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Discussion Starter #1
I know the answer to my question according to the VW rep, yes, the real question is what is involved in that. I have a 2018 Atlas SE, VR6 with 4 motion. I attempted to get a dealer installed 5,000 lbs hitch and was told that the rep talked to someone at the factory and that the cars coming with the 5,000 lbs hitch have additional strengthening of the chassis to accommodate the factory 5,000 hitch. Does anyone know just what they do under there that can't be retrofitted ? I am amazed that they have an optional 5,000 lb hitch that is only optional at the factory level, who would buy an SUV that size that can only tow a 4x8 garden trailer or something similar. I guess I would because I did thinking I could add a hitch later. But back to the question just what do they do under there to strengthen it ?
 

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I just pulled a factory hitch off an factory installed 18 and there was zero difference under there when compaired to my 19 (non factory) unit. The 2k hitch they sell and the factory have the same part numbers. 881b superseded by 881c. The difference between factory installed and us is an electric module that shuts off the rear detectors and upgraded cooling.(ton of research) Unfortunately the one I got my hitch from was smashed up front and I could see where or what size the factory tow package tranny cooler looks like. I am hoping one of the guys on the forum with the factory towing package will post a pic of their added tranny cooler. We can compare notes with them and see what front valance vents (if any) the tow package cuts open.
 

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I've been very intense with VW USA about the towing. I got a call today that answers the question for me. The vehicles are all manufactured the same way. The difference is that the factory has tested the hitch assembly to the 5k as advertised. Even if you buy the factory hitch, harmess, and module it is considered aftermarket. Even if installed by a VW Dealership. Simply a legal issue. Anything not installed at the factory is aftermarket.
 

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I am in the same boat. My local hitch company can install a hitch rated for 5,000 lbs. Just want to make sure there are no other issues.
 

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Some one at VWWVortex has actually been in contact with VW and they gave him a verbal response. Which I believe is that they can only guarantee the 5k load if it is installed when manufactured. After build installation (including VW ones) are only guaranteed for 2k) I think it is more of a liability thing than anything else. So any one who goes over then assumes full responsibility and VW will not be liable.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The money says there can't be much difference.

MSRP on a factory 5,000 lb hitch is $550, after subtracting MSRP for the hitch itself you are left with about $165. A set of VW floor mats are $149 so you are not getting much in the way or alterations to the cooling system or transmission coolers for that kind of money.
 

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that's a bit concerning which has me wondering what the warranty/owners manual says about the towing conditions we're allowed... just in case something goes wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
that's a bit concerning which has me wondering what the warranty/owners manual says about the towing conditions we're allowed... just in case something goes wrong.
The owners manual lists maximum combined towing rates that include the weight of the Atlas plus the weight of trailer and cargo. It depends on what engine you have as well as if it is 4motion or not. It also lists different weights for trailers with brakes and without. Definitely worth reading if you are going to tow something. After reading everything I would not tow a 5,000 trailer but I would not want to be stuck with a 2,000 tow hitch if the vehicle is capable of more.
 

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When I bought my 2018 Atlas SEL V6 all the vehicles on the lot had hitch receivers installed. As part of the deal I got the harness (I assume the connector by the hitch) installed and a 5000 lb hitch. No one said anything about any limit regarding the hitch; both 2000# and 5000# were similar in price, so I opted for the 5000#. Now looking to see what to do about an electric brake controller in case I rent a heavy duty trailer with electric brakes; I believe that if the trailer has electric brakes then you are required to have a brake controller for insurance purposes.
 

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When I bought my 2018 Atlas SEL V6 all the vehicles on the lot had hitch receivers installed. As part of the deal I got the harness (I assume the connector by the hitch) installed and a 5000 lb hitch. No one said anything about any limit regarding the hitch; both 2000# and 5000# were similar in price, so I opted for the 5000#. Now looking to see what to do about an electric brake controller in case I rent a heavy duty trailer with electric brakes; I believe that if the trailer has electric brakes then you are required to have a brake controller for insurance purposes.
It is already wired for external break controller 9if needed) but you have to do it yourself or a dealer put the remote controller which is behind the left side driver kick pannel (if that is what is required) At VWVortex this was covered where someone showed how to do the install. As far as normal trailer breaks that are part of the connecter it is my understanding is the Atlas already handles that. I believe it is in the manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Dave your Atlas with the factory hitch will have the wiring for the brake controller in place, two parts needed to be able to tow a trailer with brakes. If you have not got one already you need the plug in module to accept the 7 pin plug on the umbilical from the trailer. You can find them online or pay more getting it from VW. It replaces the blank plate next to the trailer hitch receiver, there are models that just have the 7 pin plug and you use an adapter if you need to connect a trailer with the 4 pin flat plug or you can get a part that has the 7 pin plug and the 4 pin plug just under that. The module and car are already wired for a brake controller. There is a prewired plug behind the panel that the hood release is attached to.

As to my original question the difference in the Atlas with the factory hitch and one without the factory hitch there are 3 things. The factory hitch version has higher output cooling fans, has louver delete to allow more airflow and has a higher output alternator, of course it has the hitch and associated wiring.
 

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Has anyone looked into upgrading the stock battery?
I plan on hauling a load over longer trips and might look at what Optima has.
On camping trips it will help especially with the increased alternator output.
 
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