Are you worried that your car will break down on the road? That concern weighs on every car owner’s mind. A wise driver always prepares for anything.
Maybe you didn’t charge your Tesla enough, or some unforeseeable issue has occurred. Every Tesla owner should know how to put their car in tow mode.
Putting Your Tesla in Tow Mode
Tow mode or transport mode lasts for twenty minutes. It disengages the rear parking brakes putting the car into true neutral. This setting allows towing the vehicle onto a flat transport bed.
You cannot engage in tow mode for long periods since you are not supposed to tow your Tesla conventionally. Remember that once this mode is engaged, the car can freely roll.
To ensure your and the car’s safety, do not move freely into traffic. To put your vehicle into tow mode:
- Go to the car icon on the bottom left part of the screen
- Scroll down to the service option and tap it
- tap the towing button
- read the instructions on the screen
- Hold down the brake paddle
- Press Transport Mode
- Wait for the Transport mode to activate
- Remove your foot from the brake paddle
How Should You Transport Your Tesla?
There are only two ways you should transport your Tesla. You can use a flatbed or a tow truck that lifts the front end of your car with dollies on the rear. Our goal is to transport the Tesla without allowing its wheels to roll.
In a dual-motor Tesla, now the standard, the front, and rear wheels are connected to motors.
The front motors are induction motors, allowing the wheels to move freely when off. The back motor is a magnetic coil motor. When the back wheels spin without power from the battery, it produces energy in the magnetic coil motor. This energy gets sent back into the battery. That is called regenerative braking.
It does not matter if the car is off. If the rear wheels spin, the rear motor sends energy into the battery. Since the vehicle is off, the coolant system isn’t operational.
The battery will generate heat without anything to cool it down. The worst-case scenario is a fire or damage to the car because of heat.
This reason is why you must never tow your Tesla behind another vehicle. You should also never tow the car backward. By that, we mean with the back raised and the front touching the road. To some of you, doing that sounds like the solution to the back wheel problem.
Since the front tires connect to induction motors, it shouldn’t make a difference if the wheels move as it’s towed. The problem is there’s no way to lock the steering wheel. The car is free to swerve at will at each bump or turn.
You should not entertain such unpredictability. You are putting your vehicle and the road safety of others at risk. You would be responsible since you are not listening to Tesla’s instructions.
Pros and Cons of Different Towing Methods
Let’s break down the pros and cons of different towing methods so you can make a clear decision.
Pros of a Flatbed
The pros of towing your Tesla with a flatbed are:
- You are following the manufacturer’s instructions
- You ensure that the front or rear wheels will not move throughout the transportation
- No undue stress on mechanical parts of the car
- no access heat is generated in the battery
- Ensuring your vehicle will not be damaged by freely turning motors
- You can sit in your car as your vehicle is transported
Cons of a Flatbed
Here are the cons of a flatbed:
- It May not always be readily available
- It might take time to arrange in certain areas
- More expensive than a regular tow truck
Pros of Tow Trucks and Dollies
Here are the pros of using a tow truck with the help of dollies to raise the back wheels:
- Quick to arrive
- cheaper than a flatbed
Cons of Tow truck and Dollies
Here are the cons of using a tow truck with the help of dollies to raise the back wheels:
- Cannot drive at certain speeds due to the dollies
- Cannot sit in the car as it’s transported
- Risk of dollies breaking off
Pros of Towing Backwards
here are the pros of towing your Tesla with the back end raised and the front touching the ground:
- No need to use a flatbed or dollies if unavailable
Cons of Towing Backwards
Here are the cons of towing your Tesla with the back end raised and the front touching the ground:
- undue mechanical stress on front induction motors
- risk of your car swerving and hitting other cars
- Pros of towing your Tesla behind another car
Pros of Towing Behind Another Car
Here are the pros of towing your Tesla behind another car:
- No need to wait for a tow truck
- You can sit in the car as it’s being transported
Cons of Towing Behind Another Car
Here are the cons of towing your Tesla behind another vehicle:
- undue mechanical stress on front and back motors
- the heat generated by the rear motor as it sends energy to the battery
- Risk of battery and car parts damaged by extra heat
- Risk of the battery setting on fire
The Right Decision While Towing Your Tesla
The best thing you can do when you need roadside assistance in your Tesla is to call for a flatbed. Most professional towers are aware of the manufacturer’s guidelines. They refuse to tow your car without a flatbed.
You may think you will save money, but that is being pennywise and pound-foolish. You will pay that money back and more in avoidable repairs. The next and only alternative is to use dollies with a tow truck.
