Auto Basics: Troubleshooting and Mechanical Tips

Inspecting the Hydraulic Hoses on Your Car for Damage or Wear

by Anthony Ortiz

Your car or truck uses hydraulic hoses in several systems that can wear over time. In each scenario, a ruptured hydraulic hose is enough to make driving the vehicle nearly impossible, but taking a few minutes to look over the hoses every few months is an excellent way to catch a problem before a hydraulic hose leaves you stranded.

Brake Hoses

The most critical hydraulic hose used on your car runs from the car's frame to the wheel cylinder or brake caliper at each wheel. The hose is used to ensure that the wheel can travel up and down over bumps in the road with the suspension while still allowing the brake master cylinder to be connected to the caliper at the wheel. 

Without these hydraulic hoses, you would not be able to turn the front wheels, and your car would not be able to use a spring suspension that makes the ride so comfortable. Inspecting the hoses is easy to do, and if you know what to look for, you will be able to determine if there is a problem that needs to be resolved quickly.

Power Steering Hoses

The power steering system in many vehicles will also have a hydraulic hose running from the pump to the steering box or rack and one running back to the pump. The hoses allow the suspension to move and the steering rack and pump t move independently of each other. 

Most power steering systems do not have a lot of movement, but the hoses must be there to pivot or flex as the vehicle moves. Inspecting each hydraulic hose in this system is also essential and should be looked at every few months to ensure they are in good condition. If you see a leak under the car in the area of the power steering system before that, take the vehicle to a repair shop and have them check it for you.

Hose Inspection

When inspecting a hydraulic hose on your car, look for cracks in the rubber jacket along the entire length of the hose. A small crack can be enough to allow pressure and hydraulic fluid to escape the system, so any damage can be significant. 

After checking the hose, look carefully at the compression fittings that connect the rubber hose to the steel connections on each end. The hydraulic hose should not have any oil or fluid around the fittings, but if it does, it could indicate seeping from the connection, and you need to have a shop check the hoses and replace them as needed. 

Maintenance for the hoses is limited to wiping them down with a clean rag to keep dirt and debris off them and putting some rubber protectant on the hoses from time to time to slow the rotting of the rubber material.