A broken or faulty radiator hose is not a problem you want to leave unchecked! If you don’t attend to it quickly, this is a problem that can cause issues with the radiator, transmission, or engine of your car.
However, you will be pleased to hear that replacing a radiator hose is not a very complicated or expensive repair!
Generally, replacing a radiator hose will cost you anywhere between $100-$300, depending on where you live.
It’s a relatively quick fix and does not require a lot of work for the mechanic to perform. Thankfully, this means there are not a lot of labor costs involved.
Since this is a relatively simple and quick repair, you may even be back on the road within a couple of hours of bringing your car to the mechanic!
Replacing a radiator hose can fix a plethora of issues you may be having with your car. To learn more about what these hoses do, and why it’s important to keep them in tip-top shape, keep reading.
- What is the Purpose of a Radiator Hose?
- What Will Happen if You Drive with Bad Radiator Hoses?
- How Long Can You Drive with a Bad Radiator Hose?
- How Do You Patch a Radiator Hose?
- How to Tell When a Radiator Hose Needs Replacement
- What Causes the Need for Radiator Hose Replacement?
- What is the Lifespan of a Radiator Hose?
- How is a Radiator Hose Replaced?
- Can You Replace Your Own Radiator Hoses?
- The Bottom Line
- Related Guides
What is the Purpose of a Radiator Hose?
A vehicle’s radiator hoses carry coolant to and from the radiator. These hoses are typically made of rubber, and there are two of them underneath your hood.
A car’s radiator is one of the most crucial components of the cooling system, and functioning hoses are key to making it work properly.
The radiator in your vehicle is equipped with a thermostat, which is responsible for determining how hot the temperature is under the hood.
Whenever that temperature gets too high, coolant is released, delivered to the radiator to cool down, and then pushed back to the engine.
First, the upper radiator hose carries coolant from the thermostat’s housing into the radiator inlet. Next, the hot coolant moves through the radiator, which reduces the temperature of the fluid so it can cool the engine down.
Finally, the coolant exits the radiator through the lower radiator hose and travels back to the engine to do its job.
This is a very important part of your vehicle’s operation, and without functioning radiator hoses, your engine or transmission may suffer.
What Will Happen if You Drive with Bad Radiator Hoses?
If you suspect that there is a problem with either of your car’s radiator hoses, you should avoid driving the vehicle as much as possible. If there are no mechanics located close to your home, you may even want to have your car towed to be repaired!
Driving without a properly functioning radiator can cause irreparable damage to your engine, so it’s very important to take the problem seriously.
If you don’t replace your radiator hose soon after you discover the problem, you run the risk of causing coolant leaks, your engine running hotter, or even your engine overheating.
If a hose fails while you are driving, the engine can overheat very quickly. This may cause an otherwise simple repair to cost you thousands.
How Long Can You Drive with a Bad Radiator Hose?
If your radiator hose is badly leaking, you should not drive your vehicle at all. If you have to go to the auto parts store, have a friend drive you. If you need to go to a mechanic to have it replaced, get your car towed there.
While your car will still physically run with a bad radiator hose, the coolant can leak to the point where it runs out or is no longer able to reach the radiator. If this happens, your engine will likely overheat.
Your vehicle’s engine heats up very quickly, and even leaving it running for five minutes when your radiator hose is leaking can lead to irreparable damage.
If you have no choice other than to drive it to the mechanic, and if you can locate the hole, you can try to patch it.
How Do You Patch a Radiator Hose?
Patching your radiator hose will allow you to drive your vehicle safely to the mechanic. If you want to patch the hose, you will need to gather the following materials:
- Rubber gloves
- Duct tape
- Safety glasses
- Extra coolant (if needed)
- A rag or paper towel
Let your engine, the hoses, and the fluid inside cool for at least ten minutes before beginning, even if the engine does not feel hot.
Make sure to wear your gloves to prevent any coolant from getting on your skin, as well as safety glasses to avoid any splashes into your eyes.
Once you’re safely prepared, locate the crack in your hose where the fluid is leaking from.
Dry the area with either a rag or some paper towels, then rip off a piece of duct tape long enough to wrap around the entire diameter of the hose. Wrap the duct tape around, and be sure to cover the hole.
After this first piece of tape is secured, reinforce the patch by wrapping another piece around it. This second piece of duct tape should be long enough to wrap around the diameter twice.
Now that you’ve finished patching the hole, you will need to make sure that you have enough coolant left in the reservoir. If it’s looking a bit low, fill it up.
Just make sure you’re using the right kind of coolant for your car.
When you’re done, start your engine to make sure the patch is working properly. Your engine should heat up to a normal temperature, and you should not notice any leaks when you look underneath your car.
If it’s still leaking, there may be another hole. Locate this second hole, and repeat the process until the problem is solved!
How to Tell When a Radiator Hose Needs Replacement
There are quite a few signs that will tell you that your radiator hose will need to be replaced soon. Here are a few of the things you should keep an eye out for.
