charging an electric car

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, this increasing competition is advantageous. On the other hand, you may already have an electric car, you may have already adjusted to the new normal and feel of the ride. O After all, joining the electric revolution means some aspects of your daily driving habits will have to change. 

These changes don’t have to be a big deal to your lifestyle. Just like adapting to any change, you just need to find your rhythm. For one thing, you’ll need a charging system at home to plug your car into. Many car owners with an electric vehicle find this to be one of the most significant changes. 

But there are smaller changes to adjust to as well. For example, the lack of engine noise is something you might find a little unsettling at first. This quietness is something that drivers through history have never experienced. In fact, there is even something iconic about the sound of a car engine.

However, this quietness is something you will have to get used to whether you own an EV or not. Even pedestrians on the street are growing aware of the lack of noise. The old saying “look both ways before you cross the street” has never been truer. 

But there’s something else you need to consider if making the jump to an electric vehicle. And that is knowing what you’re going to do if your electric car breaks down. Sure, nobody wants to consider the reality that their car is composed of many parts. And sometimes, these parts go wrong and require assistance. 

And this brings up an excellent question as you consider the newness of electric vehicles. Can you tow an electric car if it breaks down? 

In this post, you’ll find all the information you need about electric vehicle towing

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. Despite all the differences and up-to-date changes, there is still a risk of one breaking down. This could happen on the side of the road, or in your driveway. 

Just like a gas-fueled car, an electric car might suffer a flat tire. This can be particularly troublesome for a variety of reasons. For one thing, inconvenience is always a burden. There is no denying this.

But there is another factor to consider as well. Many modern car manufacturers are ditching the spare tire in the vehicle to allow for more room. While this might seem counter-intuitive, it’s the reality. Therefore, if you get a flat tire, you’re going to need to tow your electric car. 

Gas-powered cars run out of gas, and an electric vehicle can run out of battery charge by the same reckoning. And it is no secret that if your electric car’s battery runs out of charge, it will stop running. In some ways, this goes back to adjusting to the new lifestyle. For instance, you get plenty of warnings from the car’s safety system about the charge levels.

But once the juice has gone from the battery, that’s it. Like any electric appliance or tool, no charge means no power. Your EV will not be going anywhere until you plug it in and charge it up.

But let's shift gears for a moment and consider breaks. Brakes are an essential part of any vehicle driven on the road, whether it’s a gas vehicle or electric. If you’ve got issues with the brakes, the sensible thing to do is pull over and call a tow. You need to have your electric vehicle towed to the nearest place it can be repaired. 

One final reason for towing an electric car 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. 

If you want to know how much it would cost, get an instant quote today using our online quote calculator. Alternatively, you can speak with an EV shipping advisor at (864) 546-5038 or use Live Chat. 

Get a FREE Instant Quote Now

Get an instant quote

Different types of towing

Just like there is not one kind of electric vehicle, there is more than one tow truck. And tow companies use various tow trucks depending on the circumstances. Or, depending on which tow service you call. Therefore, it’s important to know which tow truck is best for electric car towing. Let’s take a closer look at the options for towing an electric vehicle. 

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, which is beneficial to everyone involved. 

They work by hooking onto the undercarriage of the vehicle and dragging the car. Throughout the journey, there are always two wheels of the towed electric car 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 or be on the ground. 

Flatbed trailer

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. This method of towing an electric car is a bit more involved. However, EV owners appreciate that their electric vehicle is not being pulled on the ground. 

Flatbed tow truck vs. flat towing

Flatbed tow trucks and flat towing might sound very similar but they are very different. While flat towing electric vehicles, all four wheels of the vehicle are on the ground. It’s commonly used when towing vehicles behind a camper or RV. However, the vehicle in tow is in neutral and is pulled along by the vehicle in front. 

If you are new to the world of electric cars, then you might not realize the problem with this scenario. But it comes down to the lack of neutrality in electric vehicles.

Finding neutral

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. This mode acts like the neutral you find in traditional vehicles.

But dedicated transport mode does more than that. Essentially, it’s a safety feature for the EV. Or rather, a host of 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 an option for flat towing an electric car,  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. 

So what is the big deal about towing an electric vehicle? Mostly, it comes down to misplacement of energy. You can’t tow an EV using a tow dolly, a hook and chain truck, or a wheel lift tow truck. 

This is because in these methods, two of the wheels will be spinning. Again, it comes down to knowing your electric vehicle. Simply put, 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, allow for no such wheel movement. This means that 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. 

Loading it

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, which would be beneficial. 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. As such, learning how to look after it and use it safely will be an investment of your time. And a worthwhile investment to say the least. 

You now know the basics when towing an electric car. Therefore, you need to ensure the company coming to help you is going to use a flatbed trailer. 

If you ever need help towing your electric car, give us a call. We’ll do what we can to help with your electric vehicle towing.  


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. For one thing, 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 for another reason. This is 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. However, 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, you’re out of luck. In this instance, 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. This is because you can’t shift an EV into neutral, which 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 Live Chat to speak directly with our electric car shipping advisors.  

Get a quote.

Get a quote banner