I've been asked to replace the water pump on a 96 Cavalier Z24, how hard?

A friend who can’t afford to take this car to the shop to have $1000 worth of work done on it has asked if I’d be interested in attempting this task.
Not one to turn down a challenge and having some knowledge of auto repair I said, “Sure, why not?”.
Make some beans and try something new and challenging.
Then I went to the Autozone website and the auto repair guide section and found out that there is a reason a shop would charge $1000 and that the friend wasn’t speaking hyperbolically regarding the cost.
Now I may have to back out unless one of you kind dopers has done this exact repair and talks me into keeping my original word.
Any advice would be appreciated.


I haven’t done it, but my info indicates it’s quite a big job. The water pump is under the exhaust manifold, which has to be removed, and is run by the timing chain, whose cover and tensioner have to be removed. It appears to be four or five times as much work as the typical “out there in front” water pump, and twice as much as the typical “run by the timing belt” pump. I could easily see it taking a do-it-yourselfer two or three days - if all goes reasonably well. If an exhaust bolt or stud breaks, it would add to the pain.

It’s wise to consider replacing the timing chain tensioner and guides, and possibly the chain itself. The tensioner can be tricky to set properly, so one should be quite certain of how to do that.

Access is a b*tch, and some of my colleagues who have done it recommend unbolting some engine mounts and raising the engine to improve that.

It may well be within your capabilities, but it’s not something I would normally recommend to a layman.

Thanks Gary, that’s why you da man!

Gary, what does the book say for time on that project? The car is in the Midwest and has about 130K. Pretty clean.

Thanks again!

7.5 with A/C, 6.3 without.