Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Pesky Heater Hose

On the Landcruiser there is this small hose. It's about two inches long. Because of it's location on the engine, the inconvenience of accessing it, and it's predisposition for failure, it has been dubbed by the online community as The Pesky Heater Hose or PHH for short. Here's a picture.

The little rubber hose in the circle is the one I'm talking about. Like I said, it's only about two inches long but it's still big enough that if it fails, it will take the engine with it. As you can see it's covered in grime. That grime and the grime on the engine around it tells me that it's been leaking for some time. I guess that explains that antifreeze smell I would get a whif of every once in a while.

The purpose of this hose is to carry engine coolant to the heater core where it uses heat from the engine to heat the air in the car. If I just said the heater hose was bad you might just tell me to deal with not having the heater until you can get it fixed. Unfortunately, though, since the heater hoses carry coolant, a leak in the heater system means a coolant leak, and if you let that go unchecked you will soon be buying another car.

From the picture you can also tell that this little hose is in a very inconvenient location. In order to take the picture I had to take off the driver's side front tire, remove part of the wheel well, and lay on my side next to the truck to get just the right angle. In order to reach the hose I had to sit in the wheel well (with the truck on jack stands) reaching into the engine up to about my elbow. Oh, and I could only fit one hand in there, so it's like working on the car with one hand tied behind your back.

It was tough to wrangle this little hose. This whole job took me about 7 hours to complete. That included flushing the coolant, changing all the radiator hoses, several of the heater hoses, and the thermostat. I think around half of that time was spent on this little heater hose alone. It was pesky indeed.

Because of the awkwardness of the location I had to try lots of different things to get this done. I had read all the methods from the forums and websites and I thought I was ready to tackle the job in no time. I was wrong. Even though I was using the proven method it still proved difficult. The last step in the process was to just slide the hose over the final connection on the engine block. I had fought the good fight up until this point and suddenly, that stupid little hose would move no more. I still had to move it just three quarters of an inch--just three quarters of an inch! But it would not move. Using my trusty Dremel I made a tool to make it easier to push on the hose, but that didn't seem to make any difference. My arms and hands were getting so tired that I didn't know how long I could keep fighting it. I was running out of ideas. Finally I decided to try some hot water. I boiled some water and poured it into the hose from up above. I hoped this would lubricate it a little as well as make it expand a little from the heat. At this point it was a last ditch effort. After pouring the water in I got down to push the hose and with only a little pressure that dang hose.........finally........slid on.

I almost cried. I was jubilant. At last I had prevailed. Really, the hard part was over. All that was left was to tighten the band clamps. Now here's a tricky one. Tightening a band clamp with only one hand. This is really hard. In fact, I decided I'm not talented enough for it so I had to use a special tool. Here it is.

It's not that it's that complicated. If I had one long extension that would have worked, but I didn't have one long enough so I had to use almost all I had. So using this tool I had one hand on the band clamp and the other hand on the wrench and I eventually got it. (Chelsea, I need some longer extensions.)

Here's what it looks like now. Note the nice new band clamps and I also cleaned up the pipe a little. It should be good for another 100,000 miles.

Here's that hose after being pulled out. The tears were caused while I was pulling it out, but the nasty gunk on it was the reason for pulling it out.

A good time was had by all.