How to Change the Water Pump on a KIA Optima

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It is not difficult to change a water pump on the Kia Optima, however it does take a little time because you have to take the belts off. You can perform the project in your driveway, so there is no need to take the Optima to a repair garage and waste money on labor charges. You can finish the project in about 2 ½ hours, and you probably already have the tools you need to do the job in your toolbox.

Things You'll Need

  • Drain pan
  • Socket set
  • Wrench set
  • Marking crayon
  • Make sure the Optima engine is completely cool and drain the engine coolant by placing a drain pan under the radiator and opening the valve with a wrench. Disconnect the negative battery cable using a wrench to loosen the terminal nut.

  • Note the proper routing of the serpentine belt and loosen the idler pulley with a wrench to remove the tension from the belt. Pull the belt off the pulleys and set it off to the side.

  • Remove the alternator using a socket and ratchet. Remove the pulleys from the crankshaft and the water pump using a wrench. Remove the upper and lower timing belt covers using a wrench to remove the bolts. Position the timing mark on the crankshaft so that it lines up with the mark on the engine block, using a wrench.

  • Mark the position and direction of the timing belt reinstalling later. Verify that the I and E marks on the camshaft pulley line up with the marks on the cylinder head. Do not move the engine once you have the items lined up. Remove the timing belt tensioner pulley using a wrench and pull the timing belt off the engine.

  • Remove the mounting bolts on the power steering pump with a socket and ratchet and position it aside. There is no need to disconnect the hoses on the power steering pump. Remove the water inlet pipe and the gasket using a socket and ratchet. Remove the bypass pipe and O-ring. Remove the mounting bolts from the water pump with a socket and ratchet.

  • Pull the pump away from the engine and clean any remaining gasket material away from the mounting surface using a scraper tool.

  • Place the new gasket and water pump on the engine block and tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet. Connect the bypass pipe and o-ring and tighten with a wrench. Connect the water inlet pipe and gasket and tighten the nuts with a wrench. Install the power steering pump and tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet.

  • Install the timing belt according to the markings you made when taking it off. Install the timing belt tensioner and tighten it with a wrench. Install the upper and lower timing belt covers and tighten the bolts with a wrench. Install the pulleys on the crankshaft and water pumps. Tighten the bolts with a wrench.

  • Install the alternator and tighten the mounting bolts with a socket and ratchet. Properly route the serpentine belt on the pulleys according to the diagram on the car, or the notes you made when taking it off. Add tension to the belt by tightening the idler pulley with a wrench.

  • Connect the negative battery cable and tighten the terminal nut with a wrench. Make sure the valve is closed on the bottom of the radiator. Refill the radiator and the reservoir with engine coolant. Start the Optima and check the system thoroughly for leaks.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you keep the engine coolant clean when you drain it into the pan, you can reuse it when the project is complete.
  • Pets are attracted to ethylene glycol because it has properties that they find to be sweet, and they will drink it. If they consume sufficient quantities, it can be fatal. Never drain engine coolant to the ground and place containers out of reach of your pets.

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