Car hoses

The Ultimate Guide to Car Radiator Hoses, Heater Hoses, and Coolant Hoses

Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald11 min read
The Ultimate Guide to Car Radiator Hoses, Heater Hoses, and Coolant Hoses

A radiator hose is one of the essential components of your car's cooling system and must be replaced if it's leaking or damaged.

Luckily, you don't have to worry about finding a suitable replacement radiator hose or heater hose by yourself because this ultimate guide to car radiator hoses, heater & coolant hoses will walk you through everything from how to choose the right one to how to install it properly. Read on to learn more!

Car Hoses & What Do They Do In A Vehicle's cooling system

A car has three main hoses: radiator hoses, heater hoses, and coolant hoses. Each has a different purpose. For example, radiator hoses carry fluid from the engine to the radiator and back again.

Heater hoses carry fluid from the engine to the heater core. Coolant hoses carry fluid from the radiator to the engine and back again. Each hose is made of different materials depending on its purpose. For example, radiator hoses are usually rubber because they can withstand extreme temperatures.

A properly functioning hose is essential for keeping a vehicle running smoothly. If you notice any leaks or cracks in your vehicle's hose, it must be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could be at risk for significant engine damage.

Auto Radiator Hoses

There are two main types of auto radiator hoses: upper and lower radiator hoses. The upper radiator hose connects the radiator to the engine, while the lower radiator hose connects the aluminum radiator to the water pump.

Both hose types are usually made from rubber or similar material, often reinforced with steel or other materials to improve durability. In the engine's cooling system, the upper radiator hose and lower radiator hose are the largest ones. In some cases, auto radiators may also have a third hose, known as a bypass hose, which helps to regulate the fresh coolant flow.

Auto radiators may also have additional hoses that serve different functions depending on the engine type and other factors.

For example, some engines use heater hoses to route hot steam coolant from the engine block to the heater core, which helps to keep the interior of the vehicle warm during cold weather. Ultimately, the number and type of hose used in an auto radiator system will vary depending on the car.

Heater Hose Vs. Radiator Hose - How To Choose?

Any car engine will generate a lot of heat, which needs to be managed effectively, or it can cause serious damage. That's where the radiator and heater hoses come in.

Both radiator and heater hoses are designed to carry the hot coolant from the engine to other parts of the car, but there are some key differences between the two.

The radiator hose is typically made from thicker materials like rubber and is designed to withstand higher temperatures and air pressure.

On the other hand, heater hose is usually made from thinner materials like silicone and are not subject to the same high temperatures and pressures. As a result, it can wear out more quickly than a radiator hose.

When choosing between radiator and heater hoses, you must consider your car's specific needs. For example, a radiator hose is a way to go if you're looking for a hose that can withstand extreme temperatures and pressures. But a heater hose is the better choice if you're looking for a hose less likely to wear out over time.

Coolant & Overflow Hoses - What To Know?

The vehicle's engine's cooling system comprises the coolant hose and the overflow hose. The coolant hose carries warm coolant from the engine to the radiator, which is cooled before being circulated back to the engine.

The overflow hose has coolant-cooled in the radiator back to the engine. In addition, the overflow hose is attached to an overflow tank, which allows excess coolant to be stored when the engine is cold and released when the engine is hot and needs additional cooling.

Both hoses are made from reinforced rubber or silicone, and both should be checked regularly for leaks or wear. If either type of hose fails, it can cause overheating and engine damage.

An overflow hose is connected to the reservoir tank and the radiator beneath the cap to store the excess coolant. A valve on the radiator cap allows coolant to return to the reservoir as the pressure in the cooling system rises due to the coolant's temperature to reduce the pressure buildup and prevent coolant loss.

Replacing a Radiator Hose - How To?

A radiator hose is a plastic or rubber hose that carries coolant from the radiator to the engine. Over time, these hoses can become brittle and cracked and oil contaminated, causing coolant to leak.

If you notice a coolant leak, it's essential to have it fixed as soon as possible. One way to fix a coolant leak is to replace the radiator hose. This relatively easy repair can be done at home with a few tools. However, a leaky radiator hose can cause your engine to overheat, leading to serious damage.

To replace a radiator hose, start by letting drain the coolant from the radiator. Next, remove the old hose from the radiator and engine using pliers.

Be careful not to damage the radiator or engine while removing the old hose. Once the old hose is removed, clean off any debris from the fittings.

