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2017 Salem Cruise Lite 19RDXL.

4200/465# dry. Lots of bumper sag. I'll install air bags tonight.

Probably 4800/485+# loaded with 2/3 water.

Only a 100 round mile trip. But, 50 of that down single lane, dirt, logging roads (very rough).

This brake controller. Easy install as described above. I hardwired it. https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/BK_7552281
 

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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?
Im in the same boat, my issue is that I do t want the trailer wiring harness to look crappy like uhaul did on my other car. If you find out anything please keep me in mind and I will do the same
 

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Hi all,

Thanks for all the great posts here, very helpful. We just picked up a 2017 Camplite 11FK, dry weight of about 2400 and dry tongue weight of 350. So far I've only towed it home from the dealer. I'm completely new to towing so not exactly sure what is normal and what is not, but there did seem to be some up/down movement on the back of the Atlas. I know some is probably normal but perhaps there is too much tongue weight? Has anyone installed the air bags yet? Something worth doing in my case?

The camper is an off road version so it sits up pretty high, perhaps this adds to the up/down movement too?

Thanks!
 

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I too recently purchased an Atlas SE/w Tech...wanting to know is it best to use factory hitch or install myself? I have seen that the factory you have to cut the bumper but on non-VW hitch you don't? Not wanting to really cut my bumper?? So, factory or not?
 

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Hi all,

Thanks for all the great posts here, