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Old 02-12-2019, 05:09 PM   #1
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How do I tell if tow package is factory installed?

Hi,

We're looking for a used mid-sized SUV to pull our PUP. We are looking for one that is rated to tow 5000 lbs. The problem is that the same year make and model is rated for different towing weights, with the only difference being a factory installed tow package, which is usually more than just a receiver hitch and wiring.

How do I tell if the used vehicle has a factory installed vs an aftermarket? Is there a place to enter the VIN and it can let me know? I want to verify it myself, I don't really trust dealers and private sellers might not know if they weren't the original buyers. We're looking at vehicles such as the Sorento/Traverse/Highlander/4runner/volvo xc90 etc.

Thanks for any thoughts on this.
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Old 02-12-2019, 05:18 PM   #2
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Look for build sheet. GMs usually place it on the glove compartment door. There will be build codes. Copy them down and either visit google or a dealer. The other option is write down the VIN take it to a dealer. They should be able to give you everything about the vehicle there is.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:04 PM   #3
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Try this site, it generally does not matter the make or model just put in the vin number!

https://chevroletforum.com/forum/vindecoder.php?vin=
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:31 PM   #4
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The VIN will tell you exactly what you meed to know.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:40 PM   #5
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All hitches by DOT standards have to stamped with their rating's.... you can easily search this out on your hitch... and if its not a factory hitch, than the manufacturer will usually have his name stamped in the metal next to the dot information...


The VIN # is by far the best way to tell... two vehicles sitting next to each other and even some trained professionals can't see that extra row of tubes in the radiator, or the larger than average oil cooler in the lower radiator tank... those are the key places where towing can and will cause problems.. over heating...


Best of luck
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jelag View Post
All hitches by DOT standards have to stamped with their rating's.... you can easily search this out on your hitch... and if its not a factory hitch, than the manufacturer will usually have his name stamped in the metal next to the dot information...


The VIN # is by far the best way to tell... two vehicles sitting next to each other and even some trained professionals can't see that extra row of tubes in the radiator, or the larger than average oil cooler in the lower radiator tank... those are the key places where towing can and will cause problems.. over heating...


Best of luck
The information stamped on the hitch is by no means a method for determining a tow vehicle's capability.
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Old 02-15-2019, 06:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metallicat View Post
The information stamped on the hitch is by no means a method for determining a tow vehicle's capability.
Correct. The info on the hitch frame shows the max weight limits of the hitch, but the truck may be rated for less.

Example: 2018 Ford F-150 4x2 SuperCrew with standard 3.3L V6 engine and 145" wheelbase has max tow rating of 5,000 pounds with a weight-distributing hitch.

But the hitch is rated for over 12,000 pounds gross trailer weight with a
weight-distributing hitch.

Now back to your original question:
Quote:
How do I tell if tow package is factory installed?
As others have mentioned the best way is to put the VIN of the truck into software that will de-code the VIN. The VIN decoders mentioned above work, but if your pickup is a Ford, then much better is to ask your dealer to put your VIN into his Dealer/factory website and print out a "build sheet" for your truck. The build sheet will list every component the assembly plant built into your pickup. I suspect that GM and FIAT have similar capability, but I don't know for sure.
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Old 02-16-2019, 08:14 AM   #8
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OR. crawl under the vehicle, and see if you can find a trans cooler. If it has a trans cooler it has the tow package. Really easy to find. Follow the trans line coming OUT of the radiator. If it goes straight back to the transmission, then there is no cooler. If it goes thru a cooler, you have your answer
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Old 02-16-2019, 09:36 AM   #9
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OR. crawl under the vehicle, and see if you can find a trans cooler. If it has a trans cooler it has the tow package.
Not true on a 2011-up Ford F-150. All have an oil-to water (OTW) trans cooler.

For 2011 thru 2017, the OTW trans cooler is inside the radiator. For 2018 and 2019, it's behind the radiator.

For 2011 thru 2017, if it has an auxiliary oil-to-air (OTA) heat exchanger (tranny cooler) in front of the radiator, then it has a towing pkg. But 2018-up F-150s do not have an auxiliary OTA tranny cooler. Instead they have a bigger radiator and more-powerful engine fan to suck more air through the radiator to result is cooler coolant. Cooler coolant makes the OTW tranny cooler more efficient, so they don't require an OTA tranny cooler.

So unless you're an expert in Ford parts, the best way to determine if your F-150 has a towing package is to use the VIN to have the dealer download the build sheet for your truck. Or if you still have the hard-copy paper Monroney (window) sticker that came with the new truck, the optional towing package will be listed on the window sticker.
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
As others have mentioned the best way is to put the VIN of the truck into software that will de-code the VIN. The VIN decoders mentioned above work, but if your pickup is a Ford, then much better is to ask your dealer to put your VIN into his Dealer/factory website and print out a "build sheet" for your truck. The build sheet will list every component the assembly plant built into your pickup. I suspect that GM and FIAT have similar capability, but I don't know for sure.
This is quite possible for Chrysler products. I was looking at a 2003 Ram 2500 CTD and took the VIN to my local dealer's part department and he printed out a build sheet of three or four pages of items and codes on it that the vehicle was equipped with, It did have a factory tow package, but oddly didn't have tow mirrors (huh!).

So yes, it is possible with virtually all manufacturers.

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Old 02-16-2019, 11:54 AM   #11
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It did have a factory tow package, but oddly didn't have tow mirrors (huh!).
New F-150s no longer come from the factory with tow mirrors, regardless of which tow package it has.

For a few years after the 2011 F-150 came out, tow mirrors were included with the "max tow" pkg, but not with the regular tow pkg. But for the past few years, even with the max tow pkg, tow mirrors are a stand-alone option available with either of the factory tow packages, but not included is either one. I suspect Ram is just trying to keep up.
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