How VW Water Pumps and Timing Belts Work Together

It’s common to replace the timing belt along with the water pump. It’s because these parts work together and normally wear out around the same time. The water pump/timing belt setup in Volkswagen vehicles is pretty cool. Read on to learn all about it.

The Purpose of Each Part


First, let’s talk about what each part is supposed to do. The water pump keeps the engine cool by circulating coolant through the engine block and radiator.

The timing belt (also called a serpentine belt) keeps the engine camshafts running in sync with the crankshaft. This is mandatory for your engine to run at all. The timing belt is a rubber toothed belt that wraps around several different parts, including the water pump pulley.

How the Timing Belt Powers the Water Pump

The crankshaft on the engine spins the timing belt, which in turn spins the water pump pulley. The pulley powers the water pump. This impeller blades inside the water pump push coolant through your VW’s engine block, radiator, cylinder heads, and cabin heater.

Of course, if the timing belt fails, the water pump also fails to operate.

Replacing Both Parts Together

Vw belt

Image Credit: DaddyMatt/PassatWorld

The life expectancy for Volkswagen water pumps and timing belts is 100,000 miles. That means both parts will likely fail around the same time. Replacing both parts at the same time is a good idea because:

1. It Saves a Lot of Time

Replacing the water pump or timing belt will take between a few hours and a full day, depending on the way your engine bay is set up. Since both parts tend to fail around the same time, it’s just easier to replace both at the same time. If you wait for the other part to fail you will have to tackle the project all over again.

2. It Prevents Further Engine Issues

It’s a good idea to replace the timing belt or the water pump before it actually fails. A bunch of engine issues can crop up when failure of either part goes undetected for too long.

When the timing belt breaks, a bunch of parts inside the engine can get damaged, including:

  • Valves
  • Cylinder head
  • Camshaft
  • Piston Cylinder walls.

A broken timing belt can result in thousands of dollars of engine repairs if you have an interference engine. Or a hefty towing fee if you have a non-interference engine.

When a water pump breaks, the engine can overheat and cause expensive problems. The most serious ones include warped cylinder heads, a warped engine block, and even catastrophic engine failure.

Ultimately, it’s wise to replace both the timing belt and water pump at the same time. It’s actually something you can do at home.

Buying a Genuine OEM Replacement Water Pump and Timing Belt at Wholesale Pricing

If you purchase a replacement OEM part at a Volkswagen dealership, you’ll pay about 30% above wholesale price. We always recommend buying these exact same parts online. You'll find that some online VW part shops (like VW Parts Vortex) offer OEM parts at wholesale pricing.

To find out if we carry a discounted water pump and timing belt for your Volkswagen model, check out our catalog:

To save you some time, you can see if there’s a water pump or timing belt for your car in our list of best selling parts:

Water Pumps

Timing Belts