What happens if my electric car breaks down?

We can all agree that opting for an electric car is the right thing to do for the planet, but as with anything new, does anyone actually know what happens if something goes wrong? For example, can you tow an electric car?

This is just one of our many helpful guides about breakdown cover so you’ll have everything you need to know and can feel confident in your decisions. 

Here at Finance Rate, we believe everyone deserves access to easy-to-understand financial information, which is why all of our guides are free. With a range of information on various finance-related topics, we want to be your go-to resource for all things finance. 

My electric car has broken down – what do I do now?

We understand breaking down is never a nice situation, but breaking down in an electric motor may be even more stressful as it’s highly likely you don’t even know where to begin looking to attempt to fix it!

Fortunately, you should approach breaking down in an electric vehicle in a similar manner to a car that has a petrol or diesel engine. You should move out of the road or motorway, depending on where you have broken down, and into a safe place.

However, you shouldn’t try to push your electric car out of the way as it can damage the motor. We recommend turning on your hazards and moving to the side of the road. 

Once you are safe, you should contact your breakdown cover provider as standard and follow the same typical procedures. 

Can my electric car be towed?

Unfortunately, it is far harder to tow an electric car than a car that has an internal combustion engine (ICE). Due to the design of an electric vehicle, it does not go into a neutral mode. Therefore, if you attempt to tow it in reverse or even drive, it will create kinetic energy that can harm the battery pack. 

Certain breakdown providers have specific towing capabilities especially for electric vehicles, however, there is still something you can do if they do not. 

More often than not, it is best to load your electric vehicle onto a flatbed tow truck and follow your vehicle’s manufacturing guidelines so as not to cause further damage to your car.

My car just needs charging, can roadside assistance do that?

Most electric vehicles will give the driver plenty of warning that it is running on low charge. However, as electric cars are still relatively new, you can’t always rely on the next garage to have a charging port. Typically, an electric car will have between 100-300 miles of range but if you do get to the point that you have a dead battery, it’s not like you can take an empty fuel carrier, fill up, and get back on the road.

Certain breakdown cover providers offer recharging through roadside assistance, however, not everyone does. Or if they do, they will only charge your vehicle to a certain point so that you can get to a charging station and fully charge your vehicle. This is so that they do not waste too much of their time or use all of the energy on just your car. 

What if my breakdown isn’t to do with running out of charge?

When compared to a petrol and diesel vehicle, an electric car has less parts that could break meaning the chance of a breakdown is reduced.

However, if you find your electric car does break down, it is not advised to attempt to make any repairs to your car yourself, as there is the potential you could electrocute yourself.

Some providers have trained their roadside assistance experts specifically in electric vehicles, such as the RAC. This is important as they will know exactly how your electric car has been put together and how to approach any potential repairs, without causing further damage to your vehicle.

Is my electric battery safe for use after a breakdown?

This is dependent on the reason for your breakdown. For example, if you have simply broken down due to running out of charge, your electric battery should be safe for any further use. 

However, if your breakdown is because of an electrical fault or accident, you should approach it in a similar way to a regular car breakdown. Batteries, like a regular engine, can also be at risk of going up in flames. 

Therefore, you should get out of your car, move to somewhere safe, and keep an eye on your vehicle in case it does catch alight.

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