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by Cass Rymar, 2012 • These steps will probably work for 2001-2007 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
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
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.
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
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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