Three Types of Hose Clamps for Cooling Systems: Spring Vs. Worm Vs. T-Bolt (With Video)

Updated on July 27, 2018
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Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.

Three Types of Hose Clamps

I'm writing about three different types of clamps used on cooling systems in cars because I see that sometimes mechanics doing repairs on your car don't use the best, longest-lasting kind.

Spring clamp (constant-tension clamp)
Spring clamp (constant-tension clamp)

Spring Clamps (Constant-Tension Clamps)

On most automobiles as they come from the factory, the hoses in the cooling system are connected, fastened, and sealed from coolant leakage by spring clamps (also called constant-tension clamps). They are commonly referred to as spring clamps because they apply constant tension on the rubber hose. Automobile manufacturers use spring clamps on cooling system hoses because haven't found a better or cheaper way to apply tension to the hose regardless of the hose's condition. This matters because as the hoses age, they may harden, soften, swell, or lose their structural rigidity, and spring clamps will continue to apply force on the hose regardless of the condition of the hose.

I do have an issue with plastic compression ring clamps that are force-fitted onto the hose. These plastic clamps can't be serviced, and when I work on cars like this, I have to cut or saw off these plastic clamps and replace them with a serviceable clamp.

Worm clamp for hoses
Worm clamp for hoses | Source

Worm Clamps: An Inferior Alternative

When I am working on a leaking cooling system, often I am annoyed to find that some mechanic has replaced the original factory spring clamp (let's say an upper or lower radiator hose clamp) with a worm clamp. The mechanic probably went for the worm clamp because he didn't have the right tools to get the clamp off and didn't want to go through the hassle of putting the original clamp back on. Worm clamps are substandard compared to spring clamps because they fray the hose with the adjustment slots, they can strip, they can cut into the hose, they may not be able to apply adequate tension to prevent leaks, and they don't compensate the shrinkage of the rubber. So worm clamps are likely to lead to leaks in the future.

Racing clamp (or T-bolt clamp) for cooling system hoses
Racing clamp (or T-bolt clamp) for cooling system hoses | Source

Racing Clamps: A Compromise

A good compromise between spring and worm clamps are racing clamps (or t-bolt clamps). Racing clamps have none of the short comings of worm clamps but are expensive, not accessible at parts stores and do not provide constant tension. They're easy to get off, mostly made of stainless steel, provide 360 degrees of wide tension, and are very durable. I have occasionally used these as backup for weak spring clamps. But keep in mind that racing clamps do lose their tension sometimes.

Video: Different Types of Hose Clamps, and Tools Used to Remove Them

The following 3-minute video will explain the tools used for removing factory original spring clamps and compare them with two other aftermarket hose clamps (worm clamps and t-bolt clamps).

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    © 2018 hardlymoving

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