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Model X Trailer Hitch Ratings

Discussion in 'Model X' started by BrettS, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    So there is a very long back story here, but the short version is that in the evening on December 30th my 13 year old son complained that his hand felt like it was asleep... and 3 hours later he was in the emergency room because he could no longer feel or move his arms or legs. He was in the hospital for a bit more than 2 weeks and diagnosed with AFM, then he was transferred to an inpatient rehab facility, which is where he currently is. The good news is that he’s starting to get a little bit of movement and feeling back in his hands and arms and the doctors are hopeful that he may recover, but the bad news is that it may be months or even up to a year before that happens. They are looking at releasing him from rehab to come back home next week and at this point functionally he is still a quadriplegic.

    He is currently in a motorized wheelchair that can be operated with head movements, which is great because it gives him some mobility, but it is also difficult to transport. The wheelchair weighs more than 400 pounds and doesn’t fold up or disassemble at all, so it’s not possible to put it in the back of a vehicle. The wheelchair company recommends using a hitch mounted wheelchair carrier or possibly even a trailer for it.

    I am currently driving a Model S, but I’ve been considering moving up to a Model X. I hadn’t really planned to do so for at least another few months or a year, but at this point it might make sense to make the move sooner. That said, I’d be looking at a used Model X, probably late 2016 or 2017 (something with AP2).

    So after all that, I also need to make sure that if I get a Model X that it has a hitch that could be used with a hitch mounted wheelchair carrier or a trailer for the wheelchair. Can you guys tell me if all of the Model X’s have hitches or do I need to look for one with a towing package? Also, what is the hitch rated to carry? The wheelchair company said that that to use a hitch mounted wheelchair carrier the hitch must have at least a 500lb tougue weight rating because the wheelchair is over 400lbs. If the tongue weight rating is less than 500lbs then I would need to use a full trailer to carry the wheelchair.

    Thanks much,
    Brett
     
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  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear about your son’s illness. The Model X maximum tongue weight is 500 lbs. “Tongue weight” refers to the downward force exerted by a trailer tongue.

    I do not believe you will be able to safely install and use a wheelchair carrier in a Tesla factory installed trailer hitch.

    Not all Model X’s have the hitch installed behind the rear bumper cover. So if you are looking for a used X with the hitch already installed you won’t find many. But you can have a hitch installed after you buy the car.
     
  3. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Thanks for the reply, but can you clarify this a bit? What do you think would be unsafe?

    Is this something Tesla will install at a service center or are you talking about a 3rd party option?
     
  4. scottf200

    scottf200 Active Member

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    UPDATE: Looks like there were some cross post that happened at a similar time.

    Brett,
    I'm so sorry to hear about the situation your son and your family are in. I looked up AFM and it is certainly scary. All our best to your sons recovery. My family has been through our share of health issues and it can be challenging.

    I bought a used 2017 Model X in Dec 2017. It did not have the hitch but had wiring. They told me they stopped selling the hitches as an add on which is what I had on my 2016 X (pre-deer) AND that all the Xs were coming with hitches. They added it at NO CHARGE to me when I bought it. FYI.

    I'm not sure that the max tongue weight of 500lbs means that you can put 400lbs on it for any length of time. I think there was another long thread about this and I will try to find it.

    However, this is the text from the manual and it seems to indicated that you can only put 120lbs on it. KEEP in mind that when that mass bounces up and down from dips, potholes, etc in the road there is tremendous downward force put on the hitch. I've experienced this by adding a hitch (welded) to the back of our camper years ago. It bent and I had to get supports added.




    [​IMG]
     
  5. scottf200

    scottf200 Active Member

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  6. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    #6 ecarfan, Jan 31, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
    Because you wrote this:
    Also, note the information from the X owner’s manual that @scottf200 posted just above. The factory X hitch cannot support more than 120 lbs of “vertical load” (meaning an attached load that is not a trailer). Your wheelchair is much more than 120 lbs.

    You are going to have to get a trailer for the wheelchair if you want to use the Tesla factory hitch for the X.
    Third party.

    Please understand I have no real world experience using an “accessory hitch” (a hitch that supports a load like bikes). I only have experience towing a 17 ft travel trailer with my X.
     
  7. FoxSTL2HOU

    FoxSTL2HOU Member

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    My memory is a bit foggy from when I researched prior to purchase of our 2016, but I remember the tongue weight limit being 10% of of the tow rating, where the tow rating for 20" wheels was 5000 lbs (Class III hitch) or 3750 lbs on the 22" (Class II rating). I don't remember a note about vertical load vs tongue weight, so if the 120 lb limit is from the MX manual, I won't contradict it.
     
  8. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    Brett,

    I'm sorry to hear of the challenges your family is going through. Glad to hear you're getting your son home, though.

