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I could be wrong, but the sway control isn't a sway bar but rather an electronic sensing system that works with the brakes, there isn't any extra hardware associated with it.
You are correct. There is no sway bar, only electronic sway control. The only item in the tow package that improves towing capacity is the heavy-duty radiator. Its questionable as to how much the heavy-duty radiator really improves tow capacity under normal conditions. The tow package does not include upgraded suspension or brakes.

It doesn't make sense that the heavy-duty radiator alone more than doubles the towing capacity. Maybe towing up a long uphill grade at high ambient temperatures. Most likely the "stock" van can tow more than 1500 pounds under most conditions. Just keep an eye on water and transmission temperature and take appropriate action if it becomes necessary. There is the warranty issue but that may be a low risk.
 

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That's also a rampant internet myth that's been out there forever.

Negligence can't be used to deny an insurance claim. Heck, that's the whole purpose behind car insurance. Someone is almost ALWAYS negligent when an accident occurs, but it's virtually unheard of for an insurance company to deny a claim on that basis. They deny claims every day based on coverages and fault(collision vs. liability and assigned responsibility), but never negligence. That's why DWI victims still get their losses covered despite gross criminal negligence on the part of the person who was drinking. The drunk operator's vehicle is also covered if he paid for collision coverage, but of course the insurance company will frequently drop coverage because of risk after paying the claim that they are legally required to pay.

I've chatted with a few law enforcement officers over the years about this, and they all agree on one thing. There is no legal meaning behind manufacturer's recommended towing capacities. The only enforceable standards are what are on the door sticker, which are GVWR and GAWRs. GCWR isn't listed on a passenger vehicle or light truck's sticker, so that limits what you're legally responsible for in the event of an accident investigation.

Has anyone seriously heard of state police scraping up an accident scene, piling all the bits of rubble into a truck, and hauling everything to a scale? I've yet to find a single example in any state.
You may be correct in that the insurance co will pay out the claim, but they would most likely drop you from their coverage due to negligence. You would then be opened to any litigation that might follow due to your negligence. It wouldn't take much more than a VIN search to figure out if your vehicle included the tow package and to see the manufacturers weight ratings for it. If you're towing a trailer with an unloaded weight rating > 1500lbs and you don't have the tow package from the factory, you would be considered negligent and would most likely lose any lawsuits that would follow.

Everyone seems to be speculating on what all changes are made to the tow equipped vehicles. Whatever they are, the engineers deemed it unsafe to pull > 1500lbs without a tow equipped vehicle. This type of debate happens all the time on the truck forums I follow, where folks boast of pulling 12-15k rigs with trucks rated at 10k. Sure, the vehicle may be able to pull the weight, but you should also consider that its never just you out there on the road.
 

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For anyone who has the tow package.

Do you have to turn on the Sway control in a menu somewhere?

If you do not, i have a feeling this is just part of the electronic stability system and is being marked as sway control. Any car with stability management will check wheel speeds and see the rear is rotating and should apply breaks to bring it back in line.

If you do turn it on, i feel it is just a more aggressive program

For warranty issues, how would a dealer prove you towed more than 1500 lbs?

For liability, If you get in a wreck and it's your fault, it's your fault. If its the other guys fault, it's his fault. Don't see how tow rating would ever come up. If i run a red light, and hit a car, towing capacity wont come up. If a guy rear ends me, not going to come up.

I cant thing of really any situation where fault would be determined based on towing capacity, especially when you are limited to 3500 LBS max, we are not talking 20,000 lbs loads here.
 

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Also, as far as transmission coolers go:

I see 2 part numbers

05192374AB - this appears to be a liquid to liquid cooler. Looks like coolant goes in 1 side, trans fluid goes in the other, so coolant is used to cool trans fluid.

68217322AA - this is listed as an air cooled trans cooler, and looks to be in front of the radiator. I am not sure if the van uses both, it towing get both, non towing gets only the small one.


This might explain the larger radiator, as if its using coolant to cool the trans, additional cooling capacity could be helpful
 

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For liability, If you get in a wreck and it's your fault, it's your fault. If its the other guys fault, it's his fault. Don't see how tow rating would ever come up. If i run a red light, and hit a car, towing capacity wont come up. If a guy rear ends me, not going to come up.

