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Do EVs Have Radiators?

Charging modern electric car on the street using a plug.

I’m fascinated by any electric vehicle topic. I never thought to ask before if an EV has a radiator or not. The short answer is, that some of them do and some of them don’t. 

What cooling system does an EV have? 

Radiators regulate car temperatures. Four types of systems will cool your EV. These include the Phase Change Material (PCM), Liquid Cooling (indirect or direct), and air or fin cooling. These systems perform differently than a car that has a radiator, which usually are the all-gas models. 

Four Types of EV Cooling Systems Explained

1. Phase Change Material (PCM)

PCM cooling systems change solids to liquids. This absorbs the heat. However, PCM cooling only “soaks up” the generated heat and cannot transfer it or reduce heat well. I haven’t heard of this type being used that often in consumer EVs. 

2. Liquid Cooling (Indirect or Direct)

Liquid coolant can reduce the temperature of a battery submerged in it. Otherwise, the air that flows through a set of pipes before lowering the vehicle temperature can also cool the battery. 

Indirect cooling apparently has received a reputation as one of the “most promising cooling systems on the market.” Tesla used a cooling process that calls for glycol, and liquid cooling seems to provide the most safety in hotter climates. 

3. Air Cooling

Air cooling can transfer heat after warm air is moved away from the battery pack. This EV cooling system relies on the way heat rises and cold air stays near the ground. It’s one of the other cooling systems besides the liquid type that’s the most popular. 

4. Fin Cooling

Zoom in photo of a fin cooling car radiator.

A component known as a fin is installed between two cells. It’s supposed to accommodate increased power capacity. This will continue to become necessary as technological demands are stretched to the limit. 

If you’ve ever seen a computer CPU heatsink, that’s what a fin cooling system for an EV reminds me of. Fins (a.k.a. heatsinks) draw heat away from the source using conduction. 

I consider it a simple but effective solution. It does make sense to me. I confess that I didn’t understand what “fin cooling” was at first. Then, I recalled the way older computers regulate CPU temperatures. 

The word “fin” comes up in describing the computer heatsinks just like it does when describing EV fin cooling. I do grasp the concept now, as many EVs power most functions using electricity instead of gas. Many EV models also come equipped with smart technology, which also requires electrical power. 

What are the best EV cooling systems? 

It’s tough to find an unbiased point of view regarding this. What LaserAx says makes sense:

“Liquid cooling is the most popular cooling technology. It uses a liquid coolant such as water, a refrigerant, or ethylene glycol to cool the battery.”

A similar process happens in electric vehicles. Probably the only reason it’s not always used in an EV is because it also seems to cost the most. However, you could risk damaging your engine if you rely on a cooling system just because it’s “cheap.” 

What EV heating systems work best? 

Close up photo of a electric motor engine of aEnvironmentally Friendly Zero Emission Electric Car.

First, you must understand that all-electric cards don’t have radiators, according to Road Cartel’s writer Chris Thatcher. What’s more, a radiator doesn’t produce heat, it regulates the temperatures of objects, so they don’t overheat. 

Besides the liquid cooling system, it seems that air cooling delivers the best temperature regulation in EVs. Remember this because you don’t want to burn out your battery. 

What happens if your EV cooling system fails? 

A failed cooling system, which acts similar to a radiator in a gas vehicle, can cause overheating. Other car parts can also fail, such as the thermostat. It may also damage liquid circulation systems, and a power outage could occur.  

What EVs have radiators? 

Some hybrid vehicles, which run on both electrical power and an internal combustion engine, have radiators. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), EVs don’t “need radiator fluid, timing belts, fuel filters, oil or oil changes.” 

Do EV cooling systems need maintenance?

Close up photo of a mechanic repairing something in a car;s engine.

A little extra care never hurts. With that in mind, the EESI also says that EVs don’t require as much maintenance as “conventional cars.” I assume that refers to all-gas engines, but it could pertain to hybrids as well. 

The less-maintenance requirement reported refers to the entire EV overall. That doesn’t mean that newly emerging technology will always work the way it should. For instance, you might lose power when you least expect it, and that can affect your battery. 

One of the most common failures of an EV is the battery. However, a faulty cooling system isn’t always the reason. You could have electrical wiring that needs replacement, or you just need to install a new battery.