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Emergency towing on Model 3

BobChaput

Member
May 10, 2016
46
9
Durango CO
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

I have purchased a nylon tow strap and a 2" tow adapter (for the towing vehicle.) I am aware that I will need to put the vehicle in "tow mode." Under the circumstances are there issues towing the vehicle?

Distance? Towing speed?

Paranoid in Durango
 

Dangerous Fish

Pilots the Millennium Milkfloat
Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2016
1,776
3,064
UK
I'll chip in here as this is bothering me for a different reason...
The manual is clear that towing for any distance might damage the drivetrain. Towing the short distance onto a flat bed recovery truck is OK and that's what tow mode is meant for. So if you run out of juice, towing any more than a few hundred feet is a no-no apparently.

The concern I have is that I will be using my Model 3 on track and not all circuits I'll be visiting have recovery trucks, so if I were to stop on track for some reason (battery or otherwise) what are my options? I can;t really expect the track to just stop everything until I can get a breakdown truck to come and get me.

So is it OK to tow at a very low speed with the car in N for instance? What damage could be caused by towing in any case?
 

brucet999

Active Member
Mar 12, 2015
2,696
1,570
Huntington Beach, CA
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

I have purchased a nylon tow strap and a 2" tow adapter (for the towing vehicle.) I am aware that I will need to put the vehicle in "tow mode." Under the circumstances are there issues towing the vehicle?

Distance? Towing speed?

Paranoid in Durango
Tow mode in M3 is only for getting the car onto a flatbed or off to the side of the road. After 20 minutes it switches to "park".

See this earlier thread
No tow mode because of permanent magnet motor?
 

Puddles

Member
Jun 2, 2017
730
930
Fresno, CA
I have been in the mountains and descended several grades of many miles, enough to see the charge level rise due to regen. From the car's perspective, this would be indistinguishable from being towed. Nowhere does the manual say "Do not descend long downhill grades" or "Do not descend downhill grades at less than 10 mph."

If you're going to get a tow, throw it in Drive, and get a little charge out of it. You might want to put regen on "Mild" to avoid pissing off the tow-er though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: derotam

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,769
3,502
Maine
Aren't there Youtube vids of people towing their Teslas? Wasn't there one of somebody trying to add miles back thru regen? And Bjorn has run his Tesla until it died and had his buddy tow it, right?

Whatever you do, don't let your Tesla go chaput!
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,896
12,621
Riverside Co. CA
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

I have purchased a nylon tow strap and a 2" tow adapter (for the towing vehicle.) I am aware that I will need to put the vehicle in "tow mode." Under the circumstances are there issues towing the vehicle?

Distance? Towing speed?

Paranoid in Durango

Page 96 in the owners manual that I suggested you read in the other thread you created:
=======================================================

Towing:

Prepare Model 3 for towing by keeping it in Neutral (which
disengages the parking brake and prevents damage to the rear motor that
is caused by wheels turning as Model 3 is pulled onto a flatbed truck). See
Instructions for Transporters on page 161.
=======================================================

Page 161 (referenced above), Instructions for transporters:

When Transporting Model 3
Always transport Model 3 with all four tires off
the ground.
A flatbed truck or comparable
transport vehicle is recommended. A wheel lift
and dolly can be used only when transporting
Model 3 for a maximum of 35 miles (55 km),
provided the driving speed does not exceed
45 mph (70 km/h).

When transporting,
whether on a flatbed truck or using a wheel
lift and dolly,
Model 3 can face either direction.
Do not transport Model 3 using any other
method unless specified by Tesla. Follow the
steps provided and observe all warnings and
cautions.

Damage caused by transporting your
vehicle is not covered by the warranty.

Note: The following illustrations are for
demonstration purposes only.

Never tow Model 3 with the tires contacting
the ground, even for short distances. Doing so
can cause significant damage. In addition,
before pulling Model 3 onto a flatbed truck,
you must use the touchscreen to enable
Transport Mode.


Transport Mode keeps Model
3 in Neutral, allowing the tires to turn freely.
Transport Mode also prevents damage that
would be caused when the tires turn as you

pull Model 3 onto a flatbed truck.

Do not
attempt to use Transport Mode to tow Model 3
with the tires on the ground.
Transport Mode
can prevent damage only when used for a
limited time and speed, and for a very short
distance, such as when you pull Model 3 onto
a flatbed truck. If you are unable to activate
Transport Mode, you must use self-loading
dollies or tire skates to prevent the tires from
turning as you pull Model 3 onto a flatbed
truck.

Warning: TOWING MODEL 3 WITH THE
TIRES CONTACTING THE GROUND CAN
CAUSE OVERHEATING AND DAMAGE TO
THE REAR MOTOR.


