When a car or truck can pull something, it opens up a lot of options for the person who owns it.
Whether you want to tow for fun (think boats, RVs, rafts) or for work (think construction, lawn service), you might be wondering if your car can handle it.
One of the many upgrades you can get for your truck is a tow package, but do you really need one?
If the weight you’re pulling doesn’t go over what you can pull, you might not need a tow package. But if you need to pull a heavy load, you may need a tow package.
Now that you know the general answer, let’s talk about what tow packages are and whether or not you need one in your situation.
What is a Tow Package?
A tow package is a set of parts that you put on your car to make it able to pull things behind it.
You can get a tow package in three main ways.
New cars should come with towing packages from the factory.
You can add a factory tow package to your current car,
Find out which tow package is right for your car, buy it, and put it on yourself.
These are where the tow package meets.
Either a ball coming out of the frame of the vehicle or a hitch with a pin to hold the load in place.
They are also an important part of the tow package. Your car’s light controls are linked to the electrical wiring.
This lets you drive around with a tow load on public roads.
If you don’t do this, drivers behind you won’t be able to see when you stop, back up, or signal a turn.
Upgrades that might be part of a factory tow package include a stronger engine, a better transmission, a stronger suspension, and brakes that can handle a bigger load.
All of these upgrades make it possible to pull more weight.
How Do I Know If I Need A Towing Package?
Whether or not you need a towing package depends on what you want to pull.
Say you want to buy a small truck with a towing capacity of 1,000 pounds, but you only plan to tow that much or less occasionally (say, for camping).
You might not need a towing package in this case.
But if you want to keep the small truck option and tow twice or three times as much weight more often, or if you want to pull a big 5th wheel RV or boat, you need a towing package.
When you’re looking for a car, ask the dealer which one is best for your towing needs.
They will be able to tell you how much each vehicle can pull and if there are any upgrades you can get.
Do You Need a Tow Package to Tow a Trailer?
Most of the time, you don’t need a tow package to pull a trailer.
There is a difference between a towing package and a trailer package, and you need to know the difference if you want to set up your car to pull a trailer.
Now, what’s in the trailer is important, because you don’t want to put more weight on your car than it can handle.
As long as you don’t go over the maximum weight, a trailer hitch is all you need.
Trailer hitches are great for moving smaller loads, like furniture, yard waste, or trash. They can also be used for home improvement projects.
Your car’s engine probably won’t get too tired from towing these things.
You might want to install a tow package if you want to pull bigger things like ATVs, boats, or campers, even if the camper fits in your bed.
Keep in mind that the towing capacity of a trailer hitch is not the same as the towing capacity of the vehicle. They should be looked at separately, not together.
Even if you put a towing hitch on the back of your car that can handle up to 1,000 pounds of weight and your car can tow up to 1,000 pounds, that doesn’t mean you can now tow 2,000 pounds.
Installing a factory or aftermarket tow package is the only way to increase the amount of weight your vehicle can pull.
Does My Vehicle Already Have A Tow Package?
If you put two cars of the same make and model next to each other, but one has a tow package and the other doesn’t, it would be hard or impossible to tell which one has the tow package just by looking at them.
Even if you look under the car or lift the hood, you might not be able to see upgrades like extra radiator coils or transmission coolers.
Each vehicle is built and improved with tow packages in a different way, so you might not be able to see the changes at first.
When trying to figure out if your car has a tow package or not, the presence or absence of tow mirrors can also be misleading.
The only sure way to find out if your vehicle has a tow package is to use its VIN to look up its history.
First, find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the car or on the title.
The best thing to do then is to take it to the closest dealership that sells your car’s brand.
Someone at the dealership will be able to look up the build sheet history of your vehicle and tell you if a tow package has been added to it.
How Much Does It Cost to Add a Tow Package?
When added to used cars, tow packages tend to be pretty pricey.
You could spend hundreds of dollars on the extra hardware and labour needed for the extra hauling capacity.
If you’re set on adding a tow package to your car, I suggest two ways to do it:
Trailer Hitch Tow Package
If you want a cheaper option, you could just put a trailer hitch on your car.
This will give you the ability to tow faster and for less money than installing a tow package.
Also, a trailer hitch assembly has all of the wiring built in.
Installing a trailer hitch costs between $200 and $750, and it might be all your car needs to increase its towing capacity in a safe way.
Of course, you should first find out how much your car can pull.
When you look at the whole package, adding a tow package to a new car you want to buy is a much cheaper option.
Tow Package Added to New Vehicle Cost
If you want more than just a trailer hitch, you should buy a new car with a tow package that meets your needs.
If you decide you need the extra features that come with a factory tow package, it’s best to get it when you buy a new truck or SUV.
Because the cost of the tow package will be spread out over monthly payments along with the cost of the vehicle, it will be more affordable than a one-time fee.
The price of a tow package will depend on the type and make of your car.
The first step in finding out how much a tow package costs is to either look at the website of the dealership where you bought your car or call the dealership.
Don’t Forget the Hidden Costs
Like I already said, the cost of labour to install a tow package could be a surprise.
If you want to add a tow package to your car, make sure you get an accurate quote from your dealership.
Also, make sure that your cost analysis takes into account the fact that towing will cause your MPG to drop.
If you tow a lot of heavy loads or drive a car without a load with the extra upgrades, your miles per gallon will be much lower than if you didn’t have the package.
Do You Really Need A Tow Package?
In the end, you don’t need a tow package to pull loads that aren’t more than what your vehicle can pull.
When you want to pull heavy recreational items or when your new job requires you to pull a heavy trailer full of equipment, it’s time to think about adding a tow package to your new or existing vehicle.