The radiator hose is part of your vehicle’s cooling system. The hose carries the coolant to the radiator, where the fluid is cooled, then back to the engine to keep the vehicle from overheating. This allows your vehicle to operate at the optimal temperature and prevents the engine from getting to hot or cold. There are two hoses that connect to the radiator. The upper hose attaches from the top of the radiator to the top of the engine at the thermostat housing. The lower hose attaches from the bottom of the radiator to the water pump of the engine. If you suspect either radiator hose is failing, watch for the following symptoms:
1. Leaking coolant
If you notice green fluid beneath your vehicle, chances are your vehicle is leaking coolant. This fluid will have a sweet smell to it. The fluid can come from the radiator hose, the radiator drain cock, or the radiator itself. Since there are many possibilities, it is important to have a professional mechanic diagnose the problem. They will be able to replace the radiator hose if that is the issue.
2. Engine overheating
The vehicle’s engine should not overheat, so as soon as you notice this symptom, it means something is wrong with the cooling system. The radiator hose may be to blame because they crack and leak over the years from the high heat and pressure they are exposed to. The radiator hose is the most common cause for overheating. If the engine is allowed to continue to overheat, it may cause the engine to fail and the vehicle will no longer operate.
3. Low coolant
If your Low Coolant Light comes on, or you are having to constantly replenish the fluid, there could be a leak in the radiator hose. This type of leak should be visible as drips where the vehicle was parked. Driving on low coolant is not a good idea as you can run out on the way to your destination. This means your car can stall or overheat and leave you stranded on the side of the road and cause serious damage to the engine.
4. Collapsed radiator hose
If you look under the hood and notice that the radiator hose has collapsed, then there is a problem. The hose can collapse because the hose is soft or has become to weak. In other cases a cooling system fault can cause the hose to collapse. In either case an inspection must be performed as a coolant hose that has collapsed cannot flow coolant properly. This can result in the vehicle overheating and engine damage.
5. Radiator hose is broken
The radiator hose can be broken in a variety of different ways. If you feel comfortable inspecting it yourself, check for leaks, swelling, holes, collapsed, cracked, or a soft hose. As soon as you notice any of these, your radiator hose needs to be replaced because it has gone bad.
As soon as you notice leaking coolant, your engine overheats, the Low Coolant light illuminates, or your radiator hose is broken, have a professional mechanic inspect and/or replace the radiator hose. YourMechanic makes getting repairs to your radiator hose easy by coming to your home or office to diagnose or fix issues. You can book a service online 24/7. YourMechanic’s qualified technicians are also available for any questions that may arise.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Radiator Hose and was authored by Spencer Clayton.