    Regarding the difference between tongue weight and hitch-carrying weight - they aren't the same thing. In the case of tongue weight, that represents near direct downward force on the trailer hitch at the point of connection. Trailers, after all, have an axle of their own. Hitch trays, on the other hand, are cantilevered out of the back. Torque increases by distance away from the hitch attachment point, so putting your 400 lb wheelchair even a few inches behind the hitch is going to significantly over stress the Model X stock hitch.

    If that doesn't make immediate sense to you logically, imagine picking up the tongue of a trailer that weighs 150 lbs. You can lift it, but you're doing it like a seesaw with the axle as the fulcrum. Now imagine holding the post of a flat tray, and putting 150 lbs on that tray. You can't hold it from underneath, only by gripping the post. Obviously the latter is significantly more strain.

    I've installed the Draw-Tite hitch, which is more capable than the stock Bosal. But I wouldn't even consider putting 400 lbs on a hitch tray, I'm sorry to say.
     
    • Informative x 1
  9. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    The wheelchair company supplies a lot of these wheelchairs and I doubt they would recommend something that was unsafe or they would have to deal with wheelchairs falling off the back of cars all the time. It’s my understanding that the tongue weight is the static vertical load the hitch can handle and they factor in the fact that things will be bouncing around and there will be momentary loads that are far in excess of the static load.

    But, that said, the manual does seem pretty clear that 120lbs is what Tesla recommends as the max which means that I am definitely looking at a trailer.

    Thanks again:)
     
    • Like x 1
  10. CUBldr97

    CUBldr97 Member

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    Brett, So very sorry to hear this, in all seriousness I would consider an actual vehicle that has been converted for a wheel chair entrance, I have a 6 year old who has been limited to a wheel chair now, but unlike your son she is able to stand and such. but lifting her at 65lbs is difficult and moving back and forth from a wheel chair to a car is tough... I would imagine your son is well over 100lbs and lifting him would be very difficult. I would think that insurance may help get a proper vehicle. Maybe you could be the very first to get a model x converted for wheel chair access, but i don't think the compartment is big enough for that.

    Based on the post above it apears the model X hitch would not support a 400lb chair plus weight of the carrier with out having some sort of axle to help un-spring the weight. It honestly doesn't make sense, if its a true class 3 hitch then it should support up to 600lbs tongue weight,,,, but here is an after market class 3 that supports 700lbstw.
    2017 Tesla Model X Trailer Hitch - Draw-Tite

    The Cost of a Wheelchair Van Conversion - 1800wheelchair.com |

    Wheelchair Vans For Sale - MobilityWorks

    good luck, lets us know what you end up doing...
     
    • Informative x 1
  11. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Unfortunately at this point we’re kind of in a limbo state. We have high hopes that he will be able to return to being fully functional and not even needing a wheelchair within the next year, so if that happens then I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money or get a wheelchair converted vehicle for the (relatively) short term. However, at the same time, there is still a chance that he may need a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Obviously if we are in that situation then it would definitely make sense to get a wheelchair converted vehicle. Right now he has started to get some movement back in his hands and arms, which is very encourageing, but still it’s very little and very limited movement. His hands and arms are not functional now, but again, with luck, maybe in a few months he may have some strength in his arms be able to help with the transfers.

    So at this point I’m kind of trying to come up with the best option to get us through the next year and then we’ll have to re-evaluate and see where we are. The doctors say that generally wherever he is after a year is likely where he will stay. Typically patients plateau after a year and there might be some small improvements after that, but likely nothing big.

    So I still don’t know what to do. If I’m looking at getting a trailer anyway then maybe it makes more sense to just put a hitch on my model S and keep that for the next year as I had originally planned. I suspect that it would be easier to transfer him into and out of an X because of the way the doors open. The therapist said that standard car doors often get in the way when you’re transferring, but as long as I can do it without much trouble then that might be the easiest and cheapest short term option.
     
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  12. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    @ohmman explained the different between trailer tongue weight and “hitch-carrying weight” very well. If you have something connected to the X trailer hitch point that is not a trailer the loads act very differently. The 120 lbs that Tesla recommends for the maximum hitch weight is for a different kind of load than the 500 lbs max for a trailer tongue weight.

    Hope everything works out for you, please keep us posted.
     
  13. ahkim

    ahkim Member

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    Ohmman - I have the Tesla hitch installed but due to the 120lbs limit for bikes, I'm going to install the Draw-tite. Do you think 200 lbs of bikes with the rack will be ok? My assumption is that the removable hitch is the limiting factor.
     
  14. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    I would think that 200 lbs would be OK with the Draw-Tite, but I don't see a spec for it unfortunately. I can't say definitively, but it seems as if it should be fine.
     
  15. puritan

    puritan Member

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    #15 puritan, May 14, 2019
    Last edited: May 14, 2019

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