A coolant leak is one of the most obvious signs of radiator problems. Coolant may be green, pink, or yellow, depending on the make and model of your car, and typically has a sweet smell.
While leaking coolant most often signifies a broken radiator hose, the leak may also be coming from the radiator itself.
If you’re not familiar with cars, you may want to talk to a mechanic to figure out where exactly it’s coming from.
If your engine is constantly overheating, there is definitely something wrong with your cooling system. While this can be caused by a number of things, the radiator hose just might be the culprit.
It is important to get this checked out as soon as possible because constant overheating can cause the engine to fail.
Low Coolant Levels
If you check under the hood of your car and notice that your coolant levels are low, or if your low coolant light comes on, take your car to the mechanic.
This is symptomatic of several problems, including a leaking radiator hose.
Visible Signs of a Collapsed or Broken Radiator Hose
If you look under the hood of your vehicle and notice that the hose is broken, collapsed, or otherwise damaged, head to the mechanic.
The rubber material the hose is made from may have softened, cracked, or weakened over time. To prevent any future problems, it will need to be replaced as soon as possible.
What Causes the Need for Radiator Hose Replacement?
Radiator hoses have a limited lifespan and will need to be replaced on a regular basis. High temperatures and heat from the engine can both cause the rubber material to dry out and harden over time, leading to cracks or swells.
Certain chemicals that run through these hoses can also erode the rubber material.
It’s essential to get your radiator hose replaced at the first sign of a crack, swell, or any other problem. A leaking or otherwise damaged hose can cause any one of the problems listed above if left unchecked for too long!
What is the Lifespan of a Radiator Hose?
In general, you should drive no more than 75,000 miles on the same radiator hoses and radiator hose clamps.
If you live in an area of the country that’s unusually hot, you will want to replace them once every 50,000 miles, or about every four years, instead.
When you have your radiator hoses replaced, make sure to ask the mechanic to replace the hose clamps at the same time.
These clamps are responsible for keeping the hoses in place and can become weaker over time. Clamp replacement is essential in preventing a collapsed or broken hose.
How is a Radiator Hose Replaced?
While a radiator hose replacement is not a very complicated procedure, it should always be done by someone who has a good understanding of how cars work.
The coolant will be drained, the old hoses will be replaced with the new ones, and finally, the coolant will be refilled.
When you first take your car to the mechanic, they will wait a while before fixing it so the engine can cool. This will ensure that nothing underneath the hood is too hot to touch.
Then, the mechanic will place a pan underneath the radiator to drain any coolant left in the hose.
After the hose has been cleared, the mechanic will loosen the hose clamps so they can be taken off properly.
They will then remove the old hose, install the new one, and put the new clamps on. If possible, have both the upper and lower hoses replaced at the same time.
Once the new hose is installed, the next step is to refill the engine coolant.
There are several different varieties of this fluid, and the mechanic will know what kind to use for your particular make and model.
After refilling the coolant, the mechanic will leave the radiator cap off and let the car run for a few minutes.
They will rev the engine in a park a couple of times to warm up the coolant and allow it to start running through the radiator.
After a few minutes, they’ll turn the car off and replace the radiator cap to finish the job!
A radiator hose replacement is not a big or complicated repair to make, which is why it typically won’t cost you much.
However, it’s important that it’s done right. Having properly working radiator hoses is key to making your vehicle run correctly.
Can You Replace Your Own Radiator Hoses?
It’s important that your radiator hoses are replaced correctly to ensure your car runs as it should.
While it’s typically recommended that a mechanic performs this job, you can attempt to fix the problem yourself if you know a good bit about car repairs.
Before you replace your radiator hose, you’ll need to locate all the relevant parts. Find out where your radiator drain valve is, and place a bucket underneath to allow the coolant to drain into it.
Remove the cap from your radiator or coolant reservoir, then open the drain valve.
Once the coolant has drained from the valve, it’s time to remove the hoses themselves. Remove the clamps first, then gently twist the hose off.
Use the same bucket to catch any liquid that is still inside the hose.
After the old hoses have been removed, clean the fittings with some degreaser or a damp rag. Install the new hoses, making sure to place them properly so they don’t touch the engine or any other moving parts.
Then, tighten the clamps properly so the hoses don’t fall.
Now, it’s time to refill the coolant reservoir. Coolant types can vary from car to car, so make sure you are using the right type.
Just as a mechanic would, leave the cap off and let the engine heat up to allow the coolant to start running through the system. Once you’re done, replace the radiator cap.
It’s important to replace your radiator hoses correctly. While you can do it yourself, it’s best to have this replacement done by a professional unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
The Bottom Line
Generally, radiator hose replacement is not an expensive repair to make. Depending on where you live, it will cost anywhere between $100-$300.
Radiator hoses are a very important part of your cooling system, and they must work properly at all times.