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What is an Automotive Hose?

By Katharine Swan
Updated May 23, 2024
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An automotive hose is any hose that carries automotive fluids or gases from one part of the car to another. This includes oxygen, fuel, and coolant, which can be water, antifreeze, or a mixture of both. Each of these types of substances requires a different kind of automotive hose, so it is important to know what each is and how they differ.

Radiator hoses are probably the most well known type of automotive hose. These hoses funnel coolant from the engine, where the fluid picks up excess heat, into the radiator, radiator, which is designed to help it cool quickly. Because of the amount of heat they carry and the pressure the cooling system is usually under, these hoses have to be made of very tough rubber.

In addition to the two large radiator hoses, there are often numerous small coolant hoses around the engine, leading from one coolant port to another. Every car also has heater core hoses, which carry hot coolant from the engine into the heater core inside the dash; the interior fan then pushes air through the heater core, essentially using the engine’s heat to warm your car’s interior. All of these hoses are made of the same thick, tough rubber as radiator hoses.

Some types of automotive hose have to withstand much more destructive substances. Fuel hoses, for instance, have to be made of a special rubber that will not break down from being constantly in contact with fuel. However, fuel hoses are not as common in cars as they used to be. Fuel has to be brought from the fuel tank, which is usually in the back, all the way up to the engine compartment, so car manufacturers started using metal tubing for at least some of this distance. Also, in modern fuel injected cars the fuel system is highly pressurized, so most cars stopped using fuel hose when carburetors went out of favor.

Still other types of hoses carry nothing but air. These hoses run from the air filter to the intake manifold, where air is let into the combustion chambers in measured quantities, ensuring that the fuel has just the right amount of oxygen to burn efficiently. While these types of hoses are all very different, they all require special automotive hose accessories called hose clamps, usually a piece of metal that encircles the hose where it fits onto the end of a metal fitting, with a screw to tighten or loosen the clamp.

There are other substances that your car uses which would quickly destroy an automotive hose. For instance, engine oil is completely contained in the engine block and head. Refrigerant, which your air conditioning uses to cool your car, is a destructive substance that usually is funneled through metal tubing. Exhaust gases are far too hot for rubber hoses, which is why exhaust pipes are always metal.

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