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Signs & Symptoms of a Bad Radiator Hose

A functioning radiator hose is crucial for the smooth operation of your vehicle. If the radiator hose is damaged, it can lead to engine overheating, decreased performance, and even engine failure. In this step by step guide, we will go over the signs of a bad radiator hose and how to identify them. By being proactive and checking your hoses regularly, you can avoid more serious problems down the road.


Here are the signs and symptoms you need to be on out lookout for to identify a failing radiator hose.

How to Tell if Your Radiator Hose is Bad

1. Visibile damage

The first and most obvious is visible damage – if you see cracks, holes, or any signs of swelling, it’s time to replace that hose.

2. A soft or spongy feel

Another sign is a soft or spongy feel to the hose. If the hose feels mushy or gives easily when you press it, that’s a sure sign of internal deterioration.

3. Misalignment or kinks

Another clue is if the hose is visibly misaligned or kinked. This can restrict the flow of coolant and cause the engine to overheat.

If you’re not sure, give the hose a gentle squeeze with a pair of pliers. A good hose should have some resistance to squeezing but should still be flexible. If it feels rock hard or you can hear a crunching sound, it’s time to replace it.

4. Coolant leaks

If you notice coolant leaks, that’s another indicator of a faulty hose.

5. A collapsed hose

A collapsed radiator hose is also a clear sign that the hose is bad. The hose is designed to expand and contract but if it becomes collapsed, it means that the reinforcement has failed and the hose can’t maintain its shape. This causes a restriction in coolant flow resulting in reduced cooling capacity, decreased performance, and an increased risk of overheating.

So, keep your eyes peeled, give the hoses a squeeze from time to time, and if in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and replace a hose before it causes more problems.

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