A towing package is a set of additional parts designed to give a vehicle towing capacity or to improve its current towing capacity. But this all begs the question: what does a towing package actually consist of?
A towing package contains the following parts:
- A tow hitch
- Electrical connections for the trailer
- Engine and powertrain improvements
- Better brakes
- More advanced transmission systems
- And stronger shocks and struts
All of these different items contribute to helping the vehicle tow heavy loads or increasing its current level of towing power.
What each of these components are and how they work together to improve a vehicle’s towing capacity will be described below.
- 1 What Features a Tow Package Comes With
- 2 Tow Package vs Trailer Hitch
- 3 Should You Install a Towing Package Yourself?
- 4 Wrap Up
What Features a Tow Package Comes With
A towing package comes with a wide assortment of special items and materials designed to increase the power, durability, and towing capacity of your vehicle.
The tow hitch is the most basic part of any towing package, since it creates a point where you to connect towing trailers to your vehicle.
Styles. Different towing packages come with different types of tow hitches, which connect to trailers different. Some come with simple knobs that are designed to have a trailer hook over them, while other come with more elaborate sockets that can more securely hold a trailer in place.
Positioning. Tow hitches need to be carefully positioned both so that they can tow trailers or other objects, but also so that they don’t damage your vehicle while being installed, or tear away once weight is put on them. Making sure the tow hitch is precisely attached and fully secured is essentially to any working tow package.
In addition to the tow hitch itself, other electrical connections are needed in case you make use of a trailer’s additional features such as independent lights or an engine.
Connection Type. Generally, socket hitches will include their connections with the hitch itself, since the socket can be used to hold the electrical connections in place. Knob hitches, on the other hand, tend to have slightly disconnected wires since they rely on the trailer being attached to the knob instead of fitting a fixed opening.
Trailer Features. Electrical connections can take some of the strain off your vehicle if the trailer being towed comes with its own brakes and engine. These make slowing the vehicle down and accelerating much easier since both the vehicle and trailer are working in tandem off the same set of pedals.
Stronger Engine and Drivetrain
While not every towing package completely changes your engine block, most come with the equipment needed to improve your engine and drivetrain.
Engine. Towing packages come with stronger engine components, replacement parts, cleaning kits, and other items needed to increase an engine’s power. A more efficient engine can pull heavier loads, since it has more power to translate into dragging a trailer.
Drivetrain. In addition to the engine, towing kits increase the gear strength of the drivetrain to help increase the vehicle’s overall power. This focuses primarily on increasing the power of the vehicle’s gears and the efficiency of switching between them to make accelerating easier.
More Powerful Brakes
In addition to increasing the power of the engine, a good towing kit will also increase the power of the brakes to help compensate for the extra weight of the trailer.
Vehicle Brakes. The brakes that come with a towing package often include larger and sturdier brake pads that make slowing down the vehicle much easier. This also includes larger calipers to accommodate the larger brake pads and increase the surface area the brakes can grip to increase the effectiveness of the brakes.
Trailer Brakes. Trailers often come with their own manual or electrical brake systems which help take the strain off the main brakes and make stopping easier. A towing package will always have some system to connect to these brakes in order to make them work with the same brake pedal.
More Advanced Transmission
Of all the systems on a vehicle, the transmission often takes the most strain while towing a heavy load so most towing packages upgrade the transmission system.
Upgrades. The first upgrade that comes with the transmission in a towing package is increasing the overall power and responsiveness of the transmission system. This helps the drivetrain run smoother and change gears faster while dragging a heavy weight, improving towing power by increasing drivetrain efficiency.
Cooling. In addition to increased power, the transmission is also equipped with a better cooling system to help keep the system running smoothly. The more the drivetrain has to work, the more the transmission system heats up, so a strong cooling system is essentially to a working transmission.
Stronger Shocks and Struts
In order to overcome the weight of a trailer, towing packages need to increase the strength of the shocks and struts of the vehicle.
Shocks. Shocks do more than just make off-road driving smoother, as they help take strain off the vehicle’s frame. A stronger, larger set of shocks will help reduce tension on the body of the vehicle while towing heavy loads.
Struts. Like shocks, improved struts help to reinforce the frame of the vehicle so it isn’t warped or damaged by towing a heavy trailer. As such, most towing kits offer stronger struts or reinforced struts to help prevent damage from towing.
Each of these components plays a vital part in letting a vehicle tow heavy loads without breaking down by increasing the strength and power of the vehicle.
Tow Package vs Trailer Hitch
If you already have a powerful and sturdy truck, you may ask why you need to purchase an entire, new towing package to increase your towing capacity instead of just a trailer hitch? Both systems have their own merits, but are very different from each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
A towing package is a more comprehensive system, especially if your vehicle isn’t designed for towing, but it comes with its own drawbacks as well.
- They offer the most increases to towing power.
- They can improve the durability and efficiency of your vehicle outside of towing.
- They can turn a vehicle that is not designed to tow trailers into a towing vehicle.
- They are expensive to buy and have a mechanic install.
- They require special tools and equipment to install properly.
- They need to be specially fitted for a specific type and size of vehicle.
In short, a tow package offers much greater benefits but is much harder to find, purchase, and install without professional help.
Trailer hitches are much more simple systems, only needing to be bolted onto the back of a truck, but this simplicity can be a problem.
- They can be easily attached to any vehicle in a matter of minutes.
- They are inexpensive and easy to acquire.
- They don’t require you to change other parts of your vehicle.
- They do not increase your vehicle’s towing power.
- They cannot help a vehicle that is not already designed for towing.
- They have no electrical connections for special trailer features.
Trailer hitches are cheap and easy to install, making them much easier to use, but at the same time they only work with trucks that are powerful enough to tow weights on their own.
Should You Install a Towing Package Yourself?
A towing package contains a variety of different parts which have to be carefully fitted into a vehicle in order for all of them to work together and increase the towing capacity of a vehicle. This can be extremely difficult to do at home, even with the proper tools and knowledge, so having a professional install your kit is usually recommended.
The need for special equipment and skills. While you can install a trailer hitch easily, special items like struts, engine upgrades, and electrical connections are more complicated. These require extensive mechanical skills and specialized tools such as lifts and cranes to help reach under a vehicle or take a vehicle apart, something the average car owner often does not have.
Access to additional parts. Professional mechanics, in addition to their skills and equipment, also have better access to towing package kits and replacement parts than the average car owner. This means that if they need to replace a broken part or if the current towing package doesn’t fit the vehicle, they can more find the parts needed to suit their situation.
Installing yourself can be cheaper and faster. If you do have the expertise and tools to install your own towing package, however, you can save money by not hiring a professional. You can also work at your own pace rather than waiting for a mechanic, who will often have many projects that they need to simultaneously complete.
A towing package is a great way to either add or increase the towing capacity of a vehicle, but it is important to know what parts come with a towing package. These kits come with a wide range of components, all designed to increase the durability, power, and connectivity of the vehicle. If you have any questions about towing or towing packages, comment with them below.
Hi, I am Brad. Car Independent is your source for independent views on cars and car accessories. Whether you looking to buy a new car or something cool for your car, you have many options. My aim to help you make the best-informed choices.