Can You Tow an Electric Car? [Do’s and Don’ts]

Yes. You can indeed tow an EV, but the method and precautions differ significantly because of the EV’s design and the workings of its powertrain.

You need to understand the best methods to tow an EV and the necessary precautions to prevent damage to the vehicle’s electric motor and battery system.

Special towing equipment is often required, with a flatbed tow truck being the recommended solution.

Preparation is also crucial when dealing with an EV breakdown that necessitates towing. Knowing how to properly prepare your vehicle for the tow can prevent further complications.

I’ll also flip the conversation and talk about towing with an electric car so that you have the whole picture regarding towing and EVs.

Preparing an EV for Towing

Before towing, it’s imperative to understand specific procedures and engage the appropriate settings to ensure safety. Proper preparation minimizes the risk of damage, particularly to the vehicle’s electric drive system.

Transport Mode in Electric Vehicles

Your electric vehicle may have a Transport Mode or an equivalent setting designed to prepare it for being towed.

This mode often reduces the drain on the battery when the vehicle is turned off and may also disengage certain drivetrain components to prevent damage.

Refer to the owner’s manual of your EV to find out how to activate this feature. In some vehicles, entering this mode requires a sequence of actions, such as holding down a combination of buttons or using the in-car infotainment system.

Safety Precautions and Procedures

Safety is paramount when preparing to tow an EV. Follow these steps to ensure a safe towing process:

  1. If available, ensure the vehicle is in Neutral Mode to allow the wheels to turn freely without engaging the electric motors.
  2. If your EV has a dead battery or a flat tire, special care must be taken. You should attempt to charge a dead battery enough to allow the car to be put into transport or neutral mode. Consult a professional towing service with EV experience if the battery cannot be charged.
  3. Always use a flatbed tow truck for electric vehicles to prevent damage to the drivetrain components.
  4. Prior to towing, secure loose items within the vehicle, and if possible, alert the roadside assistance that your vehicle is electric so they can take the necessary precautions.

Towing Equipment and Methods for EVs

Specific equipment and methods must be observed to guarantee safety and prevent damage. There are two primary means: using a tow truck equipped with the right features or employing alternative towing equipment such as dollies and wheel lifts.

Tow Truck Requirements

A flatbed truck or tow truck is often recommended for an EV. It’s crucial that the tow truck is capable of transporting an EV without the wheels rolling on the ground to prevent damage to the electric motor and drivetrain.

Your car should be positioned on the flatbed, and all four wheels should be off the road, securely fastened to mitigate the risk of accidental movement.

Alternative Towing Equipment

If a flatbed isn’t available, proper alternative towing equipment can be utilized:

  • Dollies: They lift the driven wheels of your EV off the ground, suitable for front or rear-wheel drives.
  • Wheel lifts: This equipment can lift either the front or rear wheels, but ensure that the lifted wheels are the driving wheels of your EV to avoid drivetrain damage.
  • Trailer with a Trailer Hitch: For long-distance towing, a trailer that supports all four wheels off the ground can be a safe option. Confirm the trailer’s compatibility with your EV’s size and weight, and ensure a secure connection with a trailer hitch designed for your vehicle model.

⚠️ Remember: Always engage the parking brake and disable any automatic parking systems before towing to protect your EV’s intricate systems.

Fundamentals of Towing with an Electric Vehicle

Now, let’s flip the switch and consider towing with your EV and the capabilities and limitations associated with it.

EV Towing Basics

Your EV’s ability to tow is chiefly determined by its towing capacity, which is the maximum weight your vehicle can safely tow.

Consult your car’s manual or manufacturer specifications to find this number. Unlike internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs have instant torque, which can be advantageous when towing.

However, remember that towing will consume more battery power, leading to a reduced range. For successful towing, always use appropriate towing equipment designed for EVs to prevent damage to the vehicle’s powertrain and battery systems.

Understanding EV Towing Limitations

The towing process can place significant stress on your EV’s battery and power systems, potentially impacting vehicle performance and longevity.

Typically, EVs may have a lower towing capacity than traditional vehicles due to the need to preserve battery life.

Factors such as the weight of the load, terrain, and driving conditions can further limit towing capacity and decrease the vehicle’s range.

To maintain safety and vehicle integrity, always adhere to the specified limitations and consider that your EV’s range can decrease by a notable margin when towing heavy loads.

Manufacturer-Specific Towing Guides

Always consult manufacturer-specific guides, as each brand and model has different capabilities and recommendations.

Part of the road to mass EV adoption in America is that electric trucks are able to perform core tasks such as towing.

Tesla Towing Guide

Tesla’s Model X is renowned for its towing abilities, featuring a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

The company provides clear guidelines on attaching and controlling a trailer, emphasizing the importance of adhering to weight limitations to maintain vehicle performance and range.

It’s important to note that while towing, Tesla’s regenerative braking system can play a significant role in energy recovery, albeit this can also affect the overall towing range.

Towing with Rivian R1T and Other Electric Trucks

Expanding the horizon for EV towing, the Rivian R1T offers a substantial towing capacity of up to 11,000 pounds, bringing it close to par with traditional gas-powered pickups in performance.

When it comes to electric trucks like the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, and the upcoming Chevy Silverado EV, towing is a key feature, with capacities that can reportedly range from about 10,000 to 20,000 pounds depending on the model.

Manufacturers advise customers on optimal towing setups and techniques to minimize the impact on the driving range, which is a common concern among potential EV truck owners.

Frequently Asked

These FAQs address common concerns and provide specific guidance to ensure you have the right information.

Are there specialized tow trucks for electric vehicles?

Yes, there are specialized tow trucks designed to handle electric vehicles. They utilize flatbed trucks or wheel lifts with dollies to prevent damage from occurring during the towing process.

What are the limitations when towing an electric car such as a Tesla?

When towing an electric car like a Tesla, it’s crucial not to use traditional tow hooks as they can damage the vehicle’s propulsion system. Instead, use a flatbed tow truck to protect the electric drive train.

How do you manage to tow an electric car with a depleted battery?

If your electric car’s battery is depleted, it’s important to inform the towing service so they can prepare the appropriate equipment. Flatbed towing is often the best method to prevent any undue stress on the electric vehicle’s systems.