[Quick guide] To Tow pkg, or to not Tow pkg, that is the question

TBoneBronc

Rank III

Advocate II

Aug 12, 2021
28
36
846
Phoenix, AZ
First Name
Terry
Last Name
Weir
Member #

3368

Does the Tow Package include any extra cooling, like say an oil cooler? I added the Tow Package to my '11 Lincoln MKX and '02 Focus SVT and it included either an oil cooler that otherwise would not be present or an upgraded radiator. It wasn't necessarily documented in the package description for those, but it was there. It may not be the case here, but I have been wondering. I'm doubtful, though.
 

RagnarKon

Rank VI

Champion I

Aug 28, 2021
1,277
2,642
2,964
New England
First Name
Bryan
Last Name
W
Member #

105201

Does the Tow Package include any extra cooling, like say an oil cooler? I added the Tow Package to my '11 Lincoln MKX and '02 Focus SVT and it included either an oil cooler that otherwise would not be present or an upgraded radiator. It wasn't necessarily documented in the package description for those, but it was there. It may not be the case here, but I have been wondering. I'm doubtful, though.
On the Bronco it does not. You are correct though, usually a tow package on a vehicle will add a bigger oil cooler, or a different rear suspension setup, beefier axle, beefier hitch mounting system, whatever. On the Bronco it just adds the hitch, an additional module that enables it to interface with a handful of safety systems, and the wiring to support that module.

If I were to guess, somewhat limited nature of the tow package is probably a big reason why towing maxes out at 3500 lbs. On a truck platform like Bronco, you would expect it to be able to tow at least 4500 - 5000 lbs, even with the off-road suspension setup. The Ranger, for example, uses the same platform as the Bronco and tows 3500 lbs without the tow package, and 7500 lbs with the tow package. The fact that the Bronco maxes at 3500 lbs just shows that Bronco's tow package is really a "low effort" (for the lack of a better term) package. Feels like they looked at the Wrangler's towing numbers and was like "alright we really only need to do that much".

They'll probably improve it during the mid-generation refresh or for the next generation--especially since they pushed the Bronco Raptor to 4500 lbs towing. But, for now... no sense in holding up your Bronco order unless you need what little the tow package has.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: VTjohn

TBoneBronc

Rank III

Advocate II

Aug 12, 2021
28
36
846
Phoenix, AZ
First Name
Terry
Last Name
Weir
Member #

3368

On the Bronco it does not. You are correct though, usually a tow package on a vehicle will add a bigger oil cooler, or a different rear suspension setup, beefier axle, beefier hitch mounting system, whatever. On the Bronco it just adds the hitch, an additional module that enables it to interface with a handful of safety systems, and the wiring to support that module.

If I were to guess, somewhat limited nature of the tow package is probably a big reason why towing maxes out at 3500 lbs. On a truck platform like Bronco, you would expect it to be able to tow at least 4500 - 5000 lbs, even with the off-road suspension setup. The Ranger, for example, uses the same platform as the Bronco and tows 3500 lbs without the tow package, and 7500 lbs with the tow package. The fact that the Bronco maxes at 3500 lbs just shows that Bronco's tow package is really a "low effort" (for the lack of a better term) package. Feels like they looked at the Wrangler's towing numbers and was like "alright we really only need to do that much".

They'll probably improve it during the mid-generation refresh or for the next generation--especially since they pushed the Bronco Raptor to 4500 lbs towing. But, for now... no sense in holding up your Bronco order unless you need what little the tow package has.
Thanks for the information. That is what I suspected, but hope springs eternal...
 

MIGeezer

Rank V

Super Supporter III

Dec 6, 2021
755
700
1,713
Michigan
First Name
Dave
Last Name
Hemmerly
I posted this guide on another forum, and it seemed to help folks, so might as well post it here as well.

As most of you know, the tow package is one of those heavily constrained items that is holding up a lot of Bronco builds. I don't have any insider information, but I personally expect this to become THE deciding factor on whether most people get a build in the not so distant future. Especially as the MIC hard top supply situation improves throughout this year. Keep in mind this post is designed to be high-level, so I glossed over a lot of the nitty-gritty details. But definitely don't mind diving into those details if there is interest.

The benefit of the tow package on the Bronco is the 7-pin connector, compatibility with a trailer brake controller, and some additional integrations with the Bronco's safety systems (BLIS, sway control, etc.). Of those, the biggest benefit is the trailer brake controller compatibility. Note the trailer brake controller itself does not come with the Bronco's tow package, but it’s easy to add one on if you get the tow package. You still have to take apart and drill a hole into center console for the gain knob to install it (if you follow Ford's instructions), but it’s relatively easy. Therefore, if you have no intention on ever installing a trailer brake controller, I would absolutely drop the tow package and get the following:
You can either install them yourself or have your dealer do it. And if you pay for it with your FordPass points it becomes cheaper than the tow package. You may even be able to have your dealer wave the installation fee—they also have a vested interest in getting your Bronco built and sold to you.

