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I have a 99 mercury villager with 80000 miles. For the last couple of months I have had a problem with the heat, it takes for ever to heat up and when it does, it is not a real hot heat. It has never overheated, nor is there any sign of fluid leaking. The other day I took it to a repair shop to have them check the heat....they were a tire/muffler repair shop, but the sign said they did all repairs. After about 10 minutes, they came out and told me my water pump was bad and needed replacing and it would cost nearly 600.00. I know I need to get another opinion, but does this sound right. Others I have talked to said that if I drove the van very far the engine would over heat. I've driven it for 2 months, and more than 100 miles at a time, and it has yet to over heat. Now I am afraid to drive it. I am on an extremely limited budget, so 600 is out of the question and I know I need another estimate, but many shops charge for that as well. Is there any clear way to tell if the water pump is going bad? THANKS!!!!!!!!

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Dee, Now that I know the full story, I would have the thermostat checked. When you're driving take a look at your temperature gauge. See if it ever gets to the middle or warm position. If the thermostat is stuck open, then the engine takes a long time to warm up. This can cause problems down the road, so you want to have this fixed. But it is okay to drive it. You're right, most likely a bad water pump would cause an overheating problem, not a no heat problem. The thermostat should be much less expensive to replace. I would not go back to this shop. Ask your friends and family who they trust or look on the Ask Patty website for a "female" friendly dealer. If the temperature gauge is working properly, or you feel you're getting a normal reading when the engine is warmed up, then have the blend doors for the heating system checked. It's possible that a door is stuck closed and heat is unable to enter the vehicle. There could also be a problem with your heater core inside the vehicle. Usually when they go bad they leak coolant on the passenger side floor. I hope all this information helps. It's hard to diagnose without looking at the vehicle, but these are some things to have checked. Lori Johnson

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