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What is the Difference Between a Tow Package and a Trailer Package

What is the Difference Between a Tow Package and a Trailer Package

Are you someone that wants to buy a new car that will be equipped with everything you need to tow behind it? You might only need to tow a certain item or you might want to have the capacity to tow multiple things. 

However you decide you want to do it, there will be some decisions that need to be made with regards to the add-ons that you can get for your new vehicle. Although, this can get a bit confusing if you don’t understand the differences between a tow package and a trailer package. 

What is the difference between a tow package and a trailer package?

The main difference is that a tow package is meant to allow for towing just about anything with your vehicle, but a trailer package is designed specifically for towing a trailer behind your vehicle. The upgrades that come with a tow package often range from engine upgrades to improved electrical and cooling systems. 

If you want to know more about the differences between these two packages before you make your final decision, then read on as we will go over all the things that differ between these packages in detail. 

What is a Trailer Package?

When thinking of a Trailer Package, it is best to think of this in terms of what you will be towing with this package. As the name suggests, this is specifically designed for those who want to tow a trailer. 

These packages are often small and include things like a trailer hitch and a wiring package for the taillights. This simple package can be bought aftermarket, but the trailer hitch and wiring that comes with the truck when you first buy it will take away the guesswork for you.

This package is often made for towing only a trailer and doesn’t account for other items like boats, other vehicles, or heavy-duty loads. This is typically thought of as a low-tow package for recreational use like family camping trips or vacations. 

This package is not made for larger loads and does not come with any upgrades to the vehicle itself because it is assumed that with recreational use, you will not be towing often. 

What is a Towing Package? 

A Towing Package may seem similar to a Trailer Package, but there are some major differences between the two. The Towing Package often comes with a hitch platform, a trailer wiring package, and a number of different upgrades to the vehicle itself. 

The type of upgrades and what is offered with a Towing Package depends on the manufacturer, but there are some upgrades that can be included on this list.

Some of the vehicle upgrades may include:

  • upgraded engine
  • improved cooling and electrical systems
  • rear-end gear
  • improved shocks and brakes
  • a sturdier frame
  • an upgraded alternator
  • improved circuitry

All of these additions are not typically found in each Towing Package, but several of the listed items can be included as one package with the purchase of the vehicle.

These packages also cost more money because they come with much more. 

These packages are designed for heavy-duty towing and are often used for commercial use like when you use your truck for towing large items for work.

This is why they can sometimes be a write-off during tax time since you need the towing capabilities to do your job properly. 

How To Choose Between the Two Packages 

The easiest way to make your decision between the two is to look at the pricing between them. This will help you know if the amount you pay will be necessary for you. 

If you know that you will not be towing heavy items often, then the price for the Towing Package will likely be much more than you would be willing to pay.

However, if you know that you need many of the upgrades to the vehicle for your work or business, then the amount spent on the package will not feel like overkill. This is really based on your specific needs and what you will be using the package for.

Taking a trailer out on a camping trip once a year will not require the same amount of towing capacity as someone who works in construction and drives a truck that has to tow a trailer carrying tons of weight in lumber and glass. 

So, take an honest look at what you will be using the package to tow and you can decide which package is the right one for your towing needs. This will keep you from spending money on something that you don’t need. 

Varying Packages 

Although most packages are often very similar, they do come with different items. This depends on what the manufacturer offers for a particular vehicle. 

If you have a smaller-sized truck, then you will likely have less included in the package because you will not be able to tow heavy-duty items. If you have a large F-350, then this might come with more so that you can handle a heavy load with ease. 

It depends on multiple factors, but you always want to speak with the dealer about everything included in the towing package before you decide to add it to the cost of your vehicle.

You don’t want to choose to get the towing package if you could easily, and for less money, add these specific items on yourself. If you really just need a few improvements to the vehicle, then you buying the items and doing the work yourself could be the better option. 

However, if the Towing Package comes with all of the upgrades and items that were listed earlier, then the time and work that it would take you to purchase each item and do the work would be much more time and effort than you would want to put in. 

In this case, the better option would be to buy the Towing Package so that you get everything you need right away. 

What Your Vehicle Can Handle 

When you are thinking of getting a Towing Package, but decide to opt for an aftermarket option that you do yourself, you need to make sure that your items are made for your vehicle’s towing capacity.

It is not a good idea to equip your vehicle to tow heavyweight if that goes beyond its maximum towing capacity. 

Also, you need to take into account the weight of the items that will be added. For example, on a camping trip where you take a trailer that weighs 800 pounds, you will also be bringing a propane tank, camping stove, firewood, and two tents. 

This weight needs to be added to the total weight that will be towed. If your vehicle’s towing capacity is 1,000 pounds, but the weight of the trailer and other items exceeds that, you could cause damage to your vehicle. 

You want to think about everything that will be towed so you can account for the weight and ensure that you are not going overboard. 

This also applies to the towing equipment that you add aftermarket. If you are adding a full Towing Package of your own, you will be adding weight to the vehicle.

You need to include the trailer hitch and other attached equipment as well. Or else you might end up going over the towing capacity by mistake. 

Trailer Hitch Max Weight 

You will also need to consider the maximum weight that the trailer hitch itself can handle. If the trailer hitch is made to hold 1,000 pounds, then you shouldn’t attempt to go over that weight limit either. 

However, you also don’t want to buy a hitch that has a max weight that exceeds that of your vehicle. This is because the limit of the vehicle is still the total weight limit, even if the hitch can handle more. 

Purchasing a hitch that can handle 2,000 pounds will be a waste because you can’t tow that weight if your car only has a 1,000-pound limit.

The hitch will likely cost more, and that will be money that was spent without reason since you can’t use the extra towing weight anyways. 

Final Thoughts 

When you are buying a truck or SUV, adding on a towing or trailer package can be a big decision that you should take seriously. Adding extra money onto your car loan, or raising your payments to cover the cost of the package can be a lot for some people to deal with. 

So, knowing the difference between a Towing Package and Trailer Package can allow you to choose which option is the right choice for your vehicle and the towing that you will be doing with the upgrades. 

If you don’t need anything but a basic setup, then a trailer package is likely the best choice for you. And, if you need a higher towing capability that enables you to haul a heavier load more often, then opting for the bigger Towing Package will be the better option for your needs. 

Just remember to find out everything that the Towing Package comes with so you know if the total cost is worth it. 

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Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!