Can a Tesla (Model S, Model 3, Model X) tow a caravan?

Can a Tesla (Model S, Model 3, Model X) tow a caravan?

According to the owner’s manuals of Tesla Model S and Model 3, it is not permissible to be towing with any versions of these cars. So if you break something towing with a Model 3 og Model S you might ruin your warranty. With that said it is actually possible. People have been towing caravans and trailers exeeding 4000 pounds or 1800 kg with ease. Just bear in mind that they are actually not designed for it.

A model X on the other hand is allowed to tow with a maximum of 5000 pounds or 2250 kg, this applies to both 20″ and 22″ tires.

A typical 2 and 4 berth caravan weight between 1800 and 2800 pounds (800kg – 1300kg). And 4 to 6 berth caravans can typically reach up to 4000 pounds (1800 kg). The weight of the caravan varies a lot depending on the model and manufacturer. The age of the caravan also plays a big difference in the weight. The older the caravan, the more it typically weighs relative to its size. This is because newer and lighter materials are used in newer caravans.

It’s a good thumb rule to never exceed the maximum limit of towing capacity with 80% or the maximum. This is primarily because of the safety of the brakes. Tesla recommends a separate braking system with a loaded weight of over 1000 pounds (450 kg.). The trailers braking system must be appropriately fitted to the trailer’s weight. I recommend you to read the users manual of both the Tesla Model X and the caravan or trailer, just to be sure.

In reality, Tesla X can tow/pull a lot more than 4000 pounds. I’ve seen YouTubers gamble with it and reach above 6000 pounds. But please do not do this, just use the information to insure yourself that it’s safe to pull a lot of weight with the Tesla Model X.

Things to do before towing with a Tesla

  1. Check the tire pressure. The correct tire pressures can be found in the owner’s manual. I’ve included the table of tire pressures from the Tesla Model X’s owners manual here:
Front TiresRear TiresCold Tire
Inflation
Pressure
245/45R19245/45R1945 psi (310 kPa)
255/45R20
265/45R20
275/45R2046 psi (320 kPa)
265/35ZR22285/35ZR2250 psi (345 kPa)
Table from Model X’s owners manual showing tire pressures for towing.

The pressure should be set to the “Cold Tire Inflation Pressure”, showed in the third column.

2. The suspension should be set to “Standard” height. You’ll be able to find this in “Controls > Suspension > Standard”.

3. Adjust the side mirrors to your comfort so that it provides a clear rearward view. You cannot avoid having a larger blind spot. For towing with a caravan you can get special caravan mirrors, which are extensions to your existing side mirrors. These will provide you with much more rear viewing capability and limit the blind spots even further. They will, however, increase the width of your car a little. Caravan mirrors are usually pretty cheap, they typically range from 20$ to 40$ for a set.

4. Check that the trailer is not tipping up at the front of down at the rear. The trailer and car must be horizontal with the trailer attached.

5. Please make sure all attachments and features of the caravan are working properly. This includes all lights, brakes, turn signals, electrical connectors, etc.

6. Make sure all weight is evenly distributed. The tongue weight must exceed over 4% of the total trailer weight. The tongue weight is the downward force that the trailer exerts on the hitch. A good thumb rule is to place the heaviest objects between the wheels.

7. Activate trailer mode. You can active trailer mode on a Tesla Model X by going to “Controls > Driving > Trailer Mode” on the touchscreen. You’ll see a caravan symbol and most likely/hopefully it’ll be red, which means it’s turned off. If you have already attached the trailer it might show yellow, which means the trailer mode is turned off but it is detecting a trailer. For the trailer mode to be active the caravan symbol should be blue. However, if you somehow forget to do this manually, the Model X will automatically detect if there is a heavy load and engage trailer mode by itself. If you cannot activate Autopilot functions while having a trailer attached, this is normal and will return to normal when deactivating trailer mode again. The rear sensors of the car might also deactivate when the mode is enabled, but I think this depends on the trailers size.

Guidelines for towing a caravan with a Tesla

  1. Make sure the caravan has its own brake system. Tesla recommends that trailers above 1000 pounds (450 kg) should include their own brake system.
  2. Towing with a caravan will increase your stopping distance and torque. Increase your distance to other cars and decrease your own speed.
  3. Make sure to read and follow all national and international laws and regulations before towing the caravan depending on where you are going.
  4. Check if your trailer or caravan has a breakaway switch. This will be located in the front on the tongue. The breakaway switch will activate in case the trailer detaches from your car, it’ll then stop the trailer. A lot of countries require a breakaway switch by law.
  5. Regularly check all the lights and other attachments are functioning properly.
  6. When parking with a trailer or caravan use wheel chocks under the wheels to make sure the car won’t move after parking. Always engage parking mode when you leave the car.
Auther:

Morten Pradsgaard

Morten has been working with technology, IoT and electronics for over a decade. His passion for technology is reflected into this blog to give you relevant and correct information.

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