive vibrations from clutch wear could also cause the fan to sit out of alignment.
Discolored Water Pump Shaft
When inspecting your Mini as part of on-going maintenance, if you notice blue discoloration to the water pump shaft, then your Mini is experiencing extended periods of high temperature. This not only compromises the integrity of the shaft but puts the pump and its housing at risk of damage. Heat buildup of this type is usually created by an imbalance in the system, which overloads the bearing and causes a lot of heat in the process.
Old Shaft Bearings
Old shaft bearings can indicate impending water pump problems. Shaft bearings most commonly fail because they’ve reached the end of their lifespan. This can also be accelerated by poor alignment, low maintenance practices, and bad driver habits. Naturally, anything that puts extra strain on the water pump will cause strain upon its housing too.
Impeller Slips on the Water Pump Shaft
This type of issue is much more uncommon but can result in leakage of the water pump housing or damage to the water pump itself. The impeller, which is the rotor part of the pump, can become weakened by use and by rust. Rust can cause it to start to break apart and leave behind shreds of components which contaminate the cooling system and negatively affect its performance. When this happens, the capacity of the water pump is also compromised.
Sometimes, the answer to your part failure is simply ageing. Mini’s of all eras are popular with collectors and enthusiasts, which means that parts which were designed to last for the typical lifespan of the vehicle will start to fail now that owners want to extend that natural lifespan. These parts failures can include the water pump housing, which can become worn out and crack with age, allowing fluid to leak from the system.
Keith Cox Autobahn
Keith Cox Autobahn will help Mini drivers with any issue that their small-but-mighty vehicles might face. We are conveniently located in Bellingham, WA, and our friendly team of experts are on hand Monday through Friday to help resolve your motoring mishaps. No problem is too big or too small for our team, and with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty as a guarantee, we know that you will drive away happy.