What Happens If Your Electric Car Runs Out of Battery? Tips & Tricks

Despite all the incredible advances that have been made with electric vehicles, there are still two fundamental concerns when it comes to owning one. The most common one is range. And the second worry? Charging points. Currently, there are around 25,000 public sockets in the UK – a figure that is steadily rising. 

Many people have a much easier solution. As long as you’ve got off-street parking, own your property, or have permission from the landlord, then you can recharge your car from the comforts of your own home. 

In this article, you will find out what exactly happens if your electric car runs out of battery and provide tips on what you can do about it. 

Why is this Important?

Electric cars came into play to reduce air pollution and reduce the amount of money we spend on our vehicles. In just five to eight years, at least 50% of vehicle sales would be electric vehicles. And what are these vehicle owners going to need when they travel? A place to charge their EV. And who is the best to provide that for them?

Because you have an electric car, you may find yourself unexpectedly stuck when it runs out of battery, and you’re still miles away from the nearest public charging station. Unlike a conventional vehicle, there will be nobody to bring your fuel in the middle of nowhere.

If you miscalculate your battery’s life, you may end up calling for roadside assistance. Under such circumstances, you will need the roadside assistance provider to tow your vehicle to the nearest charging station before you can use it again.

The majority of electric vehicle drivers tend to experience range anxiety. This is a driver’s anxiety about not reaching his destination because his electric car’s battery runs out of power and there’s no charging point to stop by.

The majority of EV drivers have this kind of anxiety. But the more you drive your car, the more you will make the adjustments and feel less range anxiety. The number of public charging stations being established is increasing in several countries including the United States, enabling charging in many locations to reduce range anxiety.

What If Your Electric Car Runs Out Of Battery?

If you have a conventional petrol car, you’ve probably experienced the discomfort of being stuck in the middle of nowhere without petrol stations nearby. This is the same experience when it comes to electric cars. Sometimes, you overestimate your car’s range and run out of battery before reaching home.

If the situation arises, you must contact your roadside assistance service to drag your car to the nearest charging station or at home where you can charge your vehicle. Make sure to ask the roadside assistance to bring a flatbed. It is better to carry your EV on a flatbed than to have it towed.

You shouldn’t drag an electric car with a lift or rope because it can damage the traction motors that generate electricity through regenerative braking. It’s just safer to carry your car on a flatbed to prevent needless accidents.

What Happens If An Electric Car Like Tesla Runs Out Of Battery

If a Tesla runs out of battery, it would be easy for you to identify the problem. On the left side of a Tesla display, along the speedometer, you’ll see the battery icon’s colour turn from green to yellow, and then red. That is how you can determine your car is running out of battery. Red means your car is using its last bits of power before shutting down.

Tesla gives many warnings before the car finally stops. If you are close to a charging point, you will not drain your power. As you continue to drive with a low battery, your car will suggest charging points for you to go and charge the vehicle. It will also notify you once you go further away from the nearest charging station.

If you still haven’t reached the nearest charging station, don’t lose hope. Your Tesla will not just shut down on you. It would have some 10-20 miles of range remaining before it stops running. This doesn’t mean that you should depend on it, although it does give you some chance of reaching your charging destination.

To be safe, you must not depend on those little extra miles constantly. They must only be used in extreme situations such as getting stuck. These extra miles from Tesla are called buffers. You won’t be able to maintain the 65 mph speed once it’s consumed. Your car will gradually slow down, giving you enough time to pull over to the roadside while thinking of your next move.

As your Tesla slows down to 15mph, it may notify you that can no longer drive any further soon, before fully stopping and setting itself for parking. From here on, you will require roadside assistance to tow your vehicle and take it to the closest charging point.

Again, be sure to ask the roadside assistance service to carry your Tesla on a flatbed so it won’t get damaged. Once the roadside assistance arrives, set the vehicle into “transport mode” so the truck drivers can tow it easily.

Can I Jump-Start My Electric Car?

Yes, you can. Electric vehicles have two batteries. The first battery is for storing power, driving the vehicle, and powering the electric motors. The other battery is the one you must pay attention to. It’s a 12-volt battery designed to power your radio, heated seats, and wipers, among others.

As your battery runs low and requires a recharge, you may also need to jump-start it. Its 12-volt battery has lithium ions and it will start once it runs out of power. The most difficult part of jump-starting your electric vehicle is finding the battery’s position. Besides that, you can jump-start it the way you would with a conventional petrol car.

