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Recently purchased 2018 Atlas SE 4 motion with technology package

Need to install a trailer hitch either VW or aftermarket. It appears to install the VW factory hitch requires removing the rear bumper. Has anyone done this? If yes degree of difficulty and any tips on removing the rear bumper.

Has anyone installed an aftermarket trailer hitch? Brand

Also concerned about installing the trailer hitch electrical harness. And trying to find out the location of the wiring harness and how to access it.
Use VW factory trailer wiring harness or use after market?

Anyone have any insights to share

Thank you
 

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At parts.vw.com you can find the vw parts and numbers, including replacement rear valances that are designed to accommodate the trailer hitch, as well as the hitches themselves. The factory mounted hitch and wiring package include a trans cooler and other things like deleting lower grill doors to increase cooling, so I believe the factory limits the capacity to 2000# for aftermarket installation, not the 5000# for factory installed. The factory wiring does things like turn off the blind spot monitors when you plug in an umbilical - not sure if a plug in wiring harness will require a computer reset.
I really wanted a launch edition with a 5000# trailer hitch, but it turned out to be very difficult to achieve, so we went with an SEL.
 

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If you have an Atlas SEL, there are two parts needed to be able to tow a trailer of any size. The plug in module to accept the 7 pin plug on the umbilical from the trailer is one. You can find them online, but I bought mine at the VW dealer for $57. It replaces the blank plate next to the trailer hitch receiver. What was interesting was finding that the module and car are already wired for a brake controller. So, some research revealed that there is a prewired plug behind the panel that the hood release is attached to. The wiring is the same as a Toureg or Audi Q7, and if you can get an adaptor harness for your controller, it will be just a matter of plugging it in to connect the two. Some controller mfrs offer a selection of harnesses. I have a Tekonsha Prodigy P2. These, and the Tekonsha P3, require a relay in the power line to work correctly in any VW product. For $85, you can buy a harness here https://www.ebay.com/itm/VW-Touareg-Plug-and-Play-Trailer-Brake-Controller-Harness-Audi-Q7-Porsche-Cayenn/282443666380?hash=item41c2f453cc:g:eCoAAOSwnTdaIGjs&vxp=mtr
I bought one, and it is beautifully crafted. It makes install a simple plug and play. I haven't installed mine yet, but will give a report when I do. There is a less expensive version for connecting other models of brake controllers.
I don't know if an Atlas purchased without the factory trailer hitch will have any of this wiring in place or not. If not, I don't know how you will wire a brake controller. In older cars, you tapped in to the brake light switch to get a signal when you stepped on the brake. This appears to be a computer function on the Atlas.
 

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If you have an Atlas SEL, there are two parts needed to be able to tow a trailer of any size. The plug in module to accept the 7 pin plug on the umbilical from the trailer is one. You can find them online, but I bought mine at the VW dealer for $57. It replaces the blank plate next to the trailer hitch receiver. What was interesting was finding that the module and car are already wired for a brake controller. So, some research revealed that there is a prewired plug behind the panel that the hood release is attached to. The wiring is the same as a Toureg or Audi Q7, and if you can get an adaptor harness for your controller, it will be just a matter of plugging it in to connect the two. Some controller mfrs offer a selection of harnesses. I have a Tekonsha Prodigy P2. These, and the Tekonsha P3, require a relay in the power line to work correctly in any VW product. For $85, you can buy a harness here https://www.ebay.com/itm/VW-Touareg-Plug-and-Play-Trailer-Brake-Controller-Harness-Audi-Q7-Porsche-Cayenn/282443666380?hash=item41c2f453cc:g:eCoAAOSwnTdaIGjs&vxp=mtr
I bought one, and it is beautifully crafted. It makes install a simple plug and play. I haven't installed mine yet, but will give a report when I do. There is a less expensive version for connecting other models of brake controllers.
I don't know if an Atlas purchased without the factory trailer hitch will have any of this wiring in place or not. If not, I don't know how you will wire a brake controller. In older cars, you tapped in to the brake light switch to get a signal when you stepped on the brake. This appears to be a computer function on the Atlas.
I had my dealer install the round 7-pin trailer plug module in place of the blank plate next to my factory hitch—thanks for that information. I was very excited to hear the trailer brake controller might be a simple plug-and-play deal. However, I just pulled the panel off my SEL's hood release lever, and there are no obvious plugs or connectors ready to plug into a trailer brake controller. Where did you find this information, and have you had any luck with yours? I will upload a pic of what I found under there. It was a [email protected]&$! getting the panel off. If anyone else wants to do it, the secret is removing the hood release lever with a hidden clip on the forward side that is out of view. Then pop off a plastic cap covering a plastic screw that you can’t see unless you have pulled or removed the lever. Then partially pop off the door sill cover, and finally pull the hood release panel starting at where it meets the floor carpet. 4E9CEA62-CB87-4961-8B76-AA27533FAD37_1520208482510.jpg
 

