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What happens when charge runs out on an electric vehicle?

In 2021, Uswitch conducted survey which showed that nearly 1/3 of EV drivers worry that their battery could run out before they can charge it up. [1]

The range on EVs has increased massively in the past few years, meaning that there is less reason to worry about your charge running out. It is also getting much easier to find charging stations in public, with over 42,000 currently in the UK.

Fail safes in your electric car

Most electric cars have several fail safes before you run out of charge completely. Just like with a petrol or diesel cars, EVs have warning lights to warn you when charge is getting low and many EVs that have built-in navigation will highlight nearby charging stations. ZapMap is a fantastic app to have on your phone so that you can plan out your journey in advance... or find a station when you are in a pinch!

When you reach 0% charge, your car will still drive on reserved power for a maximum of around 5 miles. Once this has depleted, you will enter ‘turtle power mode’ where your speed is limited to 20mph for around half a mile. After this, your car will stop, although you will still have use of your hazard lights from your secondary 12-volt battery inside your EV.

If you do run out of charge completely, you will need to call roadside assistance. They can either take you to a nearby fuel station or they can give you a booster charge to get you moving. However, in reality running out of charge is more unusual than running out of petrol or diesel.

Can you tow an electric car?

As a last resort, you can have your EV towed. However, cars with regenerative braking have traction motors that can be damaged if the car is towed. It is best for your car to be picked up and transported on a flat bed truck or trailer instead. Always check with the manufacturer first!

Your EV can be jumpstarted using the smaller 12 volt battery, which powers lights, heating, and other extras. If the smaller battery also needs to be jumpstarted, you can use a petrol or diesel car to give you just about enough charge to reach a fuel station. It is important that you read your car manual before attempting to jumpstart any batteries.


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