I cant thing of really any situation where fault would be determined based on towing capacity, especially when you are limited to 3500 LBS max, we are not talking 20,000 lbs loads here.
If you rear-end someone and they decide to go after you for more $$ than the insurance payout, you could be in trouble for pulling more weight than the vehicle was designed to safely pull...and stop. There are plenty of ambulance chasers out there that will look for any angle to separate you from your $$ and this negligence would be all they need. Either way it's ultimately your choice. Just seems to me that the cost of tow package is negligible compared to the worst case scenario otherwise.
 

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What’s the height of the bottom of the receiver tube? My Curt aftermarket hitch sits almost 10” off the ground.


Great idea to post picture of the hitch. Here is the OEM one. You can see bottom of receiver tube is at about 12 and a quarter inches. So little more than 2” difference between OEM and aftermarket.
 

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If you rear-end someone and they decide to go after you for more $$ than the insurance payout, you could be in trouble for pulling more weight than the vehicle was designed to safely pull...and stop. There are plenty of ambulance chasers out there that will look for any angle to separate you from your $$ and this negligence would be all they need. Either way it's ultimately your choice. Just seems to me that the cost of tow package is negligible compared to the worst case scenario otherwise.
They can go after you for more regardless. Parents are / were attorneys that handled car wrecks. They can gladly try to get more than what ins offers no matter what. In my state, it will come down to a Jury deciding on what you get. The fact that you were towing 2000 lbs when you were rated for 1500 may come up, but the fact is you are still at fault. Its also pretty pointless to try to get more than what your Ins covers, as most people dont have alot of assets, and certain things like Primary Homes and retirement are protected from litigation.

I think what the Original idea of this post is why the different ratings, so lets look at what the towing package is, and how it helps

1. Bigger Alternator - I guess this would help with a larger trailer, as some trailers can be charged by the tow vehicle using a 7 prong plug. No affect on towing ability.
2. Larger radiator - Now i could see how this could assist in towing more weight, but not add to safety of towing more weight. From diagrams, it appears the coolant may be used to cool the trans fluid. Keeping temps down is important to the life of the car, but not safety. Also, multiple forum members have towed loads w/o the towing package and not seen a huge increase in engine temps
3. Trans cooler? - this is still up in the air if there is a difference in cooler between towing and not towing package vehicles.
4. Anti Sway - OK, if this is real, and i think its really just the built in stability software, it could help with sway, but sway is usually caused by an improperly balanced trailer to begin with. Most sway is caused by not enough tongue weight. Cross winds on a large profile trailer can cause it too. However since the OP is looking at a popup, this is not a huge factor.

So with that said, i don't see much that really added to the safety of towing a larger amount of weight. Now, i think a towing package would be beneficial if it had any of the following

1. Larger brakes - this would be nice for slowing down larger trailer down long grades
2. Lower final drive
3. Tow . haul mode from trans, or even a way to control gear selection
4. Stiffer rear springs
5. Built in trailer brake controller

Now if the package included anything like this, then i would agree that the package really makes it safer and more practical to tow a larger load. But, since it does not, it really is just a way to sell a 1000$ package, that if more common, many of us would buy. However, they are rare, and in the case of my L, not even available.
 

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For us, it was about the alternate location of the hands-free sensors. If you don't have the factory hitch, the sensors are centered under the bumper. When you get the factory package they put the sensors on both sides of the hitch, so you can still use hands-free operation of the gate. That was a big piece for me. The larger radiator and alternator are nice-to-haves in my opinion. As for the anti-sway, I don't have a button for it. My understanding is it's a software module that is added to detect vehicle sway due to the addition of a towed object, and uses the Electronic Stability Control to apply braking pressure to alternate wheels to offset the motion and correct the sway. The hitch is a Class II hitch which I think aides in the towing capacity, but there must be more reason for the certified difference.
 

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Very well written, Nikbrewer, I completely agree.

As far as cost, my aftermarket towing package cost me $180 for the parts and a few hours of my time. Had I been able to find a used van in my price range with the factory package, I likely would have sprung for it. But I don't have any interest in taking the depreciation hit on a new van, and used models with the towing package are as rare as hen's teeth.

My boat has surge brakes and is right at the upper end of what the Pacifica is rated to tow at 3,500 lbs, and it is an extremely comfortable tow. No complaints whatsoever on power and handling, and the factory cooling system has done a fine job so far. I have no regrets at this point.

