Silicone Radiator Hoses: Not for the Street

I noticed that there are more and more “manufacturers” of silicone radiator hoses. We can thank China for finally figuring out a silicone formula that is similar to Samco's silicone turbo and radiator hoses. I say similar because I am pretty damn sure any silicone hose from China is inferior to Samco's. If you look on eBay, there are about 7+ pages of shit brand silicone radiator hoses and probably 1 page of genuine Samco radiator hoses. Who knows how many of those “Samco” hoses are actually genuine? China is really hard at work these days with the counterfeit shit recently. More on counterfeits later.

I can remember several occasions when people would tell me something like, “Dude I was driving the other day and my car started to boil over! I added 4 quarts of water to it! Did I lose a head gasket? Where the hell did the water go?” I would ask them if they had silicone radiator hoses and of course they would. So I told them, add water regularly or stop your bitching and get some rubber hoses on the car. While silicone radiator hoses are great because they are capable of carrying much higher temperature fluids (max 350°F/177°C) than a standard EPDM rubber radiator hose (max 257°F/125°C), they are really only ideal for race cars. Here's a fun fact: silicone's water permeation rate is 15 times greater than EPDM rubber. What does that mean to you? It means with the daily heat cycling of a street driven car, that you will lose water from your cooling system over time. According to a Gates Corporation report, “Testing by Gates engineers shows that a Class 8 truck, operating at a temperature of 210°F with a two shift per day driving cycle, would lose nearly five gallons of water each year if it was equipped with silicone hose.” FYI, Gates makes both rubber and silicone coolant hoses so hold off on the forum bullshit line of, “Well of course Gates made that report. They sell rubber hoses!” If you want to read some more on this, check out a PDF pamphlet from Carquest here.

Silicone hoses are porous. That's why you do not use silicone for fuel and oil. It's also why you shouldn't use silicone radiator hoses on a street car. I use silicone radiator hoses for race cars or occasionally driven cars that are regularly maintained, but on street cars I use standard EPDM rubber hoses. On top of that, I prefer factory hoses from the dealership rather than the aftermarket hoses that are never molded quite right.

There's the tip of the day. Now if you already have silicone radiator hoses on your street car just make sure you check your water level regularly. If you don't want to worry about losing an engine because you didn't want to listen to me then get yourself some new factory rubber hoses and check the water level occasionally.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for the heads up had no clue about silicone hoses and permeability leading to coolant loss.already bought $85 kit was just waiting on the SS t clamps to arrive for install.gonna eat the $85 and go with rubber oem hoses now.

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