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Hydraulic Hose Repair: How to Tell When It’s Time

A brake line and hose connection under the hood.

Working hydraulics are necessary for proper vehicle operation and safety. A hydraulic hose is tasked with handling liquid pressure and flow, and if a hose failure occurs, it can affect connected components and endanger the driver. Knowing how to determine if your vehicle needs a hydraulic hose repair or replacement is essential to good car maintenance.

What Do Hydraulic Hose Systems Do?

Passenger vehicle brakes, steering and transmission all use hydraulic hose systems. Other systems that move fluid (such as engine cooling, A/C and heating, fuel, and others) also require hoses, but hydraulic hoses have to withstand high amounts of pressure and allow the fluid to flow at a specified rate so that it reaches its destination. Hydraulic hoses are composed of strength-lending braided steel enclosed in rubber housing to prevent leaking. Unfortunately, this rubber is subject to deterioration and corrosion.

Hose Checks

Hydraulic Hose RepairIt’s important to check your hoses for signs of aging, heat exposure and sun exposure to prevent it from hardening and cracking. You should also look for kinks or excessive twists in the line, which can limit flow and lead to pressure buildup. Flat areas in the line indicate bad routing and could mean that the hose has been pinched or is pulling a vacuum.

Check to make sure the hose is not rubbing against a sharp object and that no parts of it are worn or deeply cut. You should also inspect for leaks, especially at connections, which are common points of failure.

Repair or Replace?

Deciding whether to repair or replace a hose relies on a simple rule: When in doubt, replace it. Any damage to the length of a hose compromises the integrity of its walls and can prevent it from holding fluid under a specified pressure, so you’ll need to replace it. Often, damage and leaks occur at the end of the hose or at a point of connection. Sometimes, you can simply tighten a fitting, but in other cases you may need to replace an O-ring. There are also times when the fitting breaks but enough of the hose length remains. If this occurs, you’ll just need to remove the fitting and install a new one.

However, in many cases, such as with brake flex lines, the hose should be replaced. Smart preventative measures can also be taken, such as installing hose protectors at the first sign of minor wear. Never open or attempt to repair a hose that’s under pressure, and always wear appropriate eye and hand protection while you work.

Hoses keep things flowing, and with regular checkups and preventative maintenance, they can do their job. Now that you know what to look for in a hydraulic hose, you can take action at the first sign of wear and tear.

Check out all the hose repair products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on hydraulic hose repair, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Blair Lampe.

Blair Lampe View All

Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter.  In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.

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