How To Check Radiator & Coolant Hose

Your car’s cooling system is an important component of your engine. It keeps the engine cool and within normal operating temperatures. Making sure your car’s cooling system is working properly is therefore a part of good car maintenance.

One of the things you can do to check the integrity of your cooling system is regularly checking the coolant and radiator hoses. Having leaks on your coolant and radiator hose might not be an urgent concern, but if you have a leak or blockage, the condition can worsen over time, and lead to complications.

You should regularly monitor your car’s operating temperature while driving. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, this should usually be between 195 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. If it goes higher than usual, then it’s a sign that there’s something wrong with either your engine itself or the cooling system.

Checking your radiator and coolant hose is easy. Do these few simple steps at least once a week when you clean and inspect your car.

  • Find the two radiator hoses. The one at the top brings hot coolant from the engine block into the radiator. The lower one brings back cooled-down coolant from the radiator into the engine block.
  • Visually inspect the hoses for any signs of cracking or flaking. Check the clamps also, if these are rusted or soft.
  • Check for holes or rotting on the hoses.
  • Squeeze the hoses. These should be a bit flexible and spongy, but still firm. It should not be too hard. It should spring back when squeezed. If the hose does not spring back, then this means it’s in bad shape.
  • Check the area clamped to the radiator. These should be clamped tight, and should not rotate.

If you decide, upon checking, that the hoses need replacement, take note of the specifications on your hose and purchase either an OEM or aftermarket accessory from your local car parts dealer. You will need to drain all the coolant out by unscrewing the stopper at the bottom of the radiator. This should be safely disposed, as coolant is a hazard to the environment and animals.

Replace both hoses and refill the radiator with the proper mixture of coolant and distilled water. During winter, or if you live in extremely cold environments, fill the radiator and reservoir with antifreeze, instead.

When working on your engine, be sure to let it cool down for at least two hours if you’ve recently been on the road. It’s usually best to check your radiator hoses while your engine is cool, such as in the morning before starting the engine. Wear gloves for added protection. Coolant can irritate your skin, so try to avoid direct contact.

Make it a habit to inspect your engine’s belts and hoses regularly. This ensures a safer ride, and a longer service life for your car. Apart from your regular checks, these hoses and belts should also be replaced every certain interval, as defined in your car’s service manual.


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