Upper and lower radiator hoses along with the heater hoses should be checked for deterioration, leaks and loose hose clamps at least every 15,000 miles (24,000 km). It is also wise to check the hoses periodically in early spring and at the beginning of the fall or winter when you are performing other maintenance. A quick visual inspection could discover a weakened hose that might have left you stranded if it had remained unrepaired.
Whenever you are checking the hoses, make sure the engine and cooling system is cold. Visually inspect for cracking, rotting or collapsed hoses, replace as necessary. Run your hand along the length of the hose. If a weak or swollen spot is noted when squeezing the hose wall, the hose should be replaced.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
- Remove the radiator pressure cap.
- Position a clean container under the radiator and/or engine petcock or plug, then open the drain and allow the cooling system to drain to an appropriate level. For some upper hoses only a little coolant must be drained. To remove hoses positioned lower on the engine, such as a lower radiator hose, the entire cooling system must be emptied.
- Loosen the hose clamps at each end of the hose requiring replacement. Clamps are usually either of the spring tension type (which require pliers to squeeze the tabs and loosen) or of the screw tension type (which require screw or hex drivers to loosen). Pull the clamps back on the hose away from the connection.
- Twist, pull and slide the hose off the fitting taking care NOT to damage the neck of the component from which the hose is being removed.
If the hose is stuck at the connection, do NOT try to insert a screwdriver or other sharp tool under the hose end in an effort to free it, as the connection and/or hose may become damaged. Heater core connections especially may be easily damaged by such a procedure. If the hose is to be replaced, use a single-edged razor blade to make a slice along the portion of the hose that is stuck on the connection, perpendicular to the end of the hose. Do NOT cut deep so as to prevent damaging the connection. The hose can then be peeled from the connection and discarded.
- Clean both of the hose mounting connections. Inspect the condition of the hose clamps and replace them, if necessary.
- Dip the ends of the new hose into clean engine coolant to lubricate and ease installation.
- If a clamp shows signs of any damage (bent, too loose, hard to tighten, etc.), replace it. A good rule is that a new hose is always worth new clamps. Slide the clamps over the replacement hose, and then slide the hose ends over the connections into position.
- Position and secure the clamps at least 1 / 4 inch (6.35mm) from the ends of the hose. Make sure they are located inside the raised bead of the connector.
- Reinstall the petcock and properly refill the cooling system with the clean drained engine coolant or a suitable mixture of ethylene glycol coolant and water.
- If available, install a pressure tester and check for leaks. If a pressure tester is not available, run the engine until normal operating temperature is reached (allowing the system to naturally pressurize), then check for leaks.