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.