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Flat towing MX behind RV

Pwdr Extreme

Member
Nov 30, 2016
317
548
Bozeman, MT
Okay, I know Tesla says the MX can’t be flat towed more than a short distance, but why? I can’t see any reason for it? Nothing gets lubricated by a motor running such as the case with an automatic trans in a regular car which prevents them from being flat towed.

Towing my MX behind my coach would be perfect, especially if Tesla actually built in some software to take advantage of it. Like activating regen when applying “trailer brakes” in the coach. Or being able to manually activate a level of regen to actually charge the car while towing it via the app. (Would be EXTREMELY handy when visiting the backroads that don’t have superchargers)

If I could flat tow a Model 3 behind my coach, I’d order one tomorrow.

Anybody know why we can’t do it? (Other than “because Tesla says so”)
 

DCGOO

Active Member
Nov 24, 2015
1,626
930
Indianapolis, IN
While I too would love to be able to tow any Tesla behind my motorhome, I suspect the basic reason you can’t, is that the wheels are permanently tied to the drive motors. When the wheels are turning, so are the drive motors. If you are moving backwards, the motors are running backwards. There is no transmission or clutch to disconnect them. To add some mechanism to disconnect the gear reduction differential, would be overly complex and difficult to accommodate, and likely reduce reliability. For the very few of us that would like that feature, I’d bet it ain’t gonna happen. So I just kept my Honda Fit to tow as a campground scooter. [boy is it difficult to remember to shut it off!]
 

Pwdr Extreme

Member
Nov 30, 2016
317
548
Bozeman, MT
Why would the regen burn out the motors? What’s the difference between descending the Grapevine using regen braking while driving the car, vs. using the same regen braking as “trailer brakes”?

I was not aware of the Model 3 having a pump for the gearbox, so obviously that makes sense.

Since you can “coast” the car by putting it in neutral, why wouldn’t that work for towing it?

Does putting the car in neutral basically do the same thing as “coasting” with the accelerator pedal?
 

Pwdr Extreme

Member
Nov 30, 2016
317
548
Bozeman, MT
Also, on the P models, doesn’t using range mode basically shut off the rear motor and just drive on the front motor? If that’s the case, the rear motor is basically coasting for who knows how many miles while driving in range mode, correct?
 

Unpilot

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I wonder the same. Given many people drive down long hills and mountains area's it seems that it "should" work.
 

Sunshine State

Automotive Enthusiast
Jul 13, 2017
1,420
1,080
Florida
GM sold identical drivetrain SUV’s in Chevy, GMC and Saturn but only the Saturn version was approved for towing. I believe it’s whether there is a cost benefit. There is virtually no loss (such a small market) for Tesla to say no with virtually no upside to say yes.
 
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Unpilot

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Ok we need someone to build a tow plate and give it a whirl...report back ASAP please!
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
16,191
36,521
Oregon
You'd burn out the motors with regen. Really, you can't do it.

You would get no regen unless the car was on and in drive, and then it could just command that regen stop when things are too warm or the battery is full. Since it is an induction motor nothing happens unless the inverter applies power to the stator.

The Model 3 having permanent magnets could make it different.
 

MSR

Member
Apr 28, 2015
33
7
US
Or you could just use a car hauler trailer towed behind your motor home. That's what I do with my Model S.

It takes a few minutes longer to load/unload, but I've found the benefits include better mpg towing (my average mpg when from ~7 to 8mpg on my diesel pusher), the ability to back up, better protection and less wear and tear on my Model S.
 
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Unpilot

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Or you could just use a car hauler trailer towed behind your motor home. That's what I do with my Model S.

It takes a few minutes longer to load/unload, but I've found the benefits include better mpg towing (my average mpg when from ~7 to 8mpg on my diesel pusher), the ability to back up, better protection and less wear and tear on my Model S.
How long are you when rolling down the rd?
I agree flat tow would tend to beat up the tesla.
 

Unpilot

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How do you find dealing with the trailer?
I am going to hit the rd in about 2 years and it seems to me the less I have to Hook up, unhook, stow the better.
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,296
40,665
Michigan
Okay, I know Tesla says the MX can’t be flat towed more than a short distance, but why? I can’t see any reason for it? Nothing gets lubricated by a motor running such as the case with an automatic trans in a regular car which prevents them from being flat towed.

Towing my MX behind my coach would be perfect, especially if Tesla actually built in some software to take advantage of it. Like activating regen when applying “trailer brakes” in the coach. Or being able to manually activate a level of regen to actually charge the car while towing it via the app. (Would be EXTREMELY handy when visiting the backroads that don’t have superchargers)

If I could flat tow a Model 3 behind my coach, I’d order one tomorrow.

Anybody know why we can’t do it? (Other than “because Tesla says so”)

The manual does not say you can flat tow short distances:
Always transport Model X 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 X for a maximum of 15 miles (25 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 X can face either direction.

As to why: the vehicle structure is not set up (or rated) for attaching a tow bar. Winching onto a flatbed without the tow hook requires attachment to rear lower control arms.
 

MSR

Member
Apr 28, 2015
33
7
US
How do you find dealing with the trailer?
I am going to hit the rd in about 2 years and it seems to me the less I have to Hook up, unhook, stow the better.

The trailer itself is a little easier to hookup and unhook than a tow bar and driving the car on/off is easy enough on an open car hauler. It does, however, take a little longer to secure the car to the car hauler with the tie down straps.

Then there's the issue of what to do with the trailer once you're at the campground. For that reason, I prefer pull-thru spots that are long enough o accommodate the coach and trailer. This isn't usually a problem at higher end campgrounds, but it could be at sate parks and others without 60'+ spots.
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
16,191
36,521
Oregon
But that does not mechanically disconnect the drive motors (which is the root of the problem).

I don't think that is the problem. I think @mongo nailed it, the structure of the vehicle isn't setup in a way that allows putting a towing tongue on the front of the car. I'm sure someone could come up with a way to mount it to the sub-frame on the front motor, but it would probably reduce clearance and be a pain.
 

natethegreat

Member
Nov 15, 2017
12
2
Colorado
Cars that can be flat towed have some method to lubricate the differential. In a stick shift, it's splash lube of gear oil from the turning shaft. In an automatic that is approved for flat towing, the transaxle has a rear pump that is driven off of the output shaft, so towing it runs the pump.

Honestly flat towing adds normal wear and tear even when the differential is lubricated; a tow dolly is much cheaper in the long run.

Some of the Saturns are great choices for flat towing because they are cheap, light, and have the rear pump.

Flat towing a tesla even if it had lubrication would wear the drive unit. It's not a wise choice.

Nate
 

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