What Do You Do If Your Electric Car Runs Out Of Charge?


The thought of running out of charge or electricity on my electric vehicle freaked me out long before I even bought one. 

As an electric vehicle owner, now I know what normally happens since I’ve experienced running out of car charges. 

The way you charge your electric car matters, just as much as fueling regular vehicles. 

Just like diesel or petrol-powered vehicles, electric cars depend on their battery charge to keep them running. 

And like any other battery, the charge can get fully depleted. 

When an electric vehicle’s charge runs out, the car will go into Turtle Mode, slowing the vehicle to 20 MPH. 

That will enable you to locate a safe spot to pull over. 

Before the Turtle Mode kicks in, your vehicle will provide you with ample alerts on the low status of your charge. 

Continue reading to learn more about electric cars’ charges and what you need to do if your vehicle’s charge gets depleted.

What Do You Do If Your Electric Car Runs Out Of Charge?

If your electric car stops in a place where you cannot connect the charging cable, the best thing you can do is call for roadside assistance. Some providers have cars equipped to provide up to ten minutes of quick charging. That should be enough to take you to a nearby charging point.

Nevertheless, even without the equipment, the roadside assistance truck should be in a position to carry your car on a flatbed or tow it to the nearest charging station. 

Depending on the roadside assistance company you call and your warranty, you might qualify for towing services to your home or dealership.

How Far Can An Electric Vehicle Go? 

The distance your electric vehicle can go depends fully on the kind of driving you are doing, the size of your batteries, traffic conditions, and the weather. 

Electric vehicles have a range indicator on their dashboards that tell you the real-world and realistic mileage you should expect from your auto as you drive. 

This mileage, however, differs between cars.

The chances of getting stranded are a bit slim. 

That’s because your battery gauge will provide you with enough warnings, and the satellite navigation will point you to the closest charging station when you need it. 

Most electric vehicles also come with built-in de-powering systems. 

If these systems detect you are almost running flat, they will decrease the power available to run your car and limit the driving speed. 

This way, you will have a good chance of getting to the nearest charging spot.

What Happens If My Electric Car Runs Out Of Charge?

As mentioned earlier, your battery can get fully depleted. Chances are you had a similar scenario in the past when you owned a fossil-fuel-powered car. 

When the car battery dies, your vehicle will come to a halt, and you can’t drive any further. 

However, getting to this juncture with an electric car is not as simple as traditional vehicles. 

You might experience range anxiety when driving your electric vehicle and are faced with the probability you might not make it to a car charging point in time. 

That means you become depressed trying to gauge if you’ve enough charge to get you to your destination. 

Luckily, electric vehicles come with technology that makes range anxiety a needless emotion to experience due to innovation advancements.

The technology will give you enough warnings when your car battery charge gets depleted. 

Many vehicles will give you a warning light when the battery power is around 12%. 

The warning light will also start to flash more persistently at around 5%. 

Your dashboard will indicate the remaining battery charge and the miles you can drive before the car stops.

Electric vehicles come with inbuilt navigation systems. 

These systems also tell you of the nearest charging points you can get to top up your charge. 

Some car models usually enter the turtle mode when the charge gets to 0%. 

At this stage, all the power gets rerouted to give you several miles of driving at a reduced speed. 

This way, you will get an opportunity to safely pull over if your battery is about to become fully depleted.

Can You Tow An Electric Car?

Unlike internal combustion engines, electric cars cannot be rolled or towed.

If your vehicle runs out of power on the roadside, don’t try to push it to the nearby charging spot. 

Electric cars do not have neutral positions in their transmissions.

They can easily go backward or forward, but their motor is still attached to the wheels when they aren’t doing either. 

That means it does not have any power to drive it. 

Putting your electric vehicle in a neutral position means no power is delivered to the motor driving the car wheels. 

When you put a regular car on neutral, it means that it needs to be towed, and that’s pretty simple to do. 

