Home » Electric Car Owner Pays $1,500 For Fake-Sounding ‘Ion Flush’ Service. Here’s What That Is

Electric Car Owner Pays $1,500 For Fake-Sounding ‘Ion Flush’ Service. Here’s What That Is

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When you buy a new car, it comes with a warranty that protects you against potential defects and failures. However, you have to hold up your end of the bargain by getting the car properly serviced during the warranty period. Many owners get this done at the dealership for convenience. However, sometimes a regular service can come with an unwelcome sticker price, as some Hyundai Ioniq 5 owners are finding out.

The matter came to our attention via a Facebook post shared on Twitter. It featured an Ioniq 5 owner asking about whether a $1,500 “Ion Flush” service was a legitimate thing for a dealership to perform. The post concerned his wife’s 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 with 30,000 miles on the clock. The owner had posted in an EV6 group for help given both cars are built on the E-GMP platform.

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Right off the bat, this sounded suspicious—like someone using random battery terminology to justify a jumped-up service charge. The very name “ion flush” suggests something to do with flushing the battery, but there’s no way to flush the ions out of your car’s battery. The lithium ions in a conventional EV battery move between the cathode and anode and back again through the electrolyte. There’s no way to flush the electrolyte, or the ions themselves, out of the system, so it’s all nonsense, right?

Indeed, that seems to be what got the owner and many others questioning the matter. The reality is more complex, and it comes down to interesting engineering decisions on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and a poor choice of terminology by the dealership. In any case, the owner told us he and his wife did pay $1,500 for this service. Was that an overcharge, or is it legitimate? Let’s explore.

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It’s Special Coolant That Is Expensive And Has To Be Replaced Frequently

On the Hyundai Ioniq 5, there isn’t one cooling circuit, but two. While it’s not unusual for an EV to have multiple cooling circuits, which can sometimes be merged via valves, on the Ioniq 5, the two are completely separate. One cooling system is for the motors and inverter and other electronic components, and uses Hyundai’s regular pink coolant. The other coolant system is specifically for the high-voltage traction battery. It uses a special blue coolant which is formulated to have much lower electrical conductivity, and goes by the Hyundai part number 00232-19111 or 00232-19113. Sandy Munro has a video diving deep into the cooling system of the Ioniq 5 (see above), looking at the dual circuit setup.

Screenshot 2024 01 22 144531
Hyundai’s diagram of the Ioniq 5’s cooling system. Note the total separation between the two cooling loops.

Also interestingly, the initial formulation of Hyundai’s low-conductivity coolant was called BSC-1 (part number 00232-19091), and was the subject of some crystallization issues. It was later replaced by BSC-2 with the 00232-19111 part number.

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Hyundai’s special low-conductivity coolant, as seen for sale on eBay.

This blue coolant needs to be changed at 35,000 miles as per official documents. Indeed, as the owner told us, the “Ion Flush” was referring to flushing this battery coolant. But how does a coolant flush come out to $1,500? Let’s learn more about the coolant, and what’s going on here.

Conventional wisdom is that the special coolant is a belt-and-braces protective measure, intended to prevent the risk of a battery fire in the event of an internal coolant leak. The idea being that a conductive coolant could cause a short between cells, heating the battery to the point of thermal runaway. That makes sense, but at the same time, there are a great number of EVs on the market that don’t use low-conductivity coolants. Indeed, like the Kia EV6—the sibling to the Ioniq 5 built on the same E-GMP platform. It uses a conventional coolant throughout. We’ve queried Hyundai on the specifics, but the industry scuttlebutt is that the Ioniq 5 was developed first between the two, and Hyundai wanted to be extra cautious with the launch of its important EV SUV. It’s also worth noting this coolant isn’t exclusive; it’s also used in the Hyundai Kona EV.

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It’s this special blue coolant that is at the root of things. For the 2023 Ioniq 5, the official service schedule says to replace the low-conductivity coolant at 35,000 miles, or 36 months. For the 2022 model, it’s scheduled at 35,000 miles or 36 months in the manual, but 40,000 miles on the Hyundai website. In both cases, the owner’s manual notes that it can be changed early with other maintenance jobs for convenience. In contrast, the standard coolant used in the Ioniq 5 has a much longer life, lasting 120,000 miles.

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The 2022 model lists the low-conductivity coolant change under the 40,000 mile service on Hyundai’s website…
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…though it’s stated at 3 years or 35,000 miles in the manual.
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The 2023 model is consistent across both.

I’ve got a theory as to the quicker change interval for the low conductivity coolant. One is that it loses its low conductivity in just a few years, even if its cooling capacity remains. Thus, to meet spec, it has to be changed regularly. Or it could be that it suffers degraded performance in multiple other ways that I’m just not thinking of at the moment. Regardless, The Autopian has reached out to Hyundai for comment on the matter.

