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
- 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.