How to Tow an Electric Vehicle [and how NOT to]

towing an electric vehicle

You’ve probably noticed by now, electric cars are everywhere. No, not like Corollas and Civics, but their presence is far greater than it was 10 years ago.

With more electric vehicles comes more problems, even if there are far fewer moving parts, vehicles can break down, software glitches happen, and minor accidents happen all the time.

One would think that towing an EV the traditional way would be the most logical way to do so, right?

Wrong, it would the best way to damage the drivetrain and most likely void any warranty that may still be present.

The Reason…
When the vehicle is OFF and is being towed, often times the wheels making contact with the ground are the driving wheels which are capable of regenerating electricity that would often be used to send a little power back into the battery.

However, when the vehicle is OFF, the wheels will spin and generate power that does to get stored back in the battery, as a result, potentially causing drivetrain and electrical problems from the excess unused regen power.

There ARE some exceptions that I’ll cover towards the end of this article.

Approved Towing Methods


Different Types of Towing Options

At this point, you might be wondering what types of towing options are available? Not to worry, I’ll outline the main ones use and the ones you should avoid at all cost.

towing EV on flatbed trailer

Towing with a Flatbed Trailer (Approved)

The is probably the least common way a company might come and tow your vehicle away. With a flatbed trailer, you can use a winch to slowly roll the vehicle onto the trailer, strap it down, and be on your way.

At this point, all four wheels will be off the ground and it’s just as good as using a flat bed truck.

In case you have to tow a trailer, do you know your EV’s towing capacity? We wrote a post about  EV’s with the highest towing capacity.

Wheel Lift Tow Trucks (Approved)

ev on wheel lift tow truck

This here is pretty much what wheel lift tow trucks do, but without the wheel lifts. Unless your vehicle is explicitly front wheel drive and the rear wheels have no electrical connection to the battery whatsoever, opt-out of this method of towing. 

Flat Bed Towing (Approved)

EV on a flat bed

This is probably the most popular towing method in 2022. At least 70% of the towing done today is on a flat bed truck. This method is 100% approved for electric vehicles because all you are doing is rolling the vehicle at 1 mph (at most) up a steep grade, maybe 15 to 20 feet. 

Flat Towing (NOPE)

flat towing an ev

This is the type of towing you’ve seen RV’s do. While this is not technically towing for broken down vehicles, it’s towing nonetheless. Why this method of towing for an EV is bad, is because all four wheels will be making contact with the ground. This is the ultimate N0-NO for towing an EV, especially if the vehicle is AWD. Flat towing and flat bed towing may sound similar, but they are completely different from one another. 

Towing an Electric Vehicle the Right Way

how to tow an electric car, the RIGHT way

If you live in a bustling, populated city where hybrids and electric vehicles are common, your tow truck driver likely knows the protocol for properly getting your electric vehicle towed. 

However, if that is not the case, KNOW what to watch out for, to ensure the vehicle is towed away properly. 

Finding Neutral

shift the EV to neutral

Finding neutral can be a tricky thing when it comes to an EV. The most obvious thing to do is to reach for the owners manual for instructions, but if that fails, open up YouTube and look for a DIY tutorial. 

Connecting and Loading it Up

loading up Tesla

Most vehicle nowadays should have a tow hook spot on the front bumper. Usually you pop-off the cap and screw in the tow hook to make successful connection between the winch and the vehicle. 

If for some reason the vehicle does not have a spot for winch connection, call your local dealership for help.

With all this being said, in most cases, you won’t be the one loading up the vehicle onto the tow truck. The instructions provided are only there if your tow truck driver is completely clueless on how to tow your EV. 

Frequently Asked Questions About EV Towing

My EV has neutral, can it be towed the traditional way?

This is a tricky question and one could say to be safe, resort to the owners manual for recommendations.

However, there are times when you can make the judgement call on your own and even though some vehicle is advised to be towed only on a flat bed, towing the hook lift way would do no harm at all.

This would be for vehicles that are strictly front-wheel drive only. A few examples are Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt and the classic Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

Can you tow an electric vehicle behind an RV?

The most common method of towing a vehicle behind an RV is with flat towing. You’ve seen it many times, but it wont work with electric vehicles. As mentioned above, flat towing advised against UNLESS, you use a trailer.

Using a small flatbed trailer to haul your EV will work without a problem. The only downside is the added weight of the trailer will reduce efficiency