If you're wondering, “can electric cars overheat?” The short answer is yes, electric vehicles do overheat. However, this overheating doesn't come from combustion processes; instead, it comes from heated batteries or extremely hot weathers outside.
Overheating is one of the most critical problems that any car can deal with, especially when you’re driving in hot weather conditions. You've probably seen many people pulling over to the side of the highway and popping out the hood, trying to cool the vehicle down. Obviously, ignoring overheating problems can lead to major problems that could cost the entire vehicle.
Engine overheating is known for vehicles equipped with a gasoline engine. However, many readers reach out to us wondering, “can electric cars overheat?” Therefore, this article highlights how electric vehicles can overheat at what you can do to prevent electric vehicles from overheating and deal with situations where your electric car gets overheated.
How do cars overheat?
Before we discuss the details about “can electric cars overheat?” We must highlight how do cars overheat in general. This focuses on vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines.
In any combustion engine, heat is generated as the engine produces power by igniting the air-fuel mixture. Once the engine temperature exceeds a certain maximum threshold, your vehicle relies on several systems to help bring the engine temperature down. These systems include the lubrication system, which involves motor oil lubricating the internal components to prevent friction.
The cooling system is another important component in your vehicle responsible for reducing the engine temperature when it gets very hot. The cooling system consists of coolant pumping around the engine when needed at a specific pressure. Any problem within the cooling system might result in engine overheating.
For example, when the water pump fails, coolant can't get to the engine, interrupting the cooling system process. Similarly, if there is not enough coolant in the system, the cooling process will not work as it should. Furthermore, a leaking coolant through a broken radiator or damaged hoses also impacts the overall cooling process.
What are the main components of electric vehicles?
It's important to highlight what makes up the electric car to determine whether to expect engine overheating or not. First, electric cars do not have larger engines so that you won't deal with engine overheating issues.
In an electric car, you'll see important components like:
- A small motor need to graph a large battery
- A DC converter
- An electronic power control
- A 48- or 12-Volt battery
- A thermal cooling system
- A single-speed transmission
It is important to note that the thermal cooling system maintains any excess temperature in the small motor. Keep in mind that the small motor is not as big as the one you see in the gasoline car, and it's not expected to produce a lot of heat, which means that a simple system, likely a thermal cooling system is enough to maintain the engine temperature.
Note that what we've discussed here does not cover hybrid cars, which utilize a gasoline engine. In hybrid cars, you still might get into a situation where the engine becomes overheated and susceptible to damages. When we refer to electric vehicles, we highlight models like fully electric cars, including Nissan leaf, GMC Hummer, Tesla, Porsche Taycan, Ford Mustang match E, etc.
Can electric cars overheat?
As of now, you can tell that electric vehicles are not expected to overheat due to combustion processes. However, the question remains, “can auto cars overheat from other factors?” The short answer is yes.
There are plenty of other factors that might kick your electric vehicle to reach high temperatures. These factors don't have to do anything with the combustion processes that you'll see in gasoline vehicles. However, since the electric car has a larger battery, these batteries might generate heat. With a combination of extremely hot temperatures outside, you can easily deal with electric vehicle overheating issues.
How do the cooling system work in electric cars?
Since electric vehicles are not designed the same way as gasoline cars, you won't see the same cooling system or lubrication system to bring the engine temperature down. Instead, electric vehicles rely on specific thermal management systems that help prevent electric cars from overheating.
Historically, vehicles like Nissan leaf used a specific cooling system that relies on forced air to call the vehicle. However, experts realized that this system causes some battery fires that might result in safety issues, and that's when manufacturers decided to move towards the thermal management system that involves several elements to help cool the electric vehicles.
Nowadays, modern vehicles have a specific type of cooling system called the indirect system. This system also relies on a liquid cooling process like the one you see in gasoline vehicles. This system is responsible for cooling the battery down instead of calling the engine down.
Some very modern editions to help cool the electric vehicles down include relying on heat pumps. These pumps are responsible for redirecting the temperature generated from the battery towards the vehicle's interior here. This way, the pump plays multiple roles simultaneously. However, there are some initial indications that when this heat pump fails, it might lead to shutting down the entire electric vehicle. Therefore, if you're driving a car equipped with this pump, you must understand how this pump works and prevent pump failures if you don't want to get involved in undesirable situations.
Do electric cars need oil?
Speaking of overheating, one might ask if electric vehicles still utilize a liquid cooling system, do they need motor oil? The answer is no. In electric vehicles, you don't see the combustion process. Therefore all their engines are electric-powered engines, which means that there are no internal moving components that might require lubrication through the motor oil.
