It can be tempting to neglect or to give less thought to some of the less prevalent parts and pieces in the overall ecosystem of a vehicle — things like hoses and fittings, and to be more specific, the ever-important seals housed inside of said fittings. Such items, which are often never even seen by the end-user, fall squarely into the out-of-sight, out-of-mind category. But, as any seasoned car enthusiast or racer can attest, it’s rarely the big-ticket items that leave you stranded or out of luck in the burnout box, but rather, it’s those cheap $2 components that didn’t get the attention they deserved.
Jiffy-tite’s standard and compact quick-disconnect fittings are renowned in the industry for their ease of use and durability. And a big part of what makes them so good are the three seals housed inside.
Fortunately, today’s highly-engineered fittings and internal seals require very little in the way of maintenance to keep them operational over the long haul … that is, if you choose the proper product at the outset.
Through our various project builds in the Power Automedia shop, we’ve championed the quality and craftsmanship of Jiffy-tite’s sleek quick-disconnect fittings, which have been designed with ease-of-use and assembly in mind, with non-spill connectivity that doesn’t require the use of any tools. But it’s the seals inside, the unsung heroes, if you will, that ensure the leak-free longevity of their fittings. Jiffy-tite has gone to extensive lengths to develop seals that will get the job done and live up to their standards, and so long as you pair the correct seal with the fuel or the fluid at hand, they’ll keep on delivering mile after mile, pass after pass.
Each of Jiffy-tite’s fittings contain three seals: the face seal, a seal on the valve, and an adapter.
Jiffy-tite’s lineup includes three different seals: a Fluorocarbon FKM, a Nitrile, and an Ethylene Propylene compatible seal.
Fluorocarbon FKM (a fluoroelastomer rubber that contains vinylidene fluoride) plays well with a wide range of fluids, including oil, water, pump gas fuel, transmission fluid, E85 and diesel fuel.
Nitrile NBR (nitrile-butadiene rubber), which is an oil-resistant synthetic rubber made from from a copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene, is intended for use with methanol and oxygenated fuels, like VP’s Q16
Ethylene Propylene (EPDM), which works best with nitromethane, methanol, and ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol), as well as brake fluid
From a visual perspective, you determine what seal you have by looking down the female socket fitting and noting the color of the seal. – Ryan Zillig, Jiffy-tite
Jiffy-tite has color-coded each of their seals so that the end-user can determine which seals they have in their fittings. This is of particular use if you’re re-plumbing your car and haven’t marked the fittings, or if you bought a set of second-hand fittings and need to identify the seals before potentially pushing the wrong fluids through them.
In some cases, you won’t be able to identify the seals due to their positioning inside of a given fitting. Fortunately, Jiffy-tite has correlated part numbers on their fittings to a given seal, which will indicate which one is housed inside. By simply calling their tech support line, they can match a part number to a seal. As an example, part 22404 will use a Fluorocarbon (FKM) seal, 22404B will use a Nitrile (NBR) seal, and 22404F will use a Ethylene Propylene (EPDM) seal.
At left (black) is the Ethylene Propylene seal, intended for nitromethane, methanol, ethanol (methyl alcohol), and brake fluid. The Nitrile seal (center) is intended for oxygenated race fuel, and the fluorocarbon (right) is compatible with oil, water, fuel, transmission fluid, E85, and diesel.
“From a visual perspective, you determine what seal you have by looking down the female socket fitting and noting the color of the seal. You can compare this to our seal compatibility chart on our website and catalog. The olive green color is the Fluorocarbon (FKM) seal, the aqua marine blue is the Nitrile (NBR) seal, and the black is the Ethylene Propylene (EPDM) seal,” explains Jiffy-tite’s Ryan Zillig.
Using the wrong seal, as you might imagine, has some ramifications. The biggest concern, as Zillig points out, is that the seal will swell when it comes in contact with an incompatible fluid, causing it to degrade over a period of time — especially when connected and disconnected. Once the seal is damaged, it can cause the fitting to become increasingly difficult to connect or engage, resulting in unwanted leaks. For racers in particular, fluid leaks can be not only a pain, but dangerous in the right situation. And as Zillig points out, the timeframe in which the negative effects of using the wrong seal will surface can vary.
A clear sign of seal wear or swelling due to incompatible use of seals and fluids is the sudden inability to properly connect or disconnect the fittings.
“From a time standpoint, it can happen in one or two runs, sometimes it can occur over time. It just depends on the application and what fluids have been used with what seal. When the seal swells, it starts to go into the valve body, so then when you connect and disconnect, it chips away at it, and once that happens, the fluid gets into the seal and expands it. The worst case is that the fitting will leak.
When using the appropriate Jiffy-tite fitting for an application, the seal should last as long as the fitting. – Ryan Zillig, Jiffy-tite
“A seal incompatibility is usually one of the first things we’ll address with customers who are having difficulty connecting and disconnecting their fittings,” Zillig adds.
You might be wondering what the lifespan is of a seal; with as many as three seals per fitting (the face seal, a seal on the valve, and an adapter, with the exception of a plug, which will only have two) or hose end, that’s a lot of rubber to worry about maintaining and ensuring the quality of over a period of years.
“When using the appropriate Jiffy-tite fitting for an application, the seal should last as long as the fitting,” Zillig explains. “One of the first signs to indicate that a fitting is damaged is that it will become increasingly difficult to connect and disconnect. You can look down the female socket and visually inspect the seal. If you see debris or that the seal is seated incorrectly, contact us and we’ll help identify the problem.”
While Jiffy-tite’s fittings and the seals housed within are largely maintenance-free, Zillig points out a couple key things that end users can do to maintain the longevity of their seals. First and foremost is using the correct seals for a given fluid from the beginning; and secondly, when connecting or disconnecting the fittings, always ensure the socket and plug have been properly mated by pulling back on one side of the fitting after installation.
A cutaway view showing the location of the seals inside a Jiffy-tite quick disconnect fitting. In this example, the seals aren’t all color-coded, but you can see the large aqua-colored seal present at left center.
Due to the design and special tooling needed to disassemble their fittings, Jiffy-tite’s seals are not user-replaceable, so whether buying firsthand or secondhand, it’s best to ensure you buy what you need the first time. If you do, however, accidentally damage a seal or need to change them out because you’re switching fuels, Jiffy-tite can replace them for a small fee and get them back to you promptly.
“We use specific tools, fixtures, and processes to install the seals and seat the valves. Additionally, we leak test the fittings to ensure they will perform to our standards, Zillig explains.
For any compatibility or ordering questions, or to help identify the seals inside your fittings, hose ends, or plugs, Zillig advises reaching out to Jiffy-tite’s customer service department. And, as always, do your due diligence with your fittings and hoses … if you do, your Jiffy-tite fittings will reward you with years of problem-free service.