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Tow Mode Woes

Yesterday I took my car to the car wash, following the on-screen instructions to put it into Tow Mode so that the car would roll freely. Worked perfectly.

As I reached the end of the wash, I went to take it out of tow mode, following the onscreen instruction to press the park button on the end of the control stalk, which I did. Nothing happened. I read the instructions again to make sure I was doing it properly and I was. I tried putting my foot on the brake and pressing the button. No joy. But, with the brake on, the roller in the chain track bounces my car up in the air, and the car wash line shuts down, as I panic and keeping doing what it says, foot on the brake, off the brake, multiple times in rapid succession - trying any combination I thought might work. By now I had people screaming to move my car and I told them I couldn't get it into gear.

So they told me to turn the car to the right to clear the lane. Do you know how hard it is to turn the wheel with the car off and no power assist? And how embarrassing it is to have the most technologyly advanced car in the world and I can't get it into gear despite following the on-screen instructions exactly? Luckily I was able to get pushed out of the way.

I then called Tesla support and told him of the problem. He asked if I were in the car and I said yes and he said to first put my foot on the brake. Then push the button on the control stalk, which I did. He then asked if a dialogue box had appeared about engaging the parking brake and I said yes, and he said to hold down the red bar until the box disappeared, which I did, but the car was still off.

He then said to pump the brake pedal a few times, which started the car. I asked why the on-screen instructions didn't say to go through that sequence and his response was that he didn't know, they got a lot of calls on it. And then I asked the obvious -- why don't you change the software so that when you do what it says on the screen, i.e. push the button on the end of the stalk, it takes it out of Tow Mode as stated? No response to that.

My adrenaline level was in overdrive by the time I left. Makes Autopilot seem perfect. That's been my car wash for over 15 years, and now I'm embarrassed to go back & will have to find another.
 

svp6

Member
Sep 6, 2014
731
791
MN
Yesterday I took my car to the car wash, following the on-screen instructions to put it into Tow Mode so that the car would roll freely.

Why not in Neutral? Car rolls freely with that, just put it back in gear later.... There is no tow mode on most cars, so the automatic washers are actually recommending you put your car in neutral. Done that multiple times, no issues. And yes, I refuse to hand-wash my car:tongue:
 

DMC-Orangeville

Audi eTron & John Deere 5100E
Feb 14, 2015
945
1,179
Orangeville ON Canada
Why not in Neutral? Car rolls freely with that, just put it back in gear later.... There is no tow mode on most cars, so the automatic washers are actually recommending you put your car in neutral. Done that multiple times, no issues. And yes, I refuse to hand-wash my car:tongue:

My car had "issues" going IN to a car wash - see here Stuck in park in car wash

I had the car in neutral. Tesla told me I should be using tow mode. Solution: I just hand wash where possible, and if not, I go to a "glide style wash" where you drive on to a wide belt, and the belt moves through the wash. As I live in a climate where it's not fun hand washing from November to April - it's a decent solution.
 
My car had "issues" going IN to a car wash - see here Stuck in park in car wash

I had the car in neutral. Tesla told me I should be using tow mode. Solution: I just hand wash where possible, and if not, I go to a "glide style wash" where you drive on to a wide belt, and the belt moves through the wash. As I live in a climate where it's not fun hand washing from November to April - it's a decent solution.

I used Optimum No-Rinse car wash for the first time this weekend. While I would not use it every time, I thought it did a great job. I could wash the car in the garage with very little mess. Great for cold winter days.
 
Always insist on sitting in your car and keep it in Neutral. That works perfectly, and I don't want anyone else sitting in the drivers seat while the car goes through the wash. Absolutely no reason to fiddle with Tow Mode. I have an unlimited car wash pass and I go through there at least twice weekly. No damage to the paint that is visible to the naked eye.
 
I was in contact with Tesla and now understand what is going on and why some people get told to use Tow Mode versus putting the car in Neutral. As explained to me, Tow Mode is the way to go if you are not going to be sitting in the drivers seat, as it prevents the car from switching to Park. However, if you are going to remain in the car while going through the car wash, put it in Neutral.

Mystery solved.
 
"…He then asked if a dialogue box had appeared about engaging the parking brake and I said yes, and he said to hold down the red bar until the box disappeared,…"

Hold down what red bar? I've never seen any red bar in my car, or is this something on the Touch Screen that you are supposed to hold your finger on for some seconds?
 
When you are in Tow Mode and you want to get out, it tells you to hit the Park button on the end of the control stalk. That causes a dialogue box to pop up on the screen with the red bar -- that's what you have to hold down. While 99.9% of Tesla controls are blindingly intuitive, this one is blindingly not.
 

Ingineer

Electrical Engineer
Aug 8, 2012
1,507
3,714
Yes, here's how to disengage tow mode:

1. Have fob in car.
2. Press brake.
3. Tap (don't hold) the park button on the stalk.
4. You should then get the pop-up dialog with the red button. Press and HOLD this button until the box goes away. You will hear the brake motors apply the brake, but keep holding until the box goes away.
 

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