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You'll find the connector and wire back towards the seat under the carpet - mine was a bit under the padding. The wire is long enough that you can run it over the top of the panel you removed and you'll have plenty to work with.
 

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You'll find the connector and wire back towards the seat under the carpet - mine was a bit under the padding. The wire is long enough that you can run it over the top of the panel you removed and you'll have plenty to work with.
I will have to try looking again. I also found a picture from this other site showing the plug under the carpet: http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?8727530-Tow-hitch-wiring-harness#/topics/8727530?page=12

I hope to order and install a brake controller with the plug-in harness by the end of the month. I will post an update here with how it went.
 

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Brake Controller

I will have to try looking again. I also found a picture from this other site showing the plug under the carpet: VWVortex.com - Tow hitch wiring harness???

I hope to order and install a brake controller with the plug-in harness by the end of the month. I will post an update here with how it went.
I am interested in the Brake Controller as well. Looking forward to hear how you did with your install.
 

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IT WORKS! got trailer this week! need to get some helper air bags. nobody makes them for the atlas (big surprise) but "Air-Lift" makes a retro fit part number 60756 has everything you should need. they support 1000lbs.
 

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So easy you can do it one-handed!

Skiier, that is a real nice video. I have my parts in now, and will be using your video as a guide to do the installation this weekend. What are you towing that made the rear end squat? I will have about 450lbs of tongue weight when I hook up my travel trailer, and you got me worried I will need those air lift helper springs too. It looks like a good product though. I am really bummed that VW says not to use a load distribution hitch on this vehicle, since I just bought my hitch last year and only used it one season on our last vehicle.
 

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Skiier, that is a real nice video. I have my parts in now, and will be using your video as a guide to do the installation this weekend. What are you towing that made the rear end squat? I will have about 450lbs of tongue weight when I hook up my travel trailer, and you got me worried I will need those air lift helper springs too. It looks like a good product though. I am really bummed that VW says not to use a load distribution hitch on this vehicle, since I just bought my hitch last year and only used it one season on our last vehicle.

Thanks for the compliment on the video! My young wieght is 500 with propane and 2 batteries. not sure why it squat so much.... or maybe its because I'm used to a truck. either way the air bags seem simple to install and only cost $80.00 (not on amazon $93 there) I might do a video on the air bags depending how much time I have, I found a lot of them already just not for the atlas.

No weight distribution really sucks but I've double checked with VW and ask my local dealership they all suggest against it. has some thing to do with the extra forces and leverage they place on the frame....

Hope your camping goes well! let me know if you have any other questions!
 

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Tekonsha Primus IQ Installation Pics

I followed skiier's YouTube video to complete the installation of my trailer brake controller. I opted to get the Tekonsha Primus IQ, which is fine for the one trailer that I tow. I was finally able to locate the factory wire harness on my 2018 Atlas SEL, which was in a different spot than in the video. The rest of the job was a simple matter of plugging-in my trailer brake controller adaptor and mounting the controller. Everything is plug-and-play with the wire harness adaptor I purchased from a seller on EBAY, exactly as shown in the video. The only drilling I had to do, was 2 pilot holes in the plastic dash panel for the mounting bracket that came with the controller.

I am including 2 montage pictures for reference. The first picture shows where I actually found my harness plug, hidden under the carpet below the the "dead pedal". This was a little different from the video, but easy to get to once you know where to look. I am pointing to the release tabs for the dead pedal in the top image. Just pull back the carpet to find the plug.

