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Guest MikeBike

Malibu leaking water pumps

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I own a '99 Chev Malibu (2.4L DOHC) LH9 engine) with 100,000 km (60,000 miles) on the clock and am the original owner. I'm now on my 3rd water pump (1st was a GM, 2nd an OEM, 3rd is now a GM). The part is only $190 but the labor is always around $800 because it's OHC and the timing chain plus the tensioner must come off in order to get the old pump out.

I dumped the GM "pink" DexCool antifreeze a long time ago at the mechanic's suggestion and have used good old Prestone green ever since. I run the car on Castrol Syncrude 5W/30 with very regular oil changes and the engine runs like a dream, except for the coolant leaks out the weep hole on the water pump.

Are the leaking pumps characteristic of this engine and am I stuck with this problem for the life of the vehicle? The 1st pump went at 50,000 miles. The second at 60,000 (OEM part was out of warranty at that point).

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Haven't heard of too much trouble with water pumps failing on these cars. I work for a parts store, and we sell maybe three, or four of them a month, with MAYBE one unused return a month. Most go in, stay in, and don't come back. As far as Dex-Cool, there aren't any problems with it. Treat it like anti-freeze. Flush it periodically and refill it with a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water. I've run 4 cars with Dex-Cool, and had problem number 0 out of them. I happen to disagree with mechanics that tell people to ditch Dex-Cool because the good ole green stuff is more likely to allow electrolysis to occur between all the different metals in the engine.

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is it aligned right? if it wobbles a tad i'm sure that'd cut the life of it.... or just buy one with a life time warranty on it

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I have a '00 cavalier with the LD9, and have had it since it was new. It now has 127K and counting. Two years ago I was told my water pump was leaking, but it has not failed yet. I did change the coolant at 100K. I used to frequent www.j-body.org and it seemed like this was a common topic. A lot of the members there said this was an issue and happens to most of these engines. Hopefully you have a good pump in now, as the $800 repair is way too much to do more than once or twice. Good luck.

btw, the engine code is LD9 and not LH9.

Edited by IDJosh
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I think some - shall we say, less than honest, mechanics resent DexCool because it cuts into their business. I have heard our service advisors telling people to flush out their rads every couple of years; even though, the manual states quite specifically 5 years or 160k km. GM technicians are emphatic about this.

Anecdotal or not, a customer of mine just traded his '98 Malibu with 60,000 (miles, for you guys) on it because the original waterpump had a miniscule external wetness to it, not even a leak quite yet. He didnt' want to pay $400 or so on a 9 year old car. Even though his mileage was low, I would say that 9 Canadian damp winters are worth an extra 50,000 or more miles!

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I'd switch back to Dex cool and see what happens...

It also depends on how/where you drive.

I plan on changing the wife's Cav's coolant around 40k, due to the fact the car does a lot of city driving, and she always has everything in the car on.... :rolleyes:

On the other hand, thw wagon has only had 2 coolant changes in 140k miles....

So, it would depend.

And the water pumps are an issues only related to the J-bodies, as it doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with other cars....

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I was doing some thinking about this issue. I know that the 2.4L engine in your car has the water pump driven by the timing chain. Since it is, I would check the tension of the timing chain. If the chain were too tight, then it would put undue stress on the water pump nose, causing the bearing and seal to go bad in the pump and allow it to leak. If the chain is too loose, it could cause a "grabbing" effect on the pump, also causing undue stress on the water pump nose, leading to eventual leaks. And yeah, you're right. Dex-Cool does cut into a lot of technician's pockets since they can't flush and refill the cooling system every couple of years like you did with the green stuff.

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