Stranded or Safe? What Happens When EV Battery Dies Mid Drive

The fear of being stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery is a common concern. But fear not, EV manufacturers have thought of this, and your vehicle is well equipped to handle such a situation.

Key Takeaways

  • EVs provide advanced warnings and alerts to alert drivers of low battery charge level.
  • Power management adjustments in electric vehicles involve limiting power and turning off features to conserve battery charge.
  • Implementing preventative measures such as a proper charging strategy, regular maintenance, and taking advantage of regenerative braking can help avoid being stranded with a drained battery.

Immediate Signs of an EV’s Battery Running Low

When the electric car’s battery of your electric vehicle begins to dwindle, it doesn’t halt suddenly. It provides numerous warnings and gradually lowers its power output, allowing you enough time to react. Just like the fuel gauge in a conventional car, EVs too have sophisticated indicators that give you clear alerts about the battery status.

Initial symptoms of a dwindling battery surface on your EV’s dashboard. The vehicle notifies you with warning messages and modifies power management settings to save the residual charge. This gives you time to find a nearby charging station, so you don’t end up stranded in the middle of your journey.

Warning Messages and Alerts

As the battery charge starts to decrease, the EV provides multiple alerts and warnings. These are not just simple indicator lights but advanced digital alerts that provide you with information related to the remaining charge level. You get warnings such as a ‘Low Battery’ light on the dashboard or a warning light indicating reduced engine power.

These notifications aim to mitigate ‘range anxiety’ by reminding you to recharge your EV before the battery is entirely drained. The warnings typically start when the battery charge falls below 25%, giving you ample time to locate and reach a charging station.

Power Management Adjustments

As the electric car’s battery runs low and the EV’s battery charge dwindles, the car’s system strives to save the residual energy. To do this, it might limit power or turn off certain features. Unlike a gas-powered car, where the engine either works or doesn’t, an EV can adjust its power consumption based on the remaining battery charge.

Some of the non-essential features that might be turned off in electric cars include climate control, heated seats, and other electrical systems. All these measures are taken to ensure that your EV can run for the longest time possible before the battery finally dies.

The Final Stages Before an EV Stops

As your EV’s battery charge continues to dwindle, the car enters its final phase before it finally comes to a standstill. During this phase, the vehicle will gradually reduce its drivability, giving you even more warnings and enough time to take action before facing a dead EV battery.

This phase is significant as it presents the last opportunity for you to locate a charging station. If you ignore these warnings, the EV will slow down and eventually stop, thus ending your journey midway.

Reduced Driveability and Turtle Mode

As the battery charge approaches a critically low level, your EV initiates a mode termed ‘Turtle Mode’. This mode is designed to give you the maximum possible range with the remaining energy. When the EV enters this mode, it limits the power to the motor, reducing the speed of the car.

But what does this mean for you as a driver? During this phase, you’ll notice that your car doesn’t accelerate as it used to and the overall speed will be lower than usual. This is a clear sign that your EV is trying to conserve energy and it’s high time to find a charging station.

Complete Shutdown Process

If you haven’t yet recharged your EV, it commences the complete shutdown process.During this process, the vehicle will gradually slow down and eventually stop. The EV automatically puts itself in park to prevent any further movement.

During the shutdown process, the electric motors stop functioning, causing a total loss of propulsion power. However, some functions that will remain operational for a brief period include power steering, power windows, door locks, parking brake, and navigation system.

Aftermath of an EV Running Out of Power

So, your EV has ultimately run out of power and it’s stranded roadside. What transpires next? Well, this is where roadside assistance and towing services come into play.

The EV will need to be towed to the nearest charging station where it can be recharged. The process is similar to a conventional car being towed to a gas station when it runs out of fuel, only in this case, it’s an electric charging station instead of a gas station.

Roadside Assistance and Towing Options

When an EV depletes its power, flatbed trucks are the favored means of towing, as opposed to using a traditional tow truck. This is because traditional towing methods can potentially damage the vehicle’s traction motors. Most EV manufacturers provide flatbed truck towing services up to a certain distance to the nearest dealership or charging station.

When your EV is being towed, it’s important to notify the towing service that it’s an electric vehicle. This is because EVs have specific towing instructions and not adhering to them can cause damage to the vehicle.

