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What is a Heater Hose?
Heater hoses are one of the more simple elements of your car, though they’re quite important.
Heater hoses are part of your car’s heating system. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. It’s also a vital part of your car’s cooling system, which actually is a bit confusing, isn’t it?
It’s actually a pretty cool and efficient system. The heater hoses carry engine coolant to the heater core, and then back again. In general, cars have two primary heater hoses: one for each direction. So, in order to really understand how the heater hoses work, you have to understand how coolant and heater cores work.
Coolant is responsible for keeping your engine from overheating. It’s a liquid that circulates around the engine, absorbing heat. After leaving the engine, the coolant is cooled down, and then returns to the engine to absorb more heat. This process keeps your car’s engine from getting too hot.
The heater core is what warms up your car’s cabin on those frigid months. Warm coolant passes through the heater core, where a fan blows air over it. This simultaneously cools down the coolant, and creates warm air, which ends up inside your car, which keeps you from shivering.
Heater hoses are made out of a strong rubber material, so they’re pretty durable. But, because there’s always a “but”, they can wear out over time, and grow brittle. When that happens they may crack or break, and it’s replacement time.
Symptoms of a failing Heater Hose
Oh, leaks. Aren’t they just the best?
I'm sure you already know that leaks aren’t a great thing for a car to have. Your car has many different types of fluids in it, so it can be hard to tell what the cause of a leak is without getting in there and getting your hands dirty. But cracked and failing heater hoses will leak coolant, so if it’s coolant that’s under your car, a hose could certainly be the issue.
Low coolant levels
It goes without saying that if your car is leaking coolant, then the coolant levels will lower. When heater hoses wear out, they’ll leak coolant, and your car has a limited supply of that.
Look, no judgement here if you’re not getting up close and personal with your car’s fluids. But it is something to get in the hang of. It only takes a few minutes to check all the fluid levels in your car, and I guarantee you it’s a good use of your time.
Noticeably cracked hoses
if you’re not regularly checking your fluid levels, then you’re probably not popping the hood and checking out your hoses.
If you are though, you can usually spot a cracked heater hose.
Heater hoses, like most hoses, are made of rubber and rubber gets old and stiff, and begins to crack. So, if you or a mechanic notice visibly cracked hoses, then it’s time to replace them.
Engine is overheating
Coolant is responsible for keeping your engine at a safe temperature, and coolant is what runs through the heater hoses. So, it only follows that if the hoses crack and leak coolant, the engine will have a harder time staying low in temperature.
Your car has an engine temperature gauge, right there next to your speedometer and warning lights. When it shows an engine that’s too hot, you need to pay attention. It means your engine is overheating, and it may be because of busted heater hoses.
How urgent is a Heater Hose replacement?
Look. Your car needs coolant to drive safely. Otherwise, the engine overheats. If the engine overheats, then it gets damaged. If the engine gets damaged, your wallet gets damaged too.
Do the obvious thing here. It’s an easy and affordable replacement that will keep you from a service that is neither of those things.