Why do Teslas have radiators?

In an internal combustion engine (ICE), a huge amount of heat is generated by all the thousands of mini explosions that make the engine work. That heat has to go somewhere, so ICE cars use radiators as heat exchangers. They take the heat out of the engine coolant and transfer it to the air outside the car.

But what about electric vehicles? If you don’t have an internal combustion engine, do you still need radiators?

Let’s find out…

Do Teslas have radiators?

Teslas do have radiators. All tesla models have a radiator that cools the battery and one that is part of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) system.

Tesla radiators work in a similar way to the radiators you would find on any other car. The system uses a coolant called G-48 ethylene-glycol to transfer heat away from the car’s battery to the radiator, where the heat can be released into the outside air. 

One important way that Tesla radiators differ from the radiators you would find in an average internal combustion engine car is that they are much smaller.

The coolant in an internal combustion engine gets extremely hot (often around 200 degrees Fahrenheit), whereas the coolant in a Tesla engine rarely reaches much higher temperatures than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because a Tesla battery does not get anywhere near as hot as a normal car engine, so there is less heat for the coolant to remove.

Because Teslas run cooler than ICE vehicles, a Tesla does not need its radiators to be as large, the coolant can be changed much less frequently (and often, not at all), and heat causes less wear and tear on components.

Why do Teslas need radiators?

Teslas need radiators for the exact same reason that internal combustion engine cars need radiators: To dissipate excessive heat and cool parts of the car.

If you didn’t have radiators in your Tesla, the heat generated by the battery would steadily build, causing the battery temperature to increase beyond safe limits and other areas of the car to become dangerously hot.

As well as being a safety risk, allowing your battery to run too hot would reduce its performance and lifespan. Obviously, this is not something you want to happen! Battery damage can land you with a hefty repair bill, as the battery is such a large and costly component of the car.

Fortunately, your Tesla is built to manage its internal temperatures and keep the battery within its optimal range.

In fact, your Tesla is so good at managing its temperature that your battery should stay in top condition without you needing to do anything at all. Not even a coolant change. 

This is explained in the Tesla Owner’s Manual, which says:

“Your Battery coolant should not need to be replaced for the life of your vehicle under most circumstances. However, if the quantity of fluid in the cooling system drops below the recommended level, the touchscreen displays a warning message.”

If you do see a warning message then you should not attempt to top up the coolant yourself. Instead, contact a Tesla Service Center and get their expert advice before taking any action.