Do electric cars break down a lot?


Henry Topham, MD of LV= Britannia Rescue shares some insider knowledge about electric cars and the problems that can result in a callout to his team.


As drivers move to electric cars, do they naturally worry about breaking down? Is it a big problem compared to petrol or diesel?

We’ve found that electric cars don’t break down as often as other cars. Whether that’ll be the case as the vehicles get older, I can’t say for sure. But they certainly have a lot fewer moving parts to go wrong.
Why are drivers worrying? Well, there are a lot more electric cars than there were even 3 years ago, so obviously there will be more breakdowns. If an electric car breaks down, though, you usually have to recover it on a special truck. That’s what people are noticing.


So why can’t you just tow them to one of your garages? Or sort them by the roadside?

Not all EV's have a tow mode and those that do have such a variance on how to enable it, with differing guidance from each manufacturer. It's not always easy or practical to wheel them up onto recovery vehicle

The answer is to get them onto a recovery truck and get them to a garage. As a specialist recovery company, we have all the right kit, so it’s a very safe and efficient process.

But if there are fewer parts to go wrong, what causes an electric car to break down?

It’s usually down to one of three things. The car has run out of charge during a journey, usually a few miles from home. There’s a problem with the tyres. Or, of course, an accident.

Why’s that?

We find that when an electric car driver goes on a long journey, they plan it really carefully. They work out the mileage they’ll be doing, check where they can find charging points on the way, and so on.

Where they get caught out is when they’re just a few miles from home. They might have just popped out and didn’t think to check the charge. They might not have realised the weather conditions would cause them to use more battery – if it was cold or wet, for example. Then they suddenly realise they’re really low, cross their fingers and hope they’re going to make it, but don’t.

Henry Topman 

How frustrating. And then the only way back is on a special truck?

Not necessarily. We can usually give them another option. We’ve invested in a big 7.5 kilowatt charging unit that takes about half an hour to give your battery enough boost to get you home (or to a nearby rapid charger) – if you’re not 50 miles away, of course.

That’s what I call going the extra mile for your customers. What about the second factor - tyre problems?

We think that tyre damage is an issue because electric cars are heavier than ordinary cars, so put a lot more pressure on the wheels. Then of course, lots of cars don’t carry a spare nowadays, so you have to recover the car to replace a damaged tyre.

Electric car owners can do a lot to help themselves here. Remember, if you’re going from an ordinary car to an electric car, it’s quite unlike anything you’ve driven before. Make a point of getting used to the way it should feel when the tyres are at the right pressure. 

And don’t just rely on the car’s tyre-pressure monitor. Always check the pressures if you’re going on a long journey and check them once a month even if you’re not. I’d even check the tyre pressure on a brand-new electric car. You’d think they would be set just right, but it’s surprising how often they’re not.

Thirdly – accidents?

It’s often because new owners aren’t used to their car yet. You have to get used to the power of an electric car. As I said, it’s a whole new driving experience.

Any other helpful advice?

Remember, you can avoid lots of problems simply by checking your tyre pressure and charge before each trip and getting to know the car’s power. But if anything does go wrong with your electric car, don’t attempt to get it running on your own, even if you used to do that with your ordinary car. There’s no safe tinkering under the bonnet.  You can also find lots of helpful hints from experts on breakdown websites.

Henry Topham is Managing Director of LV= Britannia Rescue. He has over 25 years’ experience in financial services in a range of roles covering partnerships, direct and digital.