Replacing the Water Pump

By Rick Zotz


For about three months, my car had been mysteriously loosing coolant. The reservoir level would remain full for a few days, then suddenly drop one or two inches in a single day. I soon discovered the leak was coming from the vicinity of the water pump, so I embarked on one of the longest, most frustrating maintenance jobs I have performed in many years. I hope my experience will provide some assistance when you are eventually challenged by the same task. Is the effort worth saving $250 in labor? You be the judge.


Part Description Part  # Price* Notes
Water Pump 21010-53J01 44.23 None
Permatex Super Grey RTV Silicone Gasket Maker     This is a step above the Permatex Super Blue recommended by Nissan
Loctite PST Thread Sealant     Much better and easier to use than Teflon tape

Procedure Length:

This procedure requires about 4-6 hours and can be performed alone. It was done on a 1992 Sentra SE-R, and likely applies to all North American versions of the SR20DE produced since the 1991 model year. If in doubt, check with your dealer and the factory service manual.

Tools and supplies:

View the photos before beginning!

Siesta time! Go eat lunch and drink your favorite beverage.

At this point, I stopped until the next day. The gasket maker dries in one hour, but fully cures in 24 hours. You may also want to wait until the next day if you're concerned about obtaining a good seal, especially if assembly was done in cold weather.

The following section outlines quick refill methods for both the cooling and power steering systems. Optimum results in the cooling system are allegedly achieved by strictly following the factory service manual, but the method here has given me excellent results. The method here for replacing power steering fluid is similar to that in the service manual, but you may opt for a vacuum pump method found here.

This procedure originally appeared as part of Rick's SE-Rious Procedures created by Rick Zotz which appeared on his excellent site