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Everything You Need to Know About Towing an Electric Car
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular as people look for more eco-friendly ways to get around. It’s estimated that by 2035, more than a quarter of all vehicles sold in the US will be electric.
If you’re looking to get an electric car, or you may already have one, joining the electric revolution means some aspects of your daily driving habits will have to change. You’ll need a charging system at home to plug your car into, which is one of the most significant. In addition, the lack of engine noise is something you might find a little unsettling at first.
There’s something else you need to consider and try to ensure it never happens, and what you’re going to do if your electric car breaks down.
In this post, you’ll find all the information you need about towing an electric car. Of course, it’s an obvious option if a traditional gas-fuelled vehicle breaks down, but can you tow an electric vehicle if it breaks down just the same?
Why would you need to tow an electric car?
Electric cars use the latest technology and have additional features, so why would you need to tow one? Electric vehicles can still be quite quirky, and despite all the differences and up-to-date changes, there is still a risk of one breaking down on the side of the road.
An electric car might also suffer a flat tire. This can be particularly troublesome because many modern car manufacturers are ditching the spare tire in the vehicle to allow for more room. Therefore, if you get a flat tire, you’re going to need a tow.
Gas-powered cars run out of gas, and an electric vehicle can run out of battery charge by the same reckoning. If your electric car’s battery runs out of charge, it will stop running. You get plenty of warning from the car’s safety system, but once the juice has gone from the battery, your EV’s not going anywhere until you plug it in and charge it up.
Brakes are an essential part of any vehicle driven on the road, whether it’s a gas vehicle or electric. If you find you’ve got issues with the brakes, the sensible thing to do is pull over and call a tow to bring your car to the nearest place it can be repaired.
One final reason for towing an EV is to move it to another state or across the country. In such a situation, you can save time and the vehicle’s wear and tear by using an auto transport service. Car shipping companies, like SGT Auto Transport, can safely, swiftly, securely, and affordably move your EV to the new location.
Different types of towing
If you ever find yourself in need of a tow truck for your electric car it will be helpful if you know your options. Tow companies use various tow trucks so you’ll need to know which tow truck is best for electric car towing.
Hook and chain trucks
These are the most popular types of tow trucks. They are smaller than other tow trucks but their size makes them a more convenient option, plus they get the job done quicker. They work by hooking onto the undercarriage of the vehicle and dragging the car. Throughout the journey, there are always two wheels touching the ground.
Wheel lift tow trucks
Wheel lift tow trucks are very similar to hook and chain trucks. However, in this case, the hydraulic yolk holds two wheels of the car. The other two wheels will be either hooked up to an electric car tow dolly if one is available or be on the ground.
With a flatbed trailer, the vehicle is lifted or winched onto the trailer. Once on the trailer, it is secured into place for the journey. None of the wheels are on the ground, so there is no wear and tear to the vehicle.
Flatbed tow truck vs. flat towing
Flatbed tow trucks and flat towing might sound very similar but they are very different. With flat towing, all four wheels of the vehicle are on the ground. It’s commonly used when towing vehicles behind a camper or RV. The vehicle being towed is in neutral and is pulled along by the vehicle in front.
Flat towing is not an option because electric cars have no gearbox and therefore no neutral. Some electric cars, for example, Tesla models and the Nissan Leaf, have a dedicated transport mode that acts like the neutral you find in traditional vehicles.
A dedicated transport mode might also include several special features. For example, the Tesla transport mode also limits the speed of the car to prevent accidents or misuse. The smart air suspension is also disabled and battery drain is restricted.
Transport mode might sound like something that can be used when flat towing an EV, but it’s not a safe option. The tow mode should only be engaged when loading the vehicle into a flatbed trailer. It is not suitable for long journeys at high speed.
Towing an electric car
Towing any kind of vehicle is risky, but when it comes to towing an electric car, many things can go wrong. Gas-powered vehicles can suffer from engine or transmission damage if not towed correctly.
If you try to tow an electric car using an electric car tow dolly, a hook and chain truck, or a wheel lift tow truck, two of the wheels will be spinning/ the spin continuously generates power to the battery, but that power isn’t being used.
Flatbed trucks, such as those used by an auto transport company, have no such wheel movement which means any potential hazards are eliminated. All-electric car manufacturers recommend that EVs should only be moved on a flatbed truck as this avoids potentially catastrophic damage.
A broken-down EV will be loaded onto the flatbed tow truck using a winch cable or tow chains. These can only be attached to your electric vehicle in specific locations. Your electric car may have a tow eye, but if not, you should consult your vehicle’s manual to find out where tow chains can be secured safely.
Are there any alternatives to towing an electric vehicle?
An electric car is a significant financial investment and learning how to look after it and use it safely will be an investment of your time.
You now know the basics when towing an electric car and that you need to ensure the company coming to help you is going to use a flatbed trailer.
If you ever need help transporting your electric car give us a call and we’ll do what we can to help.
Is it safe to tow an electric car?
The safest way to tow an electric car is using a flatbed truck. Flat towing is not an option and neither is a tow dolly because the car might have regenerative braking on the back wheels if it's an FWD electric car. Similarly, for RWD and AWD electric cars, a tow dolly is not an option because the spinning wheels could cause serious damage.
Does towing an electric car charge it?
Yes, you can charge an electric car by towing it, but there are some things you need to bear in mind. The battery must contain enough juice to be fully “awake” so it can shift into Drive. Secondly, you’ll likely need a powerful tow vehicle as most battery-electric vehicles are relatively heavy.
Are electric vehicles flat towable?
No, electric vehicles are not flat-towable because of how their motors work. If you flat tow an EV, it can lead to considerable damage.
Can you push or tow an electric car?
If your electric car breaks down you can push it, but you have to put it into a neutral or similar setting before pushing. If you have an electric car that doesn’t have a neutral or transport mode, pushing it can negatively affect the motor because it is permanently connected.
Can you flat tow an electric car behind a motorhome?
No, you cannot tow an electric car behind any kind of RV because you can’t shift an EV into neutral, the same as you’d do for a gas-powered vehicle.
If you ever need to transport an electric car, save yourself some time, effort, and cost by calling SGT Auto Transport. We’ll move your electric car from A to B and there will be no stress or hassle. Call (864) 546-5038 or use to speak directly with our electric car shipping advisors.