Can You Tow a Broken Down Electric Car?

Electric cars are better for the environment than regular cars, they will save you money on gas, and they might even qualify for tax breaks! While electric cars may seem superior to regular vehicles, they are not invincible. What should you do if your electric car breaks down? Can it be towed?

Electric cars cannot be towed by a typical tow truck. Most electric cars do not have a neutral position that allows the tires to rotate freely without causing damage. For an electric car that needs to be towed, a flatbed tow truck must be used.

If you have an electric vehicle that has broken down and you aren’t sure what to do, don’t worry! Keep reading to learn more about what you should do when your electric car quits running.

Towing an Electric Car

Most electric cars do not have a neutral position that will allow their tires to rotate freely, and if the vehicle is towed behind a truck, there could be critical damage done to the vehicle’s powertrain system.

While electric cars cannot be towed by a traditional tow truck, they can be towed using a flatbed truck.

By using a flatbed tow truck, the vehicle can be completely turned off, and the tires will not need to rotate. Using a flatbed tow truck will allow you to tow your vehicle without causing any damage!

What Should You Do If Your Electric Car Breaks Down?

First of all, don’t panic. If your electric car starts to break down, turn on your emergency blinkers and slowly pull over onto the side of the road.

Once you are safely on the side of the road and you have determined why your electric car broke down, you will need to find a towing company.

Here are the most common types of tow trucks:

  • Hook and Chain Tow Truck: This is a basic tow truck using a hook and chain to pull the vehicle. The car must be placed in neutral.
  • Wheel Lift Tow Truck: The wheel lift tow truck lifts the vehicle’s drive wheels to minimize the risk of damage to the vehicle. Just like the hook and chain, the car must be in a neutral position.
  • Flatbed Tow Truck: The vehicle is completely lifted onto the back of the tow vehicle. 

Even though there are multiple different types of tow trucks, an electric car must be towed using a flatbed tow truck. Verify that the towing company can send a flatbed tow truck while you are on the phone with them.

Why It is Important to Use a Flatbed Tow Truck

Most electric cars cannot be towed by a hook and chain tow truck or a wheel lift tow truck. This is because those towing systems require a neutral driving position to tow the vehicle.

With the exception of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt, most electric cars do not have a neutral position. Even though these electric cars do have a neutral position, it still is not recommended to tow them with a standard tow truck.

The wheels of an electric car are connected to the motor, and they cannot rotate freely without affecting the motor. Attempting to tow an electric vehicle that is not in a neutral position can result in doing major damage to the vehicle’s motor and transmission.

Odds are, you love your electric car, and you don’t want to destroy it! That is why it is important to tow your vehicle with a flatbed tow truck.

Why Your Electric Car May Need to be Towed

Electric cars are great because they do avoid some issues that come with regular gas-operated vehicles. But that doesn’t mean electric cars are immune to all car troubles. Unfortunately, several things could go wrong with your electric car that results in it breaking down.

Here are the most common reasons why your electric vehicle may need to be towed:

  1. Flat tire
  2. Dead battery
  3. Other mechanical issues: brakes, transmission, motor, etc.

Let’s break them down in more detail!

Flat Tire

There is nothing worse than driving down the road, feeling a bump, and then the next thing you know, your tire is flat.

According to WABCO’s President of the Americas, Jon Morrison, 54% of all roadside breakdowns are caused by tires. While this statistic is mainly referring to standard gasoline vehicles, electric vehicles are no different.

Getting a flat tire in an electric vehicle might be a worse situation than in a regular vehicle. This is because most of the time, electric cars do not have a spare tire. If you don’t have a spare tire for your car, you will have no choice but to have it towed.

While you can’t prevent a flat tire, you can get a spare tire. If you can learn how to change your own tire, you may be able to eliminate the need to tow your electric car in the future.

Dead Battery

You probably already know this, but monitoring the battery level in your electric vehicle is crucial. If you notice your battery getting low, find a charging station as quickly as possible. A dead battery is a common cause of electric vehicles breaking down.

If you do find yourself stuck on the side of the road due to a dead battery, you will need to request a flatbed tow truck to tow you to the nearest charging station.

Remember that even if your electric vehicle has free roadside assistance, driving out of range and depleting your battery may not be covered. This is the case with Tesla vehicles, which generally come with free roadside assistance.

Other Mechanical Issues

While flat tires and dead batteries are the most common causes of a broken down electric vehicle, several other mechanical issues could occur as well.

If there is something wrong with your vehicle’s transmission, motor, brakes, or any other component, you may need to get your car towed.

The Future of Towing Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are still new to the market, and as they grow in popularity, so will the towing solutions.

Here are some electric vehicle towing advancements to look forward to in the future:

Freewheeling Hub

Steve Ives, an engineer at AA, has recently invented the freewheeling hub, a new way to safely tow electric vehicles. These hubs can be installed on the rear tires of an electric vehicle, and they allow the car to be easily towed.

As of right now, Freewheeling hubs are only being used on a limited number of tow trucks, but there are plans for them to become more widespread in the future.

Roadside Assistance Electric Charging

Another concept to look forward to is electric charging via roadside assistance. Even though AAA tested out this concept and ultimately got rid of their charging vehicles, other companies are still considering offering this service.

The company, SparkCharge, has invented a portable electric vehicle charger that towing companies will be able to utilize. A 15-minute charge using their portable charger, the Roadie, gives an electric vehicle 15 miles of range.

Conclusion: If Your Electric Car Breaks Down, Don’t Panic!

While an electric car can’t be towed using a standard tow truck, it can be towed using a flatbed tow truck. Breakdowns can occur due to battery depletion, a flat tire, or other mechanical issues.

If your electric car happens to break down, safely pull over, inspect your vehicle, and call for a flatbed tow truck.

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