How to Repair a Car Radiator Hose

Written by dianne christensen-herman
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A car radiator hose is made of rubber and carries the hot cooling fluid travelling from the engine to the radiator. This is where the liquid is cooled before it is recirculated back to the engine. Over time, the high heat exposure from the engine and the coolant can cause the hose to deteriorate. The hose should be repaired before the car can be operated, or the engine could overheat as a result.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shop rags
  • Pre-mixed engine coolant
  • Utility knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Duct tape
  • Hose clamps (2 or 2.5 inch, depending on your radiator)

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  1. 1

    Inspect the exterior of the radiator hose for damage, such as cracks or holes. Look at the coolant level if there is no visible damage. If there is adequate coolant as indicated on the reservoir, start the car's engine. If the coolant level is insufficient, refill the radiator with the proper amount of diluted coolant. While the engine is running, wipe the radiator hose dry with a cloth and look for leaking fluid. Avoid touching the hot engine components or hose. Remember the location of the leak if there is one.

  2. 2

    Turn off the engine and wait for it to cool down. Remove the coolant reservoir cap and set it aside.

  3. 3

    Unscrew the hose from the leaking end if the leak is near either end of the hose. Cut the section of the hose with the leak with a utility knife. Screw the hose back on, replace the reservoir cap and start the engine. Check that the leak has stopped.

  4. 4

    Patch the leak by first cleaning the hose with a damp cloth if it is not near the end of the hose. Wrap four or five layers of duct tape around the leak. Use a hose clamp over the duct tape to secure it. Screw the reservoir cap back on and start the engine to make sure the leak has stopped.

Tips and warnings

  • Routinely examine your vehicle's radiator hose for any signs of cracking or other indications of wear and tear.
  • Store a radiator hose repair kit in your car if the hoses are old.
  • Wear protective eyewear and gloves to prevent injury while working around the radiator.
  • A radiator hose leak can also be repaired with a hose repair kit; directions will vary with the type of kit purchased. Some kits contain a hose coupling and hose clamps, where the damaged section can be cut out and the remaining sections connected with the coupler and hose clamps. Other repair kits contain a rubber patch material and rubber cement to place on the damaged area. The hose should be cleaned first and slightly roughened with fine sandpaper.

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