The Causes of a Leaking Radiator Hose – And how to fix one

by / Tuesday, 04 March 2014 / Published in Automotive Maintenance

Engine Check

The radiator is a very important component of every vehicle due to its cooling function. A radiator basically keeps the most essential parts of a vehicle from reaching dangerously high temperature levels. An unregulated motor that becomes too hot may overheat and get damaged. That is exactly what the radiator is built to prevent; whether idling in heavy traffic or zooming away for long periods of time without a second’s rest.

Now, the underlying problem anyone of us can have whilst on the road is a malfunctioning radiator. In many cases, problems with this vehicle component can be traced down to the radiator hose. A broken or leaking radiator hose will definitely cause inefficiency in the cooling process of the engine, which can cause severe damage to the entire system if not fixed as soon as possible.

What are the causes?

If road debris such as rocks and trash get swept up into your engine, the possibility of puncturing the radiator hose is pretty high, and more often than not, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the road with an overheated engine. If your vehicle has already aged some, corrosion due to wear and tear may also cause your radiator hose to produce leaks. Either way, you’ll have to have it fixed as soon as possible.

Fixing a radiator hose leak can be a bit tricky, especially if the leak is somewhere in the middle portion. The first thing you should do is to pop the hood and examine the hose. Find out where the leak is coming from to assess the damage. Here are the possible scenarios you’ll end up with and how you can address them:

Radiator Hose

Approaching the situation

If the leak is located by the end of the hose or somewhere very close to it, what you can do is to trim off that part. This can be tricky because if you cut off too much, the radiator hose will end up becoming too short and you won’t be able to reconnect it anymore. So evaluate the length of your hose and the distance of the leak from the ends very carefully.

If you are positive that trimming off the part with the leak will leave you with enough length to reconnect the hose, then by all means do so. Take note that this is still only a temporary fix until you can get to a mechanic who can assess the damage properly.

A leak somewhere in the mid-part of the radiator hose can spell trouble for any driver. This basically means that trimming will not be an option. What you can do in this situation is to either replace the hose or find a way to patch it up temporarily.

Of course it would be great to have a spare hose in your trunk, but ninety-nine percent of us probably don’t. What we might have in there is duct tape which can be used to patch up the leak. Now, to be straightforward, this is a very inefficient remedy that will probably only reward you with just enough distance to get to an auto parts store.

Now, let’s just say for the sake of argument that you do have a spare hose in the trunk of your car, you’ll still have to know how to replace the radiator hose. Here are the steps:

Replacing the damaged hose

First, inspect the hose and the clamps before doing anything else. Make sure that you have the necessary tools to manipulate the clamps. Next, once you are sure that nothing is dangerously hot to handle, remove the hose. Make sure that the replacement hose you have is exactly identical to the one you are replacing.

You can then refit the hose into place and re-attach the clamps. Refill the cooling system if you have the appropriate fluid and finally dispose of any radiator liquid waste that spilled in the process.

Never forget that a radiator that has been compromised may cause permanent and severe damage to your vehicle if not treated urgently. Since you now know of the causes and fixes to a leaking radiator hose, you won’t be scratching your head should you ever be put in a situation wherein you’ll have to use this knowledge. On a final note, let this article serve as a reminder to always be ready for the unexpected to happen by having tools stored in your vehicle at all times.

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