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The Importance of Training and Certification for EV Towing

The Importance of Training and Certification for EV Towing

Date
May 23, 2024
author
Mathew Hayden
reading time
5 Min

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is well and truly underway. EVs are becoming an increasingly popular choice for drivers, with 1.6 million being sold in the US in 2023. This shift presents a unique challenge for those in the towing industry. 

Electric vehicle towing requires specialized training and certification to ensure safety and prevent damage to these complex vehicles. Today we will delve into their importance and, if you’re an EV owner, what this means for you when selecting a towing company.

Why EVs Require Specialized Towing

The structural makeup of EVs is widely different from that of their traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, which calls for specialized towing. Here's a quick overview of these differences:

EV Structure: EVs lack a traditional engine and drivetrain, with the electric motor often located on the axle. This alters weight distribution and towing points compared to ICE vehicles. Improper attachment during towing can cause severe damage to the undercarriage or battery pack.

Battery Pack: An EV's high-voltage battery pack is the driving force and requires specific handling procedures to avoid electrical hazards. Certified mechanics understand how to safely disconnect and secure the battery pack during towing.

Electrical Systems: EVs have complex high-voltage electrical systems that require specialized knowledge for handling. Improper towing can damage these systems, leading to expensive repairs and potential safety risks.

EV Towing Risks

Beyond the structural differences, there are specific risks associated with improper EV towing.

Drivetrain Damage: When an EV is towed with its wheels on the ground and the electric motor is not disconnected, the motor can continue to spin due to the wheels rolling. This can cause the motor to act as a generator, forcing electricity back into the battery pack and potentially damaging the motor itself. Certified EV towing companies understand how to disconnect the electric motor from the wheels during towing, preventing this issue.

Electrical System Short Circuits: EVs utilize high-voltage electrical systems that require specific handling procedures to avoid short circuits. Improper towing methods, like using incorrect grounding points or lifting procedures, can damage electrical wiring or components, leading to safety hazards and expensive repairs. 

Overview of Training Programs

To ensure safe and proper towing of EVs, towing companies should invest in specialized training programs for their technicians. These programs typically cover the following topics:

Understanding EV Technology: This includes a detailed overview of EV components, their functions, and potential safety risks.

Correct Handling and Attachment Points: Technicians learn proper lifting procedures and safe towing points specific to different EV models.

Emergency Response to EV Accidents: Training covers the unique challenges of handling EV accidents, including potential fire hazards and high-voltage risks.

Training Program Content

In addition to the core curriculum, some training programs delve into more advanced topics:

Beyond the Basics: Training may cover regenerative braking systems specific to EVs. Understanding how these systems function allows technicians to handle towing situations without damaging the regenerative braking components.

Hands-on Learning: Effective training programs incorporate practical exercises alongside theoretical knowledge. This allows technicians to gain hands-on experience with different EV models, practicing safe lifting techniques, using specialized towing equipment, and simulating emergency response scenarios involving EVs.

Reputable Towing Certifications

Several industry-recognized certifications demonstrate a towing company's commitment to safe EV towing practices. Look for certifications from organizations like the International Association of Automotive Service Providers (IAASP) or the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). These certifications can help with: 

Ensuring Safety: Certified technicians have the knowledge and skills to handle EVs safely, minimizing the risk of electrical hazards or damage to the vehicle. This includes following proper procedures to disconnect the high-voltage battery pack and preventing potential shocks or fires.

Preventing Vehicle Damage: Improper towing methods can cause significant damage to the battery pack, electrical systems, and drivetrain. Certified towing prevents costly repairs by ensuring technicians use the correct lifting points, towing equipment, and procedures specific to EVs.

Maintaining Vehicle Warranty: Many EV manufacturers require the use of certified towing services to maintain vehicle warranties. Opting for a non-certified service could void your warranty, leaving you responsible for repair costs.

Competitive Advantage: In a growing EV market, towing companies with certified technicians gain a significant competitive edge by attracting customers who prioritize safe and proper EV handling. By showcasing their commitment to EV towing expertise, these companies can build trust and loyalty with EV owners.

Legal and Insurance Considerations

Specific regulations and insurance requirements might apply to towing EVs, and these can vary depending on your location. However, training and certification can help towing companies comply with these legal standards. Certified technicians are familiar with the latest regulations regarding EV handling and towing procedures. 

This knowledge helps ensure towing services operate within legal boundaries and minimizes the risk of legal disputes caused by accidents. Proper certification can also strengthen a towing company's insurance coverage in situations involving EVs.

How to Choose the Right Towing Service for Your EV

As an EV owner, here's how to choose a towing service that prioritizes proper EV handling:

Ask About Certifications: Inquire about the towing company's technicians' certifications specific to EV towing. Don't hesitate to ask for details about the training programs they've completed and the issuing organizations.

Look for Credentials: Request proof of certification from the towing company and verify its validity with the issuing organization. This extra step ensures the technicians possess the genuine qualifications they claim.

Research Online Reviews: Read online reviews from other EV owners to get a sense of the company's experience and reputation with EV towing. Reviews can offer valuable insights into the towing company's responsiveness, professionalism, and expertise in handling EVs.

Inquire About Equipment: Some towing companies invest in specialized equipment designed for EVs, such as dollies to lift specific wheels without damaging the drivetrain. While not mandatory, such equipment demonstrates the company's commitment to safe and proper EV towing practices.

By prioritizing these factors, you can ensure that your EV is towed safely and efficiently by a qualified professional who prioritizes its unique needs.

Conclusion

The rise of EVs necessitates a shift in towing practices. Proper training and certification for towing companies are crucial to ensuring safety, preventing vehicle damage, and complying with legal regulations. EV owners should also be informed and choose towing services that prioritize proper EV handling. 

As the EV landscape continues to evolve, prioritizing safe and professional EV towing practices will benefit both towing professionals and EV owners alike. By investing in qualified technicians and staying informed about EVs, the towing industry can ensure a smooth transition toward an electrified future.

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