 

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I am in the same situation as you and I am of the mind that as long as a person doesn't max out the 3500 lbs and pay attention to the cooling then all will be fine. The only difference between an OEM trailer tow package and one that does not is the following;

1) Heavy duty radiator
2) Higher Amperage Alternator

Those are the only two differences. There isn't any additional electronic sway control with an OEM tow package. I will be inquiring next if the part numbers for my current alternator and radiator is the same as the one on a Pacifica with the OEM tow package.
 

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I am in the same situation as you and I am of the mind that as long as a person doesn't max out the 3500 lbs and pay attention to the cooling then all will be fine. The only difference between an OEM trailer tow package and one that does not is the following;

1) Heavy duty radiator
2) Higher Amperage Alternator

Those are the only two differences. There isn't any additional electronic sway control with an OEM tow package. I will be inquiring next if the part numbers for my current alternator and radiator is the same as the one on a Pacifica with the OEM tow package.
In addition to the wiring harness the OEM hitch receiver has greater ground clearance than a aftermarket hitch. The package also includes a trailer sway damping control system (maybe this is just part of stability control, I'd be curious if there really are additional sensors).

Below is a cut & paste from a Chrysler WEB sit detailing the OEM tow package:

Trailer Tow Group Option
In order to take advantage of the 3,600-pound maximum towing capacity of the Chrysler Pacifica, you’ll have to opt for the Trailer Tow Group package. This package is available on the Pacifica Touring Plus, Touring L, Touring L Plus and Limited models, and includes:

1) Trailer Tow 4-/7-pin wiring harness
The 4-pin harness only provides lighting functions
The 7-pin harness adds a 12-volt circuit, an electric trailer brake circuit, and an auxiliary/reverse light circuit
2) Class II 2-inch Hitch Receiver
Receiver-type hitch that mounts to the frame of the vehicle
3) Trailer Sway Damping and Control System
Sensors detect excessive swaying and will automatically make corrections to keep the trailer and vehicle under control
4) Heavy Duty Radiator
Since towing can make your engine overheat, the Trailer Tow Group package includes a heavy duty radiator that will keep your engine cool.
5) 220-AMP Alternator
This alternator provides the higher amperage required for hauling heavy loads
 

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I stand corrected. I must have been looking at a tow package for a Caravan. I will have to cross my fingers and hope it all works as I don't have much of a choice. I will be towing roughly 1800 lbs so I should be fine. The aftermarket is a class III hitch and bolts in exactly the same place as the one from the factory which I believe is only a class II. The dealership wanted $2500 to do the hitch and wiring which I get the feeling would grant me all the other extra's like sway dampening that I believe is already standard in the factory build. The after market wiring (not from the dealership) simply gets power from the battery and connects inline to the left and right tail lights so there is no computer link that the wiring from the dealership would at least provide. The Tow Option form the factory is only $850 which in my opinion doesn't equate to all those features like the upgraded radiator, alternator, wiring harness, sway sensors, dampening and finally the hitch so I have to surmise that most of it is already built in. The lack of a detailed explanation of the OEM after market hitch and wiring doesn't help either. I talked with a parts person at a Chrysler dealership and the guy had no clue what was involved except to be shocked at how many parts were involved, none of which were a heavy duty radiator or alternator. he also gave no guarantee that after spending that amount of money it would upgrade me to the 3600 lb towing capacity though When I asked this question he replied that seeing as a class III hitch was being installed that it would give me 3600 lbs towing. Needless to say the entire experience has left me questioning everything and praying to the automobile gods that everything will work out.
 

