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Discussion Starter #1
I love my Bolt. The only thing that would make it perfect would be if I could tow it on all fours behind my motor home. Any one know what the limitations would be? If it was put in neutral (or maybe even D), there don't seem to be any components that would need lubrication with the engine not running. It would be an ideal tow-car. I could charge it in the RV park. I could put it in car wash mode with the parking brake off. The manual says use a dolly, but that's too inconvenient.
 

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The manual forbids it, so if you're concerned about warranty coverage on anything touching the road or mechanically connected that way better not.

Leaving aside the warranty and strictly mechanical issues, there's so much software involved in "putting it in neutral" (as well as automagically applying parking brake etc.) that a guaranteed outcome seems unreliable.
 

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I love my Bolt. The only thing that would make it perfect would be if I could tow it on all fours behind my motor home. Any one know what the limitations would be? If it was put in neutral (or maybe even D), there don't seem to be any components that would need lubrication with the engine not running. It would be an ideal tow-car. I could charge it in the RV park. I could put it in car wash mode with the parking brake off. The manual says use a dolly, but that's too inconvenient.
I also love my Bolt - it is a great car! But you won't be able to flat tow it. You should check out this video about the Bolt transmission.

https://youtu.be/APhRPSdmdmk

At 8:52 the professor talks about the 12V fluid pump for the transmission. It only runs when in drive or reverse. Without proper lubrication the transmission would be quickly destroyed if towed.

Got a chuckle from your comment "the engine not running". No engine to run - it's hard to break from our thinking about gas engines cars. These BEV's have technologies most of us haven't seen before and are not familiar.

I also have a Sprinter B-van motorhome and would like to be able to tow my Bolt. But it needs to be on a dolly to do it.

Good luck,
- - Mike
 

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You should check out this video about the Bolt transmission.

https://youtu.be/APhRPSdmdmk

At 8:52 the professor talks about the 12V fluid pump for the transmission. It only runs when in drive or reverse. Without proper lubrication the transmission would be quickly destroyed if towed.
Yep, that's exactly the reason that you need to put at least the front wheels on a dolly. Unlike ICE vehicles, there's no real "neutral" gear in the Bolt's transmission - if the front wheels are turning then the motor is turning. Always, with no exceptions. Unless you want to crawl under the car and disconnect the drive shafts. So that fluid pump needs to be running if the front wheels are going to be turning for an extended period of time.

Also, watch out for the towed car thinking that it's rolling away and deciding on its own to apply the parking brakes. This happened to the owner of a 2017, I'm not sure if it's still an issue on later models but in the absence of information to the contrary I'd assume it is. The solution is to release the parking brake and then disconnect the 12V battery to prevent the onboard computer from doing anything. I carry a 10mm wrench with me for this very reason - not because I have a motor home but just in case I need a tow at some point.
 

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At 8:52 the professor talks about the 12V fluid pump for the transmission. It only runs when in drive or reverse. Without proper lubrication the transmission would be quickly destroyed if towed.


- - Mike
Yikes-- quite correct! I hadn't even thought about that angle, let alone trickery involved w/"neutral." As Sean points out, no such thing...
 

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Does the parking brake hold the rear wheels, or is there any other 'intelligent' connection to the back that would need to to be disconnected before dolly towing?
 

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Does the parking brake hold the rear wheels, or is there any other 'intelligent' connection to the back that would need to to be disconnected before dolly towing?
Yes, the parking brake locks the rear wheels, which is why you need to disconnect the 12V battery before dolly towing. I wouldn't look for a way to, say, disconnect the wiring harness that activates the electric parking brakes - that sort of thing has the potential to throw trouble codes that might end up causing you even more headaches.
 

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A coworker of mine researched and said the only vehicle that can "officially" be flat towed with no warranty issues is a Honda Odyssey. Clearly more vehicles then that get flat towed, so either he overlooked something or lots of people are taking risks that they may or may not understand.

I wouldn't risk my 40k investment over trying to save a few dollars. Personally, I wouldn't screw around with a dolly, either. A quick google search found dollies for about $1k and full trailers starting at $2.5k with most around $4k. There's lots of uses for a flat trailer once you have one and there's almost always somewhere you could dump the flat trailer once you've arrived. Plus you could back it up while loaded and rent it out while you're not traveling.

