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What Makes Electric Vehicle Towing Different? An Expert's Insight

What Makes Electric Vehicle Towing Different? An Expert's Insight

Date
April 11, 2024
author
Mathew Hayden
reading time
5 Min

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) is undeniable. With environmental concerns at the forefront and technological advancements making EVs more accessible, it's no surprise that a growing number of people are opting for electric power. This surge in EV ownership will inevitably lead to an increased demand for EV-specific towing services.

However, towing an EV is not the same as towing a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle.  Understanding these differences is crucial for both EV owners and towing professionals to ensure a safe and efficient towing experience.

Understanding Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles differ from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in fundamental ways. Unlike ICE vehicles, which rely on gasoline or diesel for power, EVs use electric motors powered by large battery packs. These require proper handling during towing, which is essential.

EV Battery Risks and Considerations

Damage and Reduced Range

Improper towing techniques can damage the battery, leading to reduced range, diminished performance, or even a complete loss of battery functionality. A damaged battery can significantly impact the value and usability of your EV.

In extreme cases, mishandling during towing can lead to thermal runaway, a dangerous situation where the battery overheats and releases harmful emissions.

Weight Considerations

Due to their heavy batteries, EVs typically weigh more than their ICE counterparts. This additional weight requires careful consideration when choosing towing methods and equipment. Traditional towing methods that involve lifting a vehicle by its wheels may not be suitable for EVs. 

These methods can stress the electric motor and drivetrain excessively, potentially causing expensive repairs.

What to Do if You Break Down in an Electric Vehicle

So, you're on a road trip with your family in your new EV, enjoying the quiet ride and zero emissions. Suddenly, you lose power and come to a standstill. You're stranded on the side of the road, unsure of what to do next.

Here's how to navigate this situation:

Don't Panic: Remain calm and assess the situation. If possible, pull over to a safe location away from traffic.

Consult Your Manual: Your EV's owner's manual should have specific instructions for towing. Look for sections on recommended towing procedures and any contact information for roadside assistance.

Call for Help: Contact a qualified towing service experienced with EVs. Having the make, model, and any relevant error codes on your vehicle's display will help the towing company dispatch the right equipment and personnel.

Safety Precautions and Procedures

For Towing Professionals

Safety First: When towing an EV, prioritize safety by following the manufacturer's recommendations. This may include disconnecting the high-voltage battery system (if possible) and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), like insulated gloves and eye protection.

Flatbed Towing Preferred: Flatbed towing is the safest method for EVs because it keeps all four wheels off the ground, preventing damage to the electric motor and drivetrain.

Communication is Key: Effective communication with the EV owner is essential. Gather information about the vehicle's make, model, and any specific towing instructions from the owner's manual.

For EV Owners

Know Your Limits: If your EV becomes disabled and needs towing, avoid attempting to tow it yourself unless your vehicle's manual explicitly allows it. Improper towing can cause significant damage to the electric motor and drivetrain, leading to costly repairs.

Prepare for Towing: If your EV needs to be towed, gather any necessary documentation, such as your vehicle registration and insurance information. If possible, consult your owner's manual for specific instructions on preparing your vehicle for towing, such as unlocking the charging port or deactivating any alarms.

Selecting a Towing Service for Electric Vehicles: Finding the Right Partner

Choosing a towing service experienced with EVs is crucial. Look for companies that have invested in specialized training and equipment for handling electric vehicles. Certifications from reputable organizations like the International Association of Automotive Service Providers (IAASP) can indicate a towing service's commitment to EV expertise.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Towing Service

When contacting a towing service, ask specific questions to ensure they can handle your EV safely. Here are some key questions, along with explanations to help you understand their importance:

Do you have experience towing electric vehicles? 

An experienced towing company will have the knowledge and expertise to handle your EV safely and efficiently.

Are your tow truck operators trained in safe EV towing procedures? 

Proper training ensures that towing professionals understand the unique considerations of EVs and can handle them without causing damage.

What type of towing equipment do you use for EVs? 

(e.g., flatbed tow truck).

Conclusion

The rise of EVs presents both challenges and opportunities for the towing industry. Understanding the key differences between towing EVs and ICE vehicles is essential for both towing professionals and EV owners. By prioritizing safety, using proper techniques, and seeking out qualified towing services, everyone involved can ensure a smooth and successful towing experience.

EV owners, familiarize yourselves with the specific towing recommendations for your vehicle. Don't hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification from your local towing service provider. By working together, we can ensure a safe and reliable future for EV transportation.

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