Warning: To prevent damage and
overheating of the rear motor when
rolling or winching Model 3 onto a flatbed
truck, you must either enable Transport
Mode or use self-loading dollies or tire
skates. Do not allow the tires to turn
without Transport Mode enabled.

Note: Tesla is not responsible for any damage
caused by transporting Model 3, including
personal or property damage caused by using
self-loading dollies or tire skates.


Warning: Model 3 is equipped with high
voltage components (see High Voltage
Components on page 120). Before
transporting Model 3 as a result of an
event (such as a collision) that may have
compromised a high voltage component,
it is important to assume that these
components are energized. Always follow
high voltage safety precautions (wearing
personal protective equipment, etc.) until
emergency response professionals have
evaluated the vehicle and can accurately
confirm that all high voltage systems are\
no longer energized. Failure to do so may
result in serious injury or death.

Activate Transport Mode
Transport Mode keeps Model 3 in Neutral
(which disengages the parking brake) while
preventing damage to the rear motor as the
wheels turn when pulling Model 3 onto a
flatbed truck. The following are required to
enable Transport Mode:

• 12V power is required. You are unable to
use the touchscreen to activate Transport
Mode if Model 3 has no 12V power. See
Jump Starting the 12V Battery on page
163 for instructions on how to jump start
the 12V battery.

• Model 3 must detect a valid key
(authenticated smartphone or key card). If
a key is not detected, the Transport Mode
button on the touchscreen is grayed out.
See Keys on page 7.

To activate Transport Mode:
1. Shift into Park.
2. Chock the tires or otherwise ensure Model
3 is stable.
3. Press and hold the brake pedal, then on
the touchscreen touch Controls >
Service > Towing. A message displays
reminding you of how to properly
transport Model 3.
4. Hold the Transport Mode button until it
turns blue. Model 3 is now free-rolling and
can be rolled or winched.
To cancel Transport Mode, shift Model 3 into
Park.
=======================================

So, no, tesla does not recommend your "nylon strap" method, and expressly tells you that IF you damage the car that way, its not covered under any sort of warranty. As I mentioned before, there is a lot of good information in the manual, and you should take a look in there.

NOTE: I am not posting this to "shame" you, I am trying to:

1. Help you by showing you the recommended information that the car manufacturer says, and
2. Prove my earlier point of "there is some good info in the manual with the information that is answering your direct question.

Now, if you read the manual and still have questions or want peoples opinion on that, well thats one thing message boards are for... but it helps if we all start with "what the manufacturer recommends" and then deviate from there with knowledge of something better / different.
 

Daniel in SD

Well-Known Member
Jan 25, 2018
7,068
10,534
San Diego
If you're going flat tow the Model 3 with a strap because the battery is low you should leave it in drive. Probably not very safe (due to risk of crashing) but it will charge the battery. Apparently you can get 3 miles for every mile towed.
Emergency towing on Model 3
Don't flat tow with the vehicle in tow mode, that's only for getting it on to a tow truck.
 

Gondi63

Member
Apr 26, 2019
164
261
Tampa
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

I have purchased a nylon tow strap and a 2" tow adapter (for the towing vehicle.) I am aware that I will need to put the vehicle in "tow mode." Under the circumstances are there issues towing the vehicle?

Distance? Towing speed?

Paranoid in Durango
Hi Bob,

Many are mentioning reading the manual -- here is a link to a PDF version.
 

Sophias_dad

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jul 29, 2018
1,557
1,636
Massachusetts
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

Paranoid in Durango

It looks like you've already made it through one winter with your 3.... is there some reason to think this winter will be colder? What is the closest you've ever gotten to 0, and was it planned?
 

ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,285
4,270
Buford, GA
And don't forget that in Neutral, there had better be someone in the driver's seat, or else it switches back to park. See all the carwash threads.
 

ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,285
4,270
Buford, GA
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

I have purchased a nylon tow strap and a 2" tow adapter (for the towing vehicle.) I am aware that I will need to put the vehicle in "tow mode." Under the circumstances are there issues towing the vehicle?

Distance? Towing speed?

Paranoid in Durango

It's just paranoia. You should be able to easily compensate for the 30% reduction in range. You get used to it pretty quickly.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,896
12,621
Riverside Co. CA
It's just paranoia. You should be able to easily compensate for the 30% reduction in range. You get used to it pretty quickly.

This OP has had his model 3 since June of 2018, according to his signature. He has already seen a full winter in this car, so he should know exactly what the effect is on his battery. There is zero chance the car will leave you stranded, if you listen to it. That is, as long as you are not treating it like most people treat ICE vehicles and "driving it down to close to empty before "filling it back up".

