Coolant hoses are an essential, yet often ignored part of your car's cooling system. If the hoses suddenly give out, it could cause a catastrophic loss of coolant that leaves you and your vehicle stranded. It's important to make sure your hoses are in good shape and to replace these hoses before they have a chance to fail. The following offers an explanation of why and how hoses fail, as well as tips on changing your hoses.
Why Change Your Hoses in the First Place?
Living in the hot confines of the average engine bay isn't a cakewalk for any engine component, let alone organic parts like hoses and belts. Although the average hose is designed to withstand countless miles of use, the flexible rubber compound it's made out of can slowly degrade under constant contact with oils and dirt, as well as extreme heat and cold.
Motorweek's Pat Goss suggests you replace your car's hoses every 5 years or 75,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you can't remember the last time you had your hoses replaced, you can perform your own visual inspection to see if your hoses are overdue for replacement.
How to Inspect Worn-Out Hoses
Inspecting the hoses is a relatively straightforward task that requires only a pair of sharp eyes and attention to detail. Throughout the inspection, you'll want to look for any signs of wear and tear that could lead to eventual failure. For safety reasons, make sure the engine is cool before you check your hoses:
- Start by eyeballing the hoses for any nicks, cracks or fraying, especially around the bends and the ends of the hose. Use a flashlight for better visibility if necessary.
- Search for soft spots in the rubber hose by squeezing the hose throughout its length. Soft spots often indicate areas where the interior hose material has broken down significantly.
- Watch for any bulges along the length of the hose, as well as areas where the rubber hose has collapsed.
In addition to checking your coolant hoses, you'll also want to keep an eye on smaller rubber hoses used for fuel, emissions and vacuum. A cracked or frayed vacuum hose can cause your car to run poorly, while a fuel hose in similarly poor condition can lead to fuel leaks.
Replacing Your Hoses
You can replace your own hoses or have mechanic do it for you if you don't have the time or patience. If you decide to have a mechanic replace your hoses, you could end up paying anywhere from $120 to $161, according to estimates from Repair Pal.
If you plan on changing out worn hoses on your own, there are several things you'll need to do in order to make the job easier:
- To prevent spills, make sure you drain the radiator and engine of all its old coolant before removing any hoses. You'll add new coolant to the radiator and coolant overflow reservoir after everything's done.
- Always measure the length and internal diameter of the old hose and make sure the new hose matches those measurements.
- Replace the hose clamps as you change the hoses. Metal hose clamps can corrode over time, leaving them too weak to keep the new hose clamped in place. Don't forget to slide the clamps over the hose before placing the hose on the fitting.
- Add a small amount of non-hardening gasket sealer on the hose fitting. This will help the hose slide over the fitting easier.
If one hose is on the brink of failure, then chances are the rest will fail shortly. It's a good idea to have all of your hoses replaced at the same time to prevent unexpected breakdowns from occurring. For more information, contact a local auto repair shop or visit websites like http://www.soundsideauto.com.