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Towing Package

I will be buying a pickup for the first time as I want a truck to tow a small travel trailer to Belize in Central America. Thinking of either Nissan Frontier or Dodge Dakota with V-6. While the trailer will be within weight limits, I’m wondering if I need a factory tow package to provide additional engine and transmission cooling. Nissan only offers the 7-pin hitch; Dodge offers the whole thing. While this will be a long trip, it is only one way for the trailer. Won’t be doing any significant towing after that. So is a tow package necessary or not? If it is, does it have to be a factory item?

A factory towing package is usually the way to go, although there ar many other things to consider. An aftermarket source may be a better option. Most factory twoing packages usually have better cooling, and better suspension options,and are covered byt the factory warranty. Remember that statement.
Aftermarket may be better because it can be more tailored to what you are doing, what you are doing it with, and where you plan on doing it.
Remember the first statement? Caveat emptor. Read the warranty before buying the vehicle. Most vehicles sold in the great U.S.of A. states that the warranty is only applicable in the United States, Canada, and usually Mexico. Once the North Amercian continent has been left, so has the warranty. Kinda nice to know that now, huh?

Actually, I did know about the warranties not being valid outside US and Canada. Only wish Mexico was included. What I don’t know is if I really need the extra cooling power of a factory package. A dealer said that one only needs that if towing most all the time like for the job.

The extra coolin wouldn’t hurt, it’s not exactly a cool climate where you are heading. Damage is usually caused while towing, and oeverheating components will more than likely fail while towing. But, you know what you are towing and it’s weight, I would personally visit a shop tat specializes in RV towing (not U-Haul) and ask them what they think. I am sure that they see more issues than I do as a dealer mechanic.

Definitely get an auxiliary transmission cooler, whether as part of a factory tow package or from an aftermarket supplier. You can probably save a bit going aftermarket (a lot if you install the parts yourself), but you may be able to do some bargaining and get the dealer to throw in a towing package for free. Pickups aren’t exactly flying off the lots these days.

If I were you, I’d add the factory package, considering where you’re going. Even after you’re done towing, you’ll be keeping your transmission cooler and that can only help its life.

I wonder if you should bring an extra fuel filter and some octane booster in case you end up with some bad gas along the way.

I agree that the factory package is the way to go in this case. You can probably get a truck with it for a great price now. The tranny cooler will definitely help. You may think that you will never tow much after your trip, but it’s amazing how your plans can change after you get a pickup! I agree that the fuel filter(s) and octane booster are a good idea too - and maybe even some way to pre-filter the fuel into a gas can if the quality is questionable.

I would get the tow package no matter what you get. Also, I would look at smaller trucks. You don’t say how much your “small travel trailer” weighs. If it weighs less than 3,000 pounds, I would look at a smaller truck like the Toyota Tacoma with a V-6 and a tow package. I would also look at a Honda Ridgeline and the Chevy Colorado. These trucks get decent fuel economy compared to other trucks. A Dodge Dakota seems like overkill for a small travel trailer. Don’t buy more truck than you need. The Chevy Colorado can tow up to 5,500 pounds. The Nissan Frontier sounds like it is more reasonable, but it’s V-6’s 6,500 pound towing capacity might be overkill. How much does your trailer weigh?

The ONE thing that will kill a transmission is HEAT. If you do any type of towing it’s recommended to get a tranny cooler (unless of course you have a manual tranny). You can kill a transmission on ONE trip if you’re hauling a heavy load in high heat up a steep long hill. Many SUV’s and trucks these days have a transmission heat warning light that will light up when the transmission fluid gets too hot.

Aftermarket coolers and tow hitches are fine…and they will NOT void your warranty. If you can get the factory option and it’s not too expensive then go for it.

I agree with Jeremy on getting a smaller truck. My 4runner with the 4.0 V6 is rated a Class III (up to 5000lbs). If your trailer weighs less then that a mid-size with a V6 will EASILY handle the tow.