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How to Tow an Electric Car

What's in this article?
  1. Why Would You Need To Tow An Electric Car?
  2. Different Types Of Tow Trucks
  3. Hook And Chain Trucks
  4. Wheel Lift Tow Trucks
  5. Flatbed Tow Trucks
  6. Flatbed Tow Truck Vs Flat Towing
  7. Finding Neutral
  8. Towing An Electric Car
  9. Loading It Up
  10. Safely Transport Your Electric Vehicle
How to Tow an Electric Car

Are you a member of the electric car revolution? You are not alone whether you're considering purchasing an electric vehicle or already owning one. As more individuals seek out environmentally-friendly transportation options, electric cars are rising in popularity.

To get on board with this trend, you need to change your regular driving habits. The most crucial requirement is a charging station at home where you can plug in your vehicle. You might initially find the lack of engine noise to be a little unnerving as well.

Another thing you should think about is what you'll do if your electric car breaks down or if circumstances arise where you need to transport your vehicle to another city, interstate, or overseas.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about towing an electric vehicle, including which type of tow truck is suitable and what mode to switch your car to prevent damage. So, read on if you want to be confident your precious vehicle will reach its destination safely.


Why Would You Need to Tow an Electric Car?

Why would you need a towing vehicle for your electric car when it comes equipped with the most modern technology and a host of additional features? Unfortunately, despite all the improvements made recently, there is still a possibility that your electric vehicle could break down on the side of the road.

Even an electric motor runs the risk of getting a flat tire. A flat can be especially problematic given that many manufacturers of modern cars are moving away from including a spare tire in the vehicle to free up additional space. As a result, if you get a flat tire, you will require the assistance of a tow truck.

You might also run out of juice. Automobiles that operate on gasoline eventually run out of fuel, while cars that run on electricity can run out of battery charge. So if the battery in your electric car runs out of charge, the vehicle will cease moving.

Once the energy in the battery has been depleted, the car's safety system will give you plenty of warning, but you won't be able to move your electric vehicle until you plug it in and give it a charge.

Brake failure can be another reason you might need a tow. Brakes are a vital component of any vehicle driven on public roads, regardless of whether the vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor.

If you discover that your vehicle's brakes are malfunctioning, the safest action is to pull over and call a tow truck to transport your car to the closest location where it may be serviced.

Finally, you may need to relocate your electric vehicle to another state or even to another part of the country. Again, utilising the services of an auto shipping company in this scenario will allow you to save time and reduce the amount of wear and strain placed on the car.

Car shipping firms, including A-1 Auto Transport, can safely, securely, and economically transport electric vehicles to new locations. You can get a free quote anytime using their online calculator to get an idea of what it costs to transport an electric vehicle.


Different Types of Tow Trucks

It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the various towing methods available if you need a tow truck for your electric vehicle. In addition, because tow services utilize a variety of tow trucks, you will need to be aware of which tow truck is ideal for the transportation of electric cars.

Hook and chain trucks

These are the most common kinds of tow trucks on the market today. Although they are not as significant as other types of tow trucks, their reduced size makes them a more practical alternative, and they also do the task in a shorter amount of time.

Hook and chain trucks accomplish this by attaching to the vehicle's underbelly and dragging the automobile behind them. During the trip, there will always be two wheels in contact with the ground.

Wheel lift tow trucks

Hook and chain tow trucks and wheel lift tow trucks are very similar. In this case, the hydraulic yoke holds two of the car's wheels. The remaining two wheels will either be attached to an electric car tow dolly, if such a gadget is available, or they will be placed on the ground.

Flatbed tow trucks

When using a trailer with a flatbed, the vehicle is lifted onto the trailer or winched onto the trailer. Once loaded into the trailer, it is lashed down so it won't move during the trip. Since the vehicle does not have wheels in contact with the ground, it has no wear and tear.

Flatbed tow truck vs flat towing

Although the terms "flatbed tow trucks" and "flat towing" are often used interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two. All four wheels must remain on the ground when a car is flat towed.

Towing a vehicle behind a camper or RV typically requires flat towing. In addition, it requires putting the vehicle being towed in neutral to allow the vehicle in front to tow it effectively.

