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Silicone radiator hose vs rubber, the biggest dilemma car enthusiasts have when getting new performance upgrades. We know pretty well it can be hard to choose between these two options when you know virtually nothing about them.
And there’s so much to know about silicone and rubber hoses, but we’ll keep it simple so you can quickly choose the right upgrade for your vehicle.
By the time you’re done with this guide, you’ll be hitting the streets with your new performance radiator hose.
What is a Radiator Hose?
Ever noticed the amount of heat your engine produces when it’s running? Before changing the engine oil, you’ve probably been advised to wait for the engine to cool down.
A hot engine is pretty dangerous and could cause severe damage to drivers.
Like many other parts of your car, the radiator hoses cool down the engine.
The coolant travels through the radiator hoses from the radiator to the engine. Without them, the engine would overheat in the blink of an eye.
And although manufacturers spend absurd amounts of money, making radiator hoses, you might find that your factory rubber hoses are not suitable for specific applications.
Silicone Radiator Hose vs Rubber Main Differences
Down below, you’ll find some things to consider when thinking of getting a silicone radiator hose or a rubber one:
Although both silicone and rubber hoses are pretty durable, the rubber ones don’t even come close to the silicone hoses.
Silicone hoses are the most durable and reliable hoses you can find. In fact, there’s a high chance you might never have to worry about changing them.
Most drivers don’t care about what goes under the hood and much less about silicone vs rubber turbo hoses.
And you can’t blame them. Most people pop the hood once in a while to make sure that everything is in great shape. But that’s about it.
But if you’re one of those drivers that care about looks, you’ll love silicone radiator hoses. They look super shiny and make your car look fantastic when you lift the hood.
That combined with an aftermarket cold air intake and headers, your friends will point it out if they ever pop the hood of your vehicle.
As for the rubber hoses, we don’t have much to say in that regard. They look pretty generic and don’t do just car any justice.
Rubber hoses are pretty popular in the automotive world. However, they can only do so much when it comes to dirt and water.
You’ve probably experienced it firsthand, your old rubber hose got corroded, and thus it’s leaking coolant. Yeah, nobody wants to risk overheating an engine.
In such cases, the need for a silicone radiator hose becomes crucial.
The amount of heat the silicone radiator hose can handle without breaking is why drivers choose this hose over the rubber one.
This feature comes in handy if you’re adding a bunch of upgrades to your vehicle. An example of this would be a turbocharger.
On the other hand, a rubber radiator hose would struggle and most likely not handle the high temperature.
Naturally, there are essential differences in sound when talking about silicone vs rubber hoses.
And although rubber hoses are somewhat loud, silicone hoses are one of the coolest ways to dampen your vehicle’s sound.
Up until now, we’ve given the silicone radiator hose too much credit, but there is something drivers should know:
it’s relatively expensive compared to a rubber hose. Sure, a silicone radiator hose is more durable and keeps the engine healthy.
But if you’re short on money, a silicone radiator hose might be out of your budget. For that reason, the rubber hose is superior.
Who in their right mind likes spending unnecessary time working on a project? Well, that’s the rubber hose for you.
These types of hoses can be a pain in the neck to remove. Seriously, they can stick to the radiator over time, making it incredibly hard to pull out.
Silicone radiator hoses, on the other hand, can be super easy to install. And they won’t stick to the radiator as time goes by if you need to remove them.
Upgrading your Cooling System
We’ve talked about how silicone radiator hoses are the perfect upgrade if you’re upgrading your vehicle, but we swiftly went over it.
Silicone radiator hoses are a must for any driver who’s upgrading their cooling system with an aftermarket radiator.
So, it would be an excellent opportunity to get rid of the factory ones with high-performance silicone hoses.
We get it. Aftermarket parts might have a bad reputation among some drivers.
Sure, some of these aftermarket parts are cheap and made in some questionable places. Still, that doesn’t mean all aftermarket parts are low-quality.
For example, the silicone radiator hose is designed to replace your OM radiator hoses.
They’ll fit right in like your original radiator hoses. So, you won’t spend unnecessary time on the vehicle.
Much More Pressure
Car enthusiasts love increasing their cooling capacity. And of course, to accomplish such results, you have to replace the radiator cap.
This would allow drivers to cool down the engine even more than a regular cap would do. This is super helpful during summer.
However, the factory rubber radiator hoses would struggle to keep up with the demand. On the other hand, silicone radiator hoses give drivers much more pressure.
Thus, if you’re trying to increase your cooling capacity, consider replacing your factory radiator hoses for better results.
We argued about silicone vs rubber radiator hose and how the silicone hoses look so much better under the hood. They look shiny and sexy, everything you’d want on your vehicle.
But it’s not all flying colors. Unfortunately, silicone radiator hoses lose those properties after a while.
They might look brand new now, but they catch a lot of dirt. That doesn’t mean they’re going to crack, but they will lose their remarkable shiny appearance.