So, at 35,000 miles, give or take, an Ioniq 5 needs its low-conductivity coolant replaced. Not checked, not inspected, but replaced. Depending on the model, it requires anywhere from  9.3 to 12.6 quarts of fluid for a full change. It bears noting that this is expensive coolant. Hyundai’s conventional coolant can be had for under $30 a gallon in single quantities, and dealerships are likely paying far less than that. In contrast, the special blue coolant sells for $60 and up in many cases. Over the border, it sells for $137.89 CAD at one online retailer, or roughly $102 USD. It bears noting that a full flush needs three or more likely four bottles, so you’re up for hundreds of dollars just to cover the coolant for the service.

The Coolant Flush Isn’t That Simple

Beyond that, changing the fluid is involved, too. As per Hyundai’s service instructions, getting to the drain plug involves removing the front bumper among other things. The coolant then has to be slowly added to the reservoir under the hood, before the electric water pump is activated via service tools to cycle fluid through the system. The initial activation turns the pump on for 30 minutes, as it can take quite some time to fill the battery and remove air from the system. Hyundai notes that several cycles may be required to fill the system completely. Reports from owners suggest they have been quoted 1.5 to 3 hours labor for the coolant replacement.

So, add up four bottles of coolant at $60 each, and three hours of labor at $130 each, and you’ve got $630. This is line-ball with reports from forums. One owner quotes $805 CAD in 2022, or roughly $600 USD, not counting 1.5 hours of labor, so figure it comes out somewhere between $700 and $800. Another owner quotes just $260, but the full procedure was not carried out, with the dealership instead just changing out one jug’s worth of coolant rather than fully replacing the fluid. Meanwhile, one Californian says he was quoted $849 by Norm Reeves Hyundai just last month, while Laguna Hyundai apparently quoted a similar full flush at just $289.

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So, it seems there’s a great deal of variability. Varying costs clearly play a role—for the coolant, for labor rates, and the number of hours the shop is charging, which doesn’t always correlate with how long the job actually takes.

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Prices for the service can vary greatly, even within the same state, as this Facebook post attests.

The $1,500 that the owner quoted, though, that got us on to this in the first place? That seems like a high figure. Perhaps calling it an “Ion Flush” is a strategy to help justify that figure. At this stage, the closest figure we’ve found to that is a Norwegian by the name of SpoonFC, who posted that the service cost the equivalent of $1350 USD back in 2022.

Update 02/07/2024: Hyundai responded to our queries regarding this story. The company noted that it estimates a typical cost of $720 for replacing the low-conductivity coolant in the Ioniq 5’s battery cooling loop. However, it notes that it’s not always straightforward, and that this is not an exact figure. “Hourly rates vary by dealership, and it may have taken the technician more than the recommended repair time to flush the coolant. This is where the price fluctuation could be coming from. Additional services may have been performed,” advised a Hyundai spokesperson.

As for the purpose of the coolant, the spokesperson explained that it was selected as an “extra level of protection and safety” for the high-voltage battery. As for the name of the service? “The term ‘Ion Flush’ is not a term associated with Hyundai Motor America. The shop manual calls it out as low conductivity and invertor coolant replacement,” said the spokesperson. Speculation suggests that this may have been service tech shorthand, writing “ION FLUSH” instead of something like “IONIQ 5 LOW-CONDUCTIVITY COOLANT FLUSH” which led to confusion.

Depending on your service situation, it could be a serious factor to consider before buying an Ioniq 5. This service is required every 3 years or 35,000 miles, and it’s not something you’d have to do if you bought a Kia EV6 instead. If you’ve got a dealership charging a few hundred bucks, it’s not so bad. If they’re charging $1,000, or $1,500? Or more? It’s really cutting into any savings you might have made by going with an EV. We’ve asked Hyundai itself for a representative price so owners can have a better idea of what the service should really set them back. However, the dealership model means that by and large, it’s out of the company’s hands.

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In any case, there’s a few things to learn here. First up, using fancy confusing terms for regular service items doesn’t inspire trust. Indeed, the owner went straight to a Facebook group to see if he was being taken for a ride. Second, if a car has a weird point of difference that’s going to cost a customer money down the line, they’re hardly going to be jumping for joy when that comes up later on. As always, you’ve got to do your own research to get by, it seems.

Image credits: Hyundai, eBay

 

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Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 month ago

Dang, I was eying the Ioniq 5 as an eventual upgrade from my Bolt, between the 12v charger failures and now this ‘by design’ issue, thinking I’ll just hold out for something else. They should have updated it after the EV6 came out, newer ones should just all get the same fluid.

Jake Harsha
Jake Harsha
1 month ago

This sounds like a horribly stupid design.

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
1 month ago

Part of me says that they would only spec this fluid and change interval if they thought there was a strong possibility coolant would leak into the battery. Not a just in case measure but that a leak will almost certainly happen if not now moments after any warranty expires. So no electric Hyundai’s and more questions when thinking about purchasing an EV. Got it.

