How to Replace the Water Pump in a 1997 Maxima

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The water pump is part of the vehicle system that moves cool water from the radiator to the engine so that it can lower the temperature of the engine. A bad water pump can cause overheating or make a squeaking sound when the vehicle runs. On the fourth generation Maxima (1995 to 1999), the timing chain drives the water pump. Experienced home mechanics can replace the water pump in a 1997 Nissan Maxima with a few tools in roughly two hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Lug wrench
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Coolant drain pan
  • Wrench set
  • Ratchet set
  • 2 M8 x 40mm bolts
  • Replacement water pump
  • Water pump gasket
  • Park the vehicle on a flat surface and engage the emergency brake. Ensure the car is in "Park" if it is an automatic transmission or in gear if it is a manual transmission.

  • Loosen the lug nuts for the passenger wheel using a lug wrench. Do not remove the lug nuts.

  • Slide a floor jack beneath the front end and lift the front of the Maxima up, supporting the car on the front crossbeam. Place jack stands below the front jack points, behind the front wheels. Lower the Maxima onto the jack stands.

  • Remove the lug nuts on the passenger wheel and remove the wheel and tire. This is necessary for access to the timing chain cover.

  • Remove the screws securing the plastic splash guard behind the passenger wheel with a Phillips screwdriver. Remove the splash guard.

  • Place a coolant drain pan beneath the radiator and remove the radiator drain plug using a wrench. Allow the coolant to drain. Save the coolant and reuse it after replacing the water pump, if you wish.

  • Place a wrench around the alternator tensioner pulley on the serpentine drive belt and pull counterclockwise to reduce slack in the belt. Remove the belt from the pulley.

  • Remove the three bolts that secure the alternator tensioner pulley arm to the engine using a wrench. Remove the pulley arm. This gives you access to the water pump cover.

  • Remove the four bolts securing the "bulging black metal" timing chain tensioner access cover on the passenger side of the engine on the rear of the motor mount, using a ratchet. Access the bolts through the passenger-side wheel cavity. Remove the cover.

  • Remove the four bolts securing the water pump cover from the passenger side of the engine on the front of the motor mount, using a ratchet. The water pump cover resembles the timing chain tensioner access cover. Remove the cover.

  • Remove the two bolts securing the timing chain tensioner, beneath the access cover, using a ratchet. Hold your finger over the tensioner as you remove it from the engine. Note that the tensioner has a spring-loaded piston that can eject if you are not careful when you remove it.

  • Grasp the timing chain crank pulley and turn it approximately 20 degrees counterclockwise to create slack on the water pump.

  • Remove the three bolts securing the water pump to the engine.

  • Insert a M8 x 40mm bolt into the upper and lower bolt holes in the water pump. Slowly tighten the bolts using a wrench, no more than a full revolution, to "eject" the water pump from the slot.

  • Lift the timing chain off the teeth on the water pump and remove the pump.

  • Apply the new water pump gasket followed by the new water pump. Route the timing chain around the teeth of the new water pump.

  • Grasp the timing chain crank pulley and turn it clockwise until taut. Hold your finger over the spring-loaded piston on the timing chain tensioner and reinstall the unit.

  • Reinstall the timing chain tensioner access cover and water pump cover. Reinstall the alternator tensioner pulley arm.

  • Place a wrench around the bolt on the pulley and turn counterclockwise to draw slack the in pulley. Re-route the serpentine drive belt around the engine accessory components (including the alternator tensioner pulley) using the diagram stamped on the underside of the Maxima hood.

  • Add new coolant or recycle the coolant you removed. Replace the vehicle wheel and tire and lower the Maxima.

Tips & Warnings

  • When you remove the water pump, coolant might spill into the timing chain cover. Replace the engine oil while you have the water pump removed, if this happens.
  • Dispose of any coolant and oil according to local standards.

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