Should you be able to get something rigged up, you could also charge the Bolt from the RV while driving, if your RV keeps the 110V outlets live. Obviously, you would want to use the 8A setting and then only if you really need to charge, but it should work. Definitely not efficient, but feasible.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've seen all those great Kelly videos. I was thinking maybe I could feed 14v to the lube pump on the transaxle to lube the gears. I'm not sure about keeping it out of park/parking brake, but that has to be doable if you're careful. Dolly or trailer is non-starter. What do you do with it in RV park? (I have a 45 foot motor home.) There was a company (RevCo?) that made drive shaft disconnects for some otherwise non-flat-towable vehicles. Maybe they would be interested in coming out with something. At the moment, I tow a 5000 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is the world's best tow car, except it needs petrol. I know several motor home owners that would seriously consider the Bolt if it was towable. You could charge it at the 50amp plugs in the RV parks.
 

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I could feed 14v to the lube pump on the transaxle to lube the gears. I'm not sure about keeping it out of park/parking brake.
OK, that's an approach. An adequately sized Schottky diode inline w/the vehicle power supply to the pump, to avoid backfeeding whatever's supplying the pump from the chassis (better safe than sorry and only a couple of dollars). Then per Sean (I think it was Sean) disconnect the 12V battery with the parking brake disengaged. A utility 12V feed from the RV to power the pump.

You'd want some kind of indicator to show the RV crew if the pump failed, something the car would normally denote via the dashboard. How to arrange that so it's visible in RV rear-view mirror might be tricky so there's another potential conductor heading back to the mother ship (as well, where to tap a pressure switch?).

[Hmm- it gets more complicated, of course. The oil is cooled by circulating coolant from the car, IIRC. Becoming too furry...]
 

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I've seen all those great Kelly videos. I was thinking maybe I could feed 14v to the lube pump on the transaxle to lube the gears.
That’s an idea! 12v on the tranny lube pump.... just like those tow kits that use a pump to circulate tranny fluid thru the automatic tranny on a towed car. I’d worry about the car applying the park mode or the parking brake. Best to disconnect the 12v battery (or pull appropriate fuses). I’d sure hate to cut into the wiring harness at the risk of water ingress and corrosion ... best solder if you have to and seal the wires back up good. Seems you could feed it from the 12v on the big round trailer plug on camper. It would be wise to have some sort of pilot light on the car that you could see to make darned sure there’s 12v running that lube pump in the tranny.... remember it’s not how you make it work, it’s what happens when things don’t go according to plan.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks, all. Not being too adventurous, I was hoping to get someone else to risk their Bolt on giving it a try so I could copy. GM made the Saturn several years ago, and I successfully towed one with automatic transmission all over the country by just putting it in neutral. In later versions, they decided you had to pull a fuse for some reason. Car manufacturers aren't too much interested in us gypsies. I have a friend who towed a Smart Car with auto trans, but the Bolt would be much better.
 

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As Sean Nelson said, there is no true 'neutral' on a Bolt: the wheels and the motor are directly connected through a double reduction gearset. Nor is there any true 'transmission': no gears to shift, just one speed. Reverse is achieved by simply reversing the polarity of the motor windings. 'Neutral' simply disconnects the motor windings, rendering the right pedal useless.

Looking at a cross-section of the motor and drivetrain, the right output shaft (which travels through the rotor and drives the right wheel) is supported by a plain bearing. This bearing requires pressure-fed lubrication when the front wheels are turning, and will eventually fry if it doesn't get that pressure-fed lubrication.
 

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A coworker of mine researched and said the only vehicle that can "officially" be flat towed with no warranty issues is a Honda Odyssey. Clearly more vehicles then that get flat towed, so either he overlooked something or lots of people are taking risks that they may or may not understand. ...
Your coworker didn't do much research. There are dozens of vehicles that can be safely flat towed. Jeeps are the most common choice.

Here are the results of my 5 minute search....

https://www.roamingtimes.com/2018/08/02/what-cars-can-be-flat-towed-behind-an-rv/

https://rvshare.com/blog/rv-towing-guide/

Motorhome magazine publishes an annual dingy towing guide. They are the best source.

http://www.motorhome.com/download-dinghy-guides/
 

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Agree 'dinghy' is more common, I was kidding. 'Toad' stumped me when we moved to the suburbs and I wanted a cheap beater to commute. I saw a Civic on an RV dealer's lot. I assumed it was a trade-in and that he would sell it cheap since it had 80k miles. "Oh the toad? I wasn't thinking of selling it. I was going to toss it it as a freebie for an RV sale where I didn't want to come down on price". That stumped me until he explained it.

Over several years the Civic turned out to be a lot cheaper on and gas and maintenance than the Wagoneer that was our other car.
 
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