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What You Need To Know About Towing An Electric Car

The Auto Sunday is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

What do you need to know about towing an electric car? Are there special considerations to make before you decide to tow one? Can you tow a Nissan LEAF with a tow dolly?

Nissan LEAF Showroom

Electric cars aren’t meant to be towed like traditional combustion engine cars. Electric cars are equipped with onboard electronics and motors directly installed to turn the wheels which makes towing it a complicated affair.

You Tow It, You Void It

Electric Car Manufacturers have a strict Do Not Tow Policy for their products.

Lose Your License Quickly

It is best that you are made aware of this early on so that you don’t forget.

It is stated on your warranty and owner’s manual that towing your electric vehicle can lead to unwanted mechanical damage. This may not happen all the time but why risk it?

Reasons Why You Would Have To Tow Your Electric Vehicle

Although electric cars are deemed the future, they’re not immune to the occasional malfunction. This can either be a product issue or a user-related oversight.

Just remember that electric vehicles aren’t indestructible. You will have to perform a daily check-up and a regular preventive maintenance schedule to ensure it is always in tip-top shape.

Here are some reasons why someone like you would need to tow your electric vehicle:

You Have A Flat Tire

A flat tire can happen to anyone whether they have an electric car or a conventional combustion engine vehicle. This can easily be fixed by replacing the tire with your spare. It is also important that you learn how to replace a flat tire so that you’re not completely hopeless for something as easily rectified as a flat tire.

All you have to do is get the spare tire, jack, and tire wrench/cross wrench out. Put your car in park, shut off the engine and engage the emergency brake to prevent slipping. Placing additional blocks on the unaffected tires will help you keep your car in place.

Next, place the jack in the strongest portion of your undercarriage nearest to the inside of the tire without compromising your position. Don’t raise the jack yet. You’ll need the added traction of the flat tire against the road surface to give you a good grip on the bolts.

After that, loosen the bolts with the cross wrench.

Now, pump the jack to raise that portion of the car up and completely loosen the bolts. Remove the affected tire and replace it with the spare. Screw the nuts in place and deflate the jack. Once your spare tire is touching the ground solidly, tighten the nuts.

Bring your car to the nearest mechanic and have your regular tire inflated. Replace the spare tire again.

Never drive your car when you have a flat tire even if only for just a short distance. Doing so will damage your tire’s internal composition. Tires cost a lot of money.

Patching A Flat Tire Up

Most electric cars don’t have a spare tire because there is a space restriction within the vehicle. Instead, patches are made available to owners. Consult your owner’s manual on how to do this properly.

Ridiculously Small Tires

What you would basically need to do is slap these patches inside the tire to cover the hole temporarily. You will need to have your tire checked immediately as this is a temporary fix.

There are also foam-type patches that come in a bottle which are more convenient to use.

Dead Batteries Suck The Life Out Of Any Journey

Your EV runs on the juice provided by your batteries. These batteries are charged at charging stations or plugged into your home.

Make it a point to charge your EV every chance you get so you don’t end up dead in the middle of the road because someone forgot to charge. That can suck the life out of any journey no matter how short.

Replace worn or dead batteries if you find any in your grid.

Remember, you can’t just walk to the nearest gas station with an empty container to buy fuel for your EV.

Wait, What? Brakes Break Down?

Your brakes are more important than anything else in your car. In most cases, stopping your car will help you avoid bigger problems. So how can you do that if your brakes are broken down?

Preventive maintenance is the key. Make sure you schedule a visit to your local mechanic to have your brakes assessed periodically to be aware of their present condition.

Don’t risk driving our EV if you notice anything wrong with it. You might end up crashing into someone and that can present a whole slew of different problems offsetting the money saved because you didn’t buy new pads.

You Parked Where You Weren’t Supposed To Or Parked Longer Than You Were Allowed To

Part of being a responsible member of society is knowing where to park and where not to. You also have to remember how long you are allowed to do so in certain parking spaces. Negligence can lead to getting your wheels clamped or towed.

Factory Defects Detected

Yes, it happens. Factory defects do crop up every now and then and your EV, no matter how much you love it, won’t function as it is supposed to. For instances like these, call your manufacturer and have your EV assessed.

Acts Of God

Certain flukes of nature can happen to anyone. Natural disasters can ruin a perfectly good car or leave it dead. Worse, it could also lead to damage. It’s never a good thing when a tree falls on anyone’s car no matter how rugged it is. EVs are particularly fragile in nature and not designed to catch falling trees, rocks, getting flooded in and other physical manifestations of Mother Nature.

Things To Remember Before You Call Your Trusted Tow Company

Ok, you’re in that situation where calling your tow company is the only course of action left. So get your phone out and dial the numbers. Just remember these things:

Consider Getting A Wrecker

Alright, before you think we’re advising you to scrap your electric car, we’re talking about getting a recovery truck. A recovery truck or “wrecker” has a boom and a flatbed that will lift your entire car up and over to sit on top of the level platform.

The Proper Way To Tow An Electric Car
The Proper Way To Tow An Electric Car

In this manner, you can transport your electric car over a longer distance without fear of incurring any or more damage to its mechanical innards.

Electric vehicles don’t have a true neutral gear position which allows it to be moved without affecting the motor. Getting a wrecker will save you from the damage incurred by dragging your vehicle behind the tow truck.