In the electric motors, you don't see any histones, valves, or any other moving component that might interact with each other to cause friction here; therefore, there is no need for oil, and that's one of the best benefits of owning an electric vehicle because you don't have to worry about oil changes here
Other issues to keep an eye for when driving an electric car in hot summers
If it was surprising to you to learn about electric vehicles overheating in summer conditions, it is worth learning about other issues that you might experience during the lifetime of your electric vehicle, especially when driving in summer.
1. The driving range
The driving range is one of the biggest limitations of electric vehicles in general. According to experts, the driving range of any electric vehicle is expected to drop significantly when the weather is extremely hot outside.
Some statistics published by EA indicated that when the temperature is about 95 degrees outside, the electric vehicle range is expected to drop by 17%. Keep in mind that this drop might not be the case for every vehicle. According to a Tesla spokesperson, Tesla doesn't experience this range drop when the temperature is very hot outside.
It's important to know that temperature impacts the driving range because it has many implications for you. For example, if you know that you're driving this summer to a certain location, now you must reconsider you’re driving because the car might not get to the exact location and drive the same distance used to when it's very hot. Obviously, this has a direct implication on the cost of upgrading this vehicle down the road.
- Since temperature impacts your vehicles drive range, you can still implement some smart tips and tricks to help you increase the driving range even if it's very hot outside:
- Don't overstress the vehicle and try not to use unnecessary elements like the smart stereo or the air conditioning would not need
- Minimize stressing the car by over-breaking or accelerating. Instead, try relying on a steady-state vehicle speed whenever possible
- Explore the energy-saving settings in your car and try to activate them when you can
- Do not overload your vehicle with elements that you don't need. Summer might be the right time for you to re-check your car and look in the trunk to see if you are towing heavy elements that you don't need add might add some stress on the vehicle.
- Plan your trips and limit using the car if it's not needed. Shorter trips might impact your car negatively, which means that it is important that you can' combine trips as much as possible
2. The battery lifetime
Unfortunately, extremely hot weather impacts your vehicle's battery significantly. Although this might be, and they get up on stick once in any vehicle, it is an extremely important consequence on electric cars because the battery is the core component in an electric vehicle.
Experts performed several studies to check the relationship between the battery’s lifetime and extremely hot weather outside. Results confirm that batteries lifetime gets deteriorated much faster when vehicles are driven during hot summer conditions.
Finally, the charging itself might take much longer when the temperature is extremely hot outside. Therefore, if you realize that your vehicle takes much longer than before to get fully charged, don't be surprised.
3. The safety of your tire
Whether you’re driving an electric vehicle or any normal car, you'll notice that summer impacts your vehicle's tires and decreases its reliability. Therefore, before summer approaches, you must perform a thorough inspection of your vehicle's tires and see if they're due for a tire rotation or probably tires replacement.
Although tires are more important in winter conditions because they have to do with how you drive the car and the slippery snow or ice, they can be extremely important in summer conditions in tire expansion and explosion cases in some scenarios. Some automotive experts indicated that you might want to deflate some of your tires slightly as summer approaches to prevent dealing with exploded tires.
4. The storage
Finally, if you're planning to spend your summer somewhere else and decided to store your electric vehicle, you must consider how you're going to store it because heat impacts the battery's lifetime, as we indicated, and the vehicle in general.
Experts indicated that you recommended storing your vehicle in a shaded place covered and not directly exposed to sun rays. If you can't do so, you might want to purchase sunscreens and other shading covers that help prevent heat from getting inside the vehicle and damaging the different components.
Finally, it might be worth investing in trickle chargers that keep your vehicle's battery charged by the time you come back. Many customers indicated that their vehicles' batteries died completely because small elements like the vehicle clock slowly drained the electric charge.
Can electric cars overheat: final thoughts
Overheating is known to be a major problem facing any vehicle equipped with a combustion system. However, one of the first questions you might ask yourself as an electric vehicle driver is, “can Electric cars overheat?”
As you might notice in the article, electric vehicles do overheat not because of a problem with the combustion process because they don't have one. Instead, electric vehicles receive high temperatures from heated batteries or when the weather is extremely hot outside.
If your car has major significant problems related to overheating issues, you might want to consider evaluating the situation and checking whether it's worth fixing it or not. If you found that repair costs are extremely high and they're approaching the value of your car, it might be the right time now to get rid of this vehicle and use its money towards a better car that doesn't have any problem.
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