The vehicle can be freely towed without rotating engine components or the transmission. 

However, that’s not the case with electric cars. 

When the wheels of an electric vehicle turn, they usually turn the motor, which can lead to motor damage. 

This issue is more common with vehicles with liquid cooling systems. 

Turning the electric motor at elevated RPM without the system working can easily overheat the motor, leading to severe damage.

Before you decide to call your roadside assistance provider, check your manufacturer’s manual for clear guidance on hauling your electric vehicle. 

Most of them recommend towing your car on a flatbed cart. 

Rolling your vehicle for a short distance at a slow speed is also acceptable. 

However, do not try a long-distance tow as you look for a charging point because you will damage your vehicle. 

How Do You Charge An Electric Car?

Every electric vehicle comes with charging cables that you can connect to a charger or power outlet. 

You can make use of the numerous public chargers available or have a charging station installed in your home. 

A home charging station is a great option if you’ve got an off-street parking space. 

It’s a fast and convenient way to get your vehicle charged. 

Most electric vehicle owners who install home charging stations take advantage of the off-peak rates offered to save on charging costs. 

If you normally park on your street, public charging points are the only solution. 

There are many helpful apps available that can help you locate the public charging spots nearest to where you are at a given time. 

Some charging locations, such as those in supermarket vehicle parks, might be free. 

However, most of them charge low competitive rates similar to when charging your car at home. 

The duration you spend getting a full charge will mainly depend on the charging cable type you are using and the car. 

You can get rapid and fast chargers on all public charging networks, while fast and slow charging is only available at home. 

The faster your car gets charged, the less time it’ll take to add range. 

However, if you exceed the range that your battery accommodates, the charge is more likely to deplete fast. 

Car experts recommend knowing what type of range your car has when fully charged. 

This way, you can easily estimate when on low charge, determine how frequently and for how long you need to charge your vehicle to facilitate your normal travels. 

If determining all that is difficult for you, your dealership or car manual can help you with the necessary information to avoid getting stranded on the road. 

Having all this information at your fingertips can significantly help you plan where and when to make charging stops along the way, especially when taking long journeys. 

Can You Jumpstart An Electric Vehicle?

Yes, you can jump-start your electric vehicle. 

You might need to jump-start your vehicle if its 12-volt battery is almost out or if the batteries are fully drained. 

It’s impossible to recharge the lithium-ion batteries unless you jump-start the car through the 12-volt system to activate the electronics first. 

The procedure for jump-starting a plug-in hybrid or electric car is no different from any other vehicle. 

What might be more difficult is locating its 12-volt battery. 

That’s because the vehicles do not have engines in the front, and the 12-volt battery location differs between models. 

Check your vehicle’s handbook to know where it’s located.

Once you locate the battery, use another car or a battery starter to boost it using appropriate jump leads. 

Always ensure that you plug in the jump leads in the correct order. 

For plug-in hybrid vehicles, you need to use a diesel or petrol car as the boosting vehicle. 

You cannot plug in your electric vehicle to a charger when jump-starting it. 

That’s because you might fry some onboard electronics, leading to serious damage and costly repairs. 

Only plug in the charger once you complete the process and the vehicle has fired. 

Bottom Line

Under normal circumstances, it is highly unlikely that your electric car will run out of power.

That’s due to the sophisticated and consistent alert systems that give you a chance to locate a car charging point before your battery runs out.

You need to avoid running your electric vehicle battery flat because it causes significant inconveniences and might affect the battery’s long-term health. 

It is important to note that there’ll be no Good Samaritan on the road with a canister of volts to put into your electric car tank. Or to give you a fast jump-start.

The probability is your electric car will need to get loaded onto a truck and towed to the closest public charging spot. You will then have to wait until your batteries charge enough before you continue your journey.

The good news is that as battery technology progresses towards longer ranges and car charging infrastructure grows, this problem is highly unlikely to become an issue of much concern.

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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