Nevertheless, this OP has gone through an entire winter already and should know the exact range changes that happen. Unless the OP has already stranded himself somewhere I dont get the concern. If the OP HAS stranded himself somewhere last winter, then that is also knowledge gained, and it should be easy to prevent it happening again.... as long as he is not "running it down low and filling it back up, to prevent having to charge it more frequently.
 

BobChaput

Member
May 10, 2016
46
9
Durango CO
I am concerned that I could run out of battery power during the winter months as range is reduced during the cold.

I have purchased a nylon tow strap and a 2" tow adapter (for the towing vehicle.) I am aware that I will need to put the vehicle in "tow mode." Under the circumstances are there issues towing the vehicle?

Distance? Towing speed?

Paranoid in Durango
 

BobChaput

Member
May 10, 2016
46
9
Durango CO
Thanks to everyone who responded with your thoughtful comments.

Even though I've had the vehicle for 17 months and experienced one cold winder, range anxiety is tough to shake.
 

Missile Toad

2021 MSLR Wht/Blk/19 | OD 6/10/21 | RN# 11512xx
Aug 30, 2016
645
678
Houston
Tesla really needs some kind of 'convoy mode', where your (soon to run out of battery) car is at 0.5 on the 1-7 (decimal only) TACC following distance. Two cars, with highly responsive drive trains, should communicate over bluetooth (backed up with radar) to allow super-high efficiency drafting, so you can stretch your battery another 33-45%.

Necessarily, the lead car, would have to be a Tesla -- and preferably, the soon-to-be revealed Tesla truck.
 

derotam

Member
Oct 31, 2018
866
813
Oak Hill, VA
Page 96 in the owners manual that I suggested you read in the other thread you created:
=======================================================

Towing:

Prepare Model 3 for towing by keeping it in Neutral (which
disengages the parking brake and prevents damage to the rear motor that
is caused by wheels turning as Model 3 is pulled onto a flatbed truck). See
Instructions for Transporters on page 161.
=======================================================

Page 161 (referenced above), Instructions for transporters:

When Transporting Model 3
Always transport Model 3 with all four tires off
the ground.
A flatbed truck or comparable
transport vehicle is recommended. A wheel lift
and dolly can be used only when transporting
Model 3 for a maximum of 35 miles (55 km),
provided the driving speed does not exceed
45 mph (70 km/h).

When transporting,
whether on a flatbed truck or using a wheel
lift and dolly,
Model 3 can face either direction.
Do not transport Model 3 using any other
method unless specified by Tesla. Follow the
steps provided and observe all warnings and
cautions.

Damage caused by transporting your
vehicle is not covered by the warranty.

Note: The following illustrations are for
demonstration purposes only.

Never tow Model 3 with the tires contacting
the ground, even for short distances. Doing so
can cause significant damage. In addition,
before pulling Model 3 onto a flatbed truck,
you must use the touchscreen to enable
Transport Mode.


Transport Mode keeps Model
3 in Neutral, allowing the tires to turn freely.
Transport Mode also prevents damage that
would be caused when the tires turn as you

pull Model 3 onto a flatbed truck.

Do not
attempt to use Transport Mode to tow Model 3
with the tires on the ground.
Transport Mode
can prevent damage only when used for a
limited time and speed, and for a very short
distance, such as when you pull Model 3 onto
a flatbed truck. If you are unable to activate
Transport Mode, you must use self-loading
dollies or tire skates to prevent the tires from
turning as you pull Model 3 onto a flatbed
truck.

Warning: TOWING MODEL 3 WITH THE
TIRES CONTACTING THE GROUND CAN
CAUSE OVERHEATING AND DAMAGE TO
THE REAR MOTOR.


Warning: To prevent damage and
overheating of the rear motor when
rolling or winching Model 3 onto a flatbed
truck, you must either enable Transport
Mode or use self-loading dollies or tire
skates. Do not allow the tires to turn
without Transport Mode enabled.

Note: Tesla is not responsible for any damage
caused by transporting Model 3, including
personal or property damage caused by using
self-loading dollies or tire skates.


Warning: Model 3 is equipped with high
voltage components (see High Voltage
Components on page 120). Before
transporting Model 3 as a result of an
event (such as a collision) that may have
compromised a high voltage component,
it is important to assume that these
components are energized. Always follow
high voltage safety precautions (wearing
personal protective equipment, etc.) until
emergency response professionals have
evaluated the vehicle and can accurately
confirm that all high voltage systems are\
no longer energized. Failure to do so may
result in serious injury or death.

Activate Transport Mode
Transport Mode keeps Model 3 in Neutral
(which disengages the parking brake) while
preventing damage to the rear motor as the
wheels turn when pulling Model 3 onto a
flatbed truck. The following are required to
enable Transport Mode:

• 12V power is required. You are unable to
use the touchscreen to activate Transport
Mode if Model 3 has no 12V power. See
Jump Starting the 12V Battery on page
163 for instructions on how to jump start
the 12V battery.

