When doing routine automotive repair and maintenance, you will often encounter flexible fluid hoses. These hoses carry automotive fluids such as fuel, transmission oil, power steering fluid, or coolant. They are flexible and easy to connect and disconnect. As a matter of fact, nearly all of them use self-tightening hose clamps that are quite easy to remove or install with spring hose clamp pliers.
Flexible rubber hoses are also easy to bend. You can easily bend them out of the way without disconnecting them. This property is important, especially when working in cramped spaces with many rubber hoses. That being said, sometimes the solution is to isolate the hoses. This applies when working on components to which the flexible hoses connect. For example, when replacing the fuel filter, you must disconnect the fuel lines from the old filter to connect them to the new one. Similarly, when replacing or flushing the heater core, you must isolate the heater lines first.
One way to isolate a fluid hose from a component is to disconnect it and drain off the fluid to a catch can. This is usually messy and tedious especially when dealing with hoses in a pressurized fluid system such as a fuel line or coolant line. It can also be difficult when working in a tight space. As such, a better way to isolate flexible hoses is to clamp them off with pinch off pliers.
What are hose pinch off pliers?
Hose pinch off pliers are special types of hose pliers for clamping off rubber hoses to stop or restrict the flow of fluid. The pliers can have rounded or flat smooth jaws that cinch down the rubber hoses without damaging them. They are easy to use to clamp off hoses effectively to prevent fluid loss. You can use them on coolant lines, fuel lines, heater lines, and vacuum lines on cars, trucks, and small engines of lawnmowers, snow throwers, chain saws, etc. Pinch off pliers help keep your job site dry and a lot less dangerous with flammable fluids spilled all over. The only thing you cannot use pinch pliers on is the wire-reinforced fluid hoses you find on hydraulic systems such as the brake system.
Types of hose pinch off pliers
Although all types of hose pinch pliers do the same job of compressing rubber hoses to restrict fluid flow, they come in many varieties. Some are metallic while others are plastic. Some have fixed jaws while others have flexible jaws. Others use a ratcheting mechanism to open and close the jaws while others use the regular mechanism. Lastly, some hose clamp pliers have a locking mechanism to keep them cinched down on a hose while others don’t. So, when buying a pair for your repairs, it is good to put these factors into consideration.
Factors to consider when choosing hose-pinch off pliers
Ratcheting or not?
Some hose pinch pliers use a ratcheting mechanism to operate the jaws while others have a regular hinge. And as with any pliers with a ratcheting mechanism, you apply less force to the handles to close the jaws completely. Unfortunately, that is not the case with pinch-off pliers with ratchet mechanism. Some do not pinch tight the fluid hose and will leave the hose dripping. A good example is the 145 Automatic Locking Ratcheting Gearwrench Hose Pinch Off Pliers. The pliers ratchet very well but do not close all the way. This causes leakage past the clamped area. The pliers may also slide off when pressure builds up on the hose.
So when shopping for pinch off pliers, don’t be quick to pick those with a ratcheting mechanism. They might not do the job as you expected them. Similarly, don’t disqualify them from the selection. Some work perfectly and require less hand strength to close them down completely.
Good pinch-off pliers must have a locking mechanism to keep them locked onto the hose so that you can use your hands to do repairs. Otherwise, you will need a helper to press down the hose pinchers as you carry out repairs.
Shape of the jaws
The jaws of hose pinchers should be smooth enough to not damage the hose and hard enough to not slip off. Therefore, some soft patterns on the flat or rounded jaws would come a long way in ensuring that the hose pinchers won’t slip or puncture the hose.
Different sizes of hose pinch pliers have different capacities. The maximum capacity is indicated on the pliers or packaging as xx O.D. where xx is the inches and O.D. outside diameter. Typically, most automotive hoses have an outer diameter of less than 1″ with radiator hoses being slightly larger. So, when buying hose pinchers, know the sizes of hoses you will be dealing with beforehand. Alternatively, you can purchase a hose pinch off pliers set with different sizes of hose pinchers for various hose sizes.
Plastic or metallic jaws
Although there are some good plastic pinch off pliers sets, they don’t work well on hardened hoses. Their jaws tend to warp or wear out over time and don’t clamp off hoses completely all the time. This makes hose pinchers with metallic jaws the best and most reliable.
Best Hose Pinch off pliers
Gearwrench 3792 Hose Pinch off Pliers – Best for radiator hoses
- Length: 12″
- Max. clamping capacity: 1-3/8″ hose
- Automatic locking mechanism
- Made from high carbon steel
- Made in USA
Although the Gearwrench 3792 hose pliers do not have a ratcheting mechanism, they do not require gorilla hand strength to squeeze the handles closed. They are easy to operate and have an automatic locking mechanism. So, you do not need to set any screw or adjust any lever to lock the pliers in position. All you need to do is squeeze the handles all the way to engage the positive lock.
