There are other kinds of synthetic rubber, but none are as successful and versatile as silicone. How many chemicals can be used as a lubricant, an adhesive, a dry cleaning fluid ingredient, a cooking utensil and a gasket all before breakfast? It’s in engines where silicone is rapidly gaining ground, particularly for replacement hoses. Here are six of the qualities propelling us into the silicone age.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of burning rubber. If you like it, you won’t like silicone. Silicone withstands high temperatures better than rubber and isn’t permanently damaged by low temperatures either. Silicone hose manufacturers say it’s reliable between about -60 degrees and +180 degrees Centigrade.
Oils, coolants, brake fluids, petrol and battery acid are devastating to most materials, but silicone stands up to them extremely well. You can see a chemical comparison between silicone and alternative types of rubber compound here: https://mykin.com/rubber-chemical-resistance-chart. Perished or burned rubber tends to stick to everything, and it’s a devil to get off: silicone doesn’t.
For similar reasons, it’s less likely to oxidize and perish from long-term exposure to air, rain and temperature. In other words, it resists weathering, retains its flexibility and simply lasts longer. In contrast, old rubber hoses become stiff, cracked and glued on.
As some of us have discovered to our annoyance, rubber isn’t that quiet. The points at which it connects to a hard vibrating surface can generate nuisance noises and even contribute to additional vibration.
Silicone is substantially more sound-suppressing than rubber due to its better flexibility and can contribute to a quieter engine.
Silicone is more flexible, weight for weight, and retains that quality over time. As a result, it is often easier to fit a silicone hose in an awkward location or over a tight connector. Likewise, they are usually easier to get off again when necessary. They don’t bond with the fitting like rubber often does.
Silicone hose manufacturers such as https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacture supply them in a range of bright colours that simply look great in a well-cared-for engine. It also makes it easier to distinguish one part from another.
And it’s not only car lovers that think it’s sexier – silicone is rapidly replacing rubber in sex toys and “rubberwear”. Anything that sexy is bound to make your engine race faster!