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Towing an S behind RV

Discussion in 'Model S' started by SDRick, Jun 7, 2017.

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  1. SDRick

    SDRick Member

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    A friend of mine is looking at his first Tesla and asked if it could be flat towed behind his RV. He said the best cars for flat towing are four-wheel-drive cars that allow disconnecting the transmission.

    I thought I read that a Tesla would charge while being towed (regeneration) but I'm not sure. If so, once the battery was charged could you put it in neutral?
     
  2. brkaus

    brkaus Active Member

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    It will charge if towed in drive. It would be much more efficient just plugging it in.

    There is no clutch or disconnect gearbox, so everything spins, even in neutral.

    I'm sure Tesla would say towing in the way is inappropriate.
     
  3. henderrj

    henderrj Member

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    Interesting idea. There is a tow mode, but unsure if there was any intent by Tesla for this sort of use. Charging would only take place if the car was on. Not sure how one would affix the towing mechanism. And this is a very heavy car. Let us know what you find out.
     
  4. brkaus

    brkaus Active Member

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    Tow mode is turning off auto-leveling in the air suspension. For "towing" on a flat bed truck.
     
  5. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Voluntaryist

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    I asked about this when I bought my P85 back in 2013. The answer is definitely no.
     
  6. whitex

    whitex Active Member

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    Manual states no towing on wheels, only flatbed and short distances on a dolly. Tow mode is supposed to be used just for witching onto the flatbed truck.

    You could tow it on a trailer behind and RV. Covered or not, depending what kind of trailer you're willing to spring for.
     
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  7. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Voluntaryist

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    This. I forgot to add you could tow on a trailer... not on wheels. As sad as it is for me to say it. I would love to have a model 3 for this purpose... It seems like an ideal car to use behind an RV, since most parks are gonna have a 50A plug and bigger RVs might be able to charge the car right off their on-board generator if out in the sticks... sigh
     
  8. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Voluntaryist

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    The question I had for Tesla back in 2012-2013 is if they could engineer a way to tow on the wheels, and if they could make a wiring harness that would tap into the regen braking... Then you could use the car as a brake-assist trailer when mashing the brakes in the RV... Except it would regen on the car..... or if the battery was full use the brakes. That would be SWEEEET.
     
  9. mongo

    mongo Member

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    That would indeed.
    I am curious whether putting the car in neutral with the seat belt fastened (to override the driver weight sensor) would allow flat towing. All the normal pumps and cooling would then be active. As long as you monitor battery level, I do not see how this would be different from coasting down a really really really long hill. Regen braking would be the icing on the cake.
     
  10. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Voluntaryist

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    I'm willing to bet it would... although if Tesla found out your warranty might go the way of the dodo bird :p
     
  11. SDRick

    SDRick Member

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    Thanks for all the input.

    Curious as to the mechanical reasons why flat towing is a problem. As to the warranty, I would think towing would be far less wear and tear than driving (while the odometer continues to accumulate miles, reducing Tesla's warranty exposure).
     
  12. mongo

    mongo Member

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    With vehicle off, the normal cooling/ lubrication systems are not operating. Doesn't seem as big an issue for an independent drive electric system as an AWD ICE with automatic. Flat towing also imparts non typical loads on the front wheels when turning. A RWD Model S towed backwards with the rear wheels on a dolly seems like it would be fine.

    Always safer for the manufacturer to say not to do it.
     
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  13. animorph

    animorph Member

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    I would imagine the motor would be turning as you towed, through a gear train not intended for continuous wheel to motor operation, and without any active lubrication or cooling to gears or motor. Probably not a good idea. Maybe if you could keep the car on during the tow it might help.
     
    • Informative x 1
  14. Uncle Paul

    Uncle Paul Member

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    Tow behind vehicles usually have a mechanical uncoupler that allows the wheels to free wheel when towed.

    Tesla is not set up this way, hence, not ideal for towing.

    Believe there might be a software or mechanical feature to allow this in the future, but as of now...no.
     
  15. whitex

    whitex Active Member

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    The reason for Tesla saying not to do it is because they did not account for this use-case in their design, meaning when making design choices, towing with wheels on the ground was not a consideration. So, maybe it might work for some of the cars (rwd?), maybe not. It might work today but stop working with some future software update. Basically, if the manufacturer says don't do it, that means they don't ever test it or consider it when making design choices (simple example, assume the car is not moving by a few feet when in tow mode, so no lubrication, temperature control, of any safety subsystem need to be active). Do it at your own risk, but if anything breaks, warranty does not cover it.

    Why not consider it a use-case? Because not enough people are willing to pay for supporting it (testing it, keeping track of it, making designs more complex by forcing them to make sure they don't break this usecase).
     
  16. whitex

    whitex Active Member

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    If you believe FSD promises, AP2 car will just be able to drive along and meet your RV at the next stop. :cool:
     
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  17. Webeevdrivers

    Webeevdrivers Member

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    This how we transport our EV behind our RV

    image
     
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  18. whitex

    whitex Active Member

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    Except for a Model S you'd need a much bigger trailer.

    Or, you could try something like that to protect your Tesla from the elements. Hmm, I'd add a built in charger in there too... :)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  19. Don85D

    Don85D Member

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    Towing a heavy car like the Model S means more fuel consumption for the RV not to mention the hassles when backing up. Personally I would refer a motorcycle on a rack on the back or a very small car for towing like the Smart that may also run on diesel. Charging at a campground doesn't sound like enough savings to justify dragging a Model S behind an RV.

    Finding a front towing location on a Model S for the draw bars may also be very costly.

    If you do the business case it might be tough to justify.
     

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