3.5L and 3.7L water pump failure - Page 3 - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
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post #21 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-21-2019, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dnewton3 View Post
I did statistical process quality control for a living for 10 years, and now do cost savings analysis.

I wish we had good data for a decision point for the pump failure rates and MTF (mean time to failure). As a general observation, while most people do a good job in changing engine oil/filters, coolant is a neglected item. It does not help that the coolants today are advertised as "lifetime" or 100k mile changes; that is so far out that most folks just plain forget. Other people are good at following prescribed changes, but again, with the coolant life cycle being so long, it's not really known how the pump failure would relate to the coolant change regime.

For those who do change their coolant preemptively, much sooner than Ford recommends, we'd have to see what kind of correlation would exist between coolant life and pump life. So we have a few groups to consider, and I suspect the data is lacking to make a good determination as to "when" a pump will fail.

Correlation does not equate to causation, but without correlation there can be no causation. If we could find correlation between coolant life and pump life, we'd at least have some track to follow. Sadly, I doubt the data is available to us.


All water pumps fail. The issue with these is that they don't always give the tale-tell weep leak to let us know. If we're lucky, they leak via the weep hole and we get a hint of impending doom. The problem is that they don't always do this; some will leak on the opposite seal and leak into the engine. While oil analysis may pick up on this, it would have to be a slow enough enough that discovery predates doom. That may or may not be true.

The nature of the pump being buried inside the engine is a nod to packaging. Can't have it all, folks. Things take up space, and putting the pump inside saves space for any particular chassis package.


The Achilles heel in an otherwise excellent engine.

I bought my two Taurus cars knowing this going in. I hope to catch the issues prior to catastrophe, and change out preventative. Only time will tell ...
I knew it going in, as well, having an 08 Edge of my estranged wife's. I try to be proactive and monitor for potential problems, since I went ahead and picked up the 08 Taurus. Strangely, our cars were built the same day in two different plants.

But I do love the way the car drives, especially after I had an alignment that corrected serious misalignment problems. When I got it, it wouldn't break 23 mpg in highway driving. After new plugs, alignment, and an air filter change, my last trip netted a nice 29.2, on the same routes for testing. It's a fine road car.
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post #22 of 23 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 08:16 AM
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This failure scenario is enough to scare me into considering trading my car in as it approaches the end of the 100K mile certified warranty.

That $1500 for the pump, or $7k+ if it takes out the engine could be better used towards a new car with lower miles. Last thing i really want to do is put $7K of work into a $7K car.

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post #23 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-04-2019, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Mustang5L5 View Post
This failure scenario is enough to scare me into considering trading my car in as it approaches the end of the 100K mile certified warranty.

That $1500 for the pump, or $7k+ if it takes out the engine could be better used towards a new car with lower miles. Last thing i really want to do is put $7K of work into a $7K car.
When any vehicle approaches a 50/50 investment to value status, it's very "iffy" to keep it. But that scenario you prescribe is based on the worst case; engine has failed and needs replacement. It may well be worth the $1500 investment into a car worth $7500 (investing 20% of the total estimated value). And then you get another 100k or more from the car.

A car that is otherwise in great shape, that has a lot of life left in it, would be worth a preemptive pump change. $1500 isn't cheap; that's for sure. But can you go out and buy a used car for that same $1500 investment, knowing the history of the vehicle and having otherwise excellent condition? Probably not. $1500 does not buy you much of a car in today's world. So the $1500 investment, while expensive, is probably a better investment in your current car than a new-to-you car. (I am excluding the "sweet deals" like getting a car from your grandfather or BIL who sell you something cheap, or flat out give it to you. Those deals exist, but your relative won't give me a car. I'm talking about reality and not family to keep things in a fair sense of normal costs for all.)

As I said, I just bought two 2018 Taurus cars, brand new. I knew what I was getting into. General maintenance items are normal for any car; tires, brakes, belt(s), hoses, etc. Water pumps are a consumable item. It's just that these 3.5L engines have a very expensive pump replacement cost due to location. However, I can plan for this ...
Let's say the hopeful life before failure is 120k miles or greater. Given that my wife and I each average about 15-17k miles a year in our cars, we can expect to go 7-8 years before we do a preemptive pump change. That means we can save up $200/year/vehicle for the cost. That's not insurmountable by any means. Setting aside just $16/month/car will pay for pump change 8 years from now. And 8 years from now, each car is likely to still be very serviceable and usable. We just came out of a 2005 MGM for her (246k miles) and a 2007 MGM for me (130k miles). Those cars were both still in decent shape, even after 12-14 years of use. (sold both to my son for a cheap price).

Eight years from now, can I go out and get a nice car, with a known maintenance history, for that same $1500 investment? Prob's not. So while the cost of pump replacement is obscene relative to what other car water-pumps may cost, it's still "cheaper to keep 'er". Even in a worst case preemptive scenario (say 20k annual miles and 100k preemptive change), you'd only need to save $25/month set aside. $300/yr will replace that pump every 5 years.

Now, admittedly if you don't catch the failure preemptively, and end up ruining an engine to the point of total degradation and have to replace that engine, then the $7000 replacement engine may warrant putting that money into a different, newer vehicle. Or, if the vehicle is in a general state of very poor condition, such that even $1500 isn't a smart investment, that also would negate the deal.

Also keep in mind that if the pump fails, and you catch the signs of it immediately, the engines don't always need to be replaced. If the coolant pukes into the engine from acute failure, which ends up greatly compromising the lube, as long as you shut down the engine quickly (typically signs of distress like odd noises or oil pressure loss), the damage is minimal and the engine can simply have the pump changed and then the oil flushed a few times, and it's still a viable engine. The people that end up having to replace engines are the ones that drive after the initial symptoms have been displayed, but they ignore the signs (noises, higher temps, MIL, etc) and try to milk out a few more miles, etc. "Honey - I was just driving past the mall, and the engine started making this weird scrawly-screech noise, and the yellow warning light came on, but I had to get the kids to soccer practice so I thought I could make the extra 5 minutes to drop them off before I got home ...". This problem, when it manifests into an acute failed pump seal and leaks internally, typically does not go without warning. It's just that the warning isn't heeded. When it happens, you have to stop and shut off the engine NOW; not 5 minutes from "now". Often, but admittedly not always, the timing chains will be slightly out of sync and the little yellow light will come on the dash (code P0016). Or, the coolant bottle indicates a slight volume loss over a month or two. But people think they can ignore these signs, or delay dealing with them. In any other engine, perhaps so. But not these engines. Those are clues of impending doom; PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. These are signs you're in trouble:
- P0016 code on the MIL (aka CEL, etc)
- coolant volume loss at the bottle not otherwise easily explained
- coolant in the lube (info found in UOAs)
- noises that didn't exist last month or even yesterday


The reality is this ...
Preemptive pump change out = keep the car
Reactive pump replacement = replace the car if you've destroyed the engine

Like I said, only you know if your investment is worthwhile. I cannot tell from my desk what condition your car is in.

2018 White SE (his)
2018 White Gold SE (hers)
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