I'm freaking out right now. The heat went out in our van over the weekend and we just thought it was the temperature gauge. Had to wait until husband's day off, today, to take it in and found out it was the water pump. We need a new one and they need to flush the cooling system. However, I'm terrified about the engine. We never smelled anything and as far as I know, no lights came on the dash. Well at least my husband didn't mention it but we've only had it three weeks (2005 Dodge Caravan) and not really accustomed to the dash yet. But I think he would have noticed a light. We are both clueless about under the hood. I haven't driven it until this morning. It was 50 degrees the first two days and has been 30 degrees since. It is going to cost almost $500 to get all the work done and then they can run everything through and check the engine. I'm wondering if it was possible that some coolant was still going through the engine even though it wasn't heating up on the inside of the van? And would it have even been running without coolant? What are my chances the engine is wrecked? Thank you for any help.
Please realize a water pump doesn't usually go out spectacularly (all at once). Usually, the pump will have issues which exhibit themselves over time (usually leaks). While your vehicle's water pump may need replacement, more than likely it didn't completely quit working. If there was engine damage, you most likely would have seen other things going on, such as steam, poor running, not starting, or volumes of white smoke from the tail pipe (not regular exhaust steam seen in cold weather). If your van didn't exhibit any of these or the dreaded check engine light (CEL), it's more than likely going to be okay. This isn't a "given", but you'll probably find after getting the pump replaced the engine is still in as good a shape as you've seen before things started happening. When an engine overheats, the dash light for the engine will come on in most cases. If there's a gauge showing the engine temperature, that too would have pegged. From what you're describing, it sounds like you all caught it before any real damage was done and therefore are going to be just fine. No promises, but that's what it sounds like.
If your engine temperature never went in the red and it didn’t seize up and you never saw puddles of antifreeze anywhere it should be fine. A vehicle can be driven without coolant as long as the engine temperature is watched closely and is not recommended except in emergencies.