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Emergency Towing for Electric Vehicles

The Dos and Don'ts of Emergency Towing for Electric Vehicles

June 3, 2024
Mathew Hayden
reading time
5 Min

The growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads demands a shift in how we approach roadside assistance, particularly emergency towing. Unlike their gasoline-powered counterparts, EVs require specialized towing techniques and equipment to ensure safe and damage-free recovery.

In this guide, we go through the dos and don'ts of emergency EV towing, covering the best practices that our team at Myles Wrecker Service carries out on a daily basis.

Understanding Electric Vehicles: Basics and Towing Challenges

Electric vehicles differ from traditional vehicles in their core components. Unlike gasoline engines, EVs rely on a high-voltage battery system to power an electric motor. This electric motor drives the wheels, and some EVs even utilize regenerative braking to capture energy during deceleration and put it back into the battery.

These unique components present challenges during towing if not handled correctly. Improper towing methods can damage some EVs' battery pack, electric motor, or drivetrain, leading to costly repairs.

Do’s of Emergency Towing for Electric Vehicles

1. Always Use a Flatbed!

When towing an EV, opt for a flatbed tow truck. This way, all four wheels are off the ground, preventing damage to the electric motor and drivetrain if they are towed on the ground. 

2. Towing Procedure: A Step-by-Step Guide

These are the steps we take to make sure that all EVs are towed safely and securely.

  • Turn off the vehicle and engage the parking brake.
  • Unlock the vehicle for the tow truck driver.
  • If possible, consult your owner's manual ([EV owner manual]) for specific instructions related to towing your EV model. Some manufacturers might have additional steps or procedures to follow.
  • The tow truck driver will carefully position the EV onto the flatbed using ramps or a winch.
  • The vehicle will be securely fastened to the flatbed using straps and tie-downs.
  • Once secure, the tow truck driver will transport the vehicle to your desired destination.

3. Battery Management

If possible, try to conserve some battery charge before the tow truck arrives. This can be helpful for short-distance towing to a charging station. While some tow trucks might be able to provide a temporary charge boost, it's always best to prioritize battery preservation.

4. Consulting Manuals

Your EV owner's manual is a valuable resource during a towing situation. It will contain specific instructions and recommendations for towing your particular EV model. This might include details on disabling the regenerative braking system or activating a towing mode, if applicable.

Don'ts of Emergency Towing for Electric Vehicles

1. Avoid Traditional Tow Trucks

Emergency towing services often use traditional tow trucks with hooks and chains. These methods are not suitable for EVs, especially all-wheel drive (AWD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD) models. Towing an EV with these methods can cause severe damage to the electric motor, drivetrain, and high-voltage battery system, leading to very, very expensive problems.

2. Never Tow With Wheels on the Ground

When the wheels rotate, the electric motor in an EV functions similarly to a generator. Towing an EV with its wheels on the ground can force the electric motor to spin, potentially causing internal damage. This is why using a flatbed tow truck is crucial for safe EV towing.

3. Ignoring Specific EV Features

Some EV models may have specific features related to towing, such as designated towing points or software settings that need to be activated before towing. Always refer to your EV's owner's manual to ensure you're not overlooking any crucial steps that could impact the towing process.

Selecting the Right Towing Service: Expertise Matters

Choosing the right towing service is important when faced with an EV emergency. Here's how to ensure your electric vehicle receives the care it deserves:

Look for a towing service with experience in EVs: Check any certifications, customer reviews, and case studies they have. These are three huge green flags that you’re making the right choice.

Always ask questions: Don't hesitate to ask potential towing companies about their experience with EVs, the types of tow trucks they have available, and the training their drivers receive in EV towing procedures. If they’re legit, they will be more than happy to share this information with you.

After Towing: Next Steps

Once your EV has been towed to its destination, it's wise to take some additional precautions:

Thorough Inspection and Checking: Have a certified EV mechanic visually inspect your vehicle for any potential damage that might have occurred during the towing process.

Battery and Systems Check: A certified EV technician can perform a comprehensive battery and electrical system check to ensure everything is functioning optimally after the tow. This might involve checking the battery's health, voltage levels, and any diagnostic trouble codes stored in the car's computer system.

Keep your EV owner's manual readily available. Having it handy will allow you to quickly access specific towing instructions for your vehicle model in case of an emergency.

Consider roadside assistance: Many roadside assistance programs are now expanding their services to include EV-specific towing and support. Ensure your roadside assistance provider is equipped to handle electric vehicles.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the proper towing techniques for electric vehicles is crucial to avoiding unnecessary damage and ensuring the safety of both yourself and your EV. By following the dos and don'ts outlined above, you'll be well-equipped to navigate an emergency towing situation confidently.

By staying informed and prepared, you can ensure a smooth recovery process for your electric vehicle in the event of an emergency. Remember, choosing a towing service with expertise in EVs and proper equipment is vital for safely and efficiently towing your electric car.

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