Can You Flat Tow a Tesla Behind an RV? (Nope!)

Are you going on an RV road trip and want to bring along a set of additional wheels by flat-towing a car behind your RV? If your car is a Tesla, you must leave it at home. Never flat-tow a Tesla, regardless of the model, because doing so will likely cause significant damage to your vehicle. This fact is something all Tesla owners must know.

Flat towing is a popular and convenient method for safely transporting vehicles from one location to another. However, due to the way Teslas and electric vehicles work, it’s not possible – and certainly not advisable – to flat tow them.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what flat-towing entails and why it isn’t recommended when dealing with an EV such as the Tesla.

Finally, we’ll discuss how these luxury EVs are correctly towed using their dedicated Transport Mode and a reliable flatbed trailer or truck to reach their destination in perfect condition!

What is Flat Towing?

Flat towing is a method of towing an automobile behind another vehicle, such as an RV. This type of towing involves attaching the towed vehicle using a tow bar and allowing its four wheels to roll freely on the ground while being pulled along by the other vehicle.

Thus the name “flat” tow, unlike a wheel lift or a wheel dolly which raises either the rear wheels or the front wheels off the ground.

It’s an excellent way for people with RVs or motorhomes who want extra transportation options during their travels to experience the area they visit more easily once their RV is safely parked.

Other reasons people like to flat tow is that it eliminates the need for a trailer, which can be costly and cumbersome. Hooking up a car for flat towing is fast and easy. It allows for greater maneuverability because the car can be quickly removed in a tight backing situation. And people prefer to bring their car with them so that it’s supervised while they’re away from home.

Key Takeaway: Flat towing is a convenient and affordable way of transporting an extra set of wheels. However, Tesla electric cars, as well as most electric cars, cannot be safely flat-towed due to their design.

Why Can’t You Flat Tow a Tesla?

Tesla vehicles cannot be flat-towed because doing so can cause catastrophic damage to them.

Unlike traditional gas-powered vehicles, electric cars can never have their transmissions entirely disconnected in neutral.

Therefore, even when the Tesla is in Neutral Mode, the spinning wheels will generate power that builds up in the battery, which will cause overheating because this power is not being used.

In addition, the cooling system will not be engaged, so nothing will be done to mitigate the heating. This overheating can then lead to material ignition, fire, and even explosion.

Even if flat-towing doesn’t end up causing an explosion, it can put too much strain on the Tesla’s components and electric motor, potentially causing damage or even rendering your car inoperable.

Tesla itself and, in fact, all EV automakers forbid flat-towing due to these dangers.

Additionally, suppose you attempt flat-towing your Tesla without authorization from Tesla Motors. In that case, you will void your warranty, and any insurance coverage for damages resulting from the tow may not apply.

In addition, you could face personal liability should your Tesla ignite or explode and cause harm or damage to third parties.

Lastly, false odometer readings can occur when attempting flat-towing a Tesla, leading to inaccurate maintenance records, incorrect service intervals being applied by technicians working on your car, and inaccurate depreciation.

It is important to note that this applies across all models: Model 3, Model X, Model Y, and Model S – none are suitable for flat-towing as per manufacturer instructions.

If you need to move one of these vehicles over a long or a short distance, other methods, such as using a flatbed trailer or wheel lifts and dollies, must be employed instead.

Bear in mind that this might mean additional equipment hire/purchase expense, plus fuel costs incurred by hauling an extra load behind your vehicle during transit between locations.

Flat towing a Tesla is absolutely not recommended due to the potential damage it can cause to the vehicle, but there are other ways of safely towing your Tesla.

In the following section, we’ll look at how you can tow your Tesla safely.

Key Takeaway: Flat-towing a Tesla is impossible due to an electric car’s design and may cause severe damage, fire, or explosion. In addition, it is likely to void your car’s warranty and generate false odometer readings. This restriction applies to all models: Model 3, X, Y, and S. Alternative methods, such as flatbed trailer hitch mounting, must be used instead.

How to Tow a Tesla Safely on the Back of Your RV

Towing a Tesla safely on your RV trip requires special care and attention. The key is ensuring the car’s wheels are not spinning at any point during transport. In other words, none of the Tesla’s wheels must be on the ground during transport.

The only recommended method to tow a Tesla behind your RV is with a flatbed trailer, on which the car will sit stationary, thus ensuring zero wheel rotation.

The Tesla can simply be driven onto the flatbed and put into Park Mode (its electric parking brake).

An additional benefit of using a flatbed trailer is that your Tesla will suffer no wear and tear during its transport.

Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct and safe use of the flatbed trailer and use any tie-down straps or tow chains properly.

Key Takeaway: To tow your Tesla behind your RV you must use a flatbed trailer so that the wheels never touch the ground.

How to Tow a Broken-Down Tesla

You cannot flat-tow a Tesla or other electric vehicle. However, there are different ways you can tow a Tesla in the case of a breakdown or other problem requiring the vehicle to be fixed or taken to the nearest charging station.

Flatbed Tow Truck

The best method for when your Tesla needs transporting from A to B is to use a tow truck, which ensures the vehicle remains stationary throughout its journey, thus eliminating the possibility of its wheels turning or touching the ground.

The flatbed truck would pull your Tesla onto the flatbed using a winch cable, and the vehicle should be put into Transport Mode (also known as Tow Mode), which is a special mode especially for allowing it to be winched onto the flatbed truck.

In this mode, the parking brake stays disengaged, and the car can roll at a slow pace (under 5 km/h) for up to ten meters.

Please refer to your Tesla owner’s manual to activate this mode, as it differs slightly between models.

Note that a hitched flatbed trailer is not recommended for the towing of a broken down Tesla due to the fact that you will not be able to winch the vehicle on to the trailer in normal circumstances.

Wheel Lifts and Tow Dollies

If you don’t have access to a flatbed truck, a combination of a wheel lift and a tow dolly can also be used to tow your Tesla safely. However, Tesla recommends that this method of transport be carried out only for short distances of up to 35 miles of range.

It is important to note that when using either method of transport (flatbed truck or wheel lifts/dollies), always use tie-down straps around each tire securely.

Make sure these straps are correctly tied, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The eight-point tie-down method should be employed to secure the vehicle’s tires.

Furthermore, remember that your Tesla warranty comes with the Tesla Roadside Assistance service if you find yourself with a problem and need to pull off to the side of the road.

Key Takeway: To transport a Tesla from A to B, use either a flatbed truck or wheel lifts/tow dollies with straps securely fastened. Use Transport Mode to winch the car onto the truck, wheel lift, or dolly, and once on, put it into Park mode.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is not possible to flat tow a Tesla car. This is due to the design of a Tesla or any electric car, (Eg. a Nissan Leaf), because the vehicle’s battery and electric components cannot be disengaged from the wheels.

Flat-towing means all four wheels are on the ground and are rotating, which can cause severe damage to the vehicle, which the warranty would not cover.

The only recommended way to tow a Tesla over a long distance is by using either a flatbed trailer or a flatbed truck. For short distances, a wheel lift and tow dolly combination is permitted.

The Tesla’s Transport Mode should be engaged (except in the case of the flatbed trailer), and the car should be set in Park Mode during the transport in all cases.

Therefore, when considering whether you can flat tow a Tesla, the answer must be no – but there are other safe ways of transporting your electric vehicle without damaging it.

Jonathan Rice