All of them... seriously - they're all made of the same material, all
subject to pretty much the same heat, and all carry the same fluid. Replace
the upper and lower radiator hoses, the heater hoses, and (most importantly,
because it's the hardest to get to, and therefore, the most likely to fail
at the worst possible time) the bypass hose that goes between the water pump
and the intake manifold. Get rid of the stock constant-tension clamps, and
replace with standard hose clamps that tighten with a screwdriver. Over
time, and after repeated heat cycles, the constant tension clamps will lose
their tension, and they don't hold as well. Their advantage (and why
they're used) is that they're quick to put on, and can't be over or
While you're changing hoses, it's a good time to also change out the
thermostat, the radiator cap, and do a good flush/re-fill of the system
(which should really be done every 2-3 years).
A note on replacing your upper radiator hose, bypass hose, and
thermostat: Because you must remove the alternator/air-conditioning
bracket system to access the three forementioned items, you definitely
want to do this at a time and place convenient to you (not 11 pm in the
Wal-Mart parking lot). In other words, these are items to replace
early, before they fail at a really bad time. And DO check the
thermostat in boiling water, because if it doesn't open then it's two
hours' work to replace it again.
After recently doing all this on a '96 3500-series van, I looked under
the hood of my '03 Ram pickup and was relieved that I could actually
see the thermostat housing. I don't understand why it took Dodge 10
years to fix that mistake, or why anyone would "hide" these common
maintenance items in the first place.
Tom Lawrence wrote:
The bypass hose, yeah - but I've changed out several thermostats on 5.2L and
5.9L engines, and never had to mess with the compressor or alternator. It
takes a little wiggling to get the thermostat housing out, but it's
certainly doable. Once out, I would always slice off the little tab that
says "FRONT", which made it much easier to replace (I'd put a little paint
dot to indicate the front - though I have no idea why - the piece is
completely symmetrical). Ditto on the rest of the hoses (upper rad is
simple - lower is easy enough from underneath)... it's just that little POS
bypass hose that's the major problem.
I really hate that bypass hose.
My bypass hose blew on my 77 Power Wagon's 360 when it was like 19
degrees (very cold for Vegas), and the wind was blowing about 40 mph.
It happened at a movie theatre, at 11pm, and even in Vegas, back then,
it was hard to find an open parts store, and when I did, it was one of
those places where they charged full "list" on everything, so the hose
and clamps were like 15 bucks, something insane like that, and they
wanted some insane price on coolant. I went to the grocery store for
that, along with a jug of distilled water. My teeth were chattering like
a machine gun by the time I got it put in and filled back up.
That, and the time I had to play electrician in Pep Boys parking lot in
110 degree LA weather were the two worst, temp wise, repair experiences
I ever had. The scariest was playing electrician again on the shoulder
of the LA freeway, during rush hour. That was pure joy. Damn that POS
You're kidding, right??
My truck will be three years old next April, and I will change the hoses
and coolant along with the plug wires (The factory ones are crap). I
will change them again when it hits six years..
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