Auto PartsTech Tips

Getting creative with NLA items

Three letters you don’t want to see when shopping for parts for your older are NLA. In case you didn’t know, NLA stands for “no longer available.” Often, when a car is older and long out of production, the vehicle manufacturer no longer makes or stocks certain parts for it, and sometimes the aftermarket hasn’t stepped in to take up the slack. This leaves owners of those cars in something of a bind.

One option that some people resort to is looking for used parts. The problem with this approach is that used parts are used, and are partway through their useful lifespan. This becomes a particular problem when the part in question is a wear-and-tear item such as a molded cooling system hose. Thankfully, with a little ingenuity, you can come up with a functional replacement.

The most important thing to note when looking at a cooling hose is its diameter. Most cooling hoses, you’ll find, are the same diameter on both ends. For a hose with only two ends, this simplifies the problem. Replacing a curved, molded cooling hose with a piece of straight hose may seem like a no-brainer, but can introduce unforseen difficulties. Often, a straight hose used in place of a curved hose will need to bend, and if the bend is too severe, the hose can kink, cutting off flow in the cooling system, leading to an overheat or worse.

One way to avoid this is to route such a long piece of hose that the curve becomes more gradual and the hose doesn’t have any sharp bends. In many cases, this is an acceptable solution. Sometimes, it isn’t. A way to avoid this is to use a flex hose. A flex hose has an embedded spring that allows the hose to be curved without sharp bends. Still, these often don’t work in tight spaces or with smaller hose diameters.

In these kind of cases, another option it to match up the diameter of the old hose to a section of straight hose, and then with use of various angled hose connectors, replicating as closely as possible the original shape of the hose. Hose connectors can also be useful when replicating a molded hose that has more than two ends or one that has ends of more than one diameter.

One last pitfall to watch out for when substituting non-original cooling hoses is the potential introd

uction of air pockets. Typically, this isn’t a long-term problem, but non-original hoses, as described, can inadvertently complicate the process of bleeding air out of the cooling system when filling with fesh coolant.

At the end of the day, NLA parts are not an insurmountable problem in keeping your car on the road. They do, however, require some ingenuity.

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