Wrench Tips - Tip #24: Silicone Hoses for Adults

by Dave Coleman


There comes a time in every car dork's life when you no longer want your engine bay to look like McDonald's playland. That happened a long time ago for me, but sadly, I'm still so cheap that most of my hoses come from a psychadelic box of scraps, so primary colors still rule the engine bay. What's a cheap but modest dork to do?

Turn those bright red hoses black, that's what!

silicone tapeOn a recent trip the the local engineering superstore known as The Home Depot, I noticed this Nashua Stretch & Seal silicone sealing tape.

Having toured a few silicone hose factories in my time, I know silicone hoses are made by simply wrapping silicone tape around a metal core shaped like the inside of the hose. After a little time, the silicone fuses permanently to itself and as soon as you can figure out how to get the core out, you have yourself a hose.

To these eyes, that Stretch and Seal tape looks a whole lot like the stuff they make the hoses from in the first place, so I wondered if I could just wrap the stuff around a candy-colored hose to add a permanent layer of black. 

Turns out it works! Clean the underlying hose really well, wrap it while its stuck on an appropriately sized pipe, so it has the structural integrity necessary to support the wrapping, and just do a nice, overlapping wrap while stretching the tape.  

silicone hose elbows

Perfect example: I had had these two scrap radiator hose elbows spliced together to accomodate the relocated radiator in Project Silvia. Primary colors look lame enough, but when they don't match...


silicone hose wrap

After installing the hoses on appropriately pipelike things to support the wrapping forces, a simple overlapping wrap made this look like perfectly normal rubber radiator hoses. Sadly, these hoses have been waiting for Project Silvia's colossally overdue engine rebuild before they can be put to use.


red hoses look lame

A better example of the successful testing of this silicone tape is this single, gratuitously red hose in the middle of my woman's otherwise grown up engine bay.


that silicone hose is black now!

Here's the same hose after a Stretch & Seal wrap job. The hose has been in the engine bay, next to the turbo, for over two years now and still looks just as much like a perfectly innocent factory hose. This stuff actually works.


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Riiiiiight about... heeeere.......   VVVVVV (look down) 

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Monday, August 29, 2011 2:46 AM
I wonder if this stuff will help prevent silicone hoses from leaking so much. I'll have to try this out, I have mostly stock rad hoses in my car, but one bright blue hose smack in the middle. Not for long!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Monday, August 29, 2011 3:06 AM
Hey, that's a great idea. Now I can scavenge un-matching, brightly-colored hoses from anywhere and make them all look black! Sweet!
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Monday, August 29, 2011 3:53 AM
If your silicone hoses are leaking now, I doubt more silicone will solve the problem. Is this problem something you have personal experience with, or have you been reading propaganda from rubber hose companies? I've never had any silicone hose leakage issues myself.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Monday, August 29, 2011 5:57 AM
Silicone hoses breath some and you can usually smell coolant but they don"t actually leak.

I carry a roll of this stuff in my race support backpack.
Monday, August 29, 2011 6:07 AM
Not that it matters much but does this tape fuse to the underlying silicone or is it just a wrap?
Monday, August 29, 2011 6:09 AM
I meant the breathing thing. I'm losing coolant very slowly (after a few months the coolant overflow will be empty), and it's either the hose or the radiator. The lower rad hose and water pump are only a couple of years old.

My engine bay smells like everything that should be inside my engine. That's the luxury of owning a 21 year old 240SX in college.
Monday, August 29, 2011 8:25 AM
This stuff probably would've worked better than the duct tape I used to fix a busted radiator hose on the side of the 405. Sigh... one week too late
Monday, August 29, 2011 8:54 AM
where can one get this great thing :D
Monday, August 29, 2011 9:55 AM
How to convince tech inspection nazi that you ish ain't leaking and "spy-hunter" the track?

Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Monday, August 29, 2011 10:03 AM
Dave - I love how you can make even a wrench tip entertaining!

Beaters - Don't forget, most OEM hoses are in fact rubber. Silicone is an aftermarket upgrade. I'll let Khiem digest that last sentence :) One of the advantages to silicone hoses is that they maintain their flexibility over their lifespan, whereas rubber does not.

Wrecked - Technically is adheres rather than fuses.

Monday, August 29, 2011 12:28 PM
@Der, I prefer stock myself. But if modified, I'd take saline over silicone.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Monday, August 29, 2011 12:42 PM
silicone are more "natural" or stock like in appearance than saline, genius... step away from the keyboard and go out and grab a pair sometime!
Monday, August 29, 2011 1:36 PM
Really? Damnit. Maybe time for a field test. But like I said, I prefer stock :)
Monday, August 29, 2011 1:38 PM
I use "rescue tape" same stuff different packaging, we used to use it to repair leaking air hoses whilst scuba diving, also great for profuse bleeding,

works well for sealing almost anything
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 3:23 AM
OEM FTW Khiem.....
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 6:44 AM
I apologize for unleashing the King of Inuendo!

As for this product, the product description shows it has many uses BUT stopping profuse bleeding was not one :) If you can get primary closure, cool, but I recommend proper medical care with "profuse bleeding"! Otherwise, giving mismatched silicone hoses an OEM appearance is brilliant!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 9:13 AM
Love that stuff. I've used it on a couple of "field repairs" off road so far. Works great!
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 9:05 AM
I have found that when profuse bleeding occurs there is usually a 1-2 hr gap before medical help can be secured...it works great then
Thursday, September 01, 2011 7:36 AM
SuperGlue seems to lessen a lot of my ER visits.
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