• Model 3 must detect a valid key
(authenticated smartphone or key card). If
a key is not detected, the Transport Mode
button on the touchscreen is grayed out.
See Keys on page 7.

To activate Transport Mode:
1. Shift into Park.
2. Chock the tires or otherwise ensure Model
3 is stable.
3. Press and hold the brake pedal, then on
the touchscreen touch Controls >
Service > Towing. A message displays
reminding you of how to properly
transport Model 3.
4. Hold the Transport Mode button until it
turns blue. Model 3 is now free-rolling and
can be rolled or winched.
To cancel Transport Mode, shift Model 3 into
Park.
=======================================

So, no, tesla does not recommend your "nylon strap" method, and expressly tells you that IF you damage the car that way, its not covered under any sort of warranty. As I mentioned before, there is a lot of good information in the manual, and you should take a look in there.

NOTE: I am not posting this to "shame" you, I am trying to:

1. Help you by showing you the recommended information that the car manufacturer says, and
2. Prove my earlier point of "there is some good info in the manual with the information that is answering your direct question.

Now, if you read the manual and still have questions or want peoples opinion on that, well thats one thing message boards are for... but it helps if we all start with "what the manufacturer recommends" and then deviate from there with knowledge of something better / different.

While I understand where you are coming from with those quotes, it is legitimate to assume that is in reference to a dead car...or why would you call a tow truck right? From a technical standpoint, just as Puddles said, there is absolutely no difference ground towing your vehicle while turned on and in drive than you going downhill without putting power to the motor/s.

Now getting an actual tow truck driver to allow you to do this and or even allow you to be inside your vehicle while it is being towed would be a hard thing to do. Getting some random stranger to do it would be easier. In either case, as long as your car is in complete working order and still able to move under it's own power, and you are in the driver seat buckled up and the car is in drive, from a technical standpoint it is the same as regenerative braking downhill.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,896
12,621
Riverside Co. CA
While I understand where you are coming from with those quotes, it is legitimate to assume that is in reference to a dead car...or why would you call a tow truck right? From a technical standpoint, just as Puddles said, there is absolutely no difference ground towing your vehicle while turned on and in drive than you going downhill without putting power to the motor/s.

Now getting an actual tow truck driver to allow you to do this and or even allow you to be inside your vehicle while it is being towed would be a hard thing to do. Getting some random stranger to do it would be easier. In either case, as long as your car is in complete working order and still able to move under it's own power, and you are in the driver seat buckled up and the car is in drive, from a technical standpoint it is the same as regenerative braking downhill.

/shrug....

I just think its relevant that tesla puts all sorts of warnings in the manual regarding it, even going so far as to spell out definitively that warranty coverage would not be extended if there is damage to the motor doing this. One would assume they would be able to tell if one was "driving downhill using regen" vs "being towed behind a vehicle". There is so much data gathered by this car, both from the motors / cameras, and the sensors, one should assume that tesla "would be able to tell".

So, IF something happened, the assumption should be that it wouldnt be covered. Some may not care about that, but I would think that many would not want to do something that is specifically spelled out as "not being covered" if there is a reasonable alternative (which is having some sort of towing plan on AAA or some other service like that).
 

brucet999

Active Member
Mar 12, 2015
2,696
1,570
Huntington Beach, CA
While I understand where you are coming from with those quotes, it is legitimate to assume that is in reference to a dead car...or why would you call a tow truck right? From a technical standpoint, just as Puddles said, there is absolutely no difference ground towing your vehicle while turned on and in drive than you going downhill without putting power to the motor/s.

Now getting an actual tow truck driver to allow you to do this and or even allow you to be inside your vehicle while it is being towed would be a hard thing to do. Getting some random stranger to do it would be easier. In either case, as long as your car is in complete working order and still able to move under it's own power, and you are in the driver seat buckled up and the car is in drive, from a technical standpoint it is the same as regenerative braking downhill.
Another consideration for "some random stranger" might be additional strain - from having to overcome regen forces - on his drive train and whatever part of his vehicle the tow cable is attached to, as well as possible rebound damage to his vehicle if the tow strap were to break. Also I would wonder if the tie-down eye to which the towing strap is attached on the M3 might be subjected to more stress than it is designed for. Towing a vehicle on the flat in neutral requires only enough power to overcome friction and air resistance in order to maintain a certain speed.

All of this assumes that regen is even possible. Regen in MS is unavailable at certain low temperatures, likely in the winter conditions that OP is concerned with. Is that also true for M3?
 

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