A customer in the UK says that Tesla won’t allow him to utilize trailer mode because the tow hitch in his car is not an official Tesla accessory. This isn’t just a case of trying to get a better deal by going with an aftermarket part either. Tesla’s tow hitch and trailer package are sold out, which has rendered at least this Model Y without the ability to tow anything.
First spotted by TheDrive, Twitter user Scott Helme recently aired his issue seeking a solution. He tweeted directly to Tesla and CEO Elon Musk asking for some “common sense”. According to screenshots reportedly showing emails between Helme and Tesla Vehicle Support, the EV manufacturer isn’t offering much in the way of help and saying that it’s a liability to enable trailer mode.
“I can confirm that your vehicle is not able to tow anything as it does not have the tow package installed,” says the support person. “Please do not operate your vehicle with a trailer or anything on the tow hitch,” they continue. That’s quite the ask considering that the Tesla-approved package is unavailable “due to a microprocessor supply issue.”
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Just had another lengthy callback from @Tesla and still the same stance. If I buy their tow bar, they’ll enable the feature. Apparently it’s a “liability” if they enable trailer mode and it’s not their tow bar. They also can’t tell me when they will have tow bars available.
— Scott Helme (@Scott_Helme) October 27, 2022
Helme says that the aftermarket hitch on his Tesla Model Y was installed by a “reputable company” which would make this whole pill just that much harder to swallow. As of this writing, no solution has been reported. We’ve scoured Tesla’s online documentation including information specifically about the trailer package as well as the Model Y owner’s manual itself. Neither one mentions anything about this policy or the need to use a Tesla-approved tow hitch to get the trailer package.
This isn’t the first instance of this sort of thing happening. Back in 2021, another person posted on TeslaMotorsClub.com reporting the same issue. Evidently, the policy was fairly new at the time. “I have some friends who were able to get the tow mode feature added around a year ago for their aftermarket receiver/hitches but Tesla is now giving me the round-a-around,” they said.
It makes sense for Tesla or any other company to be concerned about liability regarding how vehicles get used. Anyone could install a tow hitch incorrectly and that shouldn’t be Tesla’s fault. Nevertheless, this undocumented “policy” is dubious at best.
This isn’t the first time that Tesla’s customer service has been called into question. Not only does the company remove previously purchased features on cars that it takes in on trade (only to sell them again to future customers), but it’s not unusual for cars to come off the production line with incorrect parts. Numerous units have shipped with mismatched tires and at least one Model 3 arrived to its new owner with a missing brake pad.
We’ve reached out to Tesla regarding this incident and will update this story if we hear back.