Installing A Tow Hitch On A Tesla Model 3

AUG 23 2018 BY MARK KANE 22

Tesla Model 3 with hitch can take a bike rack or storage box

Tesla likely didn’t envision the Model 3 for towing and it’s not rated to do so even if you install an aftermarket tow hitch. However, a bike rack is acceptable.

Recently, JerryRigEverything showed the installation of a tow hitch on a Tesla Model 3 (owned by Ben Sullins from Teslanomics). The purpose of the project was a bike rack, but just for the demo, the car was pulling almost a 2,000lb (907kg) trailer out on the road.

The Hidden Eco Hitch comes from Torkliftcentral at almost $400 and is removable, so you can disconnect the hitch when not in use. There is no connection for brake lights and installation does require cutting a hole.

“This mod for the Tesla Model 3 allows the owner to carry bikes, or small trailers with their super powerful Tesla. An environmentally friendly economical car is now more productive with a trailer hitch. Remember that the Tesla Model 3 itself is NOT rated to tow *anything* and this might void some warranties. BUT its a free country and you are a grown adult who can do what you want with your own stuff. Enjoy.”
Of interest was the removal of the bumper during the installation. This revealed a lot of small rocks inside on the bottom cover despite no off-road driving.

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22 Comments on "Installing A Tow Hitch On A Tesla Model 3"

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I’ve never heard that it’s illegal to install a hitch on a non-tow rated car. I’ve heard that it could invalidate your warranty, and if you tow too large of a trailer you may be pulled over for safety reasons, but I don’t think it’s illegal to install the hitch.

I drove a Dodge Neon and towed 4×8 covered U-Haul trailers all over with it, a couple hundred miles sometimes. It didn’t particularly strain the car, although I kept it under 60 and I had a manual transmission.

I look forward to seeing more people install hitches on their Model 3s. With a hitch and the ability to tow a small trailer, you have most of the utility of a truck, without sacrificing the back seat or the fuel efficiency.

“I’ve never heard that it’s illegal to install a hitch on a non-tow rated car.”

It’s not illegal in the U.S. I’ve seen it claimed it’s illegal in Europe. Dunno about Canada.

However, be aware that if your car is damaged by towing and it’s not tow-rated, then the car’s warranty won’t cover the damage. Not quite the same as “voiding the warranty”, as some claim, but let’s say it might void the warranty’s coverage of parts (including the frame or unibody) that might be damaged by towing.

It isn’t illegal but you have to get it approved in a single unit approval while with an official tow rating you just have to install one.
With a mass market car some tow hitch manufacturer may be inclined to go through getting a type approval for his hitch in combination with a car model. In that case you can install that particular hitch and you just have to carry a copy of that type approval.

“…you have to get it approved in a single unit approval…”

What are you talking about? Just who would be issuing or denying such an approval? My father installed third-party tow hitches on several cars in his day; he never had to get any sort of permit or pass an inspection.

Nor was any such thing mentioned in all the discussion I’ve read about installing trailer hitches on cars not rated for towing, on either the InsideEVs forum or the Tesla Motors Club.

Maybe there’s a State law in your State requiring that, but fortunately no such Nanny State laws apply where I live, in the Great State of Kansas! I’m pretty sure not in Missouri, either.

I’m talking about the EU for which you said it would be illegal. It isn’t, if the manufacturer doesn’t issue a tow rating someone else has to. It is done by the same people that have your car inspected for road worthiness.

Under federal law, you only have to get DOT approval if you are using the vehicle for commercial towing that meets specific criteria. As in you are getting paid to tow things with your Tesla. Only then would you need to get approval from inspectors that it is a safe tow vehicle. (individual states may have their own rules)

I believe it is illegal in the EU…


GVWR does not include weight on trailers.

I think they say that because there was no hook-up for lights with the hitch.

In Norway it’s illegal, as long as the car manufacturer has not approved it, and it has to pass a series of tests and what not. The hitch it the main selling point of Model X in Norway.

“Tesla didn’t envision the Model 3 for towing, so it’s not legal to do so” [Citation needed]

Tesla need to tow rate the Model 3 and add a factory Tow package as an option.

Towing more weight than the vehicle manufacturer recommends or using the wrong type of hitch for the load being towed is considered towing with an improperly equipped vehicle. I could not find any violation of a traffic act (quick search) but you could be in real trouble if you get in an accident with a vehicle that is not rated for towing by the manufacturer. Your insurance policy may be deemed void leaving you stuck with $million(s) in liability.
Check your insurance policy before towing.

Identical cars introduced into different markets get different manufacturer ratings based on availability of more expensive and more capable vehicles in those markets. Take a look at how much 4-bangers in Europe and Australia can tow vs the same exact car in the US. It’s not a regulatory or legislative or technical difference, it’s all marketing. Marketing doesn’t dictate law.

I’ve towed a self braking 1500kg trailer with a 45hp car. No problem. You just spend more time in lower gears.

Becareful with bike racks. I bought a 4 bike hitch mount rack that had a warning not to use on a hitch rated for less than 3500 pounds.
Clearly the tongue weight is more significant than the pulling limit in this case (not my warning label 😉 but I have heard that the stress on the hitch for a bike rack is very different than for a trailer. The rack with bikes can rock/whip forward and back whereas a trailer’s tongue would only pull vertical.

“This revealed a lot of small rocks inside on the bottom cover despite no off-road driving.”

Tesla rocks!

What law are you siting to say it’s not legal?
A Big unstable SUV is legal yet a tow hitch and trailer is not?

The big question here—-

What about highway towing? (I.e. 65 mph, small utility trailer with a couple of dirt bikes).

Range will obviously be cut substantially (maybe by up to 1/2 ?) … but the big question is heat. How will the battery handle it .. and how will this affect supercharging / long term battery life?

/bicycles or the occasional short trip to Home Depot —- probably nothing to worry about there

In German language there is a saying:
“Du darfst alles, außer dich erwischen lassen”
literally translated: “you’re allowed to do everything, except to be caught in the act”
and “Alles mit Maß” (don’t exaggerate)

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.