---

Now you may be asking to yourself… do I need a trailer brake controller?

That depends on many factors. In most states, you do not need trailer brakes until you tow above 3000 lbs. The Bronco’s max tow rating is 3500 lbs, but if you load the Bronco itself up with additional gear, that tow rating drops to around 3000-3100 lbs. So while the answer is, ”it depends”, I can make generalizations….
  • If you are towing a marine trailer for a boat, jet skis, etc. the answer is NO. Marine trailers almost always have passive surge brakes that do not require a brake controller.
  • If you are towing a utility trailer, the answer is NO. The vast majority of utility trailers small enough for the Bronco to tow will either have no brakes or surge brakes.
  • If you are towing a pop-up camper, teardrop trailer, or other small camper, the answer is PROBABLY NOT. You can buy these trailers with electric brakes, but it is often an optional upgrade and not a standard feature. Whether you’d want electric brakes or not is up to you (see the next bullet).
  • If you are towing an overlanding or off-roading trailer, the answer is PROBABLY YES. Most expedition trailers will come with electric brakes. If you are doing more extreme off-roading with a trailer, having electric brakes helps dramatically when trying to control your vehicle. That said, if you aren’t doing extreme off-roading with your trailer and will be driving on decently maintained forest service roads or camp ground roads, electric brakes don’t really help you that much.


And finally… the states where trailer brakes are required under 3000 lbs (to the best of my knowledge):
  • California
  • Idaho*
  • Nevada
  • New York*
  • North Carolina
  • Mississippi
* Both New York and Idaho require trailer brakes on all trailers above 3000 pounds. They also require trailer brakes if the trailer itself weighs above 1000 lbs (for NY) or 1500 pounds (for ID) unladen (unloaded).

Apologies to our Canadian friends up north, not super familiar with the trailer brake laws up there. Only have a rough idea what is required in Quebec (1300 kg) and Ontario (1360kg) , the rest is a mystery to me. EDIT— Did some research last night and about half of the Canadian providences mimic US law, the other half do their own thing. I would still do your own research just in case I'm completely misinterpreting Canadian law... BUT... It seems most Canadian providences require trailer brake controllers on trailers over 1360kg (~3000lbs) except the following:
  • Northwest Territories (required regardless of weight)
  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • Yukon
  • Quebec
That’s it. Hope that was helpful.
I would suggest you install a 7 way plug and for a couple bucks you can get a 7 to 4 plug converter. This way you don't have to worry about making a change later if your needs require the 7 prong.
 

RagnarKon

Rank VI

Champion I

Aug 28, 2021
1,277
2,642
2,964
New England
First Name
Bryan
Last Name
W
Member #

105201

I would suggest you install a 7 way plug and for a couple bucks you can get a 7 to 4 plug converter. This way you don't have to worry about making a change later if your needs require the 7 prong.
Yeah that's a good idea.

Lots of trailers include a 7-pin plug even though they don't have trailer brakes or aux power. My ATV trailer, for example, has a 7-pin connector even though it doesn't have trailer brakes. While I was visiting my wife's parents for Thanksgiving this past year, I made my own adapter out of junk parts my father-in-law had hidden in the corner of his garage (he's kind of a pack rat) for my wife's Escape. But you can buy an adapter off of Amazon or probably any major parts store.

You could even create your own fully-functional 7-pin connector if you wanted. Curt has several kits available to wire up your own 7-pin connector.
 

dover157

Rank V

Supporter III

Oct 18, 2021
216
428
1,683
Moriarty, NM
First Name
Ben
Last Name
Daugherty
I’m pretty sure that allocations are holding my order up more than item constraints so plan on leaving the tow package and adding the brake controller. Realistically probably won’t be towing anything that needs it but is one of those would rather have and not need vs the other way around situations.
 

ChetC

Rank V

Supporter II

Dec 23, 2020
166
393
1,710
Las Vegas, NV, USA
First Name
Chet
Last Name
Christner
Member #

103283

But in this case it ultimately depends what people need to tow. If they are getting the tow package to pull their fishing boat to the lake... no point in waiting.
But perhaps three years down the road you buy a neat little camper that requires a 7-pin with brakes? I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and have to cobble together a solution later on.

I waited and my Bronco is now scheduled for delivery next month, tow included.
 
