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Old 01-04-2019, 12:46 AM   #1
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How to tow a Chevy Bolt EV

You can tow the Chevy Bolt EV behind a motorhome.


You will need to use a tow dolly that has electric brakes (which will also require installing an electric brake controller in the MH). Put the shifter in Low and carefully drive onto the dolly, then place it in Park. The first time doing this, note its position on the dolly. I place a magnetic mount CB antenna on the dolly against the front of the car. When I hit the antenna, I know that I need to stop! Driving over the dolly is a disaster.


Secure the wheels with the tire straps. Because you are on an incline, the Bolt EV's electric parking brake (EPB) will probably be automatically activated. That means that the rear wheels are locked and will drag if the vehicle is moved. This could be a problem later on when you tow it. You can lock the vehicle now until you are ready to tow it. That will usually activate the EPB. Before towing it, hit the Start button on the Bolt EV the usual way. Look at the screen and make sure that the EPB light is not on. It will show up as a red icon in the upper right corner of the screen if the EPB is on. The button next to the shifter needs to be depressed to turn off the EPB. Leave the shifter in Park (the rear wheels are NOT locked in Park). Do not fasten the seat belt. Do not wrap the seat belt or anything else around the steering wheel.


Disconnecting the 12V battery does nothing except inactivate the 12V functions, like opening the trunk. Don't do that. Pulling fuses is unnecessary. Odometer mileage will not increase while towing and neither pulling fuses nor disconnecting the 12V battery will prevent the EPB from functioning.


With the EPB light off, turn off the engine. Leave the vehicle and DO NOT LOCK IT. When first driving the MH, be paranoid and make sure the Bolt EV's rear tires are turning (have your co-pilot stand outside and watch the tires while you move the MH a few feet). You will not "feel" that the rear tires are dragging, but you might hear it. Unless you lock the vehicle, the EPB should stay off. If you are not sure, hit Start and check the screen. If the EPB light is on, start over -- you did something wrong. Don't bother calling OnStar for help with this -- they won't know. After towing a 10th of a mile, stop and tighten the towing straps. They will be loose. Recheck the straps and re-tighten them at each rest stop. Consider obtaining a supplemental tire pressure monitoring system for the towed vehicle (you will need 4 more sensors for that, of course). Consider towed miles when scheduling tire rotations on the Bolt EV.


To loosen the tow straps, you will need a vice-grips and a medium screw driver. It helps to wear gloves (Harbor Freight...) for this. You can see or feel for a small hole (about 5/16") in the tow strap ratchet bottom bracket. It is located in front of the tire. Place the screw driver in the hole and pry down (don't poke the screw driver into your tire!). It will release the ratchet so that you can unwind and loosen the strap enough to move it away from the front bumper and then fully open, which unlocks it and should allow you to pull on the strap and unwind it. Sometimes road grit gets in the ratchet mechanism making it hard to release and unwind. In that case, place the vice grip on the ratchet axle and rotate it in the unloosen direction while using the screw driver to pry down the ratchet release.



Charging at home and campgrounds: Get the Clipper Creek HCS-50P, which is a Level 2 charger that uses the standard 50-amp hookups at campgrounds (NEMA 14-50 outlets). Go to clippercreek.com. This costs over $700 (you can get a Federal tax credit for part of it). If you have not already done so, consider having a the same 50 amp outlet installed at your home by a electrician (about $150, plus the plug and so forth available at Home Depot - you can get a Federal tax credit of this, too). A 50 amp Level 2 charges at about 40 miles/hr, or about 7 hours for recharging a nearly discharged battery. The Level 1 charger that comes with the vehicle purchase charges at 4 miles/hr, or about 60 hours (really!) for a nearly discharged battery. The battery has 60 KW of storage. Average mileage is about 4 mile/KWH or about 240 miles of range (4 x 60). You use more electricity if using heat or air conditioning, if it's very cold outside, or when you go over 60 MPH. Your range is much extended if driving slowly (friction and wind-drag increase with speed), but driving 40 in a 70 is asking for a crash and/or road-rage. Don't count on finding Level 3 chargers on the highways. Many of them don't function or are unlocatable. Level 3s can get you 90 miles in 1/2 hour. Buying electricity on the road can cost you 3 times more than charging at home. You can find charger locations using the Plugshare free smartphone app.
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Old 02-29-2020, 03:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysigel View Post
You can tow the Chevy Bolt EV behind a motorhome.

