Towing a Tesla with a tow truck is not a simple concept. This is because turning the wheels will create energy and heat for the car.
This is why you should only use flatbed trucks to tow Tesla vehicles. Failing to do so may result in damage that will also void the warranty. Some motorists tow their Tesla to recharge it. However, they are putting their EV at serious risk. Keep reading more to learn the details.
Can You Tow a Tesla With a Tow Truck?
- You can tow a Tesla using a tow truck. There are a few rules to follow. It may be tempting to tow a Tesla because it’s simple, but the process is risky.
- Firstly, the Tesla will be turned off with an inactive cooling system. This will create excessive friction as the wheels turn.
- The lack of a cooling system will create major heat-related problems that cause damage. Certain parts of the car that are protected using a cooling system will overheat.
- Tesla cars come with a complicated cooling system. The coolant flows throughout the car’s engine and electric motors. This also includes the differential assemblies in the front and rear.
- The coolant also passes through the transmission of the vehicle. Not having a cooling system running and circulating coolant to these parts is dangerous.
- This is because friction will cause them to overheat and get damaged. Once the heat gets to a certain point, parts begin to break down. They lose their coat of lubrication and gradually fail.
- The electric cars in California have incredibly complicated systems. Towing without following official guidelines for even a few miles can cause irreparable damage.
- The worst part is that Tesla’s official warranty does not cover this damage.
Why Would You Need to Tow a Tesla Car Using a Tow Truck?
- Motorists have been grappling with the nerve-wracking concept of running their EV down to zero charge.
- For ICE-cars, a quick call to the nearest towing company takes care of the problem. But the intricate system of Teslas makes the process dangerous.
- But what if recovery cars could carry charging systems to recharge Teslas? The problem is that the weight of such a battery would be immense.
- Recovery cars will require a lot of diesel to haul batteries all day. This is true regardless of whether the battery they carry is full or empty.
- What if you could tow your Tesla to the nearest Supercharger? This isn’t a good idea either, as we mentioned earlier.
- Towing Teslas even in neutral can damage the car. To avoid damaging the Tesla, you must load it onto a flatbed truck.
- Don’t use a dolly either with two wheels on the ground. Even with only two wheels spinning, you risk greatly damaging the Tesla.
Also read: What You Should Know About Cabin Overheat Protection in Tesla EVs? [7 Reasons]
Can You Tow Tesla Behind a Motorhome?
You should not tow a Tesla with an RV or a motorhome. This is because the same risks apply to your Tesla.
The best way to tow your Tesla is by using a flatbed trailer. Besides, your RV probably will struggle to pull the Tesla.
Electric cars in California are weighty because of their heavy battery packs. Tesla models are no exception.
You may have a better chance of towing your electric behind a motorhome.
Pushing a Tesla to Recharge it
Charging for 1 mile can top up the battery with 10 miles of energy. The only question is: can you push the car on your own? That too for 1 mile straight?
Besides the obvious risks of overheating its components, pushing a Tesla probably requires superhuman strength.
You will likely require the help of other passengers. But moving the Tesla for one mile is no easy task.
We recommend calling Roadside Assistance to get your Tesla to the nearest Supercharger. This method may cost you, but it will be safer for your Tesla.
Neutral in Tesla’s
Another reason why flatbed towing isn’t possible in Teslas is the lack of gearboxes. The absence of a gearbox means that there is no neutral.
Teslas have a dedicated transport mode that mimics ‘neutral mode’ of traditional ICE-cars. In Tesla EVs, this is referred to as Transport Mode.
When activated, Transport Mode restricts the speed of the electric car. This is done to prevent misuse and accidents.
The air suspension system is also disabled, and battery drain is minimized. Transport mode is not safe to be used with flat towing.
Transport mode should only be engaged when the electric car is loaded on flatbeds. It is also not suitable for longer journeys at high speeds either.
Check out: The Definitive Comparison Between BMW i3 and Tesla Model 3
How to Activate Tow Mode in Tesla Electric Cars
The exact method depends on the model of your Tesla. In all cases, the steps for engaging transport mode are straightforward.
Just make sure the car’s wheels are not rolling. You can use the rather primitive method of placing bricks near each tire.
Tesla also requires you to disable any self-leveling features. The process depends on the make and model of your car. It disables things like air suspension.
You can look for the “Jack” option in the menu and select the option. This mode will deactivate all suspension settings. This would allow the Tesla to be towed safely.
Once you have secured the tires, follow these instructions:
- Go into the Main Menu
- Click on Service
- Choose Towing Option
- Press the Brakes
- Select Transport Mode
The brakes will disengage after activating Transport Mode. The Tesla will free roll if it is in a hilly area. This is why we recommend placing bricks near the electric car.
You can now freely move the car by pushing or pulling it.
All Tesla models come with Transport Mode. In all cases, activating Transport Mode will disengage the brakes.
Transport Mode also restricts acceleration to just 3 mph for 30 feet. Rolling the electric car in California will increase its risk of overheating.
Finding the Tesla’s Tow Eye
An essential precursor to towing a Tesla is to find the Tow Eye. You will have to figure out where your Tesla’s tow eye is located.
Lift the carpet in the Tesla’s front trunk. Now look in the upper left-hand corner section. You should spot the Tow Eye with ease.
