Can You Tow An Electric Car If It Breaks Down?


All cars will eventually have problems, even your sophisticated electric car. When a very unfortunate occurrence arrives with your electric vehicle whether it be a dead battery, flat tires, or broken parts, you want to be able to take care of it and get your car back up and running.

When misfortunes happen, can you tow your electric car if it breaks down? In most cases, you should not tow your electric car when it breaks down. They do not have transmissions, so putting it in neutral and towing it can cause a lot of damage to the electric motor. Using flatbed trucks or trailers is the most highly recommended mode of transportation during a breakdown since all four wheels are off the ground being towed.

When conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles break down you can just pop your car into neutral and tow it away, electric cars are a little different. There are other solutions to the problem of a stranded electric car than just towing it which will actually do more harm to your electric vehicle than any good. 

Why Using A Flatbed Is Best

Using a flatbed truck or trailer is going to be your best option when needing to transport your electric vehicle. The whole reason for this is that your electric car’s wheels don’t roll when it is on a flatbed. I’ll talk a little bit about why that is such a big deal. 

As mentioned earlier, most electric vehicles don’t have transmissions, while most traditional cars do. A transmission is where all the “gears” of your car are located. When you place your car in reverse, neutral, or drive it is in the transmission that all of these gears that allow your car to do that are located. 

The fact that most electric cars don’t have transmissions means that most electric cars also lack a neutral gear. For the most part, electric cars can go forwards, backwards, or park. When you shift your car into neutral, it disconnects the motor from the drivetrain and doesn’t engage the engine’s parts, even when the engine isn’t running. This is what allows conventional cars to be rolled along and towed with ease. 

Without a neutral gear, the electric car’s wheels are constantly connected to the engine. No way to disconnect the engine means that if the wheels are turning, then the engine’s mechanisms are turning as well. If your wheels turn and the car is running at a high enough RPM without the car systems running, the effect can be catastrophic on the engine.

Electric cars have a cooling system as well as other systems in place to help cool the engine and help it run smoothly. If the wheels are turning and the engine is turning without the car being on means these systems aren’t running. This can lead to your electric vehicle’s engine overheating or having other problems caused by all the friction produced. This is why it is so important that your electric car isn’t traditionally towed. 

Flatbeds are the best answer to the break down of electric vehicles. Flatbeds are usually easily accessible and you can easily get your electric vehicle back to your home or dealer, or wherever you may need to go. 

Instances Where You Can Use A Car Dolly

When it comes to electric vehicles, there are very specific instances where you can use a car dolly to tow your vehicle. If you have a front wheel drive on your electric vehicle, then a car dolly will be the best choice for you. Though, you should always consult your owner’s manual to see what is the recommendation for your specific car. 

If your car has front wheel drive that means that only the front tires are connected to the engine and the rear wheels are going to be able to spin freely. This allows you to put the front wheels on a tow dolly and tow the car behind another vehicle. If you are going to use a tow dolly, make sure you follow all of the other safety measurements such as locking your steering wheel in place and providing enough room between the car you are towing. To avoid the vehicle scraping on the groud, make sure you securely fasten the electric car to the dolly with the correct straps.

If you have an all wheel drive electric vehicle, like most Tesla’s for example, you CANNOT USE a tow dolly. In all wheel drive vehicles, the rear wheels are attached to the engine and therefore you will have the problems that were mentioned earlier in this article. If you have an all wheel drive electric car, your only real choice when your car breaks down or it runs out of charge, is hiring a flat bed. 

Can You Jumpstart An Electric Car?

Before I can completely answer this question you need to understand that electric vehicles usually have two different type of batteries. First, you have the 200+ volt battery that is used to drive the car and power the engine and then you have a 12-volt battery that is very similar to the battery in conventional gasoline powered cars. 

If you big 200+ volt battery is dead, then you just need to charge it. There is no such thing as “jump starting” an electric car. On the otherhand, if your 12-volt battery dies, which is used to power things like heated seats: radio: etc., you can jump start it with another car. To jump start the electric car you connect jumper cables to the 12-volt battery like you would any other car battery. 

 If you are going to jump start your electric vehicle, make sure that it is unplugged and not charging. Jump starting an electric car while it is plugged in could short circuit and ruin the inner working of your car. Just make sure to read your owner’s manual before trying anything that may be new to you. 

An added note of caution, you do not want to jumpstart a regular combustion engine car with your electric vehicle. This could spell disaster for your electric car’s battery and warranty. Electric vehicle’s 12-volt batteries aren’t designed to jumpstart other cars and doing so can damage electronics in the car. The 12-volt battery of an electric car usually doesn’t have enough power to juice up a conventional car’s battery and will do more harm to the electric vehicle than help to the gasoline fueled vehicle.

Ways To Avoid Breaking Down

Of course the best way to avoid having to worry about towing or jump starting your electric car is to avoid breaking down in the first place. Some things you can do to help assure that you don’t have to flatbed tow your electric vehicle or have it jump started. Our main piece of advice is to just keep you car charged!

Charging your vehicle and paying attention to the range of your car is the best thing you can do to avoid getting stranded. You don’t want to make that dreaded phone for a truck to come pick up your car. Just make sure you do standard maintenance to your electric car. Paying attention to any warning lights or sensors can help you avoid a lot of hassle and heart ache. 

Electric cars usually only have three main fluids you have to worry about checking, coolant: windshield wiper fluid: and brake fluid. Coolant and brake fluid are especially important in helping your car “stay healthy” in a sense, so make sure to periodically check up on them. Most other fluids that electric cars used are enclosed in the the engine and other parts of the car and aren’t accessible. This means you will need to take it into a shop to check the fluid levels.

Other than that, electric cars are actually fairly simple to manage and other than occasional maintenance from time to time, they will continue to run smoothly. By taking it in to the shop every so often, the mechanics can check on your tires, batteries, and all the other parts of your car to make sure that everything is working. Batteries do eventually wear out but they should easily last for about a decade before needing replacement. 

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