Although electric vehicles operate differently than gas-powered vehicles, they still need coolant. The electric motors don’t use the same internal combustion engine as a gas-powered vehicle, but they do still require some fluids. The electric motor and battery can both become hot during normal operations.
Of the two auto parts, the lithium-ion battery pack gets hotter and requires liquid coolant. EVs use non-conductive fluids designed for heat transfer and fire suppression. The computing industry uses the same fluids to cool supercomputers.
CUTLINE: Your EV doesn’t make you guess when you need to add coolant. An icon on the dashboard lights up to let you know.
The Job of Coolant in an Electric Vehicle
Not only can an electric auto battery overheat, but it can also catch fire. Coolant proves important for managing the battery’s temperature to prevent these things from happening. Typically, when an EV catches fire, although a rare occurrence, an overheated battery caused it.
Fundamental design flaws such as Chevy found in its Bolt batteries exceeded the limit of what coolant can do. Fluids Needed in an Electric Vehicle. Since electric car designs vary, depending on the manufacturer, you’ll need either three or four fluids for your vehicle.
The vehicles that only require three fluids need:
- Windshield washer fluid,
- Brake fluid,
- Coolant fluid.
Some manufacturers also require transmission fluid. Although some sources use the words antifreeze and coolant interchangeably, the words do not mean the same thing. You should not put antifreeze in an electric vehicle.
It uses a different type of coolant developed for electrics. It uses a mixture of distilled water and antifreeze. You can’t mix the two yourself.
You’ll need a pre-mixed product that meets manufacturer standards. Some of these coolant fluids contain additives that prevent rust and corrosion in the system, too. Examples of these include Dober Electric Vehicle Coolant and Fuel Cell Vehicle ULC.
The design of these fluids maintains a low electrical conductivity and limits the chance of a fire erupting.
How Often Do You Change Coolant in an EV?
The political answer says that it depends on the manufacturer. Common knowledge says that EVs as a whole use ten to 20 liters of coolant during their lifetime. That’s remarkably less than a gas-powered car, which typically uses between 20 and 80 liters during its lifetime.
Ultimately, you’ll need to consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual to learn when to change the coolant. Most vehicles offer a gauge on the dashboard that tells you when you need to add coolant. This doesn’t tell you when you need to change the coolant though.
CUTLINE: Electric vehicles use a variety of designs, each specific to its manufacturer.
Do EVs Use Oil?
No, EVs don’t use oil. Instead, they use water. The distilled water that comprises half of the coolant mixture provides this water.
In some ways, an EV engine functions more like a water heater than a car engine. Both require you to charge them for two to three hours before use and both heat up the water efficiently. CUTLINE: You pour coolant into an EV just as you would a gas-powered vehicle.
Cost for Electric Vehicle Coolants
Coolant and other fluids for an EV don’t cost any more than those for a gas-powered vehicle. In fact, you’ll spend less on an EV for fluids because it requires fewer coolant changes.
EVs and Coolant
Essentially, your vehicle will still need fluids, especially coolant. You won’t be able to buy the same coolant you did for your gas-powered car and put it in your electric vehicle. The electric coolant won’t cost you more and you’ll need to buy less of it.
You’ll also only have up to three other fluids to purchase for the EV. Of course, if you drive more frequently than the average person and you put more miles on your vehicle than normal, you’ll need to more frequently change the coolant. Most owner’s manuals direct you to change fluids every certain number of miles, so you’ll only need to check your odometer to figure out when you need to administer fluids.
For most people, owning an electric vehicle costs less in maintenance and upkeep. This extends to the fluids as well as how much cheaper charging costs than filling up a gas tank. You purchase EV coolant at the same auto stores that carry coolant for gas-powered vehicles.
You can also purchase the other fluids for EVs at these stores, such as NAPA Auto Parts and O’Reilly.