How To Tell If F150 Has Max Tow Package?

What is a Tow Package?

Tow means to pull a vehicle, but more importantly, is the “specialized equipment used to tow a disabled vehicle.” A tow package consists of a receiver hitch and wiring harness. This allows you to secure the frame of your truck or SUV so that it can be pulled by another vehicle with a working engine.
Your car’s frame is where all the important parts are located- including the engine, transmission, front suspension components, and rear axle assembly.

The part of your car that does all this work, where you sit and steer is called the body or chassis. It sits on top of these components in what is referred to as a unibody design, which means that all pieces work together as one.

The tow package is usually only found on vehicles that are intended to be able to tow. You can find them on cars, SUVs, minivans, crossovers, and even some smaller trucks.

Types of Tow Packages

There are three different types of tow packages:

4-pin tow package: A 4-pin tow package, which is known as the most common type, has four pins that carry power and ground to the trailer for lights, brakes, electric brake controller, and sometimes a trailer-wiring connector. This type of tow package is typically found on cars, minivans, small SUV’s, and smaller trucks.

5-pin tow package: A 5-pin tow package , which has five pins in it to carry power for the electric brake controller as well as carrying the standard four pins that are in a 4-pin tow package. This type of tow package is typically found on mid-sized trucks and some full-sized SUV’s.

7-pin or a 9-pin tow package: A 7-pin or a 9-pin tow package, which has more pins than a 4-, 5-, or the standard 7-pin to carry more power for brakes as well as running lights on the trailer. The 7-pin has a standard seven pins in it while the 9-pin has an extra pin for a ground wire. This type of tow package is typically found on large trucks and some full-sized SUV’s.

F150 Tow Packages

The Ford F150 comes with two tow packages to choose from. These are the basic trailer tow package and the max trailer tow package. Both of these packages come with their own features that are able to improve the functionality of a truck when it is pulling a load behind. Some of the features that come with these packages can be found at both of them, but some are exclusive to just one or the other.

Basic Trailer Tow Package

The basic trailer tow package is a group of features that improve a trucks ability to haul and pull heavy loads behind it between its two rear wheels. Some of these features include larger brakes, upgraded power steering pump, and thicker drive shafts. These all come together to help improve the Ford F150’s ability to haul more weight behind it and make those loads more manageable when they are on the road ahead.

Max Trailer Tow Package

The max trailer tow package is a group of features that improve some of the same areas as those found in the basic trailer tow package, but more so. The max tow package comes with larger brakes, an upgraded power steering pump and thicker drive shafts that are all up to par to handle some of the largest loads that a truck can tow. As well as the features mentioned above, this package also comes with some extra features, including upgraded rear axles for gear changes when it is needed most and a rear wheel travel package that help to offer more resistance when it reaches its max load.

Both of the tow packages come with their own list of features and benefits that can improve a truck’s functionality as a haul vehicle, but not all of those features are found in both packages. The basic trailer tow package comes with some key items, such as large brakes and an upgraded power steering pump, to make a vehicle more functional for towing heavy loads. On the other hand, the max trailer tow package comes with upgraded rear axle gear changes and a wider wheel base that help to improve resistance when pulling larger loads. No matter if there is one package or the other that fits the specific needs of a trucker, both of these packages are sure to offer some great benefits if the truck is pulling anything behind it.

How To Check If F150 Has Max Tow Package

Checking your truck’s capability to tow a trailer is not as simple as checking the owners manual. Depending on year and model, there are many different configurations. Here’s how to find out which one you’ve got.

Open the owner’s manual and check if it shows some sort of rating for GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating). This number represents the maximum weight that your truck can haul including passengers and cargo in the cab along with a full tank of fuel and all options installed on the truck (you might be able to go up 4-500 lbs higher). If this rating is present at all, it will most likely be found right next to foot or inch marks around 2/3 inside from where you opened the book.
If no GCWR rating is indicated, or if it’s not possible to see this number from the owners manual then next step is going to be checking a sticker on a door jamb which can look a little bit different but has essentially the same information. There are typically 2 locations you can check: either near where you open your door or somewhere near an arm rest. On these stickers, the maximum payload will be listed as well as corresponding tongue weight being supported by your truck. The payload is just what it sounds like- how much weight your truck can safely carry around and the tongue weight shows how much of that weight will be transferred through the hitch and down towards the trailer (and also related to how big your boat might end up being).
In addition to GCWR and payload, if you have a f150 with max tow package there will typically be an extra line on one of these stickers which says something along the lines of “Max Trailer Weight 5000 lbs.” This is essentially saying that you have a maximum limit of 5,000 lbs in terms of how much weight it can haul including all passengers in the cab and cargo. Beyond this point, your truck might not do too well when faced with steep inclines or turns especially. Make sure to take into account that this number assumes that you’re following all guidelines for safely operating a vehicle at or beyond its limits.
If after reading through the manual/looking around inside your truck you still don’t have a number, don’t panic. It’s possible that your vehicle is still equipped with the max tow package but Ford doesn’t put this rating on any stickers/in manuals before 2015. If you have a class 3 hitch on your truck and aren’t sure if it has the max tow package, make sure to check around for some small plastic covers near where the ball mounts. You might see one or more of these which indicate what axle ratio you’re running (normally found somewhere in manual) which can help narrow down whether or not you’ve got everything needed to operate at full potential when hauling heavy loads.
Note that all of these numbers are general guidelines and may vary depending on options installed (ie- power sliding rear window, moon roof, etc) as well as personal driving style. Always follow the guidelines from your manual and from Ford which will be included with your truck when purchased.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Method:

The first thing you need to do is open the hood of your car and locate your VIN plate.
The next step is locating the fourth digit in your VIN number which will either be a “Y” or an “N.” A “Y” denotes that Ford installed the high capacity rear axle ratio while an “N” means that it did not come with that option from Ford. As seen in the image above my F-150 came with the “N” axle ratio which means that it did not come with the high capacity rear axle.

If you do have a “Y” then congratulations! Your F-150 can tow more than 9000 pounds, but if you have an “N” I would suggest looking into some mods to increase your towing ability.

Reasons to go for a Max Tow Package

One common question many people have when looking to purchase a new tow vehicle is if they should get the Max Tow Package. In this article I’ll go over some of the reasons why you might want to get a truck with this package and some reasons why you may not want it.

To Get The Larger Fuel Tank

The reason to get a Max Tow Package is that all trucks in this package come with a larger fuel tank. This is very helpful because the most tow-able weight comes from fuel and water so if you can carry more fuel, your truck will be able to haul more weight. This makes getting a bigger gas tank an important feature when choosing how much weight your tow vehicle can handle.

To Get The Larger Differential

Max Tow Package trucks also come with stiffer rear axles, which can be helpful when hauling heavy loads. Again this comes down to carrying more weight so it’s important to consider if you might need the extra torque and traction offered by these larger axles. A major drawback is that they contain 3:73 gears which are not as efficient for accelerating as the 3:42 or 3:55 gears found in some tow vehicles without a Max Tow package. This is because the gear ratio of this axle is lower than those two other ratios, requiring more force on your engine to turn your wheels at a given rate of speed. But since you’re likely using your vehicle to tow something heavy like a camper or boat, you probably don’t care about fuel economy that much.

The Ability To Tow A Trailer That Has Electric Brakes

Some people may want an electric braking system for their trailer because it allows them to have trailer brakes even when the tow vehicle is not running. If this is something you are interested in, be sure to get a truck with both the larger fuel tank and the Max Tow Package so that your truck can push out enough power to activate these brakes.

For Better Power Steering Systems

Another reason to get a Max Tow package is that they come standard with stronger power steering systems which are helpful when towing large loads. This can help save you money by providing increased compaction while towing and increasing the lifespan of parts such as the power steering pump.

Better Towing Performance

With A Max Tow Package, you get a few more features that can help with towing performance including a larger radiator and transmission cooler, which both aid in keeping your engine and transmission operating at an efficient level when hauling heavy loads. You also get a stronger battery with this package and some trucks come standard with an interlock system on their starter solenoid so it is disabled until something else kicks on like your trailer lights or brake controller. This is important because if your truck tries to start but cannot turn over due to any number of reasons, you don’t want it to accidentally shift into reverse while pulling a load causing you to get hit from behind. So these features can be a big help if you’re planning on towing anything heavy with your truck.

Other Options Come Standard With This Package

One of the biggest reasons people go for a Max Tow Package is that it comes standard with other options that you might want to add onto your truck anyway, such as leather seats and power windows. A few trucks in this package also come standard with navigation systems which are helpful when traveling long distances with your trailer by giving you turn-by-turn directions. Conclusion Overall, if you plan on buying a tow vehicle that will be used to tow anything over 5,000 pounds, it’s probably in your best interest to get one with the Max Tow Package.


If you’re looking for a truck with enough power, capability, and style to make any job seem like child’s play, the Ford F-Series is tough to beat. We hope you found this article helpful. If not, please let us know your questions and we’ll be happy to answer them. Thank you for reading!

Chris Law

Chris is a content writer at WhatinGuide.

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