A/C Hose Buyer's Guide
- An A/C hose is a rubber hose specifically made with special aluminum fittings crimped onto each end to withstand high-pressure from the refrigerant. It transports the refrigerant from the A/C compressor from the rest of the A/C components.
- OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer replacements come from your vehicle’s factory or authorized manufacturer. It is priced higher than OE replacements, but it gives you the assurance of quality from the brand.
- OE replacements are made by third-party manufacturers. A lot of them are just as good as OEM, plus they are priced much lower.
- An A/C hose replacement can cost you around $50 to $250. To ensure that you are getting the right fit for your vehicle, double-check the location of the hose that needs replacement. Check the product specifications of each item before purchasing an A/C hose. Enter the correct year, make, and model into our search engine.
A vehicle’s A/C system is one of the most important systems in your vehicle. Imagine driving around during the summer months with a malfunctioning A/C. That situation can definitely give you a headache both literally and figuratively.
A/C systems are designed to give you and your passengers a comfortable environment during your trip. It is important to make sure that your car AC system, along with your vehicle’s heater system, is in its good running condition at all times.
A typical A/C system has five major components: a compressor, evaporator, condenser, orifice tube, and an accumulator. All of these components work together to make a cool and comfortable cabin possible. However, did you know that the system cannot run without a cooling agent called a refrigerant?
This cooling agent flows through the different components of your A/C system through an A/C hose. In this guide, we will get to know more about what an A/C hose is, its importance, and the symptoms that could indicate it needs a replacement.
What is an A/C hose?
To fully understand the role of an A/C hose, we will have to understand how the whole car air conditioning system works.
Vehicle’s Air conditioning System
There is a common misconception that a vehicle's A/C system works by blowing cold air into the cabin. This is not true. Your vehicle’s A/C system acts as a heat exchanger. It takes away the heat and moisture in the air that is already inside the cabin. How does it do that? Your AC system works with a cooling agent called a freon or refrigerant. The refrigerant travels to the low pressure and high-pressure parts of the system through an A/C hose.
The A/C compressor compresses the refrigerant to its liquid state. It then travels through the condenser, which works similar to a radiator. In this process, air from the outside comes into contact with the refrigerant, absorbing the heat from it.
After this process, it goes through the AC system’s expansion valve or orifice tube, where it transitions to the low-pressure side of the system in its gaseous state. The dryer or accumulator removes all the moisture and impurities in it. It then travels to the evaporator, where the cooler refrigerant absorbs the heat coming from the air passing through the evaporator fins. This cooler air is the one blown again into your vehicle’s cabin.
The whole system may be a bit complicated. Generally speaking, an A/C hose or AC hose is a rubber hose specifically made with special aluminum fittings crimped onto each end to withstand high-pressure from the refrigerant. It transports the refrigerant from the A/C compressor to the rest of the A/C components.
Are there different types of A/C hose?
When shopping for an A/C hose or automotive hose fittings, you may encounter the terms such as low pressure AC hose or AC high pressure hose. The kind of hose you should buy will depend on where you can find it in the AC system. Usually, you can find these details in the product specification.
An A/C high side discharge hose refers to the hose that carries the pressurized refrigerant from the high-pressure side to the low side. An A/C low side suction hose, on the other hand, carries the refrigerant back to the A/C compressor.
There can be different terms used when referring to a specific AC hose. The most important thing is to check the location specifications before purchasing one for your vehicle’s AC system. This will help you find the right replacement easily.
OEM and OE A/C hose
Aside from the types of A/C hose, you may face the dilemma of whether you should buy an OEM or OE replacement.
OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer replacements come from your vehicle’s factory or authorized manufacturer. This means that your part is sourced directly from your vehicle’s manufacturer and carries its brand. Knowing this, you may prefer buying OEM replacements because of the assured quality and the reputation brought about by the brand. However, take note that OEM replacements are priced a bit higher than OE.
An OE A/C hose is priced lower than OEM but it does not mean that it is of less quality. In fact, a lot of OE parts perform just like OEM, or even better. OE replacement parts are made by a third-party manufacturer. To ensure that you are getting a quality A/C hose, shop from legitimate car retail shops such as CarParts.com.
Symptoms of a Faulty A/C hose
Just like any other car component, your vehicle’s A/C hose can get worn out or damaged over time. Here are some symptoms indicating something is wrong with your A/C hose.
Check your AC hose for oil spots. Oily leaks from the hose may indicate a leak in the system. Proper refrigerant flow is vital for good A/C performance. Any leaks in the system may result in poor A/C system performance, which results in an uncomfortable cabin temperature.
Lack of cool air coming from the A/C
This may be the result of losing too much refrigerant. Most often, this is a tell-tale sign that your hose is worn out, damaged, or loose.
