What Causes Hoses to Leak?

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While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Washer fluid

All of these fluids must be transported from one place to another in order to do their job. While some fluids run primarily within the engine or another component (oil, for instance, or transmission fluid), others don’t. Consider engine coolant – it’s stored in your radiator and overflow tank/reservoir, but must move from there to the engine and then back again. Power steering fluid is another prime example – it must be moved from the power steering fluid reservoir at the pump, into the rack and then recirculated once more. Moving fluid from one area to another requires hoses, and hoses are prone to wear and tear. They’ll eventually decay and need to be replaced.

Hose leaks and their causes

Hose leaks are caused by a number of different factors. The primary one is heat. Hoses in the engine bay are exposed to high temperatures on a regular basis, both inside and out. For example, coolant hoses must deal with heat from the engine, as well as heat from the coolant itself.

While very resilient, rubber (the primary material for all hoses) does degrade. Exposure to high temperatures causes the rubber to dry out. As it dries, it becomes brittle. If you’ve ever squeezed a worn out hose, you’ve felt the “crunch” of dry rubber. Brittle rubber doesn’t do well with pressure or heat, and will eventually rip, tear or at least decay to the point that you have a pinhole leak with fluid spraying out.

Another cause is contact with a hot or sharp surface. The wrong size hose, or one that has been kinked into an incorrect position, may contact sharp or very hot surfaces in the engine bay. Sharp areas will wear away at the hose, essentially cutting through the rubber (fueled by vibrations from a running engine). Hot surfaces can melt rubber.

Finally, when you combine pressure with heat exposure, you have a recipe for leaking. Most of the hoses in your engine carry pressurized fluid, including hot coolant, pressurized power steering fluid, and pressurized brake fluid. After all, hydraulic systems work because fluid is pressurized. That pressure builds within the hose, and if a weak spot develops, it will punch through, creating a leak.

Hose leaks may have nothing to do with the hoses at all. If the leak is located at an end, the problem may actually be the clamp securing the hose to the nipple or inlet. A loose clamp can cause a very serious leak without any damage necessary to the hose.


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Jason

31 years of experience
148 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Surprise, Arizona
Needed new brake pads on my Land Rover-and booked through “your mechanic”- this was my second time using this service and I have to say- these guys are awesome- Today, Jason came out to my work place- and completed the work quickly. Thank you!!
Honda Accord - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Phoenix, Arizona
Jason was on time, self motivated, well educated in his craft, and very helpful. I am fully sold on your method of using the home service. Jason helped by creating a safer ride for my wife, saving me time, and saving money for my family. I will be a client forever. Dennis Laycock

Lee

18 years of experience
105 reviews
Lee
18 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Richmond, Virginia
Lee was professional and knowledgeable. The job did not take long he was a little late but like I said professional because he let know that he was running late. LEE IS AWESOME!!!!!!

Willie

23 years of experience
23 reviews
Willie
23 years of experience
Jeep Compass - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - North Hollywood, California
I made an appointment to have my brake rotors/disc replaced. On the day I scheduled my car services- it ended up raining. Willie checked in, moved my appointment, and continued to communicate through out the day until he was able to come work on my car. He took great car to make the repairs ANNNDDD SAVED ME MONEY by only doing what was necessary (only one of the rotors needed replacing). A blessing.

Honorio

18 years of experience
782 reviews
Honorio
18 years of experience
Saturn Vue - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Sunnyvale, California
This was our second appointment to service our Honda and Saturn with Honorio and we will continue to do so in the future. We highly recommend Honorio.

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