Tesla has several models that come with towing capabilities, which can make summer camping trips a little more eco-friendly. But just because your Tesla can tow a trailer, does not mean you should use all of its high-tech features when doing so. For example, you may be wondering if you can use your Tesla’s autopilot system while towing? Find the answer below.
The autopilot system will automatically disable itself when a trailer is sensed. It can be bypassed manually, but using Tesla’s autopilot system when towing a trailer is not safe. Autopilot will not anticipate the larger braking distance needed to stop safely due to the extra weight from a trailer.
Although it is amazing to think that an electric vehicle has enough power to tow a trailer, there are some downsides from doing so. And while towing with your Tesla can be a great experience, using autopilot while doing so is not a good idea. Read on to learn more about why using autopilot while towing is not safe, as well as which models can tow trailers, and the effects of towing on Tesla’s power range.
Tesla Autopilot With a Trailer
The simple fact that there are now cars with self-driving capabilities, makes living in this generation pretty cool. Tesla has certainly led the way in pioneering a new generation of smart cars and is the only company that offers a true autopilot option. While some other companies offer similar features such as adaptive cruise control, Tesla is the only one with fully-operating autopilot capabilities.
Realizing that you own a smart car that is one hundred percent electronic, has the ability to drive itself, and can now also tow a boat or a trailer, is pretty powerful. Although these features are amazing, one must still take safety into consideration when using autopilot. This especially applies to using autopilot while towing. After all, there is a reason why the system disables automatically when a trailer is sensed.
Once you have hooked up your trailer or boat to Tesla’s tow hitch, the car automatically recognizes this and disables autopilot. When you get into your Tesla and turn it on, you will then put the vehicle into tow mode via the touchscreen. Using tow mode ensures that the car can accurately gage safe speeds and stopping distances with the additional weight from the trailer.
Manually enabling Tesla’s autopilot while towing may lead to:
- A crash caused from braking too late due to inaccurate judging distance from the autopilot system
- Possibly taking turns too quickly or mis-judging speeds on inclines or declines
- The system is not equipped to take into consideration the weight and length of a trailer, as well as the trailers’ braking capabilities, further making autopilot a bad option when towing
Using autopilot while towing a boat or trailer is not a wise choice for many reasons and can end with injury to yourself or others. Tesla will, however, still allow you to operate the TACC (Tesla Adaptive Cruise Control) system while towing a trailer, making the trip a little more easy and comfortable.
Which Models Have Towing Capabilities?
Not all Tesla models come with the towing feature, so be mindful of this when deciding which model is right for you. If you plan to do a lot of adventuring that involves towing a boat or a trailer, do not forget to do your research. Though there are 3 models that can tow, each offers a different towing capacity and power range. Here is a little breakdown of which Tesla models have towing capabilities.
Tesla Model 3:
- The Tesla Model 3 features a towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds, allowing it to tow small trailers and other small items
- The hitch itself is made from a high-strength steel that features a removable adapter
- The tow hitch can also be used as a mount for bicycles or skis
- Battery charge is seriously diminished when towing with the Model 3
Tesla Model Y:
- The Tesla Model Y is capable of towing up to 3,000 pounds
- This model has an estimated 326 mile range per charge, which reduces to between 100-150 miles when towing
- Due to the smaller range, you will find yourself having to charge quite frequently while towing with the Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model X Long Range:
- The Tesla Model X boasts a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds
- Putting the vehicle into Trailer Mode adjusts the suspension automatically, disables rear sensors, and disables autopilot
- Due to the added weight from towing, the Model X will need to be charged every 300 miles or so, meaning you will have to be mindful of where Superchargers are located on your trip
How Does Towing Affect Tesla’s Power Range?
As briefly mentioned above, towing with any of the Tesla models will result in a reduced range of power. Therefore, if you are planning on taking a camping trip and towing your small trailer with the Model 3, you might want to think again. Although you will only be towing 2,000 or less pounds, the trailer will drain the Tesla’s power significantly and will result in having to constantly find Superchargers.
The Tesla Model Y does a little better on power range than the Model 3. You normally get up to 326 EPA with the Model Y, but that will be reduced to 150 EPA or less while towing. This model can tow 1,000 more pounds than the Model 3, but you will be in a similar situation looking for Superchargers very often. This may present a problem if your vacation time is limited.
Arguably the best option for towing, the Tesla Model X Long Range boasts the highest towing capacity at up to 5,000 pounds. This model offers the best towing experience and the most range between charges. Choosing this option will get you close to 300 miles per charge, getting you to your destination more quickly and saving on some of the extra costs associated with charging constantly.
- The Model 3 offers the smallest tow capacity of 2,000 pounds or less and will only get you a short distance (think 100 miles or less) before having to recharge
- The Model Y does a little better, towing up to 3,000 pounds, but still only gets you about 150 EPA while towing
- The Model X Long Range has the best towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, allowing you to tow a boat or trailer and will get you close to 300 EPA, saving on time and charging costs
The takeaway from here is to plan your trip carefully and be sure to take a route that gives access to Supercharging stations. This may mean skipping the scenic route on your trip and sticking to highways that offer better access to charging stations.
Towing a trailer with a Tesla on autopilot is possible and has been done before. However, this is not recommended due to the disabling of certain safety features. Using autopilot while towing a trailer reduces the vehicle’s ability to accurately judge braking distance, which may result in an accident.
The likelihood of something going wrong is greatly increased when using autopilot while towing, which is why the feature automatically disables itself when a trailer is detected. So, next time you are taking your Tesla and trailer for a road trip, remember to leave the autopilot off. After all, you can still take advantage of Tesla’s Adaptive Cruise Control while towing your trailer.