If there’s one thing silicone radiator hoses don’t get along with is oil. Seriously, there’s a reason why you don’t use them for fuel and oil.
As you’ve seen, we love silicone radiator hoses, but they might not be the best choice for you if you don’t check your fluid levels.
If oil got inside the radiator, it would through the silicone hose and possibly do spooky stuff to your vehicle.
Silicone hoses are perfect for race cars and can also be used for streetcars. However, make sure to check your fluid levels frequently.
If you can’t be bothered to check them, then you’re better off sticking to your factory rubber hoses.
DIY Guide: How to Replace Upper and Lower Radiator Hoses
So, you read our silicone radiator hose vs rubber article and figured it’s time to install upper and lower hoses. Well, here’s a guide for this simple job anybody can do at home:
1. What You Will Need
For this job, here’s all you need:
- WD40 — make sure to get WD40. Some hose clamps can be hard to remove if you’ve never changed them before.
- Pliers — to remove the hose clamps, get a pair of pliers.
- New hose clamps — if your hose clamps are old, replace them.
- A bucket — coolant will come out of the cooling system when you remove the hoses, so get a container.
- A floor jack and jack stands — get your vehicle on jack stands for this job.
2. Support the Front of the Vehicle
Once you’ve gathered all your tools, raise the front part of your vehicle using a floor jack and jack stands.
Be careful when doing this. You could hurt yourself in the process.
Once that’s done, get underneath the front part, and then remove the splash shield.
Next up, let your vehicle cool down before removing the radiator cap. Coolant gets pretty hot if the engine is running.
3. Drain the Coolant
After removing the radiator cap, place the drain pan underneath the cooling system. Now, get underneath and find the petcock.
To open it, turn it counterclockwise. Coolant should now come out of the system. Make sure everything comes out before closing the petcock.
After that, place the drain pan where the hoses are.
4. Remove The lower Hose
After moving the drain pan, use pliers to remove the clips from the lower radiator hose and reservoir supply hose.
After that, remove the radiator lower tube clamp. If you can’t remove the clamp hoses, use WD40.
Next up, remove the hoses from your radiator and reservoir supply line. Finally, remove the lower hose from the outlet of the water pump.
Warning: The radiator might get damaged if you try to rush this job. So, take as much time as needed.
5. Install the New Lower Hose
Now that you’ve removed the old lower radiator hose try to slide in the new one. Again, don’t rush this job. You don’t want to hit anything in the process.
Once you get the new one in place, secure it using clamps. After that, install the new hose of the water pump inlet and reservoir tube. Finally, secure them using new clamps.
6. Remove Upper Hose
Now that you’ve successfully removed and installed a radiator hose, removing and installing the upper one will be much easier.
That said, get your pair of pliers and begin removing the clamps from the upper hose.
If you plan on replacing these clamps, feel free to cut them off. Next up, remove the radiator vent tube. And finally, pull out the upper radiator hose.
7. Install the New Upper Hose
Here, you have to install the new upper hose. So, go ahead and grab the new one and slide it in. When tightening the hoses, please make sure to torque them to manufacturer specifications.
8. Add More Coolant
After installing both the upper and lower hoses, make sure to refill the radiator with coolant.
After that, start up the vehicle, and wait for it to reach operating temperature. On average, this takes 10-15 minutes.
Your coolant should now be circulating. Otherwise, please wait until it begins going through the system, and then add more and put the radiator cap back on.
Next up, turn on the heat. As soon as the AC starts blowing hot air, turn the engine off, and wait for it to cool down. And finally, put the splash shield back on.
Want to watch an in-depth video that walks you through all these steps? Here’s one for this job:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You got questions, and we got answers! Down below, you’ll find common doubts drivers have about silicone and rubber hoses:
Are silicone radiator hoses better than rubber?
The disadvantage of getting radiator hoses is that they are not as durable as silicone hoses.
This can be very inconvenient if you’re getting several performance upgrades. You might be able to get away with it, but it’s not the best choice in the long run.
How long do rubber hoses last?
It depends on the brand. A well-known and reputable radiator hose can easily last 10 years.
Car manufacturers make thousands of hoses, so they have confidence that their products will last for a very long time.
Is silicone hose suitable for coolant?
Yes! Silicone radiator hoses are your best bet for coolant. This is thanks to their flexible design. They carry hot liquid without taking any damage, unlike rubber radiator hoses.
How much does a radiator hose cost?
Most radiator hoses can cost a whopping $140. The labor for this job can cost anywhere from $60 and $80, while the part itself costs about $80.
Feeling more confident after reading our silicone radiator hose vs rubber guide? Now you can safely upgrade your vehicle and get the most out of your engine without blowing it.
Remember, a high-performance silicone radiator hose is way better than a radiator hose if you’re upgrading your vehicle.
Sure, you can get by with a rubber radiator hose, but it’s limited in the amount of power you can get, and it might wear out faster than a well-made silicone hose.