Hoses are used on many components of every vehicle. They carry liquids (fuel, coolant, transmission fluid) and gases (for air conditioning). Hoses also set vacuum-operated components (cruise control systems and power brake boosters) in motion by transferring vacuum from the engine.
Cold Engine Inspection: You should check for small leaks when the engine is cold. Firmly squeeze the radiator and heater hoses. A hose that feels very hard or makes a “crunch” as it is squeezed is deteriorating and should be replaced. Hoses that are extremely soft, sticky, or oil-soaked, should also be replaced because they are apt to fail. Driving your vehicle when the coolant is low may lead to serious engine damage so you should replace the hose as soon as possible.
Warm Engine Inspection: Use extreme caution around hot engine parts to avoid accidental burns. Drive the car long enough for the engine to fully warm up. Park, shut off the engine and open the hood. Check the upper radiator hose to ensure it is not collapsed. If it is, this indicates a problem and should be checked by a qualified technician.
Look carefully at all the hoses to spot any swollen areas that would indicate weak spots. Inspect around hose ends for dampness, deposits, or buildup of dried coolant. These indicate that a “cold leak” may be present. A cold leak is usually a minor leak that occurs after the vehicle has cooled down, and expansion and contraction of components has occurred. All coolant leaks should be attended to as soon as you notice them. Over time, these leaks will get worse and may lead to an expensive repair. An inexpensive gasket or a simple tightening of a hose clamp may be all that is needed to avoid an expensive repair.
Hose Inspection – Visual Signs of Wear
Cracking: Cracking is caused by heat and age.
Bulging: Bulging is caused by high heat, oil, or grease exposure.
Soft: Oil or grease exposure can cause hoses to become soft.