Learn How to Check Radiator Hoses

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When doing routine car maintenance on your vehicle, you should remember to perform a radiator hose inspection in addition to checking the oil, tires, brakes and other safety devices. The radiator is 1 of the most important devices in your car because it keeps the engine at its nominal operating temperature, which is typically between 195 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit (90 and 105 degrees Celsius. Radiator hoses circulate coolant from the radiator to parts of the engine that need to stay cool. Over time, radiator hoses can weaken. If they are not replaced when necessary, they can completely collapse, causing the engine to overheat and unable to run. In extreme cases, a collapsed hose can cause the engine to burst. This article covers how to check radiator hoses, which may help you keep your engine from overheating.

Steps

  1. Find both of your radiator hoses.One reason radiator hoses are overlooked during a routine car inspection is that the hoses can be difficult to reach.
    • The upper radiator hose runs from the radiator to the motor. You can usually see most of this hose.
    • The lower radiator hose is harder to find. To locate it, get underneath the car and look for a smaller diameter hose leading from the radiator into the heat wall of the car.
  2. Visually inspect each radiator hose. Hoses should not be swollen or cracked, both of which could lead to a failure.
  3. Perform a squeeze test.While the engine is warm after a drive, squeeze the radiator hoses, paying particular attention to areas where the hose bends.
    • A radiator hose in good condition should feel firm, but not hard.
    • A radiator hose in poor condition feels very hard, spongy, or soft. You may find a single soft spot as opposed to the entire hose being soft. A soft hose or a hose with a soft spot should be replaced.
  4. Check the clamps that connect the hose to the radiator and the engine.There are 3 different types of radiator hose connections, gear clamps, banded clamps and wire clamps.
    • Gear clamps, which are sometimes called worm clamps, and banded clamps, which are also called screw clamps, are typically made of stainless steel and wrap around the hose. You adjust these types of clamps with a screwdriver.
    • Wire clamps are adjusted with a pair of hose clamp pliers. You can recognize these clamps because there is no screw keeping them tight.

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