Add your promotional text...

What happens when an electric car runs out of battery?

10/19/20232 min read


In a world where electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more prevalent, it's essential to understand what happens when an EV runs out of battery power. While running low on charge is less common compared to running out of gas, it's a unique experience with its own set of challenges and solutions. This article explores the distinctive aspects of what happens when an EV runs out of power and what you should consider in such a situation.

1. Warning Systems: More Than Just Gauges

Running out of energy in an EV is not as simple as it may seem. Unlike traditional gas cars, EVs offer a sophisticated warning system that goes beyond mere gauges. From visual and audio alerts to navigation screen messages, these vehicles provide multiple warnings to keep drivers informed. However, it's crucial to pay attention and not ignore these signals, as the accuracy of the remaining range can vary based on driving conditions.

2. Running Out of Charge vs. Running Out of Gas

Comparing running out of charge in an EV to running out of gas reveals interesting distinctions. EVs have certain advantages, including a lower risk of damaging the vehicle itself when the battery is depleted. Unlike internal combustion engines, EVs lack components like fuel pumps and filters that could be harmed by running on empty.

3. What Happens as You Run Out of Charge: Enter Turtle Mode

When your EV is on the brink of running out of battery power, it might enter a "turtle mode." This mode limits power and acceleration, sometimes displaying a turtle icon on the dashboard. While not ideal, it's a means to keep the car moving until you can reach a charging station or a safe location to wait for assistance.

4. Roadside Assistance and Recovery

When you find yourself stranded due to a depleted EV battery, calling roadside assistance is a common solution. Traditional tow trucks can rescue EVs just as efficiently as gas-powered cars. However, there are some nuances to consider. Before requesting a tow, try turning the EV off and back on if you're near a charging station. Some EVs may gain an extra mile or two of range after this reset.

5. Towing Considerations

Towing an EV requires careful attention. The car's motors generate power as the wheels spin, potentially leading to overheating or fire. As such, it's essential to ensure the EV's wheels do not move while it's being towed. Towing an EV necessitates a flatbed truck or a setup where the front wheels are elevated while the rear wheels rest on a dolly.

6. Quirks in Towing

Some EV models have unique quirks during the towing process. For example, certain models may require someone in the driver's seat to keep the vehicle in "neutral." Tesla EVs have a "Transport Mode" for slow wheel movement during towing.

7. After the Tow: Charging and Recovery

After the tow, the time spent waiting for your EV to recharge can vary from minutes to hours, depending on your location and the availability of charging infrastructure. Ensure that energy is flowing into the battery pack, and if charging doesn't start, consult your owner's manual for emergency assistance services.


Running out of battery power in an electric vehicle is a distinctive experience, with its own set of precautions and solutions. By understanding the warning systems, towing considerations, and recovery process, EV drivers can navigate this situation effectively and get back on the road with minimal hassle.