Finding the Nearest Charger

Once your EV has been towed, the subsequent step is locating the closest charging station. There are several apps available that can help you find the closest one. These apps provide real-time information about:

  • the availability and type of chargers
  • the distance to the charging station
  • the estimated charging time
  • the cost of charging

This information can help you choose the right charging station for your vehicle.

In case your EV runs out of power in a remote location, you might have to depend on the roadside assistance provided by the EV manufacturer. They can either tow your vehicle to the nearest charging station or provide some charge to get you to the nearest station.

Comparison with Gas Powered Cars

Now that we comprehend what transpires when an EV depletes its power, it’s time to contrast it with a similar circumstance in a gas-powered car. At first glance, it might seem that running out of fuel in a gas-powered car is much simpler than running out of charge in an EV. However, there are some key differences that are worth understanding.

While both types of vehicles, including electric vehicles, provide warnings when they are about to run out of power, the warning systems in an EV are typically more advanced than those in a gas-powered car. Additionally, the recovery and restart procedures are also different for both types of vehicles.

Differences in Warning Systems

When a gas car, powered by an internal combustion engine, is about to run out of fuel, it usually just lights up a low fuel warning light. However, when an electric car runs out of charge, it provides several warnings and even reduces its power to give the driver enough time to find a charging station.

The advanced sensor-based technology used by EVs provides timely warnings when the battery is running low. These warnings are way more accurate than a simple fuel gauge in a conventional car, thus ensuring better safety and ample time for the driver to take corrective action.

Recovery and Restart Procedures

The process of recovery post power depletion differs significantly between EVs and gas-powered cars. While a gas-powered car can be quickly refueled and restarted, an EV requires a tow to a charging station and then some time to recharge.

Once at the charging station, the electric car needs to be plugged in and charged before it can be driven again. On the other hand, once a gas-powered car is refueled, it can be started immediately and driven away.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Being Stranded

The most effective strategy to evade being stranded with a drained EV battery involves implementing some preventative measures. Having a proper charging strategy and planning for long trips can save you from a lot of hassle.

It’s important to remember that just like a gas-powered car, an EV also needs regular maintenance and care. Ensuring that your EV is regularly charged and the battery is in good condition can help prevent unexpected power loss.

Regular Charging Strategies

One of the most straightforward methods to prevent power depletion in an EV is to charge it consistently. This doesn’t mean that you have to keep it plugged in all the time. In fact, it’s better to charge the battery to about 80% and avoid charging it to 100% as much as possible to prevent battery degradation.

While charging at home is the most convenient option, you can also use public charging stations when you’re out and about. Some EVs even have a feature called regenerative braking which helps recharge the battery while you’re driving.

Planning for Long Trips

Long drives in an EV require thorough planning. Prior to embarking on your journey, ensure your route is planned with charging stations considered. There are several apps available that can help you find charging stations along your route, such as:

  • PlugShare
  • ChargePoint
  • Electrify America
  • EVgo

Using these apps will ensure that you can easily locate charging stations and have a smooth journey.

During a long trip, it’s advisable to stop and charge your EV every 150-200 miles or when the battery is about 85% used. This will ensure that you have enough charge to reach your destination or the next charging station.


In conclusion, while the fear of an EV running out of power can be daunting, it’s important to understand that the situation is not as dire as it seems. Modern EVs are equipped with advanced warning systems and power management features that provide ample time to take corrective action. With regular charging and proper planning for long trips, you can easily avoid being stranded with a dead battery. As the technology evolves, the infrastructure for charging EVs is also improving, making the transition to electric easier than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you run out of battery in an EV?

When your EV runs out of charge, it will stop running. However, electric cars can be shifted into neutral and pushed over short distances, and can also be towed using a flatbed truck to a charging station. If you find yourself stranded, your only option is to call a towing company.

What are the warnings provided by an EV when it’s running out of power?

EVs provide several warnings when the battery is running low, such as alerts on the dashboard, reduced power, and entering ‘Turtle Mode’ to reduce speed.

How is the situation different when a gas-powered car runs out of fuel?

Gas-powered cars provide warning signs of running out of fuel, but EVs have more advanced systems. While refueling a gas car can be done quickly, an EV must be towed to a charging station and take some time to charge up again.

What precautions can I take to avoid running out of power in an EV?

To avoid running out of power in an EV, regularly charge it to 80% and plan your trips ahead with charging stations in mind.

Related Articles

Trading In or Selling Your Car? We Buy Any Car® Get Your Free Online Valuation Now!