Finding neutral

Because electric cars lack gearboxes and, as a result, lack a neutral mode, flat towing is not a feasible option for these vehicles. Some electric vehicles, such as the Tesla models and the Nissan Leaf, come equipped with a specialized transport mode that performs the same function as the neutral gear found in conventional automobiles.

A dedicated mode of transportation may incorporate several unique features. For instance, the Tesla transport mode imposes a speed cap on the vehicle to reduce the risk of collisions and other mishaps. The intelligent air suspension is also turned off, and the battery drain is minimized.

Transport mode may seem like an option to employ when flat towing an electric vehicle, but in reality, this is not a safe choice. The tow mode should only be active when transferring the car onto a flatbed trailer. Therefore, this mode is not appropriate for high-speed travel over extended distances.


Towing an Electric Car

Their gasoline-powered cousins are susceptible to suffering significant transmission or engine damage if they are hauled improperly, and there are additional concerns for electric vehicles. This is especially true for vehicles with computers on the tires, batteries, and sensors. Therefore it's imperative to consider the towing setup for electric car towing.

Suppose you pull an electric vehicle behind you, and the wheels spin. In that case, the continual rotation of the wheels will provide electricity to a battery that is not currently being utilized. Even when the battery isn't turned on, it still receives power from the source.

Because flatbed trucks eliminate wheel movement, they do away with the possible dangers that the motion of the wheels can cause, even when the vehicle is shut off.

In Nissan's owner's manual for the Leaf vehicle, it states the car should not be transported with either the front wheels or all four wheels on the ground. Two-wheel towing is only possible if the rear wheels are on the ground.

This allowance does not necessarily mean they should be transported this way. Most manufacturers currently recommend electric cars be transported on a level surface to reduce the risk of causing potential hazards to the vehicle.

Additionally, you need to know what kind of drivetrain the vehicle has before figuring out which wheels can potentially make contact with the ground. Because the Nissan Leaf utilizes a front-wheel-drive configuration, the front wheels must never be in motion when the vehicle is not being driven.

The vast majority of Tesla vehicles include all-wheel drive, which indicates that torque is distributed to each of the vehicle's four wheels. In addition, some of them feature drivetrains with rear-wheel orientation.

Because of this, the Tesla's rear wheels should only move while the vehicle is being driven and not under other circumstances. Wheels on a Tesla Model 3 shouldn't spin unless the vehicle's speed is below three mph for at least 30 feet.

It is worth noting the dangers of ignoring towing advice. The Model S manual features a fire hazard warning next to the towing options. This highlights just one of the potentially disastrous outcomes that could occur if it is towed incorrectly.

Loading it up

Find out where tow chains can be fastened safely and securely on your car by consulting the manual for your vehicle's make and model.

Towing is more straightforward with Tesla's built-in tow hook, referred to as a tow eye in Tesla jargon. It is situated on the lower left side of the front fender. The opening for the tow-eye is concealed beneath a cover that can be revealed by using a thin, flat-bladed screwdriver. To carefully remove the cover, insert the screwdriver into the slot and gently pull it off.

Assuming that the tow eye slot is visible, connect the tow-eye to the slot by turning it counterclockwise until it is firmly in place. Once everything is in place, connect a winch cable or tow chains straight to the eye of the tow bar.

Next, put the vehicle into neutral, often known as the tow mode, and then give the truck permission to load the vehicle onto the flatbed.

Some cars do not have a specific tow hook; even if they do, pulling the vehicle from that hook is not advisable. However, according to the manufacturer of the Nissan Leaf, the front and rear tow hooks are only intended to secure the vehicle during transport and not pull it behind another vehicle.

When it comes to these vehicles, the winch cable or tow chains have to be joined to the primary structure of the car, located underneath the vehicle.

Safely Transport Your Electric Vehicle

Purchasing an electric vehicle requires a significant commitment and outlay of capital. Such a commitment also means spending sufficient effort to learn all the new information to prevent damaging your investment.

When it comes to towing an electric car or asking a company to do it on your behalf, knowing the fundamentals, such as mentioning that you require a flatbed trailer, can be of significant assistance in safeguarding your vehicle and saving money at the same time.

If you need to transport your electric vehicle, you can feel confident it will be in safe hands with A-1 Auto Transport. For more information, talk with one of our electric vehicle shipping consultants and get an instant quote.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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