5 Bad Sign or Symptoms of Radiator Hose

The radiator hose is a vital component in the engine cooling system. It transports antifreeze from the radiator, where the antifreeze is cooled to the engine to prevent it from overheating while maintaining optimal operating temperature. There are two hoses that help transport water from and to the radiator: the lower and the upper radiator hose.

The lower hose acts as a connection that links the radiator from the bottom to the water pump. The upper hose connects the radiator from the top to the thermostat housing. Suppose you have a radiator hose leak, or any of these hoses goes bad. In that case, it will drastically affect the engine’s optimum operating temperature resulting in overheating, which could cause a blown head gasket. If you suspect either bad radiator symptoms or bad radiator hose symptoms, you should watch out for the following signs. However, lousy radiator signs might slightly differ from defective radiator hose symptoms.

What are the signs of a bad radiator hose?

There few signs that indicate a lousy radiator hose you should watch out for.

Bad radiator hose symptoms

Leaking coolant:

if you notice yellow, green, blue, or purple fluid under your car, chances are you have a coolant leak. Car antifreeze has a sweet smell; you can try perceiving the fluid. The fluid could be a blown radiator hose symptoms, or it could come from the radiator petcock or the radiator itself. Since there are many Possibilities of antifreeze leaks, you must diagnose or seek professional assistance to track down the cause of the leak. If the radiator hose is the culprit, then it’s a quick and straightforward fix that you can do yourself without any assistance.

Low coolant:

if you have been continually refiling your antifreeze, or a temperature signal light pops up on your dashboard, indeed, there is a coolant leak somewhere which could be from the radiator hose. This kind of antifreeze leak is usually seen under a parked vehicle. You should always check coolant level before hitting down the road because a low coolant can run out before reaching your destination. This can cause severe damages to your vehicle, such as overheating, stalling, blown head gasket, and in extreme cases, the engine will stop running.

Engine Overheating:

The vehicle’s engine should run at an average operating temperature, so as soon as you notice the engine overheats, it indicates there is a problem in the engine cooling system. The radiator hose could be the culprit because they crack and leak over time due to the high pressure they are exposed to. Can a bad radiator hose cause overheat? Yes, a lousy radiator hose is one of the common reasons for engine overheat – and you should not overlook it. If you ignore or fail to fix the overheat, it may cause the engine to fail.

Broken radiator hose:

A radiator hose can break in various ways. If you are a car enthusiast or a DIYer, you would want to inspect for swelling, coolant leaks, cracked hose, soft or collapsed hose. These signs are indications that your radiator hose is long gone. And needs replacement. A broken radiator hose can cause a radiator hose to burst while driving, which you shouldn’t expect on a lonely road.

Collapsed radiator hose:

you might ask – what is a collapsed radiator hose. A collapsed hose means a shrink or fallen hose. If you notice your radiator hose has shrunk abruptly, there is a problem with the cooling system. A collapsed hose is a common bad radiator cap symptoms you should watch out for. The hose can collapse because the radiator cap is releasing pressure in the system, or you have a weak or soft hose. Once you notice a collapsed hose, you would want to inspect and fix it because a collapsed hose cannot allow adequate antifreeze passage resulting in engine overheating.

radiator hose squeeze test


How often should you change your radiator hose?

The radiator hose that connects from the radiator to the thermostat housing and from the radiator to the water pump is usually made of soft rubber to transfer coolant to these components while allowing the engine to run optimally. Due to elements in the engine bay, antifreeze chemicals, exposure to cooling and heating cycles of the engine, these hoses will damage over time.

Most auto manufacturing companies did not specify when to change these hoses. The best way to know when to replace them is by visual inspection. You can do this by squeezing the hoses. The hose should be firm and spring back when you depress it. If it feels spongy or does not spring back quickly, it indicates you have to replace the hose. Also, inspect both ends of the hoses for cracks and fraying. Check around the clamps that holding the hose for swelling and cracks.

How should a radiator hose feel?

A radiator hose should be firm (not hard) and spring back immediately when depressed. And it shouldn’t feel collapsed. If your radiator hose is spongy and shrinks abruptly, it indicates the radiator hose needs replacement.

How can you tell if your radiator is clogged?

The radiator is the component that enables your car to run at high temperatures that an engine should reach in a matter of covering few miles without overheating. The radiator absorbs all the extra heat that comes from the engine by cooling down hot coolant from the engine and returning the cooled coolant to the engine for the cooling process.

This absorbing process keeps your engine running nicely and smoothly how it was specifically designed to work. When the radiator starts failing, you will notice few signs;

  • High-temperature reading
  • Blocked fins
  • Wrong coolant color
  • Damaged fins
  • Coolant leaks
  • No heat in the car

Should a radiator hose be hard when hot?

Your radiator hose should be firm (not hard) when the engine is running hot. This is because the engine block builds up a high hot water pressure that travels through the radiator hoses. The radiator cap spring is loaded at this point, releasing the high pressure to return the hot water to the reservoir tank. Should you try to open the radiator when the engine is hot, you will get scalded. Do not open the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

What happens when a radiator hose breaks?

A radiator hose can break in different ways. When it does, it leads to one thing – engine overheating resulting in catastrophic engine damages like blown head gasket, cracked top cylinder, and in a severe case, a cracked aluminum engine block.

How to Check Radiator Hoses YouTube

Final word

As soon as you notice bad radiator hose symptoms: broken radiator hose, collapsed hose, low coolant, coolant leaks, engine overheating. Inspect the culprit or contact a professional mechanic to diagnose and/or replace the lousy radiator hose.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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