...

Disconnecting the 12V battery does nothing except inactivate the 12V functions, like opening the trunk. Don't do that. Pulling fuses is unnecessary. Odometer mileage will not increase while towing and neither pulling fuses nor disconnecting the 12V battery will prevent the EPB from functioning.
Thank you for your great and informative post! A lot of good detail about how to physically attach the car. Just adding this here in case anyone else runs across this later on - Unfortunately, the part that you mention above is incorrect.

EPB is a 12V function, and all of the computers run off 12V. If you disconnect the 12V battery, the car is entirely dead, and EPB will not activate.

If you do not do this, it's possible that the EPB can activate. We have heard of cases of people being very careful as you have mentioned, and having it activate randomly as the car detects something, even when off and unlocked. Either the rear brakes burn up or the tires are destroyed.

It is STRONGLY recommended based on everything that we have seen so far to just disconnect the 12V battery. The EPB cannot activate at that point, so you don't have to worry or double check. Just ensure that the car is off and EPB is not engaged before disconnecting. Be prepared for the car alarm to go off when you reconnect.
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Old 02-29-2020, 11:52 PM   #3
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I have a battery disconnect. I have tried it. It does NOTHING to deactivate the EPB. In fact, it will deactivate the cruise control, the windows and the trunk. I even tried pulling fuses. Don't do it.


You can only tow the Bolt EV on a tow dolly. To prepare for towing, no one else should be in the car. If anyone else is, they leave first. Leave the transmission in Park - it only locks the front wheels, not the rear ones. You do nothing to the steering wheel. Do not secure the seatbelts - leave them totally unlatched and not wrapped around the steering wheel. If the seatbelt is latched, the car thinks someone is in it and it will activate the EPB. You sit on the driver seat and turn on the ignition, click on the EPB, then click the EPB off. Its red symbol in the upper right of the screen should now not be displayed. You turn off the ignition. You exit the car from the driver position and close your door. After you exit, you leave the doors unlocked. If you lock the doors, the EPB will engage because the car is sloped on the dolly. If you lock the doors at a campground or elsewhere, you will need to start over. You can leave the car unlocked (in a safe area) overnight without a problem. When first towing the Bolt EV, have your significant other watch as you move the vehicle a few feet. You can also watch the left tire rotate if you are making a left turn, but that often isn't practical. Being paranoid about it, I have tried mounting a "wireless" backup camera on the tow dolly pointed at a rear tire on the bolt - it worked too poorly to be of benefit. After driving a few miles, stop somewhere safe and tighten up the tire straps - they will be loose. At every stop you make, check on the straps. I've been towing my 2017 Bolt EV for 2 1/2 years behind my motorhome. The only time the tires dragged was when I first started towing (and disconnected the battery) because I didn't know what I was doing. Trust me: follow the above instructions and you will become so confident in your Bolt EV towing ability that you will think you no longer need to look first, but do it anyhow and whenever you open or lock the car door(s). Remember - doors unlocked for towing; if you lock the doors then the EPB will activate. Save your money and don't install a battery disconnect switch because it doesn't help.
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Old 07-31-2020, 11:44 AM   #4
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[QUOTE=jaysigel;5167398]I have a battery disconnect. I have tried it. It does NOTHING to deactivate the EPB. In fact, it will deactivate the cruise control, the windows and the trunk. I even tried pulling fuses. Don't do it.


The owner's manual clearly states to disconnect the 12V negative terminal for dolly towing.
I have done that and verified that the EPB will NOT engage when it is disconnected.
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Old 08-02-2020, 01:45 PM   #5
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Disconnecting the 12V battery to tow Bolt EV

I have a battery disconnect on the 12V battery. I have found that disconnecting the 12V battery only kills the 12V appliances, such as the radio/display, remote, windows, getting into the trunk and totally turns off the cruise control.



Pages 300 and 301 in the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV instruction manual says absolutely no dinghy towing. To tow on a dolly, it lists these 4 instructions:
1. Put the front wheels on a dolly.
2. Put the shift lever in P (Park).
3. Ensure the Electric Parking Brake is disengaged.
4. Secure the vehicle to the dolly.


And that's it. Nowhere in my instruction manual does it say to disconnect the 12V battery.


