Nissan Leaf Towing Procedure – RV Towing and More

Since the Nissan Leaf is a one hundred percent electric car, you need to follow strict steps to tow it.  If you do not tow it correctly, you could damage the engine easily because of the electrical components in the Nissan Leaf.  Here are the instructions on how to correctly tow your Nissan Leaf.

Nissan Leaf Towing procedure.  The best Nissan Leaf towing procedure is to ensure that the front wheels are off the ground. If you tow with the front wheels down, there is a good chance that you will cause expensive damage to the motor.  If you are towing using a flatbed, make sure that your only attach cables and straps to the main structural components of the Leaf.  

One way of towing in Nissan Leaf is to use a tow dolly. I will explain how it’s done so that you can safely tow your Nissan Leaf using this technique.

Can you tow a Nissan Leaf with a tow dolly?

You can safely tow a Nissan Leaf using a tow dolly by ensuring that it rolls on its rear wheels.  The reason that the rear wheels must be used is because there’s no differential or no transmission connected to this set of wheels.

One problem with towing using a tow dolly is that the Nissan Leaf is a wide car. If you were to turn sharply, you risk the chance of the front of the Leaf touching the dolly.  For instance, if you’re using a smaller U-Haul tow dolly.  

Since you are aware of the need to position the Leaf well on the dolly, now you should have the leaf situated correctly on the tow dolly and you can start Towing. You will quickly realize that towing using a tow dolly is easy because of the heavy weight of this Nissan.  Plus, it rolls with ease on its rear wheels because of the lack of resistance. 

The reason that the rear wheels turn so easily is that they are rotating on bearings. They can rotate independently. It is as if they are two useless donuts.

Another point to remember is that you should make sure that the parking brake is not set. This is something that most people would consider as common sense, but it is something that should check out before you start towing on a tow dolly.   You could get away with forgetting about the parking brake if you’re going to tow on a flatbed trailer. 

I will now explain how to tow a Nissan Leaf using a flat tow.

Can you flat tow a Nissan Leaf?

Nissan Leaf as a fully electric vehicle meaning that it cannot be flat towed because electric vehicles cannot disengage all four tires.  Since a Nissan should not be flat towed, there really is not a straightforward way to attach a tow bar to the front of the vehicle although many people have tried to do so.

The front wheels on the Nissan Leaf are not mechanically disconnected when the vehicle is off.  In other words, the Nissan Leaf does not have a multi-Gear transmission.

Without having regular transmission, it cannot be set into neutral allowing the tires to spin without resistance.  In a way it does go into the neutral setting, but this is only to cut off the regenerative braking and the acceleration.

If you flat tow a Nissan Leaf, allowing the four tires to touch pavement, you will activate the electric motor while it’s being towed.   Your Nissan Leaf may be OK for a short distance during a flat tow, but over long distances this type of towing will alter the performance of the electric motor.

Even though the Nissan Leaf does not have a neutral gear that can be set to flat tow it, many owners are wondering how they can switch the car into neutral position for simply moving the vehicle so that it can moved if the 12-volt battery is dead.

Here is an interesting video answering the question whether you can tow a Nissan Leaf with another Nissan Leaf:

How to Put a Nissan Leaf in Neutral when it is dead

If someone says that their Nissan Leaf is dead, they’re just referring to the fact that its 12-volt battery is dead. When there is no charge left in a 12-volt car battery, there’s no way to turn on the vehicle because the outboard computer is powered by this battery. You need to use this computer system to start the electric motor.

If your vehicle needs to be repaired, you need to be able to move it so that you can jumpstart it if it is parked in such a way that easy access to the 12v battery is not possible.  Without the jumpstart, you will not be able to turn it on.  It must be on for you to uplock the front tires. So how do you put into a more neutral setting with the joystick so that it can be moved?

The way to deal with a dead battery in a tight area is to use a portable jump starter.  These can be easily purchased on Amazon.  Click here to see the pricing on Amazon for the NEXPOW 12v Battery Charger. They are not extremely powerful, but they will jump start your 12-volt battery in a Nissan Leaf that is dead. Once you have charged the 12-volt battery you will have access to the onboard computer allowing you to take control the vehicle once again or at least move it far enough so that it can be easily towed if you believe that your other problems with your vehicle. 

If you’re still having problems jump-starting your Nissan Leaf, how exactly you’re going to tow it if it can’t be moved? When a Nissan Leaf is turned off, its front wheels that are connected to electric motor will not turn.   You may end up damaging the vehicle if you were to try to drag it onto a flatbed truck for towing.

How to tow a Dead Nissan Leaf

The first step is to jumpstart the dead 12v battery.

It might sound like a simple project to tow a Nissan Leaf after you have jumpstarted the dead 12v battery. However, getting it into the right mode so that all four wheels will move freely is not the easiest task to accomplish. I was not able to find the instructions in the manual, and if they are there, they are hard to find.

Luckily, I read a response in a Nissan Leaf forum that explains how to put the car into a more neutral setting so that it can be towed:  

  1. You must apply pressure on to break and then move the joystick over to the right for more than two seconds.
  2. You’ll hear something disengage within the vehicle and then the vehicle is free to roll.  
  3. The front wheels are the ones that are connected to the electric motor and now they are freed. 

Now that you know how to set up a Nissan Leaf so that it can be towed, what if you’re going on a long trip and you’re wondering if you can attach it to the rear of your RV. What setup should you use for your Nissan Leaf to tow it behind your RV.

I recommend the CURT trailer hitch if you wish to tow up to 1500 pounds with your Nissan Leaf.  Click here for the current pricing available on Amazon.

Towing a Nissan Leaf Behind an RV?

The Tesla user manual suggests that there are two ways to tow a Nissan Leaf safely. One way is by raising the front wheels. The second approved method is by using a flatbed trailer. I prefer the flatbed trailer towing with an RV.  The chances of damage occurring on the flatbed trailer are a lot less than if you were to use tow dolly for a Leaf.  With the flatbed, all four wheels are on the platform and they’re not moving.

With flatbed towing of a Nissan Leaf, you do not have to worry as much about whether the parking brake is set or not.  You just need to ensure that when you add the straps, that you do not cause excess stress on the body frame since it can be quite sensitive due to the internal electrical components.

Although it is not suggested that you flat tow a Nissan Leaf, I have read reports by owners stating that it’s okay to have the four wheels down on the ground if you are not towing a long distance.  These Leaf owners feel that a flat tow is advantageous because by spinning the front tires, you will maintain a full charge in the main battery while you’re coasting along on the highway in your RV.  Nevertheless, this method of towing is totally against the directives in the users’ manual.  

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