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Can Electric Vehicles Be Flat Towed?

Woman attaching jumper cable to start car engine with flat battery.

To flat tow is to haul with all four wheels in the air. When flat towing, the toad should be positioned such that all four of its wheels are on the ground. Towing a vehicle with a flatbed is often regarded as the industry standard.

However, keep in mind that not all vehicles are capable of being flat towed. Let’s find out whether or not electric cars can be flat towed. As a rule of thumb, electric cars cannot be flat-towed because of the way their motors are designed to operate.

Flat towing an electric vehicle (EV) may cause a significant amount of damage to the vehicle. Towing an electric vehicle behind a flatbed truck is the most secure method available. If you have a front-wheel-drive (FWD) electric vehicle, you cannot engage in flat towing since the vehicle may have regenerative braking on the rear wheels.

Furthermore, since electric cars lack gearboxes and, as a result, neutral gear, flat towing isn’t a feasible option for these vehicles. Some electric vehicles, such as the Tesla models and the Nissan Leaf, are equipped with a specialized transit mode that performs the same function as the neutral gear found in conventional Vehicles. There might be many unique enhancements such as this to specialized electric vehicles.

For instance, the Tesla transport mode also imposes a speed limit on the vehicle to reduce the risk of collisions and other mishaps. Additionally, the intelligent air suspension has been turned off, and the battery drain has been minimized. Transport mode might appear to be an option that could be employed while flat towing an electric vehicle (EV), but in reality, it is not a safe choice.

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When transferring the car onto a flatbed trailer is the only time when the tow mode should be active. It is not appropriate for traveling at a fast pace over extended distances.

What Mode Should the Electric vehicle Be In for Flat Towing?

The wheel of the car that was parked in the no parking area clamped by the authorities.

This will be determined by your present conditions. You will want to put the electric car in Drive and maybe adjust the amount of regenerative braking so that it is lower than its maximum level if the electric vehicle’s power and weight are approaching or exceeding those of the vehicle that is being towed. If there are no valid worries about the capability of the vehicle being used to tow the electric car, then turning the regen up to its maximum setting will result in the greatest increase in range per mile that the vehicle is being pulled.

Because Rivian’s cars are intrinsically more prone to run out of power farther away from assistance, the company may have given this issue the greatest consideration. Because of this, the firm offers a second, more powerful degree of regenerative braking, which consists of engaging reverse while the vehicle is being towed in the forward direction.

Do You Need a Special Tow Bar for Flat Towing?

Municipal police officers fined and ordered the removal of a Tesla-branded electric car.

Absolutely. When it comes to determining what the ideal tow bar is for flat towing, there are a lot of key factors to take into consideration. You will need to take into consideration the weight of the vehicle that you will be towing, and you will want a system that comes equipped with the wiring required to link the lights on your RV to the lights on your toad.

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In addition to this, you will want high-quality safety wires, and if your RV does not already have a hitch receiver installed, you will need to install one. However, you need also to take into consideration other aspects of your tow bar installation, such as how simple it is to operate and how long it will last. And for the love of all that is holy (and for your own sake), be sure that your towing apparatus has a clasp that does not bind.

Potential Dangers of Flat-Tow Charging

Man with reflective vest on the phone telling about the breakdown of his electric car.

Towing an electric vehicle may be used to charge the vehicle, but there are a few considerations that need to be taken into account first. To be able to shift into Drive, the battery must have a sufficient amount of power in it to be completely “alive.” Second, since most battery-electric cars are rather heavy, you will probably require a strong tow truck to move them.

When it comes to flat-tow charging, there are certain potential dangers associated with tow-strap breaking, tow-vehicle/towed-vehicle collisions, and the question of whether or not the system of an electric car would signal a malfunction while the vehicle was being towed. It is advised to use a tow bar. However, flat towing an electric vehicle behind a recreational vehicle is not recommended (even when changed to neutral, any permanent-magnet electric motor produces a back current that might harm the system).

Therefore nobody is going to connect one of them for an emergency flat-tow charge. 

Alternatives to Fat Towing an Electric Vehicle

A new red Tesla Model 3 placed on a tow truck in the center of Warsaw.

Due to the stark nature of the situation, we can’t flat tow any electric car that is presently on the market. However, there are other options available. Utilizing a trailer is the first and most reliable alternative available.

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You will have peace of mind knowing that your car is under the safest circumstances imaginable in this manner. The following are some of the benefits that might come from doing this:

  • You guarantee that your electric vehicle will not sustain damage that is beyond repair.
  • The vast majority of trainers do not weigh too much, making it simple for your motorhome to pull them.
  • Because a quality trailer already comes equipped with its braking system, the only thing you need to do to operate it provides electricity via the appropriate electrical connections.

Why Would You Need to Tow an Electric Car?

Car tow hitch with trailer lock handle and electrical socket close up side view, safety driving with a trailer connection.

There are several reasons you may need to tow an electric car. Despite the many improvements and modifications, electric cars still have their quirks and sometimes have mechanical failures. Even an electric vehicle runs the risk of getting a flat tire.

This may be especially problematic given that many manufacturers of contemporary Vehicles are moving away from the practice of including a spare tire in the vehicle to free up more space. As a result, if you acquire a flat tire, you are going to need the assistance of a tow truck. To put it another way, Vehicles that operate on gasoline eventually run out of fuel, while cars that run on electricity eventually run out of battery charge.

Your electric vehicle will cease functioning once the battery is depleted. Once the energy in the battery has been depleted, the car’s safety system will give you plenty of notice, but you won’t be able to move your electric vehicle until you plug it in and give it a charge. Brakes are a vital component of every vehicle that is driven on public roads, regardless of whether the vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor.

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If you discover that your vehicle’s brakes are malfunctioning, the safest course of action is to pull over and contact a tow truck to transport your vehicle to the closest location where it may be serviced. To relocate an electric vehicle to another state or even to another part of the nation is an additional reason for having to haul it. When faced with a scenario like this one, relying on a car transport service may help you save both times and reduce the amount of wear and tear that your vehicle experiences.