Then, attach the new hose to the fittings and fill the radiator with fresh coolant. Finally, start up the engine and check for leaks. If everything looks good, congratulations - you've just replaced your radiator hose!

Installation Steps

Replacing a radiator hose is not as difficult as it may seem. With a few tools and some elbow grease, you can do it yourself in no time. Follow these steps to replace a radiator hose:

  1. Park your car in a safe place and turn off the engine. Allow the engine to cool down before starting any work.

  2. Locate the radiator hose. There are usually two hoses - one going into the radiator and one coming out.

  3. Using a wrench, loosen the bolts that hold the hose in place. Be careful not to strip the bolts.

  4. Carefully remove the old hose and discard it.

  5. Place the new hose in position and secure it with the bolts.

  6. Tighten the bolts, but don't over-tighten them.

  7. Start the engine and check for leaks. If you see any leaks, tighten the bolts slightly.

  8. Check the coolant level and add more if necessary, and that's it. That's how you get your job completed.

Follow these steps, and you'll have your radiator hose replaced quickly!

When To Replace Your Car Hose?

Your car hose is essential for the proper function of your vehicle. They help keep your engine cool and prevent overheating. Here are a few signs that it might be time for a replacement:

  • First, there are cracks or splits in the hose.

  • Second, the hose is starting to bulge or swell.

  • Third, the hose leaks fluids or gasses.

  • Fourth, there is explicit evidence of corrosion.

  • Finally, the hose is hard to the touch or feels brittle.

If you notice any of these signs, it's best to have your car checked by a professional mechanic. They can inspect the hoses and let you know if they need to be replaced. Sometimes, it might be possible to simply patch up a small leak or replace a single hose.

How to Examine Your Car Hose Condition?

Keeping your car in good condition requires regular maintenance, and one crucial part of this is checking the condition of your hoses. Over time, hoses can become stiff and cracked, leading to leaks.

Checking the condition of your vehicle's hose is a relatively straightforward process that only requires a few minutes. Set the parking brake, and ensure the engine is cool.

Then, locate the hoses and check for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks. Next, feel the hoses to see if they are soft and supple or hard and brittle. Finally, try twisting or bending the hoses to see if they are flexible.

If you notice any damage, it's crucial to have the hoses and clamps replaced as soon as possible to avoid potential engine damage.

Where Can I Buy a New Radiator Hose?

If your radiator hose is starting to show its age, it's probably time to replace it. But where can you buy a new radiator hose? There are a few different options:

 Auto parts store:

This is probably the most convenient option, as most auto parts stores will carry a variety of radiator hoses. You can find a store near you by using an online search engine or looking in the Yellow Pages.

Online retailer:

If you're looking for a specific type of radiator hose, you may be able to find it at an online retailer. Many retailers have a wide selection of automotive parts and accessories, so you're sure to find what you're looking for. Plus, you can often get a better price online than you would at a brick-and-mortar store.


If you know the make and model of your vehicle, you can try contacting the manufacturer directly. They may sell a replacement radiator hose specifically designed for your car.

No matter where you purchase your new radiator hoses, compare prices and shipping costs before making a final decision. And always keep in mind that installation may require some technical expertise; if you're not confident in your abilities, it's best to leave it to the professionals.

How Do I Know What Size Radiator Hose I Need?

There are a few factors to consider when determining which size radiator hose you need.

  • First, consider the coolant capacity of your engine. You can find this in your owner's manual or the engine itself.

  • Second, look at the length and width of your radiator. The hose should be long enough to reach from the water pump to the furthest point on the radiator and wide enough to fit snugly around the radiator opening.

  • Finally, take into account the type of coolant you are using. For example, ethylene glycol-based coolants will require a larger hose than propylene glycol-based coolants.

With these factors in mind, you should be able to select the proper size radiator hose for your vehicle.

How Much Will It Cost To Have The Hoses Replaced On Your Car?

Whether you're a do-it-yourself type or you prefer to leave vehicle maintenance to the professionals, at some point, you'll need to know the cost of replacing hoses on your vehicle.

Depending on the make and model of your car, as well as the type of hoses that need to be replaced, the cost can range from $100 to $1,000. It's important to note that this is just an estimate - the actual price will be based on the specific repair needs of your vehicle.

Preventing Hose Failure

Most people don't think about their car's radiator hose until it fails. But, preventative maintenance can go a long way in preventing hose failure. Here are some tips for keeping your car's hoses in good condition over the long term;

  • Check them regularly. It's a good idea to check your car's hoses at least once a month and more often if you notice any leaks or cracks.