Noticeable damage when inspecting the A/C hose
When you have the chance to manually inspect the A/C hose, it is important to look for signs of damage including cracks, abrasions, tears, or breaks. This is a clear indication that your A/C hose is nearing the end of its life and warrants an immediate replacement.
Aside from these things, you should also watch for exposed threads or loose connections at the end of the hose. Most of the time, this indicates a need to have your vehicle checked for possible repairs or replacement.
How much does an A/C hose replacement cost?
A usual A/C hose replacement part will cost you around $50 to $500, depending on the brand and type of hose you plan on buying. An A/C hose can be sold individually or as a part of a kit.
Finding the right fit for your vehicle
To ensure that you are getting the right replacement hose, double-check the product specification and the location of the hose that needs replacement. To ensure that you are getting the right fit, enter your vehicle’s correct year, make, and model into our search engine.
The Skinny on the A/C Hose
A vehicle without functioning air conditioning is a terrible thing in the climate changed-for-the-worse. If it's something as small as a hose that breaks down, it's downright annoying. Is a hose really just a hose? You'd think so. There are a few considerations that you should take into account when replacing your ride's a/c hose.
The Assembly & Fittings
When buying a new a/c hose, the very first thing that you notice is that it always comes with metal fittings arranged in unique and differing assembly arrangements. These assemblies are not particularly vehicle specific, but you still need to take into account whether or not it will fit snuggly under the hood. Your best guide for a good fit is your old a/c hose and its assembly.
The fittings are the specific junctions where the hose meets the all-metal and rigid sections of the assembly. Because they are very vulnerable points, you should make sure they are of light-weight and rust-free aluminum. Look out for SAEJ51, IMACA 312, or SAEJ2064 certifications on the metallic assemblies you purchase as these indicate that the products meet standards for tensile strength.
Barrier v Non-Barrier: A Matter of Layers
Most manufacturers miss the mark by a great deal because even though the build of the hose is solid, it allows the smaller particles of liquid-in this case coolant-to slip past. While the losses from such leaks are miniscule by comparison, it's still significant enough to make it next to useless. Look for SAE J2064 ratings to judge a good hose, specifically Type C-this is the strongest and most durable.
Barrier hoses represent an evolution of sorts when it comes to a/c hoses (and hoses in general, for that matter). While even the most basic of hoses has some layering to it, the barrier hose added an extra layer to not only reinforce the entire hose, but to also give better protection against leaks. It's not just about being thick, you see-it's about materials that are less porous.
If the Price is Right
When it comes to pricing, a simple liquid-shunting hose will be within the range of $30-55. On the other hand, a full-bodied hose with assembly fittings run the range of $100 upwards to $160. The price variations are brought about by the simplicity or complexity of the a/c hoses. This is one of those things where the higher the price tag, the better the hose. A smart investment now will save you much more later.
Repairing Your A/C Hose
No one wants to lose their air conditioning-it's one of those creature comforts that have come to define the way we live and drive-but it happens. It's a costly affair to replace the entire assembly. If the culprit is simply a leaking rubber hose, then you're in luck-repairing a hose is easy and it is also more cost-effective too!
Ensuring the Right Fit
Before going into the procedure, it's important to get the right hose for the job. To do this you need to measure two things: length and outside tube diameter (OD). Length is easy. With a tape measure, determine the length, end-to-end, of the rubber section of the hose.
Diameter is a little trickier. Most people don't know this, but the best way to determine OD is by measuring the diameter of the metallic fitting the hose is attached to. Pick a straight section of the tube, as close to the hose section as possible and measure from there.
Once you determine OD, you can use the following guide to picking the hose that will fit:
- For a tube OD of 3/8", you should get a hose with and OD of 3/4""
- For a tube OD of 1/2", you should get a hose with and OD of 29/32""
- For a tube OD of 5/8", you should get a hose with and OD of 1""
- And finally, for a tube OD of 3/4", you should get a hose with and OD of 1-3/32""
Things You Will Need:
- New hose
- A/C Hose Repair Kit ? includes retaining clips and ferrules
- Shears or other strong cutting tool
- Hacksaw (optional)
- Retaining clips
Step 1: Remove assembly off vehicle.
Step 2: Carefully cut the ferrules or crimps that fasten the hose to the metal fittings, and then remove the old ferrule and hose.
Step 3: Install the replacement ferrule first-this will hold the new hose in place.
Step 4: Slip the new hose into the fitting section all the way in.
Step 5: Slide down the ferrule to secure the hose in place.
Step 6: Crimp the ferrule by carefully clamping down with the pliers. This crimping is what essentially locks the hose in place.
- Safety first. At minimum, deck out with goggles and insulated gloves.
- Always disconnect the battery prior to any under the hood jobs. You wouldn't want a nasty shock to surprise you!
- Make sure your car is parked on a level surface and immobile.