Thanksgiving always makes me think about my car’s radiator hose. I know, it’s weird. But, there’s a reason. Growing up, my grandparents would come over every Thanksgiving. And, I always eagerly anticipated their arrival. One unusually cold Thanksgiving, they were a couple hours late for dinner. As there were only about 15 miles of country roads separating our houses, we knew that traffic wasn’t the culprit. My dad went looking for them. Sure enough, he found them and their dark green, 1970s-era Crown Victoria station wagon, on the side of the road, hood up, steam pouring from the engine compartment. The cold weather had taken its toll on their old, weak radiator hose. After locating a tow truck and getting my grandparents to our house, dinner was back on, and tastier than ever.
Automotive hoses are made of rubber, in addition to other raw materials, and like vehicle tires and belts, they aren’t designed to last forever. But because they deliver such reliable performance over many years, drivers often don’t think about the radiator hose, until it’s too late. A broken radiator hose will not only leave you stranded, it can leave you stranded AND destroy your engine through overheating. Makes you want to check your automotive hoses right now, doesn’t it?
Many mechanics and car radiator hose manufacturers recommend replacing automotive hoses every four years, 60,000 miles, or sooner if you see a potential failure looming. Replacing your car radiator hose isn’t difficult, as you’ll see here. But before you tackle the project, start by checking your car hose’s condition if it’s still within the recommended replacement interval. When the engine’s cool, visually inspect all the automotive hoses, not just the radiator hose, for any signs of cracking or bulging spots—a potential sign of impending failure. Squeeze the hose, moving your hand along its entire length, checking for any soft spots in the hose wall—another sign of failure.
If you find that a car radiator hose replacement is necessary, you might want to consider replacing your coolant at the same time, because some or all of it is going to drain out anyway, depending on which hose you’re replacing.
Over this long holiday weekend, I’m going to hone my hose-replacement skills by first replacing the radiator hose on my farm tractor. It should be a quick project, leaving me plenty of time to digest our feast and get in some highly anticipated, post-meal football…ain’t life grand?
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