When we think detailing, better ways to clean and prep the car are usually the first things that come to mind. We wanted to give detailing a new spin this month and address a few "details" that aren't typically thought of. Braided stainless steel hose, commonly referred to as AN, short for "Army/Navy" hose, has been applied to show cars wanting to emulate their racing brethren for a number of years.
Originally designed for the military, hence where its moniker came from, braided stainless hose is now reproduced in the aftermarket in several forms. And while braided stainless is still a good way to plumb a car, it's expensive, hard to work with, and very heavy. Earl's, long a leader in braided hose technology, told us about its new line of nylon-braid hose that's cheaper and lighter than the stainless version, and it's supposed to be easier to work with. Needless to say, we had to check it out.
Earl's Pro-Lite hose features an inner liner of Temprel synthetic rubber bonded to a protective outer sheath of nylon braid that remains flexible at temperatures between -40 and +300 degrees F and can withstand 1,250-psi burst pressures. It has a working pressure rating of 250 psi and was engineered from the start for use with standard Earl's Swivel Seal hose ends or even the more economical Earl's Auto-Crimp hose ends as well. So if your car has already been plumbed with braided stainless hose that's now several years old and in need of replacement, you've got a lighter, cheaper alternative without having to shell out the cash for new hose ends, which rarely wear out.
Easy To InstallThe best thing about this new hose is that it's much easier to install than traditional stainless braided hose. You can cut it with a razor, then it's very easy to press into the nut for assembly. The only catch is that you must first broach the nut using a special tool from Earl's to keep the hose from pushing out of the fitting. Broaching can be done in any ordinary bench vise and will not make the fitting unusable for other types of hose in the future. But it does chew up the nylon braid of the Pro-Lite hose if you remove the nut after assembly, so you'll have to cut off the end for reassembly. Each hose is also labeled for its size and pressure, but if you don't like the yellow label and want just plain, black braided hoses under your hood, Earl's says it can be wiped off in seconds with some mineral spirits and a clean cloth.
After making just a few cuts and assembling a couple of fittings, we're convinced that this just may be the best performance hose on a lightweight budget. It'll work almost everywhere on the car and can be just the detail you'll need to set your engine compartment above the rest.
Pro-Lite Works Almost EverywhereThere are only a few applications on any car that Pro-Lite hose could not be used.
Power steering hoseDue to the extremely high pressures that result in the system, only dedicated power steering hose should be used here.
Brake LinesEven though Pro-Lite is offered in a small -4 size, it should never be used in a brake system due to the high pressures developed and extreme durability needed for flexible brake hoses. Plus, it's not compatible with brake fluids.
Exotic Racing FuelsThe Temprel synthetic rubber may not react favorably to some racing fuel additives. You should test its compatibility with the liquids you intend to run before plumbing your entire car with it.
Okay For Vacuum LinesThe large -12 size works great in vacuum systems. Except, you'll need to insert a special spring Earl's has developed to keep the hose from collapsing under vacuum.