I replaced the water pump in my 97 4.0. The rear bearing was going bad and finally leaked coolant. It would always run hot (210+) with the a/c on regardless of operating conditions in the S. Fl summers. The new Gates pump and HD fan clutch scrubbed at least 20 degrees. A little play in the shaft must have a huge impact on coolant flow. Water pumps are cheap.
I’m working my way around.
Did fan clutch and chemical flush
Next week is thermostat
I’ll move to hoses and water pump afterwards if needed.
I like 1 thing at a time.
Pics of the old tstat and housing.