What Kind of Coolant Does Tesla Use? Surprising Cooling System Details

If you have a Tesla, you need to make sure that you understand that you will have to flush the battery coolant.  A Tesla does not require a lot of maintenance.  It is possible the coolant will not have to be replaced for the life of the vehicle.  However, if there is an indicator appearing stating that you need to add more battery coolant, take it to a mechanic.  The problem with opening the battery coolant reservoir is that you might void your warranty if you do so. If you are still curious about the type of coolant to use, for instance, if the warranty has already run out on your Tesla, I will indicate the type that you can purchase.

What kind of coolant does Tesla use? The Tesla uses a G48 coolant to cool the battery cells. The color of this coolant is blue/green.  It is an ethylene glycol-based coolant.  G48 coolant is great for preventing corrosion, freezing, and overheating in the Tesla battery pack. Make sure that the type that you purchase has Tesla listed in its list of types of cars that have been approved. Also, use a brand of G48 that has organic corrosion inhibitors. 

The G48 type of coolant exceeds the many industry and engine specifications, that is probably Tesla uses this type of coolant.  It also is good for Tesla battery packs for the following reasons:

  1. Protects against freeze-ups
  2. Prevents boil-overs
  3. Prevents corrosion
  4. It is phosphate-free
  5. Made from propylene glycol which means that is non-toxic to animals (propylene glycol is actually used as an additive to some foods)

Click here to check out the Zerex G48 Coolant that has been approved for use in a Tesla.


How are Teslas Cooled?

The battery packs in a Tesla are made from lithium-ion battery cells. These cells can get very hot and actually cause problems for your Tesla if they were to overheat.  The only method to keep them cool presently is by using a liquid coolant.

The coolant has to get to each cell in the battery pack in order to cool the battery totally.  The component used is quite expensive but very effective.  It costs Tesla around $300 for a 75 kWh battery pack.  This is high compared to the price of around $100 for the cooling system for a BMW that has a 22 kWh battery pack.

In the tesla, the cooling system is crucial because overheating could cause the vehicle to explode or it could kill the battery cells.  Removing individual cells is possible, but it always better to replace the pack to get the longest life out of a battery pack.  The first cooling systems worked fine for Tesla, but once they introduced the Roadster in 2006, they needed a system that could deal with the excessive heat created for the Roadster to reach its top speed.

They developed a cooling system that cooled all of the cells by having each one of them touch the coolant pipe.  Coolant flows through the coolant pipe and cools each cell. The coolant is fluid glycol that reduces quickly the temperature of a cell.

There are 7000 cells in some models of Tesla that needed to be cooled.

The coolant pipe resembles a ribbon that snakes along the cells to ensure that each individual cell is cooled.  The ribbon-like pipe is much better than a straight pipe because it is concentrated which enables a higher level of thermal management.

Each of the battery modules contains numerous cells. Each battery module is cooled by the tubing that transports the coolant.  The fluid flows along through a radiator.  There is a radiator for each module.  The onboard computer keeps track of the temperature in each module.  If one of them is overheating, the computer will activate the cooling process to that module.  Nevertheless, it is rare that the temperature varies greatly from one module to the next in the Tesla.

Here is a video on a salvaged tesla that had a destroyed cooling system.  The new owner will able to fix it at home:

How does cooling work in the Ludicr0us mode in the Tesla?

If you were to switch into the ludicrous mode, you will be able to experience higher acceleration speeds because the battery pack will be operated at its maximum capacity. The cooling system will need to cool do the cells to a greater degree, which means that coolant will be distributed through the tubing to a greater degree.  This is where the brand of coolant is important.

If the cells cannot be cooled fast enough, the vehicle could be damaged.  The temperature will be allowed to reach 50 degrees celsius. Tesla warns that high temperature can greatly reduce the range.  In other words, perhaps you can sprint forward in the ludicrous mode, but you will be able to travel as far as you would if you had used the standard mode.

Personally, I do not see the point in locking into the ludicrous mode. I would be happy just driving around in a Tesla using electricity to fuel it. I am not looking to beat speed records.

Now that see that it is important to cool the cells in a Tesla, how do you add the coolant yourself.  Of course, I am assuming that you are not concerned about the warranty since adding coolant could void it.

What are the coolant specifications for the Model 3 Tesla?

I checked a Tesla Model 3 to find out the specs on the coolant for the battery.  They do not provide a lot of information.  They state that coolant is a mixture of G-48 ethylene-glycol.  Then they mention that if you require more details that you need to contact Tesla.

The reason that they are vague about the coolant because they do not want you to top it off.  The fluid can damage someone’s eyesight and it also can irritate your skin.  Also, they are afraid that some will add the wrong type of coolant that could end up damaging battery cells.  I read that your warranty would be voided if they can prove that you added coolant yourself.

Nevertheless, I found mention of the type of coolant that others are using.  These owners were not worried about the warranty violation. The brand that many are using is called Zerex G48 antifreeze coolant by Valvoline.  Here are the specifications for this coolant:

  1. It is approved for use in a Tesla (2013 and on).
  2. At the 50 percent level for antifreeze, it can withstand -34 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. The boiling point with undiluted coolant is 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Has zero effect on the vehicle finish in case of a spill.
  5. Can be stored for up to three years.
  6. Must pass the aluminum water pump test of 100 hours – almost zero perforations.
  7. No major effect on nonmetals.
  8. Must pass glassware corrosion tests for solder, brass, steel, cast iron, copper, aluminum.

The best coolant for the Tesla is available on Amazon, click here for pricing on the Zerex G48.

How do you add coolant to a Tesla Model S?

  1. You need to get access the battery coolant reservoir.  It is located in the trunk of the Model S.
  2. Open the trunk and level the panel that closest to the windshield. It will be a rather large piece of plastic material.
  3. To remove the panel that is now exposed, unhook the fasteners by removing the rivets.
  4. Unclip the front of the panel by pushing up on the clips.
  5. Pull off the hoses that are attached to the dislodged panel.
  6. Now remove the intake vent that will not be exposed.
  7. Now you will see a  large plastic tank that is the coolant reservoir.  Clean off the surface of it so that you can see it clearly.
  8. First of all, you need to ensure that you do need more coolant.
  9. The check the level, there are markings that indicate max or min levels.
  10. Make sure that the Tesla has cooled down.  If you remove the reservoir cap while the engine is hot, the cap may fly off due to high pressure.  Also, fluid from the reservoir may erupt. It is always best to be wearing goggles when you are working within any vehicle, just in case.
  11. Pour the coolant into the reservoir until it reaches the max line on the reservoir.
  12. Screw the cap back on.

Does Tesla Use Antifreeze?

Many owners are wondering if a Tesla needs to have an antifreeze. It does not use an antifreeze since it does not have a regular radiator.

A normal car needs to have antifreeze to ensure that the radiator does not freeze up.  A radiator uses water so antifreeze will ensure that the water does not freeze and crack the radiator.  This antifreeze also prevents water from boiling over if the water reaches the boiling point.

Nevertheless, the coolant that is used in the battery pack for the Tesla has the ability to provide freezing.  A cold battery will not operate at its optimum level and this coolant will prevent freezing.  It is unlikely that the battery cells will freeze since most owners are plugging in their vehicles overnight which helps to heat up the battery cells.  The cells are therefore kept above the freezing point.

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