Last edited:

In4low

Rank IV

Super Supporter II

Aug 6, 2020
48
82
1,059
Detroit, MI, USA
First Name
Esteban
Last Name
Jennings
Yeah I always found it odd that Ford recommends 1500 lbs--which most of their vehicles can tow--but then they don't include a trailer brake controller on their vehicles as a standard option until they get to up to the SuperDuty. I guess that's not surprising on the Bronco, as the Bronco is obviously not really a towing vehicle. But even the Ford Ranger, which has a 7500 lbs towing capacity, doesn't include a brake controller.

My guess is Ford is relying on the fact that most smaller trailers will have passive surge brakes since trailer companies want to be able to sell these trailers to customers in all 50 states, as well as customers who are towing with the family crossover/SUV (which usually have zero towing features). Although... that still doesn't explain why the Ranger doesn't have a trailer brake controller when you order the Ranger's tow package... but whatever.
Its an option on Super Duty as well. My 2020 F-250 does not have a trailer brake controller. Been meaning to install one.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RagnarKon

Tilzbow

Rank II

Advocate III

Nov 22, 2020
82
148
337
Reno
First Name
Scott
Last Name
Tilzey
A consideration not mentioned is the fact the many trailers, including most trailers hauling watercraft, have surge brakes and although a seven pin isn’t required for those to operate one is required to back up without exiting your vehicle. If you try to back a trailer up without the 5th pin, which lights the reverse lights and releases the surge brakes, the brakes won’t release. You’ll then need to exit the Bronco and install the pictured brake release key at the front of the trailer tongue that keeps tongue from moving and the surge brakes from operating. It’s an inconvenience at worst but I found it to be a PIA since my release key wouldn’t stay in all the time. Some boat trailers even come with the pictured flat 5 pin connector, rather than a 7 pin. You can get a 7 pin to 5 pin adapter but I’m not sure about a 4 to 5 pin. I have used a 7 to 4 pin adapter and plugged a 5 pin trailer connection into that but I did have to exit the vehicle and install the key to back up.

For what it’s worth I deleted tow in December and got scheduled a few days later. I do, however, plan to keep my GM diesel pickup for all towing duties.

5 pin trailer connector:

5B354264-495C-4697-9D12-F2B3E5CA93D0.png


Lock out key installed:

6E3B2B4B-473B-4580-BE60-E8E8716A31C8.jpeg
 
  • Like
Reactions: ChetC

Jimmiee

Rank III

Advocate II

Jan 13, 2021
25
37
846
Reno, NV, USA
First Name
Jim
Last Name
Eberhart
Member #

2007

It's a good idea to add the 7 pin plug even you are not going to add a trailer brake. Most trailers nowadays have a 7 pin plug even if they don't have brakes. If you go to rent a little ditch digger, cement mixer, or most any rental trailer they will all have a 7 pin plug. The other thing the 7 pin plug has is a HOT wire which is used for charging the battery on a trailer with a battery. This alone sells the 7 pin plug even without a brake controller.
If you are going to add the 7 pin plug you can buy the shielded cable which has the correct colors and 14 gauge wires for the brakes, turn signals, ground, and hot wire. The cable can be purchased from Amazon, Walmart or you can stop by UHaul and buy one.
 

Tilzbow

Rank II

Advocate III

Nov 22, 2020
82
148
337
Reno
First Name
Scott
Last Name
Tilzey
I was going to ask has anyone with a 2 door canceled their tow package and then got an immediate build date?
Yep! Dropped trailer tow December 13 and on December 17 I got a February 21 build date. 2 door Badlands, 2.7, High package, 8/2/2020 reservation date.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Dbeyers and Jimmiee

tourproto

Rank 0

Advocate II

Sep 10, 2021
9
6
68
Washington County
First Name
David
Last Name
Park
I'm not deleting anything to get my Bronco sooner. I'll wait to get what I want.
I finally caved and dropped the PPF from my order. But kept the tow capability. I was going to hold fast on the Mod bumper and the Safari bar, but when it became clear that the Mod bumper would not include factory fog lights or the requisite wiring harness and switch, I went to the capable bumper. Not going to be rock climbing with mine so the ability to remove the end caps of the Mod bumper don't mean much to me. I wanted the safari bar to help protect against deer, but it wasn't a hill I was willing to die on. I really wanted this before summer time.

Kept the MIC top, High package, and 7speed in the BL. Have a build week of 3/14, so hoping for the best.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jimmiee

srick76

Rank VI

Promoter II

Jun 11, 2020
328
747
2,964
Butler, NJ, USA
First Name
Scott
Last Name
RIcker
Member #

1169

It was worth it to have to just have it done, so I got mine with the trailer package. For the money spread of the life of my load it was pocket change. Not having to worry about whether or not someone, or me, was properly splicing into the factory wiring to hook up the trailer plug or having to have it to the dealer anyway for the computer to recognize the added electronics....IDK maybe I over thought it, but these newer vehicles, it seems the littlest thing causes them to throw codes and have issues.
 

washope

Rank II

Supporter I

Oct 22, 2021
106
149
414
Denver
First Name
Walter
Last Name
Shope
I posted this guide on another forum, and it seemed to help folks, so might as well post it here as well.

