Electric cars and tow trucks: how it works and how to avoid damage

Electric cars and tow trucks: how it works and how to avoid damage

Electric cars and tow trucks

Although battery-powered cars have been available on the market for a few years, they are still a novelty and as such may have to require some specific precautions, especially if you find yourself having to contact a roadside assistance service, such as a tow truck. Owning an electric car has many advantages but despite the technology and the partial absence of mechanical components, the possibility remains that a malfunction or a puncture may occur, thus forcing the motorist to ask for help.

Among the problems more known and common that can happen we find:

puncture: a flat tire is a common problem for both endothermic and battery-powered vehicles. To remedy this problem, it is generally necessary to replace the tire if present. Unfortunately, most electric cars don't have a real spare and it's not that easy to find the infamous little wheel on board either. In the absence of these elements, you can find a puncture repair kit that will also allow you to reach the first tire dealer in total safety: battery problems: the range of the electric car is directly related to the charge level. It may happen that, in the event of long and incorrectly planned journeys, you are in the position of not being able to continue the journey and reach the designated destination. Unlike petrol or diesel cars, it is not possible to delay with small top-ups on the roadside; therefore, the only solution is to contact a roadside assistance service; breakdowns: like any means of transport, it is possible to encounter sudden problems that could limit the freedom of use, even in this case the only alternative is to contact a tow truck.

Lifting an electric car

In the event of a puncture, if a spare wheel is available, or a tire change, it is of course possible to lift the car with the use of jacks (or suitable mechanical arms in case of can be found at a tire shop). If you are near a public road, always remember to position the triangle 100 meters away, wear the reflective vest and turn on the emergency indicators.

As with endothermic cars, it is always good to check, under the floor, where to place the jack to avoid unpleasant problems which, on an electric car, could lead to much more serious damage than a solution without batteries. Most electric cars, in fact, integrate the battery pack in the lower part of the platform which could be damaged and broken in case of inappropriate use of the lifting system. In this regard, most manufacturers clearly indicate the points where it is possible to place the jack to avoid breaking through one or more cells of the battery pack, a situation which, in addition to increasing the cost of repairs, could also trigger fires.

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Towing an electric car

Do we have to follow any special precautions to tow an electric car? The answer is not as obvious as we might think. With thermal cars with manual gearbox, the most common in our country, it is possible to rely on a "compact" tow truck, able to hook onto a single axle to transport the car without problems. The same rule applies to thermal vehicles with automatic transmission, which allow you to free the wheels in a short time. But with the electric ones?

With the battery solutions it is necessary to use a tow truck with a moving floor, if instead this specific model is not available it is good to make sure that a system is used that is able to lift the remaining axle that alternatively it would end up in direct contact with the asphalt. In any case, the operator who intervenes must be adequately prepared and have the CEI 11-27 or PES-PAV qualification, that is the certification that allows to operate and carry out works on electric and hybrid cars in the presence of voltage.
Established that the safest way to tow an electric car is to lift it onto a flatbed tow truck, some manufacturers clearly indicate in the use and maintenance manual which operations to follow with clear graphic examples. Renault, for example, only recommends lifting the car, while Tesla also allows towing without a flatbed. More specifically, the Tesla manual recommends activating the "jack" function if air suspension is present, otherwise the car could loosen the safety belts. On Tesla Model S, however, the activation of the "tow" function is recommended to prevent the Park mode from automatically activating.

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Hook up an electric car

Let's imagine that you have contacted a roadside assistance service and that you have reached the having placed a tow truck equipped with a moving floor, what are the procedures to follow now? If the car no longer has traction or power supply, it is necessary to use a winch to tow the car from the road up to the floor but to do so it is absolutely recommended to consult the car manual.

There are in fact attachment points specifically designated for this kind of operations which, unlike other anchoring systems, benefit from a reinforced tear-proof structure. A caution that probably was not properly followed by an American roadside assistance operator who, during an intervention on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, caused damage to a part of the battery pack, in particular to one of the supports adjacent to the cells. According to what emerged, it seems that the car was hooked incorrectly during loading on the floor, thus without respecting the attachment points suggested directly by Ford. In this regard, we remind you that on the lower floor of many electric cars, in addition to the battery itself, there are all the cooling circuits which in the event of a puncture could lead to leaks and breakages.

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