  • Keep them clean. Over time, dirt and other debris can build up on hoses, eventually causing them to crack or leak. Regularly clean your car's hoses with soap and water to prevent this.

  • Inspect them for damage. If you notice any cracks, holes, or other signs of damage, replace the hose as soon as possible.

  • If your vehicle is over ten years old, replace the hose clamps every two years as a precautionary measure.

  • Make sure the coolant level in your radiator is topped up. This will help prevent the engine from overheating and causing damage to the hoses.

  • If you live in a cold climate, use antifreeze in your radiator to prevent the coolant from freezing and damaging the hoses. It is essential to check the owner's manual of your vehicle before using an antifreeze product because not all cars require it.

  • Keep an eye on the air pressure inside your tires, as overinflated tires can lead to cracked hoses. It should be around 30 psi (pounds per square inch). Underinflated tires also put extra strain on the hoses and should be checked at least once a month when it is hot outside. Keep track of your tire air pressure by writing it down each time you check it, so you know what fluctuations there have been.

  • Avoid excessive heat. Extreme heat can cause hoses to deteriorate, so try to keep them out of direct sunlight when possible.

  • Be careful when connecting and disconnecting them. When connecting or disconnecting hoses, be careful not to kink or damage them. If you're not careful, you could end up with a leaking hose - or worse, an engine fire.

Following these tips can help ensure that your car's hoses will last many years.


Should the lower radiator hose be cooler than the upper radiator hose?

Most people assume that the lower radiator hose should be cooler than the upper radiator hose, but that's not the case.

The primary purpose of the radiator is to cool the engine, so the water flowing through it should be at engine temperature.

Unfortunately, that means the water in the upper hose will be hotter than in the lower radiator. This is simple physics: warm water rises while cooler water sinks.

So, when the engine runs, the hotter water will rise to the top of the radiator, while the cooler water will sink to the bottom. As a result, the upper hose will always be hotter than the lower radiator hose.

How much does it cost to replace a coolant hose?

Replacing your coolant hoses is integral to maintaining your vehicle, and the cost can vary depending on several factors.

For example, the make and model of your car will affect the price, as will the type of hose you need. The length of the hose will also play a role in the cost, as will the number of hoses that need to be replaced. In addition, the labor costs associated with replacing the hoses can vary depending on the mechanic.

As a result, it's difficult to give a definitive answer to how much it costs to replace coolant hoses. However, budgeting between $100 and $200 for the entire job is generally safe.

How much does it cost to replace a heater hose?

The cost to replace a heater hose will also depend on the make and model of your vehicle, the type of hose you need, and whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it for you.

The average cost for a heater hose replacement is between $100 and $200. So you can expect to pay around $100 for the parts and labor if you have a standard passenger car.

If you have a larger vehicle, such as an SUV or truck, you can expect to pay closer to $200. In addition, you may pay more if you need a particular type of hose, such as metal-reinforced.

Are silicone radiator hoses better than rubber?

When it comes to a vehicle's cooling system, there are a variety of hose materials to choose from. However, two of the most popular options are silicone and rubber. So, which is better?

Silicone radiator hose has several advantages over rubber hoses. First, they can withstand higher temperatures and air pressure. It makes them ideal for use in high-performance vehicles. Second, they are much more resistant to abrasion and corrosion. Third, they will last longer and require less maintenance over time.

Finally, silicone hoses are available in many colors and can be customized to match your vehicle's color scheme. In contrast, silicone hoses have many benefits but are also more expensive than rubber ones. Therefore, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons before deciding.

Is a coolant hose the same as a heater hose?

There's a lot of confusion about the coolant hose and heater hose. So let's set the record straight: they are not the same! Coolant hoses carry coolant (antifreeze) to and from the engine, while heater hoses carry hot coolant to and from the core.

Both types of hoses are essential for keeping your vehicle running properly. However, they are made of different materials and specifications, so it's vital to use the correct type of hose for the job. If you're not sure which kind of hose you need, ask your local auto parts store or mechanic.

Are there any DIY methods for replacing car hoses yourself? 

If your car's hoses are starting to show signs of wear and tear, you may be wondering if there are any DIY methods for replacing them. While it is possible to replace hoses yourself, it is generally best to leave this job to a professional mechanic. It is because hoses are responsible for carrying coolant and other fluids around the engine, and even a tiny hole can cause significant damage.