I was a little disappointed there were no detailed procedures on here for replacing a common item such as a water pump on the VR6. So I'm posting my experience of replacing the main water pump (not the secondary electric pump) on my 98 Jetta GLX 5speed.
First off, I noticed a coolant smell after getting out of the car last week and when I popped the hood I noticed the front of the engine was wet with coolant. Luckily I was fortunate enough to get to talk with a certified VW tech about what it could be and he told me the only thing on the front of the motor that could leak coolant is the pump (which it was in my case). He also explained in detail how he does it (he was going to charge me $120 labor to replace mine in his driveway). The Bentley Manual says you have to basically pull the motor and transmission to clear the fender in order to get the pump out. To clear up any confusion - THE ENGINE MUST BE RAISED TO GET THE PUMP OUT OF THE BLOCK AND TO CLEAR THE FENDER, but you don't have to completely pull the engine and disconnect the exhaust and all the other crap. This is how the VW Master Tech I talked to does it in his driveway without a lift (he does the same basic thing at work with a lift actually). Total time for me was about 4 hours (including a few minor snags and considering this was the first time I'd tried it). Here's the procedure.
Raise the front of the car and place it on jack stands (only to be able to access the underside of the car - this isn't a must). I took the front right wheel off to further gain access to the engine compartment. Take off the plastic wheel well cover and the plastic drive belt cover as if you were changing the belt. Take out the air cleaner housing and fresh air intake hose. My car is a 5 speed and has three engine/transmission mounts; I don’t know about the automatics. Two of the mounts are connected to the engine and only one is connected to the transmission. You only need to disconnect the engine mounts by simply removing the topside bolts and the transmission mount doesn’t need to be touched. All you do is remove the bolts; leaving the mounts in the car. One of the two engine mounts is located in the front of the car by the bumper (close to the oil filter housing) and the other is located against the firewall on the passenger side of the car (right under the throttle). To loosen the front engine mount by the bumper, you'll need a really long extension and just go down straight to the mount. You’ll probably have to remove an electrical connector off it’s harness to have a clear shot to this bolt. I used a 1/2" drive ratchet, a long extension, and a 15mm socket (or was it a 16mm?). This thing comes apart kind of violent, but just crack it loose and remove the bolt. The bolt for the rear engine mount by the firewall has a threaded top portion above the head with a hex nut threaded over it, which holds a 2-connector harness. This hex nut holding the harness comes off easily with a 13mm socket. Again, use a long extension to reach it by keeping the ratchet up high behind the throttle. Remove the nut and move the harness away from the engine mount bolt. This engine mount bolt also has a 15mm head, and use the long extension to crack this one loose. Both engine mount bolts came loose a little violently but weren't difficult. Completely remove both engine mount bolts but that's it; don't fool with the mounts themselves.
Next place a section of 2X4 on your floor jack and place this on the passenger side of the oil pan. To lift the engine enough to clear the water pump, jack up on the oil pan. I was a little leery about doing this but, the master tech I talked to assured me it was fine. IF YOU'RE CAREFUL, YOU WILL NOT DAMAGE THE OILPAN!!!!! If the engine mount bolts are removed, the engine and transmission will jack right up at an angle with no resistance (it pivots on the transmission mount). Make sure the block of wood will clear the frame and suspension when placing the jack on the oil pan. There's a flat spot on the bottom of the oil pan on the passenger side of the oil drain bolt (the front side of the engine). Use this area to rest the block of wood against so you're lifting on the front of the engine. Next SLOWLY jack the engine up listening for any binding of suspension, exhaust, etc; the engine and transmission should easily come right up along with the exhaust. The only thing I heard was the wood cracking slightly from being compressed. The exhaust doesn't have to be disconnected; it lifts right up against the body. How far to raise it? I raised it no more than about 4-5 inches. As I was jacking up the engine, I stopped about 2 or 3 inches to access the water pump pulley bolts, not knowing how far I needed to raise the engine.
