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Do Hybrid Vehicles Have Multiple Cooling Systems?

BY: Nikki Ayers
A blue plug-in hybrid vehicle charges at a charging station.

There’s no denying that the popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles(EVs) has skyrocketed over the last few years with the push to reduce greenhouse gasses and combat global warming. Plus, with the cost of gasoline fluctuating, there could be some serious savings from switching to one of these environmentally friendly vehicles. In fact, while the cost of hybrid cars and EVs is more than your standard gas-powered vehicles, they can help you save money on fuel over the long term, reducing your overall cost of ownership and your impact on the planet. 

In particular, compared to the cost of EVs like those from automakers like Tesla and Rivian, hybrid vehicles, in particular, can often hit the sweet spot of better fuel economy, lower environmental impact, and affordability. But, while a hybrid can be an excellent choice for your next new or used car, you may not be familiar with how they work or the type of maintenance they require, which could cost you if you’re not careful. 

That’s why learning more about hybrid vehicles and their internal systems, such as whether or not hybrids have more than one cooling system, can help ensure any hybrid vehicle is properly maintained and ready for the road ahead.

What Is a Hybrid Car?

To put it plainly, Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have a powertrain combining a conventional gasoline or diesel internal combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor. The battery pack, separate from the car’s standard 12-volt battery, can also supply electrical energy to help power the vehicle, lowering your car’s emissions and how much fuel you use. 

Even more impressive is that you don’t always need to plug hybrids in to charge the batteries, as they utilize regenerative braking—meaning hybrids use the energy generated when braking to recharge the battery. However, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) also exist. In fact, there are several types of hybrid vehicles: parallel hybrids, series hybrids, and plug-in hybrids

Parallel hybrids are the most common, and they combine power from two sources: the engine and the battery pack. The Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Bolt are parallel hybrids. With series hybrids, such as the BMW i3 or Nissan e-Power, the electric motor does most of the work while the gas-fueled motor recharges the battery. Plug-in hybrids, like the Chrysler Pacific, have bigger batteries you can recharge by plugging them into an outlet, enabling longer electric-powered journeys. 

Do Hybrids Have Multiple Cooling Systems?

To get right to it, yes, any hybrid vehicle has at least two cooling systems: one for the gas-powered engine of the vehicle and a separate one for the electric engine. 

The cooling system for a conventional internal combustion engine involves the coolant pump and the radiator. The pump sends coolant around the engine, where it heats up, before sending it through the radiator to cool it down again. 

In hybrid cars, the thermal management system is more complex than an internal combustion engine. Adding an electric motor, the battery, and the power electronics means a separate cooling system is needed to maintain an optimal temperature range. More specifically, a refrigerant-based system that cools the battery directly is often used, relying on a circuit supplied by the air-conditioning system’s refrigerant system and containing the following components: 

  • Condenser 
  • Evaporator
  • Battery unit (including the battery cells, cooling plate, and electric heater)

For higher power batteries, an indirect coolant and refrigerant-based system are preferred, where various distinct circuits make up the system, each one containing the following components: 

  • Cooler
  • Coolant pump
  • Thermostat
  • Coolant stop valve

And like the cooling system in a standard gas-powered vehicle, the cooling system of a hybrid is also in charge of getting your vehicle’s engine to the optimal temperature. So while a cooling system’s main job is to “cool” the engine, it also works to get the vehicle warm up to its ideal operating temperature fast and then help it remain there while driving.

Maintenance Tips for Hybrid Vehicles

Any vehicle requires maintenance, whether they have an internal combustion engine or if they are an EV or a hybrid. But while hybrids have many components and systems like gas-powered vehicles, they won’t have the exact maintenance needs and schedules

So if you’re planning on purchasing a new or used hybrid vehicle, learning more about how to properly maintain it can help you avoid any unexpected issues later on down the road:

1. Take the time to learn about your vehicle and how a hybrid works

Reading the owner’s manual is so simple but so often neglected. Hybrids are slightly different, even if you’re familiar with taking care of conventionally powered cars. So if you’re serious about reducing your ownership costs, read up on how it works and the recommended maintenance schedule you need to follow to help keep it running for longer. 

2. Remember your hybrid vehicle has two batteries, and they must both be maintained

Having two batteries in a vehicle means you need to do twice the maintenance for them, like ensuring they are free of corrosion and can hold their charges. So always include both when going through your hybrid’s maintenance needs.

3. Brake pads will last longer on a hybrid, but don’t forget to check them regularly

A significant advantage of hybrids is that their brake pads tend to last considerably longer thanks to the regenerative braking technology reducing wear. But, as with any wear and tear component on any vehicle, they will need to be replaced eventually, so check the owner’s manual for how often you should check and replace them.

4. The cooling system is more complex, and regular maintenance checks are necessary

Hybrids need two cooling systems with two power sources and a regenerative braking system to keep from overheating. And like other vital components, stick to the recommended maintenance schedule while checking the coolant levels regularly to keep your hybrid’s cooling systems working properly. 

5. Protect against expected and unexpected repairs with a warranty vehicle service contract

While all cars need maintenance, even the most well-maintained can experience an occasional breakdown or repair. But, while insurance can help you if a component like your catalytic converter is stolen or if you’re in an accident, it won’t cover any repair bills due to mechanical failures or other breakdowns on wear and tear components. Instead, if you have a brand new car, the vehicle manufacturer likely has it covered with a factory warranty for a few years. But, if you have an older car or purchased a used one past its factory coverage, having an extended warranty (or a vehicle service contract from a third-party warranty provider) can help take the burden of those unexpected and costly automotive repair bills away. 

Some plans, like the comprehensive and award-winning coverage of an Advantage auto protection plan from Endurance, can even help you save on your hybrid or gas-powered vehicle’s maintenance needs while protecting you from costly auto repairs. That’s because, with Advantage, while the hybrid battery will be excluded, you can save up to $3,500 on essential services like oil and filter changes, alignment checks, tire rotations, engine diagnostic exams and more, including several special, single-use services. Plus, you’ll even be able to enjoy complimentary services like 24/7 roadside assistance and towing, trip interruption coverage and rental car reimbursements just by being an Endurance customer.

Get Peace of Mind Endurance

Hybrid vehicles can be a great way to save in the long run when it comes to fluctuating gas prices, even if they initially come with a higher-than-average price tag. But, like any other vehicle, hybrid cars require regular maintenance and can still deal with the occasional breakdown now and then. That’s why having the peace of mind of an Endurance auto protection plan is the best way to help protect your car and wallet from those unexpected and expensive repair bills.

Like a car’s factory coverage, each Endurance plan is designed to protect your gas-powered or hybrid vehicle’s vital systems from the cost of unexpected repairs, including the engine, transmission, cooling system, electrical system and more. Not only that, but every Endurance plan also automatically comes with extra benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and trip interruption coverage. Plus, regardless of your plan, you’ll also be eligible for an entire year’s worth of Endurance Elite Benefits, which include even more extra perks and savings, including collision discounts, tire repairs or replacements, and more. 

Don’t wait until you’re stuck with an unexpected repair bill, and protect yourself and your vehicle today by requesting a free, no-obligation quote. Or, to learn more about how Endurance can help you, call a member of the Endurance customer care team directly by calling (800) 253-8203. And, by visiting the Endurance blog, you can find even more helpful articles on all things automotive, including even more maintenance tips, vehicle buying guides, extended warranty coverage comparisons and more

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