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i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Fri Sep 17, 2021 10:12 pm
by 2020i3
I got rid of my 2020 i3 this week. It was picked up by a tow truck, not a flat bed. The type that grabs it by the front wheels and lifts it up. I suspected that wasn't the proper way to tow the car, but it wasn't my place to tell the two truck driver how to tow the car, and at the time, I didn't know. Plus, it wasn't my car anymore. Reading the owner's manual tonight, it's really sketchy. Says nothing other than don't tow the car by any means other than a flat bed tow truck. Oddly, there's no mention of how to prepare the i3 to get it on a flat bed? Can anyone shed light on that? I've still got my 2021, and if it ever breaks down, I need to know how to protect myself from idiots in tow trucks.

This is all the worthless BMW owner's manual says: "The vehicle should only be transported on a loading platform."

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Wed Sep 22, 2021 10:41 am
by ArntyR
I'd have thought that being rear-wheel drive it could be towed on the front wheels whilst raising the rear as well - but I agree flatbed's best if it can get up the ramp. I'd imagine there would be a winch on the tow-truck in that case?

I wonder if the rear motors would act like a dynamo if towed on the rears and compromise the electrics?

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Wed Sep 22, 2021 1:59 pm
by MKH
From the BMW Breakdown Guide:

A FEW TIPS TO HELP YOU PROVIDE ON-SITE ASSISTANCE:
• If the 12-volt onboard electrical system is still working, you can make the vehicle roll by switching
the selector lever to N.
• Jump-starting or charging the vehicle via the 12-volt onboard electrical system in the event of a
breakdown is not permitted.
• The vehicle may not be towed by the axles, as the electric motor could supply current to the
high-voltage system. The car may only be transported on a flatbed vehicle.
• To bring the vehicle out of a danger zone, you may pull it extremely slowly over a short distance
of no more than 500 m. If possible, make it rollable first by switching the selector lever to N.
• Secure the vehicle during transport, for example using tension straps pulled through the wheel rims

There is a procedure for getting it into neutral.
Tow Away.png
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Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:24 pm
by 2020i3
Thanks, MKH for that information. I suspected the car had to obviously be put in neutral to safely move it. I don't recall the two truck guy doing that. He just grabbed the thing. Somebody is eating some damage fees.

I do have to note it's a bit daft to have the towing information in a breakdown guide when often times towing the car can have nothing to do with being broken down. It can simply be getting put on a trailer behind an RV or getting transported to a new owner.

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 4:30 am
by MKH
Yeah, don't understand why that info isn't in the owner's manual, since incorrect towing can damage the car significantly. There is no clutch/disconnect between the electric motor and the wheels - so even in neutral, when the wheels turn, so does the electric motor. Towing the car wheels down even in neutral will spin the electric motor, and with the car not 'live' no coolant is flowing, and overheating the motor will be an issue. So towing wheels down is not good, no matter what.

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Wed Oct 06, 2021 4:07 pm
by emgroff
It is in the owner's manual. Also, I think most (all?) EVs require a flatbed trailer, because the wheels are connected to the motor.

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 7:23 pm
by 2020i3
@emgroff, correct it's in the owner's manual that car has to be on a flatbed. False that it's in the owner's manual of how to prepare the car to get it on a flatbed. Or, put another way, the data isn't all in one easy to find location. Pretty sucky for a brand like BMW.

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 10:35 pm
by alohart
Towing with the rear lifted and the front wheels on the ground wouldn't result in the drive motor spinning and generating electricity without active cooling or the control of how much electricity is being generated, etc. I don't understand why this is discouraged other than the steering wheel has no steering lock so would be free to turn side to side which might make towing tricky and possibly dangerous. However, tow truck drivers probably have a way to lock the steering wheel in the straight ahead position so that it couldn't turn side to side.

Re: i3 Towing Procedures?

Posted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 7:26 am
by symonray
Also, if a flat bed tow truck is not available, I would think that towing an i3 with one axle lifted and the other axle running on dolly skates would be acceptable.