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Hoses & pipes - Tips on check-up, common defects and replacement

Hoses in the engine have the task to transport all the important liquids and gas mixtures to their destination without any substance loss. All hoses vary - each and every matches a specific dimensions and is made of a material that corresponds its task.

The engien hoses

If a layman opens the hood he may be slightly overwhelmed by the maze of hoses and wires. But this maze has a strict order that is followed by all manufacturers. Anyone who ends up understanding the hose system can apply that knowledge to any car.
In order for an engine to operate it needs air, fuel and an ignition spark. The electricity is transported through lines and cables; no hoses are used there. However, air and fuel are typical substances related to hoses. The fuel line is made of thin rubber hoses that are wrapped in a fabric. The tubes in the interior are usually made of an aluminum bellows, which proves especially useful in the winter, as it allows the aspirate air to be preheated. The engine itself has also some ventilation hoses, which serve to release the excess pressure created in the engine.
The most hoses are however in the cooling system of the car. There, thick rubber hoses go from the expansion tank or from the radiator to the engine, the water pump or the thermostat and back again. Other types of hoses can be found in the brake booster and the windshield cleaning system.

Defects in the system of hoses

Hoses break due to aging or due to mechanical-thermal interventions. Every hose, especially water hoses are designed to fail in case of damage. Thus, if a car has for example a defective cylinder head gasket or a faulty water pump, the first component to break is the hose, thus preventing a capital damage to the engine due to a piston seizure. Therefore, if a hose fails, you should find the root cause of its defect. In case of bite marks or abrasion marks the cause is easy to find. A marten can cause great damage to the hoses of a car. An incorrectly attached hose can get into a rotating component such as the pulley and cause thereby damaged. Are the hoses already porous, a small pressure difference is enough to cause them to burst. This happens, for example, when a cooling system is contaminated with oil. The hoses corroded in that case gradually from the inside and can burst unexpectedly. Oil in the cooling water indicates a defective head gasket. Thus, you should check the cooling water regularly.
Defective fuel lines produce a strong odor inside the car and leak fuel drops under it. This requires urgent measures because uncontrolled escape of gasoline always leads to high fire risk. Faulty vacuum hoses in the brake booster cause an altered braking behavior or make the brake pedal hard to press.

How to repair a system of hoses

Basically: You always change a hose entirely! Many years ago, a defective hose was simply cut off, repaired and reused. This is strongly discouraged today. A hose that leaks in one spot can burst in another one tomorrow. Every hose in the engine compartment is basically a very cheap product on which you do not need to save. At today’s prices it is no longer worth to make improvisations and patching. A hose holds only as good as its fastening material. You shouldn't save on clamps and brackets by using inappropriate solutions either. These parts are also cheap products and they can improve the safety of the car significantly.

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