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Kurt Kennedy
Kurt Kennedy,
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 93
Experience:  Shop foreman at Auto-Lab of Texas
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I have a 2013 Toyota ghlander Hybrid- Can I dolly tow it

Customer Question

I have a 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid- Can I dolly tow it behind my motor home? I love my highlander and don't want to get a different car, The manual recommends towing it on a flat trailer but I don't see why this is necessary. I understand that is the manufactures recommendation but the rear wheels are just connect a differential and the 80hp rear dcrive electric motor. If the car is off then how is this any different than coasting down a hill in neutral. Is there any mechanical or particular electrical reason I cant dolly tow it?
JA: How many miles are on the car? Is this the first time you're dealing with this issue?
Customer: it has 33k miles and is an awesome vehicle and l love it
JA: Are you hoping to fix this yourself? What have you tried so far?
Customer: It doesn't need to be fixed- I just have a question for someone that is truly knowledgeable about the highlander hyrid
JA: Anything else you think the mechanic should know?
Customer: I just need to get an straight answer from someone that knows the system. I understand there is a difference between recommended by the manufacture and real life. I am asking if I can probably get away with it or do I need to sell my highlander and get a different vehicle that I can tow
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Toyota Mechanic about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Genchi Genbutsu replied 1 year ago.

If the car is off then how is this any different than coasting down a hill in neutral.

Because the car is going to generate electricity when the wheels are turning (4 wheels on ground). Where is that electricity going to go?

Is there any mechanical or particular electrical reason I cant dolly tow it?

Dolly tow as in the two rear wheels are the only wheels touching the ground?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The rear motor is a 3 phase permanent magnet AC motor. With no current load on the motor ( regenerative breaking applied to charge the hybrid battery) it may generate voltage but no current. When you are moving and you shift to neutral then there is no regenerative breaking from either the front or rear motors. This also happens when the battery is fully charged or if the battery is above or below specific charging temperatures. So with the rear wheels on the ground in theory it's acting much like an alternator on a car that is spinning but not hooked up to a load or anything. If I jack up the rear end of my highlander the rear wheels turn freely so there appears to be no breaking generated.second question- yes I am referring to a tow dolly where only the rear wheels are turning and on the ground.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
my question is- is there any certainty I would damage anything by dolly towing my highlander hybrid with the rear wheels on the ground and if so what would or could I damage? Or could I probably get away with it with little or no true damage to the vehicle?
Expert:  Kurt Kennedy replied 1 year ago.

The picture I attached is straight from the owners manual. The only way to tow this car is with all four wheels off the ground. There is ZERO exceptions to this rule for your car.

The electromagnetic motor in the rear of your car will burn up the transmission and invertor if you tow it, and its possible the body its self will will become conductive and shock the heck out of you if you touch it (we have seen this before at the dealership)

To answer your question, Yes, you will 100% burn up the transmission, electromagnetic rear end, and whatever else the electricity you produce goes though.

This is a pretty confusing topic for a lot of people but I have seen the damage this can do first hand being at the dealership. You will not find a tow company will tow and toyota hybrid unless they have a flat bed.

Sorry to be the one with the bad news, but I would rather you be informed, than cause damage to your car.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thank you!