In the second montage, I am showing where I routed the car's wiring harness, plus the 24" adaptor harness (the one from EBAY), and eventually routed it out from under the steering column to the brake controller. I opted to mount mine to the right of the steering column where I can see it while seated in the driving position. This was easily within reach to manually control the lever if I need to. I can also read the digital display from here.

This was an easy little project, but only with the good tips on how to remove that hood release lever that are covered in skier's video!
 

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First time out towing last night. Hitched up my 20' travel trailer for a test ride out to the local CAT scale for a weigh-in. Honestly, it was a decent ride. Definitely felt the weight on the back, but it handled it. I used manual shift mode on the ride out, and sport on the way back. I think sport did a better job shifting than I could. My trailer has a lot of tongue weight when the water tank is empty--543 lbs to be exact--but the Atlas handled it. The brake controller felt best on Boost mode 1, with the adjustment wheel all the way up. I backed up my 150ft driveway and turned into my parking spot without my mirror extenders and had no troubles. It could use the mirror extenders on the highway though when changing lanes. It's an 8' wide camper, so that is expected. Tomorrow, I have a 1-hour ride planned to get the camper serviced, so I will report back on how that goes.
 

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I would like to hear others' tales of towing their loaded campers this summer too. I towed to my camper dealer up in Mass on Saturday. It was an uneventful drive, as I was hoping. Much better visibility with my mirror extenders. I got a few ideas talking to the service guy about possible use of my weight distribution hitch. He could not advise ignoring the owner's manual, but thought there could be some hope for us after a year goes by. The stock factory setup is not rated for a weight distribution hitch per the VW owners manual, so hopefully someone comes out with one that is. I did some quick Googling and found the Curt bolt-on receiver is rated for weight-distribution, but the question would be whether that still applies when bolted to the Atlas chassis. He also thought I could get some added steel welded to reinforce the factory hitch. He thinks I could get by with just a minimal setting on my weight distribution bars so as not to over-stress the welds, but still get the benefit of the anti-sway. That would be my risk to take.

I got a good look at our factory hitch, and I am not impressed. There look to be only 2 plug welds holding the 2" square receiver tube to the 2 drop plates. The plug welds are not even filled, meaning from a welding standpoint they don't reach full strength. I took a small risk and hitched it up and adjusted the weight distributing bars to a minor setting and towed it 6 miles and re-weighed on the CAT scale. It drives so much better! That took 240 lbs off the drive axle, and added 120 lbs to the steering axle. This would be better than over-loading the 500lb tongue weight with a plain load-carrying hitch in my opinion. I might just take off the stock hitch and add a lot more weld, and reinforcing gussets, and run it with my weight distribution hitch.
 

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Thanks for the video you shared on finding the wiring for the brake controller. I ordered the parts and so far the wiring harness arrived. I don’t own a camping trailer yet. Shopping around looking at a 16ft Geopro by Rockwood as well as a 20ft Salem FSX. I should be able to tow both as the GeoPro empty is just under 2900lbs with tongue weight 440lbs while the Salem is 3300lbs, similar tongue weight. Once. Get the brake controller I can take out the trailers I’m interested in for a test tow. One question I had about the prodigy 3 is does any special programming need to be done by VW before it can be set up to use? One of the salesman I spoke to at a trailer shop mentioned this.
 

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Just bought a VW Atlas 2018 S V6 4Motion and am looking at adding a trailer hitch. The 2000lbs weight wont be a problem but the dealer is quoting US$1300 for the hitch and wiring installed which seems crazy.

I was wondering about getting the dealer to install the hitch and buy the wiring kit myself but don't know if I have the "factory-fitted 1M5 trailer hitch preparation" so that the "Trailer Hitch Electrical Installation Kit
Part Number: 3CN055203A" can be easily installed. I'm pretty comfortable with electrical work but can't find an installation manual or video for the wiring installation. I hate getting ripped off on simple installation but maybe there is more to this than I am thinking. :)

Does anyone have any experience with this?
 

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In a couple of weeks I am towing my travel trailer 4000 miles with the Atlas over three week period. I will let you know. 3000 lbs dry and 350 lbs tongue weight
 
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