If you have done all of the above, the EPB will not come on unless you lock the car. You have to leave it unlocked and leave the car from the driver's seat. You do not need to secure the steering wheel. Do not wrap the seat belt around the steering wheel and click it in. The vehicle is not "dead" if the 12V battery is disconnected. The car's computer doesn't run off of it. Disconnecting the battery will likely make it impossible to lock the car, which may have the unintended benefit of not setting the EPB only if it was not already set. When you park the vehicle on an incline (the dolly is inclined, of course), the EPB will be activated when you lock the car, if not sooner.


This is what we do: We will be taking a long trip and will leave at 5 AM. The evening before, while it is still light, we put the car on the dolly and secure it. We sleep in the MH, but don't want to leave the car unlocked because it has our charger and towing accessories inside. In the AM, I get up, unlock the car, turn off the EPB and close the door, leaving it unlocked. (In the past, when I had unlocked the EPB the night before and subsequently locked the door, I would find out the next AM that the rear tires were dragging from the EPB being activated!) My wife has no confidence that I have actually turned off the EPB. She goes out and looks at the rear tires as I move the MH a few feet. She gives me a thumbs-up, which I can see in the mirror, and she enters the MH, goes back to sleep and we are mostly on our way. I drive until we get to the main road in town and pull into a shopping center parking lot. At 5 AM, the parking lot is empty except for a police car. I stop and re-tighten the towing straps (they always need to be re-tightened) as the police watch me. At each rest stop/fuel stop, I recheck the tow straps. Never, ever, has the EPB come on. Anytime that we need to re-enter the car, we need to make sure that the EPB is off. If you are able to make a sharp left hand turn, you will be able to see the car's rear tires rotating in your side view mirror.


You don't need to waste your money on a battery disconnect switch like me. If you install it, do not rely on it to prevent the EPB from coming on.
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:43 PM   #6
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I have a battery disconnect on the 12V battery. I have found that disconnecting the 12V battery only kills the 12V appliances, such as the radio/display, remote, windows, getting into the trunk and totally turns off the cruise control.
The 12V systems control everything in the car. Without the 12V battery connected, nothing can operate if the car is "off". Also, the EPB is a 12V system. If the car is turned on and you disconnect the 12V, the APM will provide the 12V power for the rest of the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysigel View Post
Pages 300 and 301 in the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV instruction manual says absolutely no dinghy towing. To tow on a dolly, it lists these 4 instructions:
...
And that's it. Nowhere in my instruction manual does it say to disconnect the 12V battery.
Let me cut you off there. Unless you have prescience, or a strange manual that dictates the laws of physics, manuals have mistakes, and software doesn't necessarily behave the way that the manual describes it. There are known mistakes in the manual.

If you head over to either of the chevybolt web forums, you'll run across people who have had their EPB engage while being towed and nothing changed on the vehicle. This resulted in their rear tires being destroyed.

All in all, it's a minor inconvenience and ensures safety to just disconnect the battery.

But don't let other people's actual experience dictate what you do. If you feel it's safe to listen to the manual, then go right ahead

Also, again sorry to cut off your message about how the manual must be right, but note that the manual changed in 2018 to include the following eleven steps. You may want to pay close attention to step 10.


Tow the vehicle with the two rear wheels on the ground and the front wheels on a dolly. To tow the vehicle from the front with the rear wheels on the ground:

1. Put the front wheels on the dolly.
2. Shift the transmission to P (Park). See Shifting Into Park
3. Set the parking brake.
4. Secure the vehicle to the dolly.
5. Follow the dolly manufacturer's instructions for preparing the vehicle and dolly for towing.
6. Release the parking brake.
7. Turn the vehicle off.
8. Open the hood.
9. Wait two minutes.
10. Disconnect the negative (-) terminal connector from the 12-volt battery.
11. Close and latch the hood.
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:45 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=mhcatsco;5374664]
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaysigel View Post
I have a battery disconnect. I have tried it. It does NOTHING to deactivate the EPB. In fact, it will deactivate the cruise control, the windows and the trunk. I even tried pulling fuses. Don't do it.


The owner's manual clearly states to disconnect the 12V negative terminal for dolly towing.
I have done that and verified that the EPB will NOT engage when it is disconnected.
Ahh, you're right! the 2017 manual does not mention this, but the 2018+ ones do.
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Old 08-04-2020, 07:58 PM   #8
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Or you could just buy a Wrangler.
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