For the past two weeks, my wife and I have been dolly towing our Chevy Bolt behind our motorhome on a Roadmaster tow dolly. I must say, in our decade of full-time RV experience this trip has been absolutely the most ... interesting
First of all, we absolutely love our Bolt. But towing it has proven to be quite challenging as the Bolt is almost too smart
for its own good.
The manual says to follow these steps:
- Put the front wheels on a dolly.
- Put the shift lever in P(Park).
- Secure the vehicle to the dolly.
However, in the owners manual under "Electric Parking Brake" it also says "The vehicle may automatically apply the EPB in some situations when the vehicle is not moving. This is normal, and is done periodically to check the correct operation of the EPB system." I have also noticed that it will automatically apply the parking brake when parked on an incline.
It is this last behavior that seems to have caused our issues.
On our first tow with the Bolt we headed out as we have many times before with other vehicles and exactly according to the instructions listed in the owner's manual. Before we left we ensured that the wheels were rolling fine and off we went. This trip was uneventful and we arrived fine 4 hours later.
On our second tow we followed the same steps ensuring that all wheels were turning before departing. When we arrived at our destination, there were tire drag tracks from the registration office all the way to our site (but amazingly not from the road to the registration office)! When I turned the car on, sure enough, the EPB was engaged and the two rear tires were ruined.
Obviously the EPB was engaged for more than just the short trip from the office to our parking spot as the tires were worn completely flat down through the entire tread to the inner portion of the tire. At the same time, I do not think that the brake was engaged the entire journey of about 200 miles as 1) There were no drag marks into the RV park and 2) I'm pretty sure that the tires would have been completely destroyed if it had been engaged the entire journey.
After a tow to the Chevy garage and a few day's of researching on their part, there were no answers as to what might have gone wrong or how to proceed. Thankfully, Chevy covered the new tires under warranty and they're still working with me to find a solution.
Upon having our car returned, my wife and I loaded the car again and videoed the process. We very carefully made sure that everything was set according to the procedures in the manual. We found that we were only able to pull the car about 5 feet until it automatically applied the EPB and locked up the rear wheels. (Thankfully we were on gravel)
After further discussion with the garage, I asked if I could simply disconnect the battery. They said that should do it as long as I didn't need any lights on the car. I don't need any lights as my tow dolly has lights powered from my motorhome.
We have now completed two more towing sessions successfully using this strategy of disconnecting the negative terminal of the battery. However, we have found that you need to be very carful
to the following:
- Listen carefully to ensure that the car does not automatically apply the EPB between the time the time that the car is turned off and the time that the battery is disconnected (I've had this happen)
- Make sure to keep the driver's door open until after the battery is disconnected, otherwise the car may automatically lock the doors and you'll have to use the physical key to unlock the door when you arrive at your destination (I've had this happen)
- Always make sure to test that the wheels are rolling freely before departure
I hope that this helps others so that they don't have to go through this process. It took many days away from our vacation driving back and forth the dealership for service.
Another lesson learned was to make absolutely sure
that the dealership to which Chevy Roadside Assistance is sending you to can actually work on a Bolt. I assumed that since I was using OnStar things would "just work". However, that was not the case. The first dealership that they sent me to couldn't work on Bolts. Then it was practically impossible to get Chevy Roadside Assistance to tow me between dealerships and I had to use my Good Sam Roadside assistance to complete that part of the process.