How are electric car motors cooled? What maintenance is required?

Do electric car motors need fans, radiators, and coolant? How are they cooled? Do they have oil that needs to be changed? How about air conditioning? If there is no radiator or heater core, how can the car be heated? What kind of transmission system do they use? Are they fwd or rear wheel drive? What kind of maintenance is required and how long can an electric motor be expected to last? Are they easy to replace? How do maintenance costs compare to a gasoline engine? Do they require something like a tune up and if so, what would that involve? How difficult are they to work on?

6 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Q:Do electric car motors need fans, radiators, and coolant? How are they cooled?

    A:Electric motors are often air cooled, by a simple electric fan. No coolant is needed for the motor.

    Q:Do they have oil that needs to be changed?


    Q:How about air conditioning?

    A: EVs with an air conditioning system are powered electrically in most cases, so there is no belt to replace. Other air conditioning needs is the same.

    Q: If there is no radiator or heater core, how can the car be heated?

    A:There is no heater core, or radiator as typically used, they are often heated with a simple ceramic heater element, much like a home space heater.

    Q: What kind of transmission system do they use?

    A: Most conversions use the manual transmission that is on the original vehicle, others (including manufactured EVs) don't use a transmission at all.

    Q: Are they fwd or rear wheel drive?

    A: Either.

    Q: What kind of maintenance is required and how long can an electric motor be expected to last?

    A: DC brushed motors need to have the brushes changed every 5 years or so (about as difficult as changing brake pads). Armature bearing may need replacement after much longer. Aside from that an electric motor can last even 100 years in some cases.

    Q: Are they easy to replace?

    A: Depending on where the motor is, yes. Assuming you have access the motor, they are pretty easy to replace. Disconnect 4 wires, unbolt maybe 6 bolts, pull it out.

    Q: How do maintenance costs compare to a gasoline engine?

    A: After all is said and done (including batteries) the maintenance cost is about 1/3 that of a traditional gas car, and the technology is getting better and cheaper.

    Q: Do they require something like a tune up and if so, what would that involve?

    A: Aside from brakes, tires and the other shared components; Motor brushes every 4-5 years (I was quoted $60 to have that done at a local shop). Batteries every 4-6 years for lead acid or every 10+ years for lithium. That's about it.

    Q:How difficult are they to work on?

    A: Not difficult. They are easier to work on than a gas car (I've done both), but the problem is finding somewhere you can learn the skills.

  • John W
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Electric motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engines and are usually passively air cooled without any fans. However the batteries generate a lot of heat and are very sensitive to temperatures. Most are are cooled, some with fans but some are also water cooled. An electric motor ha a wide operating range and delivers a lot of torque so transmissions are often not needed. However, the hybrids have complicated transmissions to incorporate the internal combustion engines into the drive train. Electric motors are quite small and it's possible to have the hub of each wheel be an electric motor so they can be any combination of front, rear or all wheel drive more easily than an internal combustion vehicle. Electric motors need little maintenance, no tune ups, a DC motor may have brushes that need periodic replacement, the wires might get burned out in which case you just have the motor rewound by a remanufacturing shop, there's almost nothing to work on with electric cars.

  • 8 years ago

    --Most electric motors are air cooled. High performance models may be water cooled. An air cooled system may have a fan but not radiators or coolant.

    --Most electric motors are permanently lubricated and don't require any lubrication maintenance.

    --Electric vehicles can be air conditioned in a number of ways. The trend is away from the less efficient compressor with a radiator for cooling and toward solid state thermoelectric devices or heat pumps that can provide heating and cooling. It is also possible to preheat a vehicle while charging and make use of phase change materials to retain heat for a longer time. In colder climates some manufacturers are providing a fuel based system for heating. Alcohol is one possible fuel. (C-30)

    --Electric Vehicles have a great deal of low end torque to get the vehicle moving. An electric motor is also not limited in it useful torque range like an ICE vehicle that must have a transmission. Most EV will have some fixed gearing but no shifting transmission.

    --The electric motors are much smaller than an ICE engine. The Leaf has the motor in the front. The Mitsubishi I has the motor in the back but ultimately the design direction is to put motors in the wheels giving all wheel drive and braking.

    --Maintenance required for an EV is far less than for an ICE vehicle. There are no engine tune ups, oil changes, transmission tune ups, there is no exhaust system, there may be no cooling system maintenance and due to regenerative braking the brake system will go much longer before requiring service. If properly designed for the load, the motor will last the life of the vehicle and more. Because they are smaller and lighter than an ICE replacement should be easier if required. Although there is not a lot of history with electric vehicles maintenance costs should be far less. Rotating and replacing tires and lubricating body parts, replacing windshield wipers and the like will be similar to an ICE vehicle..

    --While people used to "work on" their ICE vehicles because something was always going wrong this is not so common with the latest models. Souping up an EV is possible but it may be limited to changing the type of tires on the vehicle before you will need the help of an electronics engineer to reprogram or redesign a motor controller or battery management system. I expect more homespun adaptations of electric vehicles to be used in disaster situations for emergency power. There are presently commercial options available in the Leaf and I Miev but these have limited power available. Another adaptation that may be more commercial than homespun is for wireless charging and to power vehicles for unlimited range without batteries.

  • 4 years ago

    Water Cooled Electric Motor

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  • Noah
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Electric motors are simple as a stone. Given a well built electric motor these things can run for decades. I have a electric fan built in the 1920's that except for a new cord and a new switch has been working for almost 80 years. Basically once installed they last pretty much forever.

    As far as heating and air conditioning is concerned that would be a massive drain on any battery power, though with a hybrid that part of the equation is not relevant. On a pure electric vehicle it could be a problem though I've read that that is figured into the overall range of this type of transportation.

  • 8 years ago

    EV driver here.


    Electric motors are very efficient. This means that almost no waste heat is generated, and very little cooling is required. All electric motors are generally air-cooled. There is no oil, fluids, filters, or any other maintenance to worry about.


    The best way to realize what electric motors are like is to think about the electric motors in your home. In your refrigerator, for example, is an electric motor which runs all day, every day for years - or even for decades - with no maintenance needed whatsoever. Imagine what a refrigerator with a gas engine would be like!


    I own a very old electric car - picture here:


    It's called a "Jet Electra Van", it was built in 1981. Despite being over 30 years old, the electric motor has never needed maintenance of any kind - it still has all the original parts.


    Electric cars typically need very simple transmissions, or even no transmissions at all.


    Early electric cars (like my old Electra Van) had fuel-type heaters that burned kerosene or gasoline for heat. Newer electric cars use electric heat/AC or efficient heat pumps.

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