Get A Jumpstart Instead

Instead of getting towed, why not ask your tow company if they have a charging truck instead. They could bring batteries or an on-board generator to power your dead car up and allow you to continue on your way.

Conventional Car Battery

This is only applicable to EVs with drained batteries. Other underlying problems cannot be solved by charging your EV up with the help of a charging truck.

Can Towing An Electric Car Really Recharge It?

There have been claims of electric car owners who were able to recharge their electric cars by having it towed by another vehicle. Although many have claimed to do it, it isn’t advisable because you can break the warranty on your vehicle and it is even illegal to do in some US states.

In order to recharge the electric car with this towing method, the wheels should be touching the ground and a driver should be using the brakes. This triggers recharging through regenerative braking.

Control over using the brake is very important and the driver should not simply step on the breaks because it can trigger the real brakes.

This is highly advised against as the probability of ruining your motors and brakes is high. Only do this if you are absolutely certain that losing your warranty isn’t cause for worry.

Remember BLOWBAGS

There are many reasons why one would get towed. Parking illegally or parking longer than you should be in a place that clearly states a duration is one good way to get a perfectly functional electric car towed.

And then there are just those reasons where it can all be attributed to you. Yes, driver error doesn’t always have to happen behind the wheel. It can also happen outside the vehicle and even before you get in.

Now, all of these things wouldn’t have happened if you knew about the acronym BLOWBAGS. What’s BLOWBAGS you say? This is a simple reminder for all drivers to do a simple checklist before heading out.

Before leaving your house, you might want to consider remembering this.

Batteries

Your electric car runs solely on the energy stored in your batteries. Without any juice, your EV isn’t going anywhere. Top up every chance you get especially when you get home or happen to pass by a charging station

Lights

Lights are very important when you’re operating an electric vehicle on today’s roads. These aren’t just for illumination. Lights are important when you need to signal to someone the direction in which you are heading.

Check the lights by doing a physical check and making sure the enclosure is in good condition, doesn’t have any cracks or isn’t broken.

Oil

oil is the lifeblood of all cars. It keeps everything lubricated. This is pretty minimal in electric vehicles but you should still check.

Water/Coolant

This is a non-existent factor in electric cars as they operate without a radiator. Still, having it in your checklist is good as you can apply this to your conventional cars. You can skip this if all you have in your garage is an EV.

If you have a conventional combustion engine vehicle, check the water and coolant levels to ensure your engine runs cool when you operate it.

Brakes

The most important thing for your EV to do in any dire situation is having the ability to stop. Check your brakes regularly by testing it and ensuring the brake fluid level is at the prescribed volume.

Air

Check your tires. There’s nothing worse than having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere as most EVs only come with tire patches instead of spare tires.

Gas

Nissan LEAF Charging Ports
Nissan LEAF Charging Ports

Gas in this context is the level of energy in your batteries. This serves as your fuel. And just like fuel, if you run out of energy, you’ll run out of space to cover. Charge your EV every time you are presented the chance to do so.

Security/Safety

Make sure all locks are working. There’s nothing worse than leaving your car unattended then doing so with your doors unlocked. That’s the quickest way to lose your valuables, or worse, lose your entire car.

Essential Things To Have When Operating An Electric Vehicle

Owning and driving an electric car has a lot of benefits. It is environmentally friendly and it can even bring down the money you spend on operational costs. You also reduce your total carbon footprint leading to a better world.

But because your electric car has moving parts, tires, and batteries, you still can’t escape the fact that you may still need towing services for towing an electric car from time to time despite all of its inherent benefits.

Always have a tow cable ready, some basic tools for replacing a flat tire, an emergency phone with the number of a reliable tow company saved and a modicum of cool to allow you to think your way out of any dire situation.

Related Questions:

Can You Tow A Nissan Leaf With A Tow Dolly?

No. It is highly advised that you do not tow your Nissan LEAF with a tow dolly. Doing so would void the warranty. The Nissan LEAF does not have a true neutral gear which means it cannot freewheel without compromising its inner mechanical workings. The price to pay for that is too much for a tow.

Can Towing An Electric Car Charge It?

There are reports that towing an electric car and engaging the regenerative brakes can charge it but the return on this type of investment is very minimal. The cost of damaging your onboard electronics and motor is not worth the risk of getting a small charge as you are towed behind another vehicle.

Can Another Electric Vehicle Tow A Dead Electric Vehicle?

It is much better to jumpstart your dead electric vehicle instead of towing it behind another electric vehicle. Electric cars are not designed to be towed or to tow another vehicle behind it. Giving it a jump so it can limp to the nearest charging station is the better option over towing it for one.

In Conclusion:

Towing your electric vehicle should only be done as a last recourse. This course of action can lead to many unwanted outcomes that could result to very expensive repairs.

Voiding your warranty because you towed your electric car when the manufacturers explicitly stated you shouldn’t do it is also something you don’t want to do.

Preventive maintenance, performing a daily checklist and ensuring your batteries are fully charged each time you get inside your car can save you the hassle of getting into situations requiring a tow truck to pick you up.

Still, it’s always good to have the number of a good tow company with a boom-equipped recovery truck (or wrecker) ready. You never know when you’ll need it and it’s always better to have it and not need it than to not have it and be stuck somewhere.

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