Car hoses

Radiator Hose Problems: 6 Symptoms Of A Faulty Radiator Hose

Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald6 min read
Radiator Hose Problems: 6 Symptoms Of A Faulty Radiator Hose

To keep your car's cooling system intact, you must take care of its parts. Once you notice something wrong with your radiator hose, you must take care of it quickly. These six symptoms of hose failure will help you do it.

The Cooling System And Its Parts

A car's cooling system transfers the heat from the engine via coolant circulation. The coolant system helps the engine remain at average operating temperature. It passes coolant through the channels in the engine block. Since the car engine produces a lot of heat, the system helps the engine cool down to the required temperature.

The cooling system consists of the radiator, the water pump, the heater core, the cooling fans, freeze plugs, the thermostat, overflow tank, hoses, the radiator cap, and the coolant.

What Are The Radiator Hoses?

The vehicle hoses are one of the car's critical and most vulnerable parts. A radiator hose is a hose that transfers coolant from the water pump of the engine to the radiator. It is a vital device that removes all the excess heat from the coolant.

Coolant hoses have a large diameter and are rubbery. Due to their material nature, radiator hoses can break down from time to time. To avoid radiator hose collapse, you must inspect them as part of your routine maintenance.

The hoses' primary function is to move the coolant fluid from the radiator to the hot parts of the engine. First, the radiator cools down the hot coolant. Then, it returns the heated fluids to the radiator. Finally, the process starts to cycle again.

Lower Vs. Upper Radiator Hose

Each vehicle has two types of hoses: upper and lower hose.

The upper hose connects the thermostat housing to the radiator in your car. The lower radiator hose is the bottom hose that connects the bottom of the radiator to the water pump. Unfortunately, the two hoses are different, and you cannot interchange them since they have extra lengths and shapes.

So, the upper hose attaches the radiator's top to the engine's. The upper hose is a pressure hose that connects the engine to the radiator. This point is where the engine's coolant enters the radiator. The lower hose is a suction hose that connects the radiator bottom to the pump. To avoid collapsing, it has a wound wire spring inside.

A broken radiator hose would not be able to flow coolant properly. Although both hoses are rubbery devices that transfer coolant, they have different roles.

The Six Symptoms Of A Collapsed Radiator Hose

Always look for these six symptoms to avoid engine damage if you suspect any hose trouble. Extreme cases of a broken radiator hose and engine overheating can cause the engine to fail. That is why a professional mechanic diagnosis is necessary from time to time.

Engine Overheating

You must make sure that the engine works at the proper temperature to avoid vehicle overheating. If the engine overheats, it might indicate a bad radiator hose.

Radiator hoses can be the reason for overheating because they might break down and leak after a while. But, most often, they are under high pressure. So, a bad radiator hose might be the reason for your vehicle to overheat.

Never let your engine overheat since it can lead to more severe problems such as engine failure.

For further caution, always pay attention to the engine's temperature. You can see it on the instrument panel. It should be between H (hot) and C (cold). If you notice the register moving too hot, stop the car and shut it off. Then, immediately inspect the vehicle's cooling system.

Radiator Cap Problem

The radiator cap can be a reason for a bad radiator hose. For example, if there is an idle one-way valve in the cap, you might be dealing with a failing hose.

This problem could happen because of the deposits contaminating the cap or age. If you suspect the radiator cap is the problem, cool the engine and remove the cap. When you remove the cap, the hoses might quickly return to their standard size. The reason is either the cap or a blocked vent hose.

Next, look at the cap in detail. Is it covered with deposits? Of yes, clean it with detergent and a toothbrush. Rinse, wipe, and reinstall it to check if the cap was the problem.

Coolant Leak

Look under the car. Do you notice any purple, yellow, blue, or green fluid? If yes, you are facing a leaking coolant. Since antifreeze has a sweet smell, you can also smell the leaks. All those fluids can come due to a bad radiator or some of its parts, such as the hoses or the radiator drain cock.

Antifreeze leak is not something to play with, so you must consult your mechanic if you notice fluid. There are many causes for this, so you need professional help to determine the reason for the cooling system fault.

However, if you can easily see that the reason is a collapsed hose, you can replace it yourself. Before the hose breaks down, it might leak fluid, which is a clear sign of something wrong. Yet, if there are no leaks, check for a faulty water pump or the radiator itself.

Broken Or Collapsed Radiator Hose

Your car hoses can break or collapse, a symptom of a failing radiator hose. There are many ways a hose can break; if you want to trace the reason, look for coolant leaks, swelling, or cracked hoses. If you see any of these signals, you need a new hose.

If you are dealing with a collapsed radiator hose, the hose will either shrink or fall. In addition, you might have a weak or soft hose because the radiator cap releases pressure in the vehicle's engine.

Once you notice a broken or collapsed hose under the hood, replace it immediately since it cannot let enough antifreeze pass, leading to high temperatures and overheating.

Low Coolant Level

Another symptom of a broken hose could be a problem with the coolant flow. If you constantly replenish the antifreeze and the low coolant light shows up, you could have a failing radiator hose.

You can trace low coolant levels under a parked car, so open and inspect the coolant reservoir.

Try not to drive with a low engine coolant because you might run out of coolant before you reach your destination. Also, f you go with broken heater hoses, you might damage your vehicle severely, resulting in overheating, blown head gasket, or stalling, and the engine will no longer operate.

Clogged Radiator

A clogged radiator might signify a collapsed hose. Restricted radiator flow might break down the lower radiator hose. You can see this while driving. The temperature will rise, and the check engine light will be on.

In this case, stop the car and let it idle, then open the hood and observe the lower hose. Add gas on the gas pedal to see if the hose collapses with acceleration. If yes, you are dealing with a failing radiator hose.

A regular radiator flush is necessary if you want to prevent any engine damage.

How To Check The Hoses In Detail

  • Make sure the engine is excellent.

  • Open the hood and inspect the hoses.

  • Since most hoses are the same age, the others will follow if one house has a problem.

  • All the hoses should be firm but flexible when you touch them.

  • Check if there are any holes, leaks, breaks, or swelling.

  • Focus on all the bending and curving areas. The glassy-looking hose might mean heat damage.

  • Check hoses at least every four years.


How Can A Collapsed Hose Cause Overheating?

A collapsed hose can cause overheating because it will restrict the coolant flow. Always stop and turn to the side of the road as soon as you can. Driving with a failing hose can seriously damage the engine. Of course, overheating can happen for several reasons other than a broken hose.

Which Part Of The Hoses Fails Most Often?

The upper radiator hose is the hose most susceptible to failing. However, damages can also happen to the water pump bypass hose, the steam hose, the bleed hose, or the heater hoses.

How Often Should I Replace Radiator Hoses?

Try to replace radiator hoses regularly as part of your vehicle maintenance. To preserve the engine in its best condition, replace hoses every 60,000 miles (about four years). If you are a DIY person and replace the hoses at home, ensure you get the correct hoses according to the car model.

How Much Will A Hose Replacement Cost Me?

Hose replacement varies between $400 and $450, with labor costs. A regular replacement will take about one to two hours.

Final Words

You must not neglect and avoid repairs when necessary when it comes to cars and car components. Always replace broken or faulty parts on time.

Radiator hoses are a vital component of the vehicle's cooling system, and a broken or faulty hose can lead to overheating or complete engine failure.

Replace hoses regularly and ensure everything under the hood is controlled.