Duke Woolworth
Duke Woolworth
1 month ago

This is the final insult besides lacking a rear wiper, that takes this car off my list. I thought my local Mr.Tire’s wallet flush was ballsy, but this is the clear winner.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
1 month ago

$1500/36months = $41.66 per month. Which is not chump change, but is way less then getting a bill for the full $1500 at once. Imagine doing a timing belt change every 3 years/35,000 miles. Yuck, it’s getting to the point where they are appliances like mobile phones that you “just make payments for”. Took my phone in the other day to get an idiot flush, but they missed some of the messages and posts.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
1 month ago

Let’s say the fancy coolant is $140 per gallon at fancy dealer price. 4 of those is 560. Take that out of $1500 and you’re at $940 in labor. They say shop rate is $130 but that seems very low to me so let’s use my fancy German shop rate of $160/hr. That puts you at 5.8 hours* of labor. No way this fancy coolant flush takes that long. This dealership smells funky. Also, any service advisor doing their job properly should be able to translate “Ion Flush” into normal person english and give a break down of parts and labor cost/time. It says it right there on our computer screen. If they’re unable to explain or shady about it, you might want to look at other places for the service.

*Yes, labor times split the clock into 10ths, it’s bizarre and asinine and hurts my brain on a near daily basis.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
1 month ago

The professional service advisor serving it fresh. Thanks Andrea.

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
1 month ago

But I was told EVs don’t have fluids and don’t need maintenance and will save me so much money!

Marlin May
Marlin May
30 days ago

“…EVs don’t have fluids…” No one says that. Point me to an article that says otherwise.
“…don’t need maintenance…” Same as above.
“…will save me so much money!” When all is said and done, probably so.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
30 days ago
Reply to  Marlin May

I’ve heard the two first affirmations several times from non-car people.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

Sounds like blinker or horn fluid…another added thing to do (on this model at least) Yet another reason not to get an EV…what a scam

Scott Ashley
Scott Ashley
1 month ago

I suppose $1500 wouldn’t be that bad if it included a complimentary bumper fluid flush ????

Last edited 1 month ago by Scott Ashley
Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 month ago

Well I suppose the contamination by ions would make the fluid conductive, so getting rid of them would make sense.

Wasn’t that a big problem when ICE cars had an iron block, aluminum head, and a copper radiator held together with lead solder and the coolant would tun into an electrolyte?

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

While dealers are independent, it matters greatly how much the manufacturer tries to keep them in line and follows up with customer complaints. While there will always be a shitty dealer or two (dozen) in a network, when your whole network is renown for having shitty dealers, that’s an OEM problem (which is also evidenced by how they try to weasel out of their warranty and all the engine failures and such). Their cars aren’t cheap enough anymore to get away with this forever unless they want to abandon their upmarket aspirations and settle in for the finance-anyone crowd.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

This sounds a lot like the Nissan CVT thing. A lot of them failed because nobody told them you gotta change the fluid WAAAAY more frequently than you do on a regular old automatic. Most people don’t know the difference, so they don’t look into it. Then boom, it’s a CVT rebuild.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
1 month ago

I’m thinking the line item “Ion Flush” was an abbreviation or service shorthand that looks bad. Ionic = Ion and coolant flush = Flush.

That doesn’t change the fact that a short-interval required maintenance item sucks, but at least it eases the concerns of a blinker-fluid-esq ripoff.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Ion Flush is the new release from the band Enema. It’s only available in limited quantities on premium vinyl.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
1 month ago

Unobtainum fluid changes at frequent intervals requiring dealer service tools and disassembly of the fascia of the vehicle? Why, look what time it is! It’s “Fuck-That-Shit”-O’clock!

The Ioniq 5 was one of the very few EV’s I was quasi-seriously interested in looking at whenever I need to replace the current daily driver, but it’s off the list now. It’s like companies just can’t help themselves – they have to screw over owners who want to own cars for a long time and do the maintenance themselves. Hell, this seems to screw over owners and lessees that keep the thing under warranty! Outrageous.

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

Why, look what time it is! It’s “Fuck-That-Shit”-O’clock! Genius! If that doesn’t deserve comment of the month status I don’t know what does. I am laughing so hard it hurts you clever fellow. I’m glad the guy this article is about passed on the $450 blinker fluid flush

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

“lewd, lascivious, salacious, outrageous”
-Jackie Chiles

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
1 month ago

Good to see dealers transitioning into the EV future with new and creative services to charge for.

Querty
Querty
1 month ago

“One of the advantages of electric cars is the lower cost of maintenance” they say ????

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Querty

It’s not really fair to judge all EVs based on Hyundai’s shady business practices.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

Didn’t Hyundai hire away an Audi designer for their new chief a few years back? Maybe that explains why the front bumper has to be removed for a coolant flush.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
1 month ago

That’s not normal, 35,000 miles is too soon for this type of service. How GM can schedule this service for their EVs every 100K miles or 5 years? And the cost is around $500 at my local dealer (And that’s for the 3 loops on a Chevy Volt). The Bolt has two loops since its missing the one for the ICE. And yes, its the same type of coolant.

Hyundai/Kia will probably void a warranty claim for the battery if you don’t have this on time.

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
1 month ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

Right, I was thinking of my Volt as well. I had it done to my 2012 and I think it was $350. I know they have to use the special pre-mixed Dexcool but other than that it’s nothing terribly special.

Space
Space
1 month ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

Maybe it’s normal for Hyundai/Kia, but that doesn’t make it OK.
They would void a warranty any way they can.

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