Adding a Towing Package

If your tow vehicle did not come with a factory-installed towing package, you will need to have that work done before you will be able to tow your trailer. Luckily, most full-size trucks (and many smaller trucks also) come equipped with a towing package as standard equipment.

The first place to look for information about towing packages is your vehicle owner's manual. Look under “towing” in the index for information on weight limits and tow equipment recommendations. If the first thing you see says “towing not recommended with this vehicle” or something similar, then proceed no further. If you try to tow a trailer, you will void the warranty and most likely ruin your car.

If you are able to tow with the car or truck you own, you will need to add several items to the vehicle to make it tow-worthy. There are some things that a weekend mechanic can add, but for the most part this is a job for professionals. Your regular automobile mechanic can do much of the work needed, but you will also need to have work done by a hitch specialist.

To make your vehicle tow-worthy, you will need to add:

  • A weight-equalizing hitch

  • Trailer brakes

  • Safety chains

  • Fender-mounted mirrors

  • A heavy-duty wiring package for turn signal flashers

  • A coolant recovery system

  • Engine oil cooler

  • Air adjustable shock absorbers

  • A flex or clutch fan

These basic upgrades will make your vehicle tow-worthy, but you can make your ride even better with a few other after-market additions.

High-tech towing systems can help eliminate the sway that trailers are so famous for and make the driving experience much more enjoyable. Another area that could benefit from improvement is shock absorption. You can upgrade the shock absorbers to help improve the ride and handling. Gas-pressurized shocks are more expensive but well worth the extra cost for the improved ride.

There are also options that can improve the trailer brake performance, though you need to be sure they will work with the towing package you have. These systems can help prevent brakes from locking up in stop-and-go traffic.


Adding a towing package to your present vehicle will generally be more expensive than the comparable factory-installed towing package. With a factory-installed package, you also have some assurance that the tow vehicle will be covered under the warranty. You may find that a new vehicle with a towing package installed will serve you better over the long run.

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