As most of you know, the tow package is one of those heavily constrained items that is holding up a lot of Bronco builds. I don't have any insider information, but I personally expect this to become THE deciding factor on whether most people get a build in the not so distant future. Especially as the MIC hard top supply situation improves throughout this year. Keep in mind this post is designed to be high-level, so I glossed over a lot of the nitty-gritty details. But definitely don't mind diving into those details if there is interest.

The benefit of the tow package on the Bronco is the 7-pin connector, compatibility with a trailer brake controller, and some additional integrations with the Bronco's safety systems (BLIS, sway control, etc.). Of those, the biggest benefit is the trailer brake controller compatibility. Note the trailer brake controller itself does not come with the Bronco's tow package, but it’s easy to add one on if you get the tow package. You still have to take apart and drill a hole into center console for the gain knob to install it (if you follow Ford's instructions), but it’s relatively easy. Therefore, if you have no intention on ever installing a trailer brake controller, I would absolutely drop the tow package and get the following:
You can either install them yourself or have your dealer do it. And if you pay for it with your FordPass points it becomes cheaper than the tow package. You may even be able to have your dealer wave the installation fee—they also have a vested interest in getting your Bronco built and sold to you.

---

Now you may be asking to yourself… do I need a trailer brake controller?

That depends on many factors. In most states, you do not need trailer brakes until you tow above 3000 lbs. The Bronco’s max tow rating is 3500 lbs, but if you load the Bronco itself up with additional gear, that tow rating drops to around 3000-3100 lbs. So while the answer is, ”it depends”, I can make generalizations….
  • If you are towing a marine trailer for a boat, jet skis, etc. the answer is NO. Marine trailers almost always have passive surge brakes that do not require a brake controller.
  • If you are towing a utility trailer, the answer is NO. The vast majority of utility trailers small enough for the Bronco to tow will either have no brakes or surge brakes.
  • If you are towing a pop-up camper, teardrop trailer, or other small camper, the answer is PROBABLY NOT. You can buy these trailers with electric brakes, but it is often an optional upgrade and not a standard feature. Whether you’d want electric brakes or not is up to you (see the next bullet).
  • If you are towing an overlanding or off-roading trailer, the answer is PROBABLY YES. Most expedition trailers will come with electric brakes. If you are doing more extreme off-roading with a trailer, having electric brakes helps dramatically when trying to control your vehicle. That said, if you aren’t doing extreme off-roading with your trailer and will be driving on decently maintained forest service roads or camp ground roads, electric brakes don’t really help you that much.


And finally… the states where trailer brakes are required under 3000 lbs (to the best of my knowledge):
  • California
  • Idaho*
  • Nevada
  • New York*
  • North Carolina
  • Mississippi
* Both New York and Idaho require trailer brakes on all trailers above 3000 pounds. They also require trailer brakes if the trailer itself weighs above 1000 lbs (for NY) or 1500 pounds (for ID) unladen (unloaded).

Apologies to our Canadian friends up north, not super familiar with the trailer brake laws up there. Only have a rough idea what is required in Quebec (1300 kg) and Ontario (1360kg) , the rest is a mystery to me. EDIT— Did some research last night and about half of the Canadian providences mimic US law, the other half do their own thing. I would still do your own research just in case I'm completely misinterpreting Canadian law... BUT... It seems most Canadian providences require trailer brake controllers on trailers over 1360kg (~3000lbs) except the following:
  • Northwest Territories (required regardless of weight)
  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • Yukon
  • Quebec
That’s it. Hope that was helpful.
Going to drop it from my build today. I have a 4 door Badlands MIC with the mod bumper, but I'm a day 2 Res holder... maybe this is the magic bullet.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mcinfantry

washope

Rank II

Supporter I

Oct 22, 2021
106
149
414
Denver
First Name
Walter
Last Name
Shope
It was worth it to have to just have it done, so I got mine with the trailer package. For the money spread of the life of my load it was pocket change. Not having to worry about whether or not someone, or me, was properly splicing into the factory wiring to hook up the trailer plug or having to have it to the dealer anyway for the computer to recognize the added electronics....IDK maybe I over thought it, but these newer vehicles, it seems the littlest thing causes them to throw codes and have issues.
This is a good point, but my rationalization was that I wanted to get a teardrop/popup trailed someday. That, in my opinion, isn't good enough reason to hold this build back another 8-12 months. IF I ever get a trailer I can figure it out then.