How To Put Tesla In Neutral

Can You Put Your Tesla in Neutral | + Tips about different models

The short answer? Yes!

I have been crazily doing some research on everything energy efficient – from solar panels for my house to options for electric cars – and I always stumble across question after question.

My latest one is about Tesla… can you put them on neutral? Will I ever need towing or a professional car wash? How do you go about it?

 The longer explanation is that Tesla wheels technically, can freewheel naturally when unpowered, even though the motors of a Tesla are permanently connected to the wheels of the car mechanically. And while there isn’t an actual mechanical neutral stage, there isn’t really a need for one – unless you really want to do it for safety purposes (which is understandable). 

How to Put Different Tesla Models into Neutral for Car Wash

Each Tesla model is slightly different, meaning you have to look at the manual of your model in order to learn how to put it into neutral. Here is a general guideline though, on what to do with which model.

Model 3 & Model Y

Neutral Position Of The Gearbox

The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y are similar in their gearbox composition. When your car is stopped and in park mode, you have to push down on the brake before changing the gear stick.

In order to shift into neutral in these models, you have to push down on the brake and push the gear stick up and hold it for a second longer than you usually would. This will disengage the park mode and leave your Tesla in neutral. The car itself will also inform you of it being in neutral.

Model S & Model X

The neutral gear of Model X and Model S are very different from the Model 3 and Y. The neutral position is actually found in between drive and reverse. If your Tesla is in Drive you will have to press the button on the gear stick and pull it down but not let it reverse. It may require a bit of patience to get the hang of it but that neutral mode is in there somewhere.

Similarly, if your Tesla is in reverse and you want to put it in neutral, you have to move the gear stick upwards and find the happy medium where neutral lies. 

These models do, however, like the 3 and Y, automatically go into park mode when you open your car door. 

Model S & Model X 2021+

Tesla changed a lot in the aesthetic and functionality in their newer models, namely the Tesla Model X 2021 and Model S 2021. The interior design is significantly different and where previous Tesla’s resembled a regular car inside, these two models are significantly more futuristic. 

The cockpit design, steering wheel and technology have all changed drastically and give the impression of a spaceship. Along with the look, Tesla have removed the physical gearbox! In order to shift gears in these models you use buttons which appear on the central screen.

Tesla On A Red Carpet

In keeping with these changes, to put your car into neutral you must locate the gear options and select the neutral button. 

Can You Put Tesla in Neutral When Battery Is Dead

The big worry when buying a Tesla is what happens if the battery runs out? Unlike hybrid cars, Tesla’s are all electric so if you have miscalculated and your battery dies, you need to get your car towed. 

Electric cars are not equipped with a torque convertor or a clutch, which means the motor is always connected to the wheels. Even to push your Tesla, the car would need to be in neutral otherwise it won’t budge. Once in neutral, the handbrake is released and the car becomes mobile.

Tesla’s come equipped with an auxiliary 12 volt battery. This battery is what is used to power the accessories in the car such as the windows and touchscreen. It’s very rare that both your normal battery and the auxiliary battery will both drain. If that does happen, don’t worry, you can jump start the auxiliary battery with jump leads, with the battery found under the hood of the car. 

What If Your Tesla Needs to Be Towed?

In the unfortunate event of your Tesla breaking down or running out of battery and needing a tow, Tesla have an inbuilt ‘tow’ mode for this specific situation. 

Accessing it is not the most simple of tasks initially, as you must disengage a number of features such as emergency braking and traction control as these systems could interfere with the towing process and could potentially do more harm than good. 

As we have discovered, Tesla models can vary greatly in how they operate, so it’s always a good idea to check the manual of your particular model. Here is a general breakdown of how to access the tow mode on most models.

  • Activate the parking gear and press down on the break
  • On the screen choose the following; CONTROLS – SETTINGS – SERVICE & RESET – TOW MODE – ON.

If you need to disengage the tow mode you follow the same instructions and choose ‘OFF’ at the end.


How Far Can My Tesla Take Me?

A common worry amongst those considering buying a Tesla is how good the battery is. Yes it’s good to know how to access neutral and tow mode so that you are prepared for worst case scenarios, but you must remember that Tesla batteries have incredible ranges. 

Though all of their models vary, across the board, on average a single full charge will allow you to travel 336 miles. 

To put you further at ease, the battery in itself has a capacity of anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 miles though some batteries have been known to go on past the half a million mark. Better yet, there have been rumors flying around that Tesla are working on a million mile battery!

Can I Leave my Tesla While it’s in Neutral?

You’ve seen it happen in many comedy movies, and regularly enough in real life, where a car gets left in neutral without its handbrake and ends up rolling down a hill, crashing into other cars, or going into a lake. 
Tesla have ensured that this will never happen to their cars. Though you can leave your car in neutral for as long as you’re in it, as soon as you exit the car it will automatically go into park, so rest assured to all of the forgetful Tesla owners.