I figured out where all that water that was missing from my coolant system went the other day when I came out of the laundromat and found a big puddle under the van. Straight out of the water pump. I thought about breaking out the Haynes manual and replacing it myself (if you live in a van you definitely need to have a Haynes or Chiltons for your vehicle – you can click here to find one on Amazon). Then I thought about just paying someone to do it for me. Things are all smooshed together under the hood and I don’t really have all the tools I’d need to do it, tho I could get them. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head tho. My mom was strongly influenced by first wave feminism and totally believes that I can and probably should do things like this myself.
Then the conundrum solved itself – a good friend and customer of a couple years (we’ll call him Bob) pulled into the parking lot. Bob’s a heavy equipment mechanic. I put my mother out of my head, hugged Bob and pointed out the puddle under my van. He confirmed that it was my water pump and something to do with a bearing, and we went on a quest for a new water pump. Apparently the fishing boats use the same water pump as my van, so all the places that were open were sold out. NAPA would be open in the morning. I love NAPA. I can get a discount at NAPA, and so can you – just ask the clerk to put your order under some big company, and pay cash. The clerk at NAPA knows and loves me from last year when the bus was breaking down every two weeks, so he searches through the computer and gives me the best discount available – around thirty percent, usually.
Bob and I had dinner and worked out a deal for an exchange of services. He came into the club that night and Susan and I gave him a couple smoking hot double dances. The next morning I showed up on his doorstep bright and early with a new water pump, some coolant, oil, and a serpentine belt (it needed changing soon anyways).
I got to thinking, while I was watching him work on the van, of all the times I’ve been looking around on the internet for real human step-by-step instructions with pictures. Especially the time we were trying to convert the bus to run on straight veggie oil. So I was inspired to whip out the camera and make for you here a complete step-by-step tutorial for changing the water pump and serpentine belt on a Chevy Astro. I don’t pretend to be a mechanic, or even know much about what I’m talking about, so if you see something wrong please correct me.
Step one: you should probably disconnect the battery. Water and electricity don’t mix well. I didn’t take a picture of this, cause if you can’t figure out how to disconnect the battery you just need to go to a mechanic.
Step two: open the drain at the bottom right hand corner of your radiator to empty it. Again, no picture. It’s pretty straight forward. Make sure you have an adequate container to catch ALL the fluid that comes out and dispose of it properly.
Step three: now you get to start taking apart that crazy maze of stuff. See the air cleaner thing? Disconnect from the hose and you can just lift the whole thing out. It’ll look like this (just click to see bigger):
Step four: see that piece of plastic coming off the back of the radiator? Never would have occurred to me, but that thing comes off. The screws on mine were just at the top corners. Maybe there were supposed to be more, but someone worked on it before and didn’t put them back. Hey, it’s done fine without them all this time.
See the serpentine belt there? It’s really easy to get off because it has an automatic tensioner thing. Just take it off.
Step eight: this is the part where it starts to be useful to have some tools. Clamp the water pump down however you can and get the fan and clutch off it.
also disconnect any hoses that are still on it.
Step thirteen: put the fan and clutch on the front of the water pump, and the funny plastic shield and air filter back together (no picture, but do it just like you did taking it off).