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the hose should never be that hard because the cooling system is only pressurized to 15 PSI, the only reason it would be too hard to squeeze easily would be if exhaust gas was building up in the system. fluid level should change some hot vs cold, but not by a huge amount, the difference comes from the expansion rate of the fluid, when hot the fluid expands and forces some of the coolant into the overflow tank, as it cools down it sucks some of that fluid back in.
 
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