The jaws of the Gearwrench hose clamp off pliers are sturdy and have a black oxide coating to prevent corrosion. But that does not mean that if you leave them outside at night they will not rust. They will. So you must take good care of them by keeping them free of moisture and applying a coat of machine oil.
As far as the jaw capacity goes, the Gearwrench 3792 can clamp up to a 1-3/8″ hose. This means you can use them to pinch off most radiator hoses and smaller fluid and vacuum lines on cars and trucks.
Although the pliers are not the most ideal for clamping off small gas lines on small motors, you can still use them if they are all you have. The jaws are great and will pinch tight all hose sizes within the clamping capacity. You will only need to position the hose properly at the center before closing the jaws.
The only downside of the pliers is the plastic dipped handles that are not as comfortable as comfort grips. Nonetheless, they don’t feel awful in the hands.
Bottom line, the Gearwrench 3792 hose pinch pliers do a decent job of pinching off all fluid lines except wire-reinforced hydraulic lines. Their price point is reasonable and they have a quality feel. Above all, they create a tight seal when they clamp off hoses, which is why they are the best for professional or DIY use.
Swpeet Hose Clamp Pinch Off Pliers Set – Best DIY set
- 6 pieces set
- Length: 6.1″, 7.3″, and 10″
- Clamping capacity: 15mm to 25mm hose
- Manual locking mechanism
- Made of heat resistant reinforced nylon
The Swpeet hose pinch-off pliers set consists of 6 pieces of three different sizes of plastic hose pinch pliers. In other words, there are two pairs of each size. The sizes include 6.1″, 7.3″, and 10″ which are capable of clamping off 15mm, 20mm, and 25mm hoses respectively.
The nylon clamp pliers are compact, lightweight, and easy to use. They have a locking feature to lock the pliers onto the hose so that your hands remain free for other tasks. The clamps are brightly colored so you can locate them easily.
One downside of these Swpeet plastic hose pinch pliers set is that they are not very sturdy. The jaws will wear down pretty faster than the metallic alternatives. Also, if you twist them accidentally when clamping them, the jaws can easily get misaligned and fail to work effectively.
Another downside of these nylon hose pliers is that they don’t clamp tight sometimes. This happens particularly when you don’t center the hose on the jaws. Since the clamps use a “V” shaped clamping action, they tend to pinch tight the hose on one end and leave a gap on the other end. The fluid or air can escape through this gap. Therefore, you must be smart when applying these clamps to the hose to ensure they create a tight seal. Otherwise, you might regret buying them. Other than that, these plastic hose clamp pliers are handy and real driveway savers. They are great to have in the trunk of your car for emergencies. If you are a DIYer mechanic or weekend warrior, these are a great value for your money.
Overall, the Swpeet 6 pcs hose pinch off pliers set is the best bang for the buck. It has different sizes of hose pliers for clamping both small and large hoses up to 1″. What is even better is that there are two pliers for each size. So, you will not have trouble when you want to pinch off the hose both upstream and downstream. This can be useful when working on the radiator or flushing the heater core whereby you might need to clamp off both the incoming and the outgoing hoses.
Irwin Vise Grip 7″ Hose Pinch off pliers – Best for small hoses
- Length: 7″
- Clamping capacity: 1/4″ hose
- Locks like locking pliers
- Made from high grade alloy steel
- Lifetime warranty
The 7″ Irwin vise grips hose pinch-off pliers are the ultimate hose pinch off tool for professional mechanics and repairmen. The pliers are similar to other vise grips except that the jaws are straight, smooth, and rounded to clamp off rubber hoses tight without damaging them.
The pliers lock onto the hose tightly and won’t slip or move even when the tubing is under pressure. What is more fascinating is how easy it is to clamp and lock these pliers onto the hose. You only put the hose between the jaws and squeeze them tight and the pliers will lock on. If the jaws don’t clamp tight enough, you just turn the screw at the back of the handle to cinch tighter and create a tight seal.
The 7″ hose pinch locking pliers have a contact area of 1-1/4″ and a jaw capacity of 1/4″. However, you can use it to effectively pinch off hoses of up to 5/8 outside diameter without a problem. This makes these pliers ideal for small and medium size hoses such as fuel lines, vacuum lines, and heater hoses. If you need to work on the large radiator hoses, you will need a bigger set of pliers.
Otherwise, these vise grip pinch pliers have the best locking mechanism and guarantee a tight seal anytime you use them. They are a must-have for any gas engine owner (small or big) for clamping off fuel lines, heater lines, and vacuum lines during service to ensure no leakage whatsoever.
Overall, fluid hose pinch off pliers are a must-have if you work on engines regularly or occasionally. They help clamp off fluid hoses so that you won’t have to disable the entire system. The clamps make work easier and the work area safer because they prevent fluid leakage. If the clamps seal properly, they will reduce the cost of repairs since only an insignificant amount is lost. Therefore, there is no need of replenishing it.