You may need to jump-start a 12-volt battery if it hasn’t been used for a while or has some problems with the charging circuit. Whatever the reason, the battery must be charged to jump-start the vehicle’s electrical system.

As far as jump-starting your electric vehicle is concerned, you must not use it to jump-start other vehicles. The majority of hybrids and electric vehicles should not jump-start other vehicles since it can pose a risk to the vehicle’s electrics.

Handbooks from the majority of these electric vehicles and hybrid cars like BMW and Nissan warn us against the use of vehicles to jumpstart other vehicles.

Does EV Charge Occur While Driving?

At present, electric cars don’t charge while driving. However, there’s ongoing research on making electric vehicles capable of charging while driving in the future. Researchers from Cornell University have been working on the technology for years to enable drivers to charge their vehicles on the go. The technology involves setting charging lanes.

The charging lanes are set up in such a way that when your car runs out of battery, you just move it over the charging lane, get your car charged and pay the bill later. Such a technology may take 5 – 10 years to create and implement but it should solve the range anxiety of most drivers.

3 Things To Do If Your Vehicle Runs Out Of Battery

Just like a conventional petrol vehicle, there’s always the trouble of losing fuel and getting stranded away from the next charging station. Under such circumstances, there are a few things you can do for assistance.

1. Call Roadside Assistance

Road assistance can be a huge help for every car type. And because you can’t use petrol to power an electric car, roadside assistance may be the only assistance you can get.

While contacting roadside assistance, don’t forget to tell the service that you’re driving an electric car and will bring a tow truck with a flatbed or a portable charger.

You can only tow an electric car with a flatbed because using a rope or other methods can disrupt the car’s functionality and electrical systems.

Roadside assistance will tow your vehicle to the closest charging station and charge it for free. You can also have it towed home if you want to charge it there.

2. Use A Tow Truck

You need to be very careful when towing an electric car. Most towing companies are trained to tow electric vehicles without disrupting the battery, electric components, and charging components.

Towing companies capable of towing electric cars and hybrid vehicles have a unique bed that holsters EVs without disrupting their electrical parts and other crucial components.

The majority of electric vehicles are lower towards the ground than conventional cars, which makes it difficult for you to tow them. Before you hire any towing company, make sure they have experience towing electric vehicles.

3. Using A Mobile Charger

Mobile chargers were created to help you hit the road again at the soonest opportunity. There are only a few companies that are using portable chargers to help EV drivers stranded by the roadside.

Roadside assistance services should come with fast chargers that will give your car enough charge to get you to the nearest charger or your destination.

The majority of petrol-powered generators from roadside assistance have a 9.6 kW capacity and produce 240 bolts. Talk to your roadside assistance service to determine whether they provide mobile charging.

Can the Different Chargers Charge All Electric Cars?

Generally, yes. However, like our smartphones, electric cars come with differently-shaped power sockets. So you’ll need to ensure you have the right cable to charge your EV. For example, early Nissan Leafs need a Type 1 cable, whereas the KIA Soul needs a Type 2. Now let’s talk about charging speeds which is another huge bonus to getting a charging box installed.

If you try to charge the KIA using a domestic wall socket, it will take around 28 hours to fully charge from empty. How can you know? Well, the car has a 64 KW hour battery. The typical power of a normal 3-pin Socket is around 2.3 KW. Divide 64 by 2.3 and you get roughly 28. 

A typical wall box delivers 7KW which means the charging time is three times faster. It’s a good thing so far but what about the actual installation? If you think that simply involves a fitter turning up with a screwdriver and drill, then you’re going to be disappointed. 

First, your property needs to be inspected because not every home can have a charger. Then you need to have an expert installer set up an electrical system that would enable you to use your EV charger. In all these procedures, you’d need expert technical assistance.

Final Words

There are times when you may overestimate your electric vehicle’s range before it runs out of power and you will require either roadside assistance with a mobile charger or a tow truck. These can save your day while you’re in panic mode at the roadside with your EV.

With electric vehicles and EV chargers constantly evolving, you will probably no longer experience range anxiety in a few years as technology advances. For now, make sure you get the best experience out of your vehicle.


  • Jasmine Cross

    Jasmine Cross is a passionate advocate for sustainable transportation solutions and an avid enthusiast of electric vehicles (EVs). With a background in environmental science and a keen interest in renewable energy technologies, Jasmine brings a wealth of knowledge and a fresh perspective to the world of EV charging.

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