dead Tesla in McDonald's drive thru (l) McDonald's drive thru with sign (c) McDonald's employee speaking outside pointing left (r)

P_WON/Shutterstock @lisamajor1053/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘I own a Tesla and have no idea how this would even happen to someone’: Tesla dies in McDonald’s drive-thru

'They can't push it out because they can't put it in gear.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on May 9, 2023   Updated on May 14, 2023, 7:34 am CDT

A user on TikTok has sparked discussion after claiming they became stuck behind a Tesla in a drive-thru after the car’s battery died.

In a video with over 358,000 views, TIkTok user Lisa (@lisamajor1053) shows the rear view of a Tesla outside of a McDonald’s.

“So the Tesla died in the parking lot of the McDonald’s drive-thru,” she says. “Oh, and they can’t push it out because they can’t put it in gear. This is going to be fun.”

@lisamajor1053 #tesla #electriccar #electricvehicle #teslacheck #outofpower #mcdonalds #mcdonaldsdrivethru #thefutureiselectric⚡ #broken #ottawa ♬ original sound – lisamajor1053

Tesla cars have a few fail safes in place to make sure the car doesn’t die without warning.

The car sends multiple notifications to drivers warning that their car will soon die. As the battery nears the end of its life, the car will also begin to suggest nearby charging stations where the driver can go and recharge.

That said, if the car does die, Tesla models appear to require a charge to change gears. While they have a “tow mode” that will allow a car to be towed, this appears to only work for a limited amount of time until the remaining battery dies—YouTuber Ben Sullins estimates that the Tow Mode lasts about 20 minutes.

There also appear to be other methods for putting the Tesla in neutral once the battery has died completely.

While the many warnings should make running out of battery in a Tesla fairly difficult, there are numerous cases of it happening—even in a drive-thru.

In March, a user on TikTok went viral after claiming their Tesla died in a Starbucks drive-thru. While the battery indicator showed there was no charge left, the TikToker cited the ability to drive gasoline-powered cars on empty as the reason why she was not initially concerned.

Back on Lisa’s video, users shared their thoughts in the comments section.

“The driver literally had to decide: should I go charge somewhere or go to McDonald’s?” wrote a user. “I choose McDonald’s.”

“I own a Tesla and have no idea how this would even happen to someone,” added another.

“Put it in neutral! read your manual,” shared a third. “Everyone behind should get free meal or reverse.”

We’ve reached out to Lisa via Instagram direct message.

Update 7:33am CT, May 14, 2023: In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Lisa offered further insight about the situation.

“[It] took about 10 minutes for him to get out,” she wrote. “He managed after leaving it be for a bit to get it in gear, I assume, and then the employees pushed him out of the drive-thru.”

As for the reaction of the employees, Lisa says it was unclear.

“Well, at first I don’t think they understood what was happening,” she detailed. “When the guy was at the window, the employee kept telling the driver he had to pick up his order inside. I think the driver was a delivery person. Then the employee finally understood that the car was not starting. He immediately got some staff and came out to push the car, but the driver said it was locked up. That’s when you see the employee tell the drivers that the car is dead.”

This incident, Lisa says, showed her one of the many issues that will become more common as more electric cars hit the road.

“It made me think we are just not ready for this yet,” she explained. “These cars completely lock up, and I realize we could have all backed out, but you just don’t expect this to happen.”

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*First Published: May 9, 2023, 9:18 am CDT