When to replace radiator hoses?

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Apr 8, 2006
Birmingham, AL
When I was cleaning my truck I noticed that there was a small split in the gasket for the thermostat housing and some coolant stains around it. I'm going to go ahead and just replace the thermostat. It's easy to reach and cheap. Should I replace the upper hose and clamp too? The hose is original with 7 years and 73K miles on it. It looks and feels fine, and appears basically like-new on the outside. The clamp is a factory spring type clamp.

Also, what brands of aftermarket hoses are good? OEM is twice the cost of the aftermarket ones I have looked at.
We have originals on MBs and BMWs that last 25-30 years, and well over 200k.

200k seems to be a good changing point. The ones on our toyota are looking done at 215k, and 15 years.

MB and BMWs at least have long-lasting (25 years+) radiators in my experience. Our toyota has fine hoses, but they cannot build a long-lasting radiator for their life, it seems...
I usually use Gates hoses. I had to replace radiator hoses on an Accord a few weeks ago, and I used Goodyear branded ones as they were the only ones available locally. I was unable to discern any differences in quality between the two brands.

I have only experienced two radiator hose failures. Both cars had over 150,000 miles and were about 13 years old. In addition, both cars had questionable cooling system maintenance.

I replaced the upper, lower and bypass hoses on my Saturn earlier this year after 13 years and 120,000 miles and the hoses were still OK. Of course, my cooling system has been properly maintained.

So, I think the hoses on your Ranger are probably still fine. I would wait until your next coolant replacement (several years from now) before changing them.
It's a cheap investment - change it. Gates makes decent hoses and Goodyear has a line of super premium hoses called "Super Hi-Miler" that you might want to check out.
I am sure technology is available to produce longer lasting hoses than 20-40 years ago. After all, my wife has a rubber muffin pan. The question is are they? Just how much longer do I trust the OEM hoses on my 02 Cavalier with 140 K?
I changed ALL the hoses on my wife's '94 Corsica at about 100,000 miles because I thought it would be good preventative maintenance. Used whatever cheap hoses Autozone had available. Now it's my car- 9 years and 70,000 miles later. The hoses still look pretty good- no discernible problems. I'll likely leave them as/is unless/until I see a reason to change them.

Bought the wife an '01 Lumina about 3 or 4 years ago... had 159,000 miles on it. Original hoses and spring clamps. The hoses all looked good, so I left them alone. Just turned 196,000, and the hoses still look fine. If they become hard, cracked, squishy, or if they leak... then I'll change them. Otherwise I don't see any reason to.
Originally Posted By: JHZR2

MB and BMWs at least have long-lasting (25 years+) radiators in my experience. Our toyota has fine hoses, but they cannot build a long-lasting radiator for their life, it seems...

I don't know, my 83 Toyota is on the original radiator and past 200k miles. I did have one of the little molded water hoses spring a leak this month. I had changed all the heater and radiator hoses years ago
My 1998 Chev K1500 truck was sold with original hoses at 180k miles 3 years ago. My friend still drives it today with no hose problems.

I agree that Gates seems to be a well respected aftermarket hose company. I have used their serpentine belts with no problems for years too. The Goodyear hi-miler I believe are the blue silicone ones if I'm not mistaken. If your car has the service life and accident record of the average car, it won't live long enough for the second set of (quality) hoses to fail.

Their price is right, and my own opinion is that provided they fit/curve exactly as the factory ones, you won't get the value out of paying OEM prices here.
My record was about 12-14 years. I think the reason more don't last longer is that they're serviced by techs that routinely change the hoses on other services. That, and many don't keep a car beyond 10 years when owned from new. Less if bought used.
My hoses usually are bad by around 180-200k miles. Japanese cars don't have as good quality as European in rubber parts. The ones that went bad on me bulged, rather than cracks.

IMO most OEM or aftermarkets have good enough quality of rubber parts like hoses, that should last you another 150k easily.
I have a 2001 Chrysler Neon with 110,000 miles.

Last fall I had the water pump replaced as part of the timing belt job... and it was time to be replaced as it was leaking and not turning smooth as it should.

This month the radiator, thermostat, thermostat housing, upper & lower rad hoses, transmission cooler lines, heater pipes and all heater hoses were replaced. The only part of the cooling system that has not been replaced is the heater core.

While everything looked fine I figured for a little peace of mind it was better to be proactive and replace the parts rather than wait for the issue.

The hoses all looked fine but the metal coolant pipes had some rust on the outside. The old rad looked a little long on the tooth once out of the vehicle although it was not leaking.
My son had a Ranger and at about 75,000 miles, he was ascending a steep hill going into State College, PA. The upper radiator hose burst and in the short time it took for him to register an overheating condition and pull off the road, he had engine damage (head warped). The system had been well maintained. The split was longitudinal in the hose. The hose was about 6 years old. I have always replaced upper and lower radiator hoses and heater hoses at about the 75,000 mark but after my son's experience, I really 1keep an eye on them. DIY is not that expensive.
IMO Radiator hoses last a lot longer these days and should be changed when there is a problem. By always keeping fresh coolant in your system and not overheating the engine you should be able to keep them on there for the life of the vehicle or close to it.
I've bought name brand aftermarket hoses that were thinner than the stockers.

Was changing a rad to another used rad, had 2 sets of hoses to choose from, good thing, upper hose welded itself more strongly than usual to the upper water outlet. I heard fabric tearing when I was picking and prying it off. Compromise that fabric mesh and it surely won't hold pressure as well... = junk.
If you really want to not be stranded by a hose failure, replace hoses every two years. Will they last longer than that? Probably yes but replacing hoses and belts every two years guarantees it. My father, who was disabled and couldn't afford to be stranded anywhere, did this exact thing.

Now that I think about it, I have never seen a hose failure in a car's warranty period. That would lead me to believe that three years would be a 100% safe interval or very close to it.
Anything less than 90k miles and 6 years is overkill these days.

Most of the time it is the plastic tank radiator that cracks first, and if you replace the hoses with the radiator, you should be fine.
I went ahead and picked up a new upper hose this morning just in case I noticed anything wrong with the original one. It turns out I didn't need to. The original hose is basically like new inside and out. I put the Gates replacement I bought on there anyway. I'm going to keep the old hose as a spare.

The thermostat probably didn't need to be replaced either. It was very clean and has been functioning fine. All that was really wrong was the gasket.

I'm definitely going to keep using G-05. The thermostat housing, upper hose, and intake manifold were spotless.
We always did them at around 60,000 miles or 6 years. It gets pretty hot in an engine compartment and the hose can fail from the inside out. So what looks good outside doesn't tell the internal condition of the hose.

I had a heater hose burst once, and it left me stranded until the engine cooled enough that I could bi-pass the heater core, then call a friend to bring me some water so I could avoid a tow. That hose looked fine outside.

My 1994 LS400 with more than 250k miles still has original radiator and hoses (upper and lower). Timing belt, water pump, spark plugs were replaced once at 140-50k miles.
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