Common electric car breakdowns and faults

In this guide, we discuss why electric cars can breakdown, as well as exploring some faults that may arise.

Electric vehicles, or EVs, have surged in popularity over recent years, but like any form of transport, they’re not immune to hiccups.

In this guide, we'll discuss why electric cars can breakdown, as well as exploring some of their more minor but common faults. Then, we’ll touch on ways you can help to protect your EV with insurance.

How reliable are electric cars?

The technology might seem a bit new and scary. But in fact, electric vehicles have been around for nearly as long as their gas-guzzling cousins, even if in their modern form they only appeared on our roads about a decade ago.

That said, if you’re thinking about making the switch, the more important question might be whether EVs are less reliable than traditional vehicles.

You’ll often read that electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than conventional cars. And it’s true that EV owners can forget about things like gearboxes, alternators, and combustion engines, all of which require regular servicing in cars that have them.

But bear in mind that EVs still have some oily, mechanical parts, like brakes, suspension, and of course wheels and tyres. Over time, these can be subject to wear.

EVs also have unique features such as lithium-ion batteries and specialised charging software which could develop unexpected faults.

Common faults in electric cars

Software glitches

Like EVs, traditional cars are increasingly computerised and can develop software issues. 

Battery issues

And then there’s ‘range anxiety,’ or the fear of an EV’s battery running out of juice midway through the journey. It remains a concern for many EV drivers, especially in colder temperatures when an EV’s range is likely to be shorter, even if its battery is fully charged.

EV batteries themselves are generally tough, though their cells do degrade over time, losing some of their ability to hold charge. Luckily, many manufacturers now offer long warranties to cover battery issues.

What if my electric car runs out of charge?

It's important to note that most modern electric cars give accurate range estimations and warnings when their battery’s running low. However, if you do run out of charge while driving, follow these steps:

  1. If possible, pull over to the side of the road or find another safe place to stop
  2. Turn on hazard warning lights to alert other drivers that your car isn’t moving
  3. If it’s safe to do so, get out of the vehicle from the side facing away from traffic and stand a safe distance from the road
  4. Call your breakdown recovery company or possibly your insurer for help.

If you have EV breakdown cover, contact your provider. Depending on your policy, they might arrange for your car to be towed to a charging point.

If you don’t have cover, you can contact a breakdown recovery company directly. Some companies even have emergency charging cables they can use to charge your car on the spot.

Do I need specialist insurance for my electric car?

While electric cars have unique features, they don't typically require specialist cover. Aviva Motor Insurance expert Martin Smith is often asked what EV drivers claim for. The answer? ‘Generally, the same as any other motorist. Loss or damage caused by accidents, theft, fire, and vandalism.’

In most cases, you’ll just need to tell your insurer that you have an EV during the application process. But depending on your policy, you might not be covered for parts like charging cables or events like running out of charge and being towed to a charging station.

Find out more about cover for your electric car


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