If you’re a new Tesla owner, you might be surprised to find out that towing an electric vehicle can be tricky. Since turning the wheels in towing can create excessive heat and energy for your car, you will need to learn all the tips and tricks of transporting your Tesla safely and effectively. If you’re wondering whether you can tow a Tesla behind a motorhome, the answer is no!
According to Tesla, their vehicles must be towed on flatbed trucks only. If not, Tesla states that they may incur damage that will not be covered by their warranty. While it might seem appealing to recharge your Tesla by flat towing it behind an RV, you are putting your vehicle at serious risk by doing so.
In the rest of this article, I will explain how your Tesla works and how you can tow it safely. We will take a closer look at the risks associated with flat towing your Tesla and how you can get it from point A to point B without putting it at risk of damage.
- Can a Tesla Be Towed Behind an RV?
- How To Tow a Tesla
- Can You Charge a Tesla by Flat Towing It?
- Can You Tow Any Electric Car Behind an RV?
- What Is Flat Towing?
- Can You Tow a Tesla in Neutral?
- Can You Dinghy Tow a Tesla?
- Are There Alternatives to Flat Towing an Electric Vehicle?
- In a Nutshell:
Can a Tesla Be Towed Behind an RV?
If you’re heading off on a vacation with your RV but want to bring your Tesla along, you may be wondering if you can tow your Tesla behind your motorhome. While it can be tempting to hitch up your Tesla to the back and let it roll along on its own four wheels, you’re putting your Tesla at risk.
A Tesla should only be towed behind an RV on a flatbed. Flat towing your Tesla puts the components of your electric vehicle at serious risk and will also violate your manufacturer’s warranty. In order to safely tow your Tesla, follow the instructions in your owner’s manual.
Flat Towing a Tesla
If you were to hook your Tesla to your RV and allow it to roll along behind your motorhome, you would face a few potential problems.
First of all, the Tesla will be turned off, which means that its cooling system will not be active. The high amount of friction from the towing combined with the lack of an operational cooling system can create serious heat-related issues that could damage your car.
Important parts of your car that are usually protected with the cooling system can easily overheat. Your Tesla has an intricate cooling system that sends coolant throughout your car, keeping everything regulated to run perfectly. When the car is not turned on, this system will not operate, and your vehicle is at risk for damage.
Because it’s outside the scope of how the vehicle should be used, it can void your warranty with Tesla. This can make these potential issues much more expensive to repair.
This overheating is a problem that impacts cars beyond Teslas. It’s inadvisable to flat-tow some gasoline-powered cars as well since the heat generated can damage the transmission system.
However, as Teslas don’t have traditional transmissions, they’re even more sensitive to the potential damage.
The wheels of your Tesla are directly connected to the motor, using the motor’s electricity to turn or brake. However, when you flat tow your Tesla, the wheels are turning, and that energy is sent directly to the motor.
While it might seem like a way to generate energy, it can easily overload your vehicle’s system and cause substantial damage.
Even if you’re just going a short distance, you can still easily damage your Tesla. Electric cars are so precisely engineered and manufactured that even just a short trip with flat-towing your Tesla is enough to incur some damage.
If you go for longer trips or make a habit of flat towing your Tesla, you’ll soon run into a problem with the functionality of your vehicle.
Check out this related article that I wrote about the Best Tire Repair Kit for Every Tesla Model. This is somewhat related to this post.
How To Tow a Tesla
Even though towing a Tesla behind an RV directly is not advised, you don’t need to leave your electric vehicle at home. You just need to follow the official Tesla towing procedure. I have outlined this procedure below.
Official Tesla Towing Procedure
Even though flat towing is against the rules, according to Tesla, you’re not out of options. Tesla states that you can tow your vehicle using a flatbed. If it’s not towed with its wheels on the ground, it will not incur the potential damages and therefore can still be under its original warranty.
To make sure you’re towing your vehicle properly, Tesla has thoroughly described the steps you need to take to prepare the vehicle’s system.
To get ready, you will first want to disable any self-levelling features that your Tesla has. This will depend on the make and model of your Tesla but may include things like air suspension.