Now gently press on the round shape. This will lift the opposite end from the car’s trunk. Finally, pull the raised end until it releases.
Now attach and secure it to the flatbed tow truck. This will allow your Tesla to be towed safely.
Note: Always consult your Tesla’s manual for specific instructions on locating the tow eye.
Should the Tesla Face a Certain Direction When Towing?
The direction of your Tesla doesn’t matter when it is being towed on flatbed trucks. This situation is different when you use dollies to pull the Tesla.
Make sure that the Tesla is facing forward where you are pulling it. This process will minimize the risk posed to your Tesla.
Call in Tesla Roadside Assistance
Depending on where you live, you might qualify for Tesla Roadside Assistance. The coverage is valid for 4 years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first).
Roadside Assistance is covered under Tesla’s warranty. It excludes collision coverage. There is no standalone Roadside Assistance package you can purchase.
You can use Roadside Assistance to help you if the Tesla breaks down. It is free for Teslas that have broken down due to mechanical or technical failure.
Roadside Assistance will tow your Tesla to the nearest service center for free. Note that anything over 500 miles will incur a fee.
The service center will determine if the issue is covered under warranty. If the problem is not covered under warranty, you will be charged for towing the Tesla.
Running out of battery is not covered by Roadside Assistance. You can still contact them and request transport to the nearest charging station. Doing so will cost you since the issue is not covered under warranty.
Alternatives to Using Tow Trucks
- A few alternatives to towing Teslas have emerged. But they have not become mainstream as of yet. One such service is filling vans with a diesel engine and a generator.
- Activating this system can create electricity. It is then fed to the EV using a Type I or Type II connection. This connection is capable with Tesla cars.
- A major problem with this approach is that the power delivery is very low. These chargers can add a modest 15 miles per hour.
- This concept as an alternative to tow trucks is quite popular. Many businesses are upgrading to more powerful chargers. One such is the 5kW model developed by the RAC.
- A 7.5kW mobile charger is also underway. These portable chargers to top up batteries can add 25 miles per hour.
- This can provide Teslas with enough juice to drive to the nearest Supercharger.
- Another concept under development is the freewheeling hub introduced by the AA. The system tows electric cars in California without the wheels rotating or touching the ground.
- This means that a regular tow truck or even van can tow Teslas. You don’t have to call in a flatbed truck or full-sized trailer.
- The freewheeling hub also facilitates the movement of EVs in restricted spaces. This is not possible by hiring a larger towing truck.
- Several breakdown companies are rising to meet the underserved EV market. However, their preferred solution is now the EV to the nearest charge.
- Or provide the Tesla with enough energy to drive to the nearest Tesla. All this is facilitated with the help of a diesel engine. This is counterintuitive to the idea of driving an electric car in the first place.
- Another novel concept is relying on other EV drivers to help each other out. One concept is the vehicle-to-load technology known as V2L in the Ioniq 5.
- The V2L uses the car’s battery back to charge power appliances such as laptops and televisions. And it can also be used to charge other electric vehicles.
- This innovative system allows the Ioniq 5 to donate some of its charges to stranded Teslas. The V2L system only provides 3.6kW of power.
- This does not rival Tesla Supercharger but gets the job done in an emergency. Not all drivers will be comfortable waiting hours to charge a stranger’s Tesla.
- However, it is a great alternative to using towing trucks, and all EVs can benefit.
Tow Charging a Tesla – Should You Take the Risk?
Flat towing Teslas can recharge the batteries. Some people choose to do this even though it harms the car. The process is not very efficient and not worth the risk.
The juice is not worth the squeeze. If you’re ready to risk severe damage and void the warranty, you may proceed. You would be surprised just how many motorists are willing to take the risk.
Some reports indicate that Tesla charges at a 1:10 ratio. Towing the EV for every 1 mile will generate 10 miles of battery life.
This may be very cost-effective for some users. Paying a tow vehicle to pull the EV for 20 miles appears cost-effective.
The table below summarizes how much power you may generate based on the distance traveled.
|Distance Traveled||Speed||Power Generated in kW|
|0.5 miles||18 mph||1|
|50 miles||18 mph||50 to 80|
But during this period, the Tesla will heat up. This could fry up vital components within the car. Teslas will recharge because of their regenerative braking system.
The same is also true for other electric cars in California.
As you can imagine, the charging method is very slow. You will need to do this for 24 hours to fully charge your Tesla this way.
Instead, we recommend finding a charging station to recharge in minutes.
In short, it is not advisable to tow a Tesla using a tow truck. It is safer, however, to tow Teslas on a flatbed trailer.
You can also recharge your Tesla by towing it. This can damage your Tesla’s vital components. We recommend against doing this to increase the lifespan of your car.
Have you ever towed your Tesla on a tow truck? If so, was the process safe for your Tesla? Share your experiences with us, and we will update this space with your insights!
Read more on Tesla’s:
- 13 Tires that Tesla Model 3 Owners Swear By
- Are Tesla Tires Filled With Foam?
- Why are Tesla Electric Cars Good for the Environment?
- How Many Amp Hours is a Tesla Electric Car’s Battery?
- Is It Possible to Jumpstart a Tesla?
- Can You Put Gas in a Tesla? The Surprising Answer
- Charging Tesla in the Rain
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.