Trailer hitch and warranty

Trailer hitch and warranty

If you put a trailer hitch on your MS, will you unknowingly void your battery and service warranty?

petero | February 23, 2013

jk. I would recommend you post your question to nkincaid at the tesla bulletin board. This question requires a TM answer.

jk2014 | February 23, 2013

Petro -- Will do

jk2014 | February 23, 2013

I put in the question to Tesla...

I've read of one owner putting on a hitch, I'm wondering if there are other owners that have done the same. Do they know if this will affect their warranty or not? Is this a question they have thought about themselves?

What if you don't tell Tesla about your trailer hitch? Would they look at the logs and see an unusual degradation to the battery and question why? Curiosity is getting the better of me right now...

nickjhowe | February 23, 2013

@jk2014 - they'll certainly notice the big hole cut in the undertray. :-)

jk2014 | February 23, 2013

Yeah that would give it away, wouldn't it...

Pungoteague_Dave | February 23, 2013

They would have to specifically state that the car cannot be used for towing in the documentation or warranty. I have read all the fine print and it isn't there. Further, having a trailer hitch isn't evidence of towing. My hitch receiver is installed specifically and solely to have a means to carry bicycles without damaging the car. They could not void a warranty for this use.

I also asked TM service if this would be an issue and they said it had not come up. My car is currently at the Rockville service center for several warranty items, including a through inspection due to the bumper nuts being loose. In this case, they would have a tough time complaining about my hitch receiver given that the installation process is the sole reason that the assembly and safety error was located.

To put this in perspective, I tow a small (500-pounds fully loaded with climbing and camping gear) trailer with two of my BMW motorcycles. The BMW warranty specifically says that the bikes are not designed for towing and that any damage caused by towing isn't covered under the warranty. That would be the sole legal exclusion under the TM warranty, IF they specifically stated such, which they do not. It would not be legal to void the entire warranty, only damage caused by the non-approved use.

Unless you plan to use a trailer with the hitch, I doubt this will be an issue, and even there, light use should be okay - a small sailboat, jet ski, or utility trailer with ATV or motorcycle should be fine. Basically, I think the Model S should be able to tow anything light enough that it does not require trailer brakes. I have a pickup so won't be doing it, but the car is perfectly capable.

nickjhowe | February 23, 2013

The TM Warranty says you may void the warranty if you do not follow the specific instructions with respect to:

"Carrying passengers and cargo within specified load limits;"

I can't find any reference to specific load limits, nor to not using the vehicle to tow anything.

judimasters | July 23, 2013

I had an ECOHITCH installed and now I need wiring for lights. What do you suggest? How will this impact the electrical system and the warranty?

Pungoteague_Dave | July 23, 2013

Despite some comments on other threads to the contrary, installing a trailer hitch apparently has no impact on the TM warranty. Tesla specifically recommends the Torklift EcoHitch system and allows them to participate at teslive events, with a booth and demonstration space.

Tesla inspected mine, including removing the entire rear end of the car to check torque specs, and suggested it for others who want to use it for a hitch bicycle carrier.

I have also added a pigtail for hooking up trailer lights and used it to tow jet skis and a small utility trailer with a motorcycle. I found that the easiest way to do this is with posi-taps at the left rear taillight. That assembly's plug pigtail is accessible and you can tap in directly for trailer lights. I had no electrical compatibility issues. However, I would NOT tow anything over 1,000 pounds or use a trailer with brakes.

Although Tesla has said nothing affirmative in writing on this question, I am sure they reserve the right to disallow any warranty claim where towing a trailer caused the problem. That's why I keep it to very light loads and bike rack use only.

Dr. Bob Reinke | July 24, 2013

@ Judimasters

ECHOHITCH sells a no connection brake and turn signal kit that requires no connections to the directional wiring in your Tesla. It is not too expensive and workes very well. Go to their web-site for more information and ordering.

Brian H | July 24, 2013

ECOHITCH causes fewer reverberations.

judimasters | July 25, 2013

Thanx Dr. Bob You're the best!!!!

chasx | August 28, 2014

After test drving Model S this week, I looked into the hitch receiver for bike rack options, as there is that nice receiver made my Eco Hitch.
My sales person responded:
Tesla’s official stands on modifications to the Model S is that they may void the warranty. In this particular instance – seeing as there would be not cutting or drilling to modify the car - I do not believe it would void the warranty. However, if damage ensued from the installation – it would not be covered by Tesla, which is of course what we are looking to protect ourselves from. Below is a little more info.

At this time, no Tesla-approved tow hitches are available for purchase for either the Roadster or Model S. Although third-party manufacturers offer tow hitches for the vehicles, these products have not been tested for safety by Tesla, and having them installed may void the vehicle warranty. Tow hitches, whether for bikes, trailers, or other vehicles, create complex safety issues for any vehicle and must be properly engineered, tested, and evaluated. Under no circumstances should any Tesla employee recommend third-party tow hitches for customer purchase.

tga | August 28, 2014

Hasn't anyone heard of the Magnuson–Moss Act? A car manufacturer can't arbitrarily decree your warranty void because you dared to install an aftermarket part or modification, unless they can prove the damage was caused by the aftermarket part or mod.–Moss_Warranty_Act

Captain_Zap | August 28, 2014

I'm dealing with an insurance company right now regarding an accident that was caused by a trailer that was being towed.

There is the potential that something being towed could do damage to the car by excess load too. Who knows what someone might try to tow.

Perhaps that is they mentioned that Tesla said "may" void the warranty instead of "will" void the warranty.

johncrab | August 28, 2014

This is a high wire manufacturers have to walk. One owner may want to install a light Thule hitch to carry mountain bikes and some other owner might want to tow a large U-Haul full of rocks to the Ozarks. That's where the word "may" comes in. This gives the manufacturer the ability to assess case by case but it also leaves them in the clear as not endorsing towing or any add-ons which might impact their liability. (Anyone ever see Lucy and Desi in "The Long, Long Trailer"?) | August 28, 2014

I have had the Eco Hitch for over a year now. I use it for a hitch mounted bike rack. No issues. When my car was rear ended a few months ago it survived without damage. (<10 mph and cosmetic damage to the rear bumper cover). It should have no effect on warranty.