To disable any currently running self-levelling features, you will want to go into your control menu and into your settings. Find your Ride Height settings and program it to be for the highest possible position.
Next, look for “Jack” in your menu and select this option. By selecting this mode, you’ll turn off any of your suspension settings and allow the car to move in the optimal way to be towed safely.
Can You Tow an Electric Car if It Breaks Down? I researched and wrote a detailed article on this topic. Check it out!
Now, it’s time to make sure your Tesla is in “Tow” mode. You should do it once you’ve fully secured your car to the flatbed and physically prepared it for towing.
Once that step is complete, you will want to go to the control menu and select the “E-Brake and Power Off” settings. There you will find the “Tow” mode, which you can turn on to make sure your Tesla stays in neutral even after you get out of the car.
If you consult your owner’s manual, you will find these instructions spelled out for you and your particular Tesla model. If there are any additional steps to take for the particular settings your vehicle has, you can find them by checking this manual.
Manuals for each model can be accessed here:
For an in-depth explanation of this process, you can check out this informational video on Youtube:
Can You Charge a Tesla by Flat Towing It?
Scientifically, it would make sense that you could charge your electric car while being towed. In theory, it would be able to collect the kinetic energy from the first vehicle and its fuel and convert that energy into a battery charge. However, it’s more complicated than that in practice.
While you’re putting your vehicle at substantial risk, you can charge your Tesla by flat towing it. If you’re ready to risk serious damage and the violation of your warranty, you can generate a substantial charge for your Tesla’s battery by flat towing it.
On a similar note, I also wrote a somewhat related article about Tesla Charging and all there is to know. Check it out!
Even though Tesla states the risks and consequences clearly, there are still plenty of Tesla owners who have taken the risk to see what happens. In one experiment done by the popular Engineering Explained Youtube Channel, they tested if a Tesla would recharge when towed behind a Ford Raptor truck.
To perform their experiment, they set the pace of travel at about 30 km/h. Even though the speed was low, even from the beginning, they were generating quite a bit of energy and working to recharge the Tesla battery.
They could regenerate one-kilowatt hour by traveling a single kilometer at a speed of approximately 30 kilometers per hour (18.64 miles). According to their calculations, this means if you towed your Tesla 75 kilometers (47 miles), you would be able to fully recharge your vehicle’s battery depending on its size.
|Distance Traveled||Speed||Regenerated Energy|
|1 km||30 km/h||1 kWh|
|75 km||30 km/h||75 kWh|
Can You Tow Any Electric Car Behind an RV?
As with a Tesla, any electric vehicle is at serious risk when flat towed. The internal components of all-electric cars will be more sensitive to the friction and heat created from towing. While there are potential recharging benefits, the risks of damage outweigh them.
If you have an electric car that’s not a Tesla, you’re still advised to tow it in a flatbed. It’s the safest way to get your electric car to your vacation spot without putting it at risk of incurring damage.
What Is Flat Towing?
Flat towing is when you tow a vehicle with all its wheels on the ground. It means you’re not using a flatbed or a two-wheeled dolly when towing your car. Typically, flat towing uses a tow bar to attach your vehicle to your RV and lets it roll along behind in neutral.
If you’d like to find out How To Put Tesla in Neutral, I’ve explained it in detail. Check it out!
While it’s not suitable for electric cars, many gasoline-powered cars are safe to flat-tow. It’s a popular option for people who like to vacation with their RV and still keep a smaller, more maneuverable vehicle close by to take short trips more easily.
However, the safety of this kind of towing will depend on the make and model of your gasoline-powered car. It might violate the warranty of your particular model, just like it would with a Tesla. It’s important to do your research before flat towing any type of vehicle.
Can You Tow a Tesla in Neutral?
If your Tesla is your first electric vehicle, you may need to adjust to its special needs when it comes to towing.
You might be used to throwing your car in neutral and allowing it to be towed away on its back two wheels. However, it’s different for Teslas and other electric cars.
