Do Teslas Have Radiators? Yes, Here’s Why

Electric cars vary greatly from the standard internal combustion engine. As such, they don’t contain many of the components that we are familiar with on traditional cars. You may be wondering whether a Tesla has any need for a radiator?

Do Teslas have radiators? Yes, all Tesla vehicles have multiple radiators as part of a highly efficient heating and cooling system to protect the longevity and functionality of the battery pack. One radiator also plays an important role in the HVAC system to keep passengers safe and comfortable.

In an internal combustion car, your radiator serves a very critical function. Inside of the engine, you have explosions going off constantly. These can be happening thousands of times per second. This produces an insane amount of heat. This heat has to get pulled out or else the engine would start to melt itself. A lot of this heat is transferred out through the exhaust. Unfortunately, that alone isn’t enough to prevent the car from continually getting hotter and hotter.

Radiators were implemented along with other cooling system components to help the car to quickly get to the appropriate temperature and then to maintain it at a desired operating temperature. The radiator is essentially just a big heat exchanger used to pull the heat out of engine coolant that is circulated throughout the engine. This relatively simple design is extremely efficient at cooling your engine.

Seeing as electric cars don’t have internal combustion occurring, do they have a need for radiators? Can they be used to cool other components? Do they have coolant flowing through them? What kind of coolant do they use? We’ll dive further into the answers to all of these questions.

Do All Teslas Have A Radiator?

Teslas do in fact have radiators. While the purpose of the radiators on a Tesla is very different from the purpose on an internal combustion engine, the concept is exactly the same. In reality, a radiator is just a heat exchanger. It allows fluid to flow through it. At the same time, there are a lot of small fins that allow air to flow through it and pull the heat out. This can utilize the air flowing into the car while driving, the air provided by a fan, or a combination of both.

So, what exactly is the purpose of the radiator on a Tesla? First off, there is a radiator setup for cooling the battery. This allows for the battery to be maintained at an ideal operating temperature to avoid overheating. As you can expect, batteries don’t generate anywhere close to the same level of heat as an internal combustion engine. The batteries generally are about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The battery coolant itself rarely even gets to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The second radiator is used for the HVAC system. Again, this serves the exact same purpose as any other radiator. The goal is just to transfer the heat in a fluid to the air. So, now you can see the answer to our original question. Even Tesla utilizes radiators in all of its cars. While the goal isn’t cooling the engine as it doesn’t have one, they can be used to cool down any other system that might have temperature concerns.

The same technologies we’ve talked about are seen across all of Teslas different models. Heat exchangers are very common when it comes to a wide variety of systems. Anything that needs to be kept at a certain temperature requires some level of temperature control. Radiators have proven across decades to be a very reliable and efficient way of doing this.

How Often Does The Radiator Need To Be Inspected Or Flushed?

We have now established that Teslas do in fact utilize radiators albeit for very different purposes. Now let’s dive into what the maintenance side of this looks like. How often do you need to service your radiators? Do you need to flush the coolant? Anything else?

First off, we’ve talked about how the battery cooling radiator doesn’t get anywhere near as hot as the cooling system on a traditional internal combustion engine. As such, the entire cooling system is much smaller. The radiator is much smaller, the hoses through which the coolant flows are smaller, and the pumps are smaller. In addition, these systems don’t utilize any sort of belts or pulleys that can wear out on you.

So, in reality, there is much less that can go wrong, and the components last much longer. Tesla only recommends a coolant change at 150,000 miles. That is significantly longer than a standard internal combustion engine. During that initial 150,000 miles there are no recommended services for the cooling system. You don’t need to do anything up until that point.

The only exception would be if something were to fail. The things you could potentially experience would be a cracked regulator, a leaking radiator hose, or a failed pump. If any of these things happen, you will need to get things repaired which generally also entails replacing the coolant. Apart from that, these cooling systems are about as close to maintenance free as you can possibly get.

Oftentimes an inspection is also performed on the cooling system. While Tesla may not recommend any service being performed, you are always welcome to inspect your cooling system. The first and easiest thing to check is the coolant level. Your coolant level shouldn’t really change at all unless your system is leaking. If you are leaking, you will need to find out from where. This could be a crack in the radiator, a cracked radiator hose, a poor radiator hose connection, or a bad pump. 

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Radiator?

There are several reasons why you may need to replace your radiator. The very most common is that it has sprung a leak. It could be that some sort of road debris flung up and punctured the radiator. To stop the leak, you will need to replace the radiator entirely. So how much does this cost?

Fortunately, as the radiator is much smaller than that of an internal combustion engine, it is pretty cheap. Most people are able to get their radiators replaced for between $450-700. This includes the cost of the new radiator, new coolant, and the labor to do so.

As you can see, the cost of a new radiator is not terrible. For a couple hundred dollars, you can have a virtually new cooling system. Generally, measures are taken to prevent rocks and debris from damaging the radiators, but crazy circumstances can still happen. Driving in gravel, over potholes, or in adverse environments can all increase the chances that damage could happen to your radiator. 

How Much Coolant And What Type Of Coolant Goes In A Tesla?

What kind of coolant can you use in a Tesla? Tesla creates it’s own Tesla branded coolant that it recommends you use in your vehicle. If you aren’t going to use the Tesla branded one, you just need to make sure you find one made from the same things. Doing this will maximize the life of your battery and also your cooling system.

The Tesla coolant is a G-48 ethylene-glycol coolant mixture. When it comes to determining which coolant to use, it’s best to use the genuine Tesla brand. If you were to use a less effective coolant on accident, this can kill your battery. Then you can be stuck with a bill of over $20,000. It’s best to just know that you are using the best coolant for your battery. In addition, you must be very careful that you don’t contaminate the cooling system when adding coolant or servicing. You don’t want to risk damaging your battery. If you aren’t confident, it’s always safe to take it to a certified shop.

So how much coolant does a Tesla actually have? While the temperatures are much lower, you need to remember that the battery pack is huge. In addition there are thousands of cells in the battery that all require cooling. In order to adequately supply cooling to the entire volume of the battery, a large volume of coolant is required. As such, the cooling system requires 11 liters of coolant or almost 3 gallons.

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