In today’s absurd market, it’s hard to find the right car. With chip and materials shortages still running rampant in the auto industry, people are often stuck buying whatever color, trim level, or options package they can find on a local lot. For many buyers, this means turning to dealerships or third-party providers to get those last few accessories, but it seems Tesla is only approving of the former — blocking owners of third-party trailer hitch receivers from using the company’s Trailer Mode software.
On its surface, the move makes some sense. After all, there’s nothing stopping me from duct-taping a 2.5" receiver to a Model Y and then suing Tesla when its Trailer Mode fails to keep my 40-foot yacht securely attached to the car. But, as The Drive explored, the situation isn’t quite so clear-cut.
If you live in the United Kingdom, you can’t buy a first-party tow package for your Tesla. They’ve been out of stock for months, with no return date in sight. You can, however, pick up a third-party hitch that’s built to certain standards of quality and strength — the same standards to which Tesla’s own hitch is held. But, if you do purchase one of these third-party receivers, don’t be surprised when Tesla demands you remove it.
The Drive spoke with a Tesla owner to whom this request was made, and who was told by the company that his car “is not able to tow anything, as it does not have the tow package installed.” The specificity of the wording even poses warranty questions — if an owner is explicitly told their vehicle can’t be used for towing, then doing so could void that factory coverage.
The entire piece on The Drive is worth reading, and poses some interesting questions about continuing manufacturer support as the car industry increasingly moves towards a service approach. I, for one, will continue to do my towing as God intended — with a precariously overloaded UHaul rental.