There is little worse than being broke down on the side of the road with your radiator hose steaming and spitting with no cash for a tow.  Before you give up and scream, let’s look at your emergency roadside auto repair option.  I stress roadside and emergency, meaning this is a temporary fix to a radiator hose.  You will need to take care of a proper auto repair ASAP, but an emergency fix can get you off of the road and back to a safe place where you can do that.

Mechanic Tip:  Never perform any type of cooling system maintenance or radiator repairs on an automobile that is hot!  Doing so can cause very serious burns that could leave you hospitalized. 

Once your auto has cooled off enough to allow a closer inspection of the problem, you will want to find the exact location of your leak.  If the source is a rubber radiator hose, this emergency auto repair should take care of it for now.  You will need to find the hole in your radiator hose and dry it off completely.  Next, grab that roll of duct tape!  Yes, you heard me, duct tape.  If you don’t already have some, lucky for you it is available almost anywhere you can go.  At worst, try flagging down a passing motorist that may be able to offer some duct tape for you to use.

With the hole in your radiator hose totally dried off, get a piece of duct tape about 3 inches long.  Place this piece of tape directly over the hole in your radiator hose.  Starting at the center of the tape, right over the hole in the hose, press it firmly down to seal the hole.  Smooth the tape down on each side, moving from the center outward.  This will serve as your radiator hose patch.  Now you can take a much longer piece of your duct tape to secure your patch.  Secure you patch by starting about two inches above the patch tape.  You will want to wrap the duct tape tightly around the radiator hose.  Keep wrapping until you have wrapped from two inches above the tape to about 2 inches below the tape.  Wrap it tightly and smooth it down as you go.

With the radiator hose patched and secured, you need to check your radiator fluid levels.  In most cases you will not have run dry.  Determine if the level is enough to get you to where you need to go.  If it isn’t and you do not have access to your usual cooling system blend, adding enough plain, clear water to bring it up will do the trick.

Mechanic Tip:  As I explained before, this is only a temporary, roadside emergency radiator repair.  A proper auto repair will be needed, but this should get you back home or to an auto repair shop or mechanic.  Don’t wait to fix the problem just because you made it home this time.  Duct tape is great, but it will not continue to hold.

If you are in the greater Columbia, SC area and find yourself in need of a good auto repair shop, our ASE Certified Master mechanic can take care of you.  Sanford’s Automotive Service has been serving Columbia, SC drivers since 1989.  Stop by our auto repair shop at 7917 Wilson Blvd.  Just take Exit 71 off I-20 or give us a call at 803-735-7902.