To loosen the pulley bolts, leave the belt installed and use a 6mm hex socket to loosen them. I put the 13mm bolt in the tensioner and took some tension off the belt to turn the pulley 1/3 turn at a time and then reapplied tension to loosen all the pulley bolts. Don't just crack these loose; kind of rock them gently until they loosen.
Once all three pulley bolts are loose, take tension off the belt and completely remove the drive belt. Next, remove the three bolts holding the tensioner to the cylinder head with a 13mm socket and remove the tensioner and water pump pulley. Now you should have access to the water pump bolts.
The water pump is held into the block with three 6mm hex bolts. To access these, I had to jack up the engine a little higher (giving me the 4”-5” total) until the crankshaft pulley almost touched the fender. Again, rock the water pump bolts a little to loosen them; don't just crack them loose. The two upper bolts came right out for me, however the lower one didn't want to come out; I could feel the hex socket trying to round the inside profile of the hex. I sprayed this bolt generously with some liquid wrench and let it set for about 15 minutes. This bottom bolt wasn't accessible to me with my 3/8 drive ratchet; it sat too close to the fender. I was able to place just the 6mm hex socket in the bolt and I used a pair of channel locks on the body of the socket to loosen it. After letting the liquid wrench set for 15minutes, it easily came loose.
Getting the pump out of the block was a little funny, since it seemed like it was glued in the block. Just a small part of the pump’s flange sits outside the block. I ended up using a decent size pry bar to get it out. I placed the end of the pry bar against the rotating hub of the pump and the fulcrum point of the pry bar against the block (this is at about a 10 o'clock position looking at the pump). I could have pried against the cylinder head, but being aluminum I didn’t want to take a chance of marring it. Put a good amount of force on it while rocking it a little and the pump should pop out. Be prepared for about 2 gallons of coolant to come out as well!!!! (yes, I drained as much of the coolant as I could by disconnecting the lower radiator hose at the bottom of the radiator – not much came out). In order to get the pump totally out of the block, I had to push back (towards the driver’s side of the car) on the engine a little to clear the pump from the fender.
Before installing the new pump, I made sure the threaded holes in the block were clean as well as the pump bolt threads.
Putting it all back together is a snap, basically just the reverse of taking it apart. To tighten the pump pulley bolts, I finger tightened them at first and then installed the belt tensioner and belt. I used the same method described above for loosening these bolts to tighten them. Apply tension to the belt, tighten one bolt, remove tension, rotate the pulley, apply tension, tighten the bolt, etc. After the pulley bolts are tight and the tensioner and belt are installed, slowly drop the engine back down on its mounts. Since the transmission mount was left alone, the holes of the engine mounts aligned right back. Next, reinstall the engine mount bolts ( I did have to rock the engine a little to get them started – don’t just crank on it with your ratchet; instead start them by hand using your extension). I torqued my engine mount bolts to about 45ft-lbs.
After putting the plastic covers back as well as the wheel (if you took it off), fill the cooling system. I personally think you should only use the pink VW/Audi coolant from the dealer. It’s only about $12-$15 dollars per gallon and you only need one gallon. As I stated above, I took my lower radiator hose loose so I probably got a little more drainage than if I had just taken off the pump without draining. In my case, I used the full gallon of antifreeze and one gallon of distilled water to refill my system (don’t be a cheap ass and use tap water; go to the grocery store and buy a gallon of distilled water; your car is worth it!). THAT’S IT!!! PRETTY SIMPLE!!! Just do the standard stuff afterward like checking for leaks, etc. To me it was well worth the nearly $300 the dealer wanted to replace it as well as the $120 the tech wanted.
Supplemental Note: After replacing the pump, I noticed the pulley is slightly out of round (in the radial direction). It can barely be seen at idle and probably isn't that big a deal, but I believe it's what caused my pump to leak. This slight eccentric load over time fatigued the bearing surface of the pump, causing it to leak and the car only has 52k miles. Therefore I have a new pulley on order (about $15) and will have to lift the engine and remove the belt and tensioner to replace it. No big deal though.
THEREFORE, check the condition of your pulley before replacing the pump!
[Modified by Nailr, 11:16 AM 2-12-2002]