When towing your Tesla on a flatbed truck, you’ll need to put your Tesla in its “Tow” mode. You can do it through your control menu by selecting the “E-Brake and Power Off” settings. Put your Tesla in “Tow” mode to keep it in the right setting after you exit the vehicle.
Understanding how your Tesla can be safely towed is important when thinking about recreation, as well as if your car breaks down and needs to be towed to a charge station or repair shop.
Depending on the make and model of your Tesla, you might be in serious trouble if a repairman attempts to tow it with only the back wheels on the ground.
For some Tesla models, the energy that would accumulate from the rear wheels when towed could actually turn into fire and cause serious damage to your car. If the repairman who comes to get you doesn’t have a flatbed truck, you will need to use dollies on the back wheels.
With your front two tires lifted off the ground and the back two tires supported by the dollies, you’re ready to have your Tesla towed in emergency situations. Tesla only suggests using this method for 30 miles or less (about 56 kilometers). You will also need to check with the dollies to see what their maximum speed is.
If you have access to a flatbed, you will be able to use your “tow” or “transport” mode in your Tesla to move it safely. For more information on safely towing your Tesla in the right settings, you can watch this informative video on Youtube:
Can You Dinghy Tow a Tesla?
Dinghy towing is a term that encompasses a few kinds of towing. The name comes about due to the resemblance of a yacht towing a small dinghy boat behind it on the water. When you’re towing a smaller vehicle behind an RV, you are dinghy towing it.
Dinghy towing can include flat towing as well as towing on a two-wheel dolly. However, this term doesn’t generally include flatbed towing. Since a flatbed is the only advisable way to tow a Tesla, it’s not advisable to dinghy tow your electric vehicle.
Are There Alternatives to Flat Towing an Electric Vehicle?
As stated by Tesla, the only advisable way to tow your vehicle is with a flatbed. It will keep the wheels from spinning when the vehicle is being towed. In an emergency without a flatbed, you can use a tow truck to lift up the front two wheels and place the back two wheels on a dolly.
For more information on towing guidelines from Tesla, you can visit their site here. They’re designed to help you understand what’s safe for your Tesla, whether you need to tow it in an emergency or for recreation.
In a Nutshell:
Can A Tesla Be Flat Towed?
It is not advised to flat tow a Tesla because the vehicle can be damaged. If you’re planning on doing some serious RVing with your trusty Tesla by your side, you should use a flatbed to two your vehicle.
Towing A Tesla On A Trailer
Now that we know a Tesla can’t be flat towed, you may be wondering about other towing options. If you’re planning a road trip in your RV and want to bring along your beloved electric car, it’s important to consider the best way to tow it.
One option is towing the Tesla on a trailer behind an RV or other appropriate tow vehicle. This method requires using a heavy-duty truck or SUV as the tow vehicle. You’ll need to ensure that both the trailer and the tow vehicle are up to the task of hauling your Tesla safely. It’s also crucial to make sure that the car is secure and level on the trailer before hitting the road.
Another option for towing your Tesla is utilizing a professional tow truck service. While this might seem like an expensive solution, it could be worth it if you want to avoid any potential damage during transport. The tow company will have specialized equipment designed specifically for transporting vehicles without adding mileage or wear-and-tear on them.
Towing A Tesla In Neutral: A Solution For Rvers?
Since Teslas are electric vehicles and don’t have the same engines as gasoline-powered cars, you can’t simply put a Tesla in neutral and hook it up to your RV. The heat generated by friction will damage the Tesla.
You’ll have to use a flatbed trailer to tow your Tesla behind your RV.
Other Considerations For Towing A Tesla Behind An RV
One thing to keep in mind is that towing any vehicle behind an RV will add extra weight and potentially decrease gas mileage.
It’s always best to consult your owner’s manual or contact Tesla directly for guidance on this matter. Ultimately, if you’re looking to take your Tesla camping with your RV, it’s important to do your research beforehand and ensure that both vehicles are properly equipped and prepared for the journey ahead.
With careful planning and attention to detail, however, nothing should stop you from enjoying the great outdoors while driving one of today’s most innovative cars!
Check out these 20 great gift ideas for yourself or a Tesla fanboy.
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