BELTS (EXCEPT TIMING BELTS)
On most older vehicles, the water pump is driven by a V belt or serpentine belt on the front of the engine that is also responsible for driving the alternator, power steering pump and air conditioner compressor. These types of belts are easy to inspect and replace if they are worn. You are looking for dry cracking on the inside surface of the belt.
On later vehicles, the water pump is often driven by the timing belt. This belt usually has a specific life expectancy at which time it must be replaced to insure that it does not fail. Since the timing belt is inside the engine and will require partial engine disassembly to inspect, it is very important to replace it at the correct interval.
Low belt tension, contamination and belt vibration are common sources of belt noise. A screeching or squealing noise that occurs when pulling away from a stop normally indicates a lack of tension; check belt tension and automatic tensioners.
A grinding noise can result from damaged bearings, which must be replaced, aligned and lubricated to eliminate the noise and further damage. Vibration and noise can develop over time as drive components such as pulleys and spring tensioners wear, bearings and brackets loosen, or belts wear and stretch.
Fig. 3: Typical Accessory Drive Belt
The angle between belt span and pulley is the critical factor responsible for causing the "chirp" associated with misalignment noise. The presence of high humidity (or a damp belt) often increases the likelihood for misalignment noise to occur. Misalignment angle can result from many different combinations of pulley positions - parallel and angular are two typical examples.
Fig. 4: Accessory Drive Belt Misalignment
Whenever a vehicle owner complains of belt noise, determine the type of noise and under what circumstances it occurs. The correction for a noise problem caused by belt misalignment is not likely to resolve a slip noise problem that may be caused by insufficient tension or other problem. The highest occurrence of belt noise due to misalignment comes from short belt spans entering large diameter pulleys. In the case of severe misalignment, repositioning of drive components may be required. Pulley alignment and tension must be correct for the drive to operate properly.