If you own a car, chances are you plan on taking good care of it so it runs well for you as long as possible. As a vehicle owner, you know that there are some components of your car or truck that require ongoing maintenance. This includes things like getting your oil changed, getting new tires when yours are wearing down or are bald (don’t wait that long to change them!), and even getting new wiper blades after winter. Along with these general maintenance requirements, every year or more you should check the condition of your auto hoses, and the hose clamps that keep them secure. It’s important to check the status of your hoses and hose clamps because they are what keeps your car operating smoothly.
For example, the radiator is designed to keep your engine from overheating by pumping liquid coolant throughout the engine. This fluid carries heat away from the engine block and moves it back to the radiator via the radiator hose which then blows cooling air across the liquid. Without the radiator hose, this exchange of heat simply couldn’t happen. Think of your auto hoses as a highway, if there’s a traffic jam (block) you won’t be able to make it to your destination. If the road is old and worn, with pot-holes every 50 yards you’re probably going to blow a tire (spring a leak), leaving you stranded on the side of the highway. In this way, it’s easy to see how and why maintaining your auto hoses and hose clamps are vital to keeping your car in proper working condition.
But how do you choose the best hose clamp in order to ensure that you don’t spring a leak or wear down your hose from too much pressure because of a hose clamp? This guide offers an explanation of the best hose clamps for any job you may need as well as, the advantages and disadvantages that each hose clamp offers.
Types of Hose Clamps
There are many types of hose clamps available today and can be used for a variety of applications in both cars and even in plumbing. Depending on what you’re doing and what you need a hose clamp for, will determine what the best clamp is for you.
- Screw and Band Clamps (Worm-Gear) – Screw and band clamps or worm-gear clamps are some of the most common types of hose clamps. These hose clamps are used for many applications including radiator hose clamps. As the name would suggest these clamps are essentially a stainless steel band that can be tightened or loosened with a screwdriver. This can be a disadvantage is some instances if a person is unable to reach the clamp with a screwdriver in order to adjust its size. Worm-gear clamps are starting to go away for automotive uses as many mechanics and car owners find them to be more frustrating than helpful. Only use this clamp if you’re tight on money, need a quick fix, and plan on changing it out for a better quality hose clamp in the near future.
- Spring Clamps (Constant-Tension) – Factory vehicles will most likely use spring clamps for their radiator hose clamps. These clamps apply constant tension to the radiator hose which at the beginning of a hose’s “life” works well, but as time goes on this radiator hose clamp will continue to apply tension regardless of the state of the hose. Additionally, some spring clamps, made out of plastic and that are forced onto the hose for a tighter fit, have to cut off as they are not serviceable. This can be an issue if your hose was fine, but you only needed a new clamp. Spring clamps are a more aesthetically pleasing, but if you want a good-looking hose clamp for your car, especially if you plan on putting your vehicle into a car show, there are better options.
- T-Bolt Clamps (Racing) – A T-bolt clamp is wider than many worm-gear clamps, thus allowing for a more secure fit. When compared to a worm clamp and a spring clamp, a T-bolt is a good compromise between the two. Most T-bolt clamps are easy to remove and provide constant tension to the hose clamps. Though not perfect, T-bolt clamps have been known to lose their tension over time which is a disadvantage since they are much more expensive when compared to a spring or worm-gear clamp
- Custom Clamps – These innovative clamps designed by TKO Clamping Systems out of Pocatello, Idaho offer more than the auto hose clamps of years past. Crafted from aircraft grade aluminum, these one-of-kind durable clamps are constructed for a custom fit that is customized for a precise fit. Additionally, the patented multi-hinged 3 part aluminum band is easy to install and remove without additional tools or the need to remove any hoses. The secure locking mechanism of the clamp also ensure that you’ll never have to worry about your clamp “loosening” around the hose over time. The price point of these clamps is similar to that of a T-bolt clamp, so if you’re able to, invest in the superior quality of custom clamps from TKO.
To summarize auto hoses and the auto hose clamps that keep them from leaking are often the most forgotten, yet most important mechanical components in your vehicle. For this reason, it’s important to spend money on clamps that actually work and work well. Initially, choosing the best hose clamp will cost you money upfront, but in the long run buying a clamp that is designed to perform at 100% all the time may save you from more expensive issues (engine overheating) down the road.