Going on a road trip with an RV has always been a popular way to travel and explore the great outdoors. While embarking on these adventures, it’s common for people to want to tow a smaller vehicle behind their RV for added convenience when they reach their destination.
A Tesla, with its eco-friendly electric operation, may seem like an ideal tow-behind option for many; but is it possible, and if so, how can it be done?
Understanding Towing a Tesla
Tesla and Electric Vehicles
Tesla is known for producing high-quality electric vehicles (EVs) that provide an eco-friendly alternative to gas-guzzling cars. However, when it comes to towing a Tesla vehicle behind an RV, there are some considerations to keep in mind. This is true for all types of electric cars – not just Tesla.
Flat Towing Vs Trailer Towing
There are two common methods of towing a vehicle behind an RV: flat towing (also known as four wheels down) and trailer towing:
- Flat towing: Involves connecting a tow bar to the vehicle and towing it with all four wheels on the ground.
- Trailer towing: Requires a trailer on which the vehicle is secured so the vehicle’s wheels are not in contact with the ground.
While flat towing may be more convenient, not all vehicles are suitable for this method. In the case of a Tesla, it is not recommended to flat tow due to potential damage to the drivetrain and battery. Instead, trailer towing should be used to avoid these issues.
Potential Damage and Warranty Concerns
Towing a Tesla improperly can lead to various types of damage. Some potential issues include:
- Drivetrain damage: A Tesla’s drivetrain is not designed for continuous spinning without powering the vehicle. Flat towing can cause wear and tear on the drivetrain components, leading to costly repairs.
- Battery drainage: Towing a Tesla with the wheels on the ground can cause the car to consume battery power, even when it is powered off.
- Regenerative braking system: Tesla vehicles have a regenerative braking system, and towing the car with the wheels on the ground may engage this system. This could create resistance, making it more difficult to tow and potentially damaging the brakes.
Additionally, towing a Tesla incorrectly may void the warranty, leaving you without coverage for any damage incurred while towing. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for towing and consult your Tesla owner’s manual for specific guidelines.
Preparing Your Tesla for Towing
Tesla Towing Mode
Before towing your Tesla behind an RV, you must enable Towing Mode on the touch screen of your vehicle.
This mode will allow the car to be pulled without engaging the electric parking brake or causing any damage to the transmission. To enable Towing Mode, simply go to the Service Menu, select Towing, and follow the on-screen instructions.
Electric Parking Brake and Transmission
When towing a Tesla, ensure that the electric parking brake is disengaged to prevent damage to the braking system. Moreover, it’s crucial to take care of the transmission during the towing process.
Since Teslas are electric vehicles, they don’t have traditional transmissions like internal combustion engine cars. However, they do have a single-speed transmission that requires proper care when towing. Enabling Towing Mode should take care of this issue, but it’s essential to double-check before proceeding.
Checking the Owner’s Manual
Lastly, consulting the Tesla owner’s manual for your specific vehicle model is necessary to understand the towing capabilities and limitations.
The manual will provide you with specific steps and precautions to take when towing your Tesla behind an RV. Different Tesla models may have slightly varying towing procedures, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s requirements.
Towing Equipment and Method
Using a Flatbed Trailer
A flatbed trailer is a great option for towing a Tesla behind an RV, as it prevents any excessive wear on the vehicle’s tires and propulsion system.
The trailer should be large enough to accommodate the Tesla, and you’ll need to make sure it’s properly secured to the RV hitch. It is also important to choose a trailer with an appropriate weight capacity, as the Tesla can be a heavy load.
Tow Dolly Options
A tow dolly is another possible solution, but it might require some extra precautions. A tow dolly elevates the front wheels of the Tesla while leaving the rear wheels on the ground.
Since Teslas are equipped with an electric motor, in some models, it may cause damage to the motor when continuously towed with wheels on the ground. In this case, using a tow dolly designed for electric vehicles can help. Make sure to consult your Tesla owner’s manual to understand the brand-specific requirements and limitations.
Proper Tie-Down Techniques
When towing a Tesla with either a flatbed trailer or tow dolly, it is crucial to use proper tie-down straps to securely fasten the vehicle. Here are some suggestions to ensure your Tesla remains safe during transit:
- Use adjustable ratchet straps with a minimum working load limit of 3,000 pounds.
- Attach the straps to designated anchor points on both the Tesla and the trailer or dolly.
- Ensure straps are tightly fastened and check them regularly during your journey, adjusting as necessary.
- For added stability, consider using additional straps to secure the Tesla’s wheels to the trailer or dolly.
Impact on RV and Tesla Performance
Weight and Towing Capacity Considerations
When towing a Tesla behind an RV, it’s important to consider the weight of the vehicle and the towing capacity of your RV. Tesla vehicles can weigh between 3,500 to 5,000 pounds, depending on the model. Make sure your RV has a high enough towing capacity to safely pull the vehicle.
Also, consider that adding a Tesla to your RV’s load can impact the overall handling and fuel efficiency of your RV.
Effects on Tesla Battery and Range
Towing a Tesla behind an RV will affect the vehicle’s battery and range. When being towed, a Tesla will be in “tow mode,” which disables functions like regenerative braking.
This mode will cause minimal battery drain as the vehicle is being pulled. However, it’s important to periodically check the battery level and plan for charging stops along the route to ensure your Tesla remains ready to drive when detached from the RV.
Handling Heat-Related Issues
Overheating can be a concern when towing a Tesla behind an RV, especially in hot weather or under heavy loads. To avoid this issue:
- Monitor the temperature of the Tesla’s battery and motor through the vehicle’s app or in-car display.
- Allow the vehicle to cool down during rest stops or overnight stays if you notice rising temperatures.
- Avoid towing the Tesla up steep inclines or at high speeds for prolonged periods.
Following these guidelines can help mitigate heat-related issues and maintain the performance of both your RV and Tesla while towing.
Alternative Towing Vehicles and Strategies
Non-Tesla Electric Cars for Towing
There are other non-Tesla electric vehicles (EVs) suitable for towing behind an RV. Some popular options include the Kia Niro EV, Audi e-Tron, and the Nissan Leaf. These vehicles provide an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles while still meeting your towing needs.
Roadside Assistance and Transportation Options
Roadside assistance providers such as AAA, Good Sam Club, and Coach-Net all offer transportation options for electric vehicles.
They might have special equipment for towing your EV and can transport it to the nearest appropriate charging station or service center when necessary. It’s always a good idea to have a reliable roadside assistance plan when traveling in your RV.
Planning Your RV Trip
When planning your RV trip, there are certain factors to consider when towing an electric vehicle, such as charging stations and range:
- Charging stations: Always know the locations and availability of charging stations along your route. Apps like PlugShare can help you find nearby EV charging stations and plan your stops accordingly.
- Range: Electric vehicles have a limited range compared to ICE vehicles, so plan your trip accordingly to ensure you have enough charge to reach your destination or the next charging station.
- Towing capacity: Make sure your RV is rated for towing the weight of your electric vehicle. Check the owner’s manual of your RV for towing capacity information.
By considering these factors and using the available non-Tesla EV options or planning on utilizing roadside assistance, you can effectively tow an electric vehicle behind your RV.