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I stand corrected. I must have been looking at a tow package for a Caravan. I will have to cross my fingers and hope it all works as I don't have much of a choice. I will be towing roughly 1800 lbs so I should be fine. The aftermarket is a class III hitch and bolts in exactly the same place as the one from the factory which I believe is only a class II. The dealership wanted $2500 to do the hitch and wiring which I get the feeling would grant me all the other extra's like sway dampening that I believe is already standard in the factory build. The after market wiring (not from the dealership) simply gets power from the battery and connects inline to the left and right tail lights so there is no computer link that the wiring from the dealership would at least provide. The Tow Option form the factory is only $850 which in my opinion doesn't equate to all those features like the upgraded radiator, alternator, wiring harness, sway sensors, dampening and finally the hitch so I have to surmise that most of it is already built in. The lack of a detailed explanation of the OEM after market hitch and wiring doesn't help either. I talked with a parts person at a Chrysler dealership and the guy had no clue what was involved except to be shocked at how many parts were involved, none of which were a heavy duty radiator or alternator. he also gave no guarantee that after spending that amount of money it would upgrade me to the 3600 lb towing capacity though When I asked this question he replied that seeing as a class III hitch was being installed that it would give me 3600 lbs towing. Needless to say the entire experience has left me questioning everything and praying to the automobile gods that everything will work out.
If all you are towing is 1,800 pounds I can't see that being a problem. I'm a little baffled myself as to which components actually contribute the most to the increase in tow capacity.

As I understand, for the factory tow package the van is actually shipped to a third party for the modifications, they are not done on the normal assembly line. Then the van is returned to the factory for shipment to your dealer.

I'll bet a good portion of your $2,500 quote is labor and not at a cheap rate as there is a lot to fiddle with to add the factory stuff (rear bumper, wiring harnesses, adding and relocating kick sensors, etc.).
 

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Don't know why it would be shipped to a 3rd party for the tow package. The hitch is just part of the bumper and a different lower fascia with the cutout is used. I would think the wiring is part of the factory harness and installed on the line just like the harness for non tow package.


I have a new OEM hitch and lower Fascia for sale. The only reason I didn't install it is my van was modified for a wheelchair and adds another fascia. Braun will not sale me their fascia because my van didn't come with the factory tow package.




Mike
Dayton OH
 

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Don't know why it would be shipped to a 3rd party for the tow package. The hitch is just part of the bumper and a different lower fascia with the cutout is used. I would think the wiring is part of the factory harness and installed on the line just like the harness for non tow package.


I have a new OEM hitch and lower Fascia for sale. The only reason I didn't install it is my van was modified for a wheelchair and adds another fascia. Braun will not sale me their fascia because my van didn't come with the factory tow package.




Mike
Dayton OH
My dealer told me that they use a 3rd party for install of the tow package and the splash guards and some other stuff which I can't remember. I guess its fairly common within the industry to have 3rd parties install some options even for different manufactures. I'm guessing it keeps the normal assembly line running more efficient? I can understand the tow package because of the radiator, alternator, and wiring, but the splash guards are a pretty simple install.

The wiring harness is different as it includes the connector for a break controller under the dash. I remember reading a thread where someone who did not have the factory tow package was looking for the connector and finally realized without the factory tow package its not included.
 

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Needless to say the entire experience has left me questioning everything and praying to the automobile gods that everything will work out.
I hope I don't come off as condescending, but you are vastly overthinking this. Remember that people have been towing trailers as much as 3800 pounds with Grand Caravans since the mid-1980s. Electronic sway control didn't exist, ABS wasn't even an option, and brake controllers for electric trailer brakes were downright Stone Age in comparison to what is commonly used today. And, for the most part, they all survived. As did their vans.

I put well over 1000 miles on my Pacifica last summer towing my 3500-pound boat with a completely aftermarket tow setup. It towed extremely stable, had far more than enough power for the trailer, and the "standard" cooling system had no trouble keeping engine and transmission temperatures exactly where they should be. My trailer had surge brakes, so I had no trouble stopping to speak of, but of course the factory tow package doesn't do anything to enhance braking to begin with.

As long as your engine and transmission temperatures stay reasonable you will not hurt the van. With a properly loaded trailer it will handle just fine. Trust me, with a little common sense you and your van will survive just fine.
 

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I agree with @TomB985 and it is not the first time i have done so here. I tow a 2900 lb pop up and i only have two complaints.

1. Rear suspension sags more then i would like, but not enough to be dangrous. I thought rear suspension airbags would be out by now to fix this. However again the setup tows just fine.

2. At low speeds the transmission struggles to know what to do on steep grades. I have to floor it to force the transmission to downshift. Intresting enough at 40 mph and above i can drive on all sorts of grades without an issue. My guess the transmission defults to fuel economy decisions vs performance.

Braking has never been an issue, i have never experenced sway, temps have never been more then 10% above normal.
 

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@TomB985 I understand where you are coming from however cars from the 80's are vastly different than they are today and next to airplanes are the most technologically advanced vehicles on the road. As such, just attaching a hitch without incorporating it with the existing electronic infrastructure of the car could be problematic. The OEM wiring harness is wired into the computer and UConnect system for a reason so it tells the computer that the car is in tow mode. The after market wiring doesn't take any of that into account and uses an inline bamboozle setup to get all the lights working. What happens with all the sensors? I don't know maybe I am overthinking things but as the old saying goes, "measure twice, cut once", tends to be my modus operandi in life. As I said I don't have much of a choice unless I switch the car to one that has all the towing features built in, I just don't want to be stuck somewhere in the middle of my over 2500 mile journey as a result of poor planning. It comforts me somewhat that you have towed 3500 lbs with no issues. What type of Pacifica do you have and did you use any back end lift kit or dampers? The aftermarket hitch hangs about 3 inches lower than the factory one hence the reason I ask. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
 

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@TomB985 ... The OEM wiring harness is wired into the computer and UConnect system for a reason so it tells the computer that the car is in tow mode. The after market wiring doesn't take any of that into account and uses an inline bamboozle setup to get all the lights working. What happens with all the sensors? I don't know maybe I am overthinking things ….
vanlife,
I agree you are over thinking things. I have read nothing that specifically states or implies that the OEM trailer harness "detects" the presence of a trailer and puts the van in tow mode. Do you know this for a fact?

Consider that you can turn off stability control which also turns off sway control. There is no warning in the owner's manual that this will result in a lowering of the tow rating. Towing 3600 lbs as allowed by the OEM tow package, is not dependent on sway control. Also consider that you likely do not need electronic sway control on a properly loaded 3,000 lb trailer but you may definitely benefit from it on an improperly loaded 1,000 lb trailer.
,
 

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@TomB985 I understand where you are coming from however cars from the 80's are vastly different than they are today and next to airplanes are the most technologically advanced vehicles on the road. As such, just attaching a hitch without incorporating it with the existing electronic infrastructure of the car could be problematic. The OEM wiring harness is wired into the computer and UConnect system for a reason so it tells the computer that the car is in tow mode. The after market wiring doesn't take any of that into account and uses an inline bamboozle setup to get all the lights working.
It sounds to me like you're assuming a great deal of complexity because you don't understand it.

Virtually every aftermarket hitch install uses a specially engineered fuse-protected powered conversion module. These are designed by electrical engineers, and the overall majority of them require no splicing into the factory wiring whatsoever. The use OEM-style pigtails to plug in between the factory connectors and the taillights, and input from these circuits signals the powered conversion module supply power to the trailer directly from the vehicle's battery. There is nothing "bamboozle" about it; it is a well-designed and robust setup.

The uConnect system is your display screen, Bluetooth, radio, and entertainment system. It is one of about a dozen different electronic modules in the van, and it couldn't care less about what attached to the bumper. You are assuming that it does because is connected to the vehicle's electrical system, just like you are assuming that the other modules are capable of sensing the trailer and causing problems because they don't understand it. They're not smart enough to care; they simply do their job regardless of whether or not a trailer is connected. I am far from the only person to install an aftermarket hitch on a vehicle and use it to pull a trailer with, there are probably hundreds of thousands of us out there with aftermarket setups that don't cause the electrical system to freak out and stop functioning.

I suppose this strikes a nerve with me because of all the people over the years who have looked under the hood, don't understand how a newer engine functions, and insist that it's impossible for the home mechanic to work on. Newer systems simply require an understanding that's different from what older technology required, which doesn't mean it's necessarily harder to work with. I've been amateur wrenching with great success for the last 20 years, and vehicles made in the last decade are easier in a lot of ways to diagnose and troubleshoot than those made 20 years ago.

It comforts me somewhat that you have towed 3500 lbs with no issues. What type of Pacifica do you have and did you use any back end lift kit or dampers? The aftermarket hitch hangs about 3 inches lower than the factory one hence the reason I ask. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
Mine was a 2017 Touring-L, and used a completely stock rear suspension. I never weighed the tongue on my boat trailer, by believe it's only around 150 pounds. With five people in the van I never had enough suspension sag to consider modifications, but others with more tongue weight may feel differently. It really handled the boat well, and felt significantly more powerful with the trailer than the V8-powered Expedition I'm currently pulling with.
 
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