They still ensure that the rear wheels will not turn. The risk of dollies breaking on the way is there. However, that risk is worth taking when there is no flatbed available. It is still a thousand times better than towing your car any other way.
Steps to Transport your Tesla
Here are the steps you need to follow to transport your Tesla;
1. Call the Tow service
The first thing you want to do is call the tow service. Do not engage in tow mode now because it will only last a short time, and the parking brakes will re-engage later. Wait for roadside assistance, then put your car in Tow or Transport mode.
2. Connect the Tow Eye
The tesla tow hook is in the frunk under the carpet. You can connect it to the front of the car while you wait for roadside assistance to arrive. For older models, you will have to remove the nose cone.
In newer ones, you gently pop open the tow-eye cover by pressing on one end and using a smooth tool for leverage on the other.
Screw the two eyes counterclockwise until it stops turning. Do not use anything other than the tow-eye to pull your Tesla onto a flatbed. Towing professionals might advise other methods to save time. That is why installing it yourself as you wait is a good idea.
3. Put the Car in Tow Mode
Once roadside assistance arrives, you can put your car into Transport mode. Now your vehicle is in true neutral and will roll freely. Keep that in mind before putting the Tesla in tow mode.
4. Wait and Watch
Now you’ve done your part; the rest is the towing company’s responsibility. Wait and watch as the car gets loaded onto the flatbed. If transporting the Tesla using dollies, ensure the bottom wheels are well above the ground. Do not let them tow the vehicle backward or use something other than the tow eye in the front.
Is Tow Charging Your Tesla a Good Idea?
Suppose your car is on but still needs roadside assistance. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with your car, and you wish to try tow-charging. Tow-charging is the new craze among members of the tesla community. You may have heard of regenerative braking.
It is a process in which the excess kinetic energy of the wheels, which you would lose as heat while pushing braking, returns to the battery. When you push the car with the accelerator, you send torque to the wheels.
If you stop pushing, the wheels will still go forward due to inertia. If you don’t push the accelerator, the car comes to a stop after traveling some distance.
For that time, the wheels are turning without taking any energy from the battery. They are sending torque back to the motors.
If you are familiar with the phenomenon behind AC and DC generators, you would know that a rotating magnet creates electricity. The magnet in the rear motor transforms into a generator when regenerative braking is engaged.
It sends energy back into the battery. That is why the wheels’ torque sent to the motors is called generative torque.
People have realized if they tow their Tesla behind another vehicle while it’s on, they can charge their cars. For this, regenerative braking must be the highest in older Tesla models. The highest setting is standard in newer models.
Since the car is on, the coolant system is operational. That means the risk of overheating the vehicle as you tow it is gone. However, is it a good idea to charge your Tesla by towing it?
Tesla cars aren’t built for conventional towing by dragging. Elon Musk is very vocal about and appreciative of user contributions and innovations. As of yet, he has not commented on tow-charging.
We assume he thinks it’s a frivolous activity while he sets up such an extensive supercharger network.
The car screen will not give you any warning while using this method, even for long periods. So, should you use it?
We usually have a goal in mind when we choose to do something a certain way. Regarding charging methods, our purpose could be more energy efficient or quicker. Tow charging is neither of those things. It does not charge faster than a supercharger.
Albeit it has a nice pace of charging, it’s not worth choosing over a supercharger. You may think it convenient to charge your car while moving. However, regenerative braking works best at faster speeds. There is nothing safe about towing your car at high speeds on the freeway.
People don’t tow their cars like that if they have the option. It is usually a last resort. The benefit of charging might cloud your mind and make you forget the risks involved.
Let’s talk about energy efficiency. You are probably using a gasoline engine of a tow vehicle to lug around your car until it develops some battery percentage. That takes away the environmentally friendly aspect of driving an electric vehicle.
Most users have found that you gain a mile for every mile you get dragged along at best. You would have to tow hundreds of miles to charge the vehicle entirely.
Long-distance towing is almost exclusively done using a flatbed or car carrier. Towing a car behind another for hundreds of miles is unheard of and entirely reckless.
You might argue by sharing the example of the long-distance trailer towing community. People who tow trailers attached to cars as a hobby. People who tow trailers attached to their cars have those cars extensively modified to ensure their safety.
Given this information, there is no real benefit to towing your Tesla to charge it. We recommend against it.
You can put Tesla in tow mode using the screen. It is in the service settings option in the vehicle tab. Teslas should be towed using Flatbeds only. If that’s not available, you must use dollies.
Avoid damaging your Tesla by pulling it behind another vehicle. That overheats the battery and could set it on fire. Please do not attempt to tow-charge your Tesla. Towing at high speeds on the freeway should not be tried intentionally without a valid reason.
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My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.