Replace Radiator Hoses Before They Fail
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Replace Radiator Hoses Before They Fail

When kit comes to maintaining your vehicle, it is always best to be proactive. Never wait for a part to fail before you replace it, or you may find yourself standing on the side of the road waiting for AAA to send a tow truck to tow your car home or to the nearest garage. This is especially true where components like fan belts and radiator hoses are concerned. It is easy enough to check these parts and easy to tell when they need replacing. It is cost effective to replace them as soon as you see that they are starting to fail than to wait until they fail. Even with AAA there are mileage charges after a certain distance and that charge will be many times more than what a radiator hose or fan belt would have cost you. You are a DIY person so there would be no expensive labor charge to factor in.

Have you inspected radiator hoses on your car or truck lately for signs that they need to be replaced? The knowledgeable DIY auto mechanic inspects those hoses every six months. That inspection includes heater hoses and the bypass hose at the water pump. If the hoses are leaking, spongy, hard, oil soaked, or starting to develop cracks, they need to be replaced because failure is in their future. Even though the idea is to replace those hoses before they suffer catastrophic failure, it is always a good idea to carry an extra set of hoses in your car along with your tool kit because hoses have been known to blow for no apparent reason. It is no fun replacing them at the side of the road, working on a hot engine, but it sure beats the time and cost of a tow.


Tools and Supplies

  • Set of replacement hoses

  • Hose lubricant

  • Shop rags

  • Hose clamp assortment

  • Water Pump Pliers

  • Screwdrivers

  • Utility Knife

  • Wire Brush

  • Drain Pan

  • All—Season Coolant

Tip: Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, finding the proper replacement hoses may not be so simple. The best advice here is to locate a source for them and then buy at least two complete sets of replacement hoses far in advance of when you will need them.

Preparing to replace a radiator hose

The first thing that you need to do when getting ready to change a radiator hose is to drain the coolant. Use a drain pan to catch the coolant and then dispose of in a responsible manner. Do not drain coolant on the ground because it is poisonous to children and pets. Pets are attracted to it because of its sweet smell and sweet taste. Take the old coolant to an auto service center or auto part store for proper disposal.

Removing and replacing a hose

Remove the clamp securing the hose. Most OEM clamps are one of three types—a spring clamp, a screw—tower clamp, or a twin—wire clamps as shown in this drawing.

Spring clamps are removed using the pump pliers or with Radiator Clamp Pliers if you have them. No matter which of the three clamps you are working with, release the tension on them and slide them up on the hose so they are off the metal tube the hose is fasten too.

Free up the hose. The odds are that the hose will have seized to the the metal/plastic tube/pipe. Back in the day when radiators were constructed of steel and brass, you could simply force a screwdriver between the hose and the outlet and pry it off. Today, radiators are made of aluminum and plastic and are easily damaged when brute force id used to remove a hose. It is much safer to carefully slit the hose with a utility knife and then peel the hose end off the fitting.

once you have the hose off, clean the fitting with the wire brush before coating it with the radiator hos lubricant. The purpose of this lubricant is to keep the new hose from seizing to the fitting making it easier to replace when the time comes to replace it.

Do not reuse the old style hose clamps. Install the new hose using worm—drive clamps. These clamps can produce a great deal of clamping force so be careful to not over tighten them and crack the plastic outlet tube on a plastic radiator tank.

Refill the radiator with new coolant, start the engine, and check for leaks.

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Comments (13)

Very detailed and excellent advice, Jerry!

Great reference article. Noticed quite a few car repair ones lately, Jerry. Hope all is fine with your ride!

great article as usual

Great article and very well presented Jerry. I have learned that hoses will fail at the least opportune times. My dad would check his hoses before any long trip and carry spare parts in the trunk. He was always a jump ahead of a breakdown.

Ranked #1 in Car Repairs

@Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman  My vehicles are fine, Jeanne. I will be writing more in this area now primarily because I;m the DIY moderator. I will be focusing my articles on all DIY areas and subjects.

Excellent auto advise, prevent problems before they happen. 

This article gives a thorough explanation on how to replace the hoses, very helpful!

This will help -even me (car repair scaredy-cat). TY for great info

Good advice. It's a good idea to have the hoses changed when your car has a coolant system service. It doesn't cost that much extra, and that way you won't have to worry about it.

By supplying diagrams and pictures with your articles, I might be able to do this!

very nice reminder..failure to replace old radiator host will bring harm to you and to your engine

im sorry it's "hose"

Your advice is superb. I might as well reserve radiator hose in my pick up truck to avoid being towed away.