Your water pump cools your engine and isn't an automotive issue you should ignore if you suspect problems. If you notice any of the following signs, you should have your vehicle serviced as soon as possible.
The temperature gauge
If you notice your temperature gauge steadily rising or getting hot before you've driven very far, your water pump may be going out. Before leaping to conclusions, check your coolant and make sure it isn't low. If it is, refill it and keep watching the temperature gauge. If your temperature gauge still climbs with enough coolant, do not drive your car. You could overheat enough to crack your engine block. The best thing to do is pull over and have a tow truck take your vehicle to a mechanic.
Even when you refill the coolant, it may not last if you have a leak. A leak is the first sign your water pump is going out. The bearings are most likely bad, allowing coolant to leak in small amounts at first, becoming larger over time. Check underneath your vehicle for liquid and also check inside your vehicle for liquid on the floor.
A large amount of leaking coolant can mean your water pump is cracked. You may have a small leak for now and be able to pour coolant in every few days, but this isn't good for your car and the leak will get worse over time. It's best to replace the pump as soon as possible.
Sounds upon ignition
If your car makes a screeching noise or a grinding noise when you first start it, it could be a sign that your water pump is failing. It could also be a sign of your serpentine belt going out or a multitude of other issues. Whatever the screeching sound upon ignition means, it's best to get it checked out instead of waiting until it breaks completely. If you notice the screeching noise and leaking coolant, or a rising temperature gauge it's most likely the water pump. Raise the hood and listen to the water pump. You shouldn't be able to hear it.
If you're familiar with cars at all and can locate your water pump (you'll have to remove the fan shroud first), take a look at the pulley on the front of the water pump. If it's gone, you don't necessarily need a new water pump, but you do need a new pulley before you drive the car again. The pulley lets the belt drive the pump. Without it, your engine isn't being cooled. The entire system is basically useless without the pulley.
Your water pump runs the cooling system in your vehicle, and is one of the most important systems in your vehicle. If you suspect water pump issues, either DIY or take your vehicle to an auto mechanic. Replacing a water pump is much less expensive than replacing a ruined engine. This is one fix you don't want to put off.
To learn more, contact a company like Ericson Automotive with any questions or concerns you might have.