How To Check Radiator Hoses

Without engine coolant, your vehicle’s engine can overheat.  Frequent overheating, needless to say, can cause severe and very costly engine damage.  So that it doesn’t overheat, engine coolant needs to be circulated between the engine and the radiator.  The coolant travels through two hoses - one from the radiator to the engine, and the other from the engine back to the radiator.  These hoses must be in good condition.  That is, they should not have leaks so that your engine will have a continuous supply of engine coolant.  This article describes the steps you can take to make sure that your radiator hoses are in good health.

For your safety, wear disposable latex gloves before checking your radiator.  Engine coolant, which is corrosive and toxic, can spill or leak out.  You might also want to wear safety goggles.

Turn off the car ignition and make sure that the engine has cooled down before trying to open the hood of the car.  The radiator and its hoses are under your car’s hood.  So, open your car’s hood and locate the radiator, or consult your car’s service manual for the exact location of the radiator.  It is usually seated in front of the engine.  Attached to the radiator are two hoses:  one at the top and one at the bottom.  In other car makes, the hoses are at the sides of the radiator.  Whichever the case, one hose is in charge of carrying cooled fluid from the radiator to the engine, and the other returns the hot fluid from the engine back to the radiator.

Visually inspect the hoses and clamps for signs of leakage.  Look for cracks, cuts, dry rotting, or splits along the length of the hoses.  Also look out for bulging in the hoses.  Bulging can indicate a weakening in that area of the hose.

Using your fingers, squeeze or pinch each hose.  The hoses should be firm and should spring back when squeezed.  Feel for crunchiness or brittleness in the hoses.  These usually indicate that the hoses are already old and need to be replaced immediately.
At the end of each hose are the clamps.  Check them.  They should be securely fastened and should not rotate.  If they are loose, fluid can leak from there.  The clamps should be tight enough so that the hoses will be immobile.  Also check for rusty clamps.  If needed, replace the clamps.

If you need to replace damaged hoses or clamps, make sure that the radiator is completely drained of coolant first.  Then, make the replacements before refilling the radiator with fresh coolant and antifreeze.  Do not reuse the coolant that you have just drained out.  Also, make sure that you are refilling the radiator with the appropriate type and grade of coolant recommended for your vehicle.

Checking your radiator’s hoses doesn’t take a lot of time or effort.  Yet, you need to check them regularly for any sign of deterioration.  Doing so will prevent your hoses from aging, wearing, and deteriorating to a point where your vehicle will need costly repair.


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