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What Should You Know About Coolant Hoses On Older Cars?

Driving a vehicle with a few years under its belt and many miles in the rearview mirror can be an excellent way to save money. While you'll inevitably spend more on repairs and maintenance, you'll make that cash up in lower insurance costs and no monthly payments. However, avoiding costly repairs and frustrating breakdowns often means knowing a little about what's under your hood.

Radiator hoses are a critical but often overlooked component. These relatively cheap parts ensure that coolant can circulate through your engine, keeping it cool and preventing catastrophic damage. If you own a car well beyond its warranty period, you may want to keep these three important facts about your coolant hoses in mind.

1. Routine Inspections Are a Good Idea

Modern vehicles often contain many coolant hoses, some of which may be challenging to see from the top of the engine bay. Unfortunately, these complex designs make routine inspections fairly difficult. However, it's usually easy enough to see your upper radiator hose, and you can use its condition to give you a rough idea of how your cooling system may be faring.

Note that coolant hoses can become extremely hot, so avoid touching them if you've run your car recently. If you notice cracks or signs of dried coolant around the connections, you may want to consider replacing some of your hoses proactively. Replacing old, worn-out coolant hoses can prevent a costly breakdown and help you avoid the risk of overheating and damaging your engine.

2. Oil Can Ruin Hoses

Coolant isn't the only fluid that tends to leak on older cars. Oil leaks are often common on many vehicles, and oil can create a mess in your engine bay. Unfortunately, these leaks can often drip onto other components, potentially causing damage and unexpected future failures. Accessory belts are one common casualty during severe oil leaks, but coolant hoses are another potential failure point.

Most coolant hoses use rubber not intended for contact with motor oil. Leaking oil will soak into the rubber, causing it to degrade and swell. The damage may not be apparent right away, but it can cause the hose to fail in the future. If you know an oil leak is dripping on a coolant hose, do your best to clean the area, but consider replacing the hose rather than waiting for it to fail.

3. You Don't Need to Buy Dealership Parts

Coolant hoses are critical parts of your engine, so buying quality parts is important. However, you don't need to spend a fortune buying genuine dealership parts. OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are identical to the parts at the dealership but typically much cheaper. Buying OEM coolant hoses to replace a failing part can be an excellent way to save some cash.

Aftermarket options are another alternative and are often even cheaper than OEM hoses. While aftermarket part quality can vary, you can often find good deals on quality aftermarket parts by purchasing your replacement coolant hoses from a reliable auto parts supplier.

Turn to an auto parts shop for more info.