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Can you increase your truck’s maximum towing capacity with aftermarket parts?


One of the big questions for new or used owners is if they can increase the trucks’ maximum towing capacity through adding such things as a trailer brake controller or air bags.

I received this question on YouTube, and it is one I commonly see online as well. While air bags will help with sag, and a trailer brake controller will help with stopping the truck, many people see these parts as a way to increase their truck’s maximum towing capacity. There is a lot more to unravel with this question.

Here’s the question:

Hello Tim, I am in the process of ordering an F-150 Powerboost Lariat and will need to tow about 8500 lbs. I know the guide mentions my max capacity is 7000 lbs if i don’t get the tow package. If i add the trailer brake controller (through the tow tech package) do you feel this will push my capacity to the 11000 lbs since I’ve added the brake controller which is the only difference between the standard class IV hitch package and the trailer tow package? any info is helpful!

Seems simple enough to add capacity when you look at it this way, however, my answer isn’t so simple.

First, why wouldn’t you get the max towing package? Second, beware what conclusions you see on the screen. Often, a max tow package has other mechanical changes, like a stronger U joint or an auxiliary transmission cooler (so you don’t overheat the transmission while towing), than what is listed on the website. Third, if you tow 11,000 pounds when the truck is rated at 7,000 pounds, you are going to void your warranty and set yourself up for possible legal issues in the event of a crash (a crafty lawyer will figure this out) since you knowingly exceeded the maximum stated numbers on the door jamb sticker. You, the truck owner, are ultimately responsible for following the stated capacity.

The bottom line on maximum towing capacity

Quite often people will do their own comparisons on features with what is said on the website. This is pretty dangerous to be honest. The simple fact is the marketing team is responsible for the website and the engineering team is responsible for the truck’s maximum towing capacity. Often marketing omits things to make it simpler for the consumer, and this leads to errant conclusions by some consumers.

The better way to do this is to dive into either the owner’s manual and/or search a parts catalog. You’ll see parts listed for trucks with and without the towing package. This will tip you off the differences aren’t as simple as the marketing team leads you to believe.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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