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Water Pump Replacement:
2002 Chrysler Town & Country / Dodge Caravan Minivans

Main minivan repairs page • Water pumps on third-generation minivans

This is quite an involved job due to the transversely mounted 3.8L V6, which puts all the belt-driven components right against the passenger side frame rail. This means you must access the water pump (which is located at the bottom right rear of the engine) from the right front wheel well.

The first step is to drain the coolant. Then jack up the vehicle and support it with jack stands. Remove the right front wheel and the splash shield.

Here the serpentine belt has been removed. To remove it, rotate the belt tensioner counter-clockwise until you get enough slack to slip the belt off the crank pulley (belt tensioner is located directly above the crank pulley - labeled in the photo). Remove the three water pump pulley bolts (this is easier with the belt still installed). The water pump pulley is the black one to the left of the large crank pulley. The pipe connected to the bottom of the water pump housing is the coolant return pipe – one end inserts vertically into the water pump housing (sealed with an O-ring), and the other connects to the lower radiator hose shown at the right of the photo. It will be replaced.

This view shows the coolant return pipe and lower radiator hose removed. If you’re not replacing the pipe, there's no need to remove it as it won’t interfere with the water pump R&R. The water pump bolts are accessed by removing the three bolts on the pulley, and then turning the pulley until it can fall behind the flange on the water pump shaft.

There’s not enough clearance to remove the pulley with the water pump still installed. Moving the pulley around on the shaft will let you get a 10mm box wrench on the five water pump bolts. A ratcheting box wrench comes in handy here. The extreme left bolt must be accessed from behind the water pump! That's mechanic-friendly design for ya! It helps to have a third joint between your wrist and elbow.

Some say that engine must be lowered slightly to provide enough clearance between the engine and frame rail. This requires removing the right-front engine mount and lowering the engine a bit with a trolley jack or scissors jack — not a big deal as the three motor mount bolts are easily accessible from above. I found out later that this wasn’t really necessary.

Here the water pump has been removed. The water pump and pulley are removed together with the pulley hanging loosely on the shaft. With this vehicle you can't replace the pulley without removing the water pump.

This is the original water pump. Notice the plastic (nylon) impeller. This water pump was in good shape after more than 72,000 miles – no leakage, shaft wobble, or corrosion — a testament to good cooling system maintenance. It appears that an RTV sealer was used at the factory to hold the rubber O-ring in its groove to make sure it stays in position during installation. Not a very neat job.

A new GMB water pump is on the left. Notice the steel impeller. From outward appearances, it seems to be equal in quality to the Chrysler OEM unit. GMB is a Japanese OEM supplier, but I don't know if there's any difference between their OEM and aftermarket pumps. In any case, I've heard good things about them. Mine cost less than half the price of one from the dealer. I used spray-type gasket adhesive to hold the O-ring in place, which makes for a neat job.

After removing the water pump, the mating surface on the housing should be cleaned up with steel wool or a Scotch pad. Notice the hole at the bottom of the water pump housing where the new water inlet pipe will be inserted. It’s a good idea to clean this area to assure a good seal with the O-ring on the inlet pipe. This is also a good time to replace the belt tensioner (located directly above the crank pulley). A single bolt does the job. Don’t forget to line up the pin on the tensioner with the hole in the timing chain cover.

Here the new water pump has been installed with the pulley still hanging loosely on the shaft. The pump and pulley must be installed in this condition because there’s not enough clearance to insert the pulley separately after the water pump has been installed. The extreme left water pump bolt must be accessed from behind the water pump! Not a tech-friendly design. It helps if your arm has an additional joint.

Here the water pump pulley has been secured to its flange on the water pump. Three 13mm bolts secure it to the flange that’s pressed on the shaft. Only make the bolts finger-tight at this point. Wait until the serpentine belt is installed to tighten them. It's a good idea to use Loctite to ensure that they won’t loosen.

Here the new serpentine belt has been installed. The three water pump pulley bolts can be tightened now. To install the belt, first wrap it around all the pulleys except the crank pulley. Then turn the tensioner counter-clockwise until you get enough slack to roll the belt onto the crank pulley. It's going to be tight, so a bit of force is required - much like mounting a bicycle tire with your bare hands. The ½” square hole on the tensioner accepts a standard breaker bar end or ratchet drive, but the lack of clearance prevents their use. A special narrow tool is required.

A new water pump inlet tube and lower radiator hose have been installed (the upper radiator hose has also been replaced). All that’s needed to finish the job is to re‑install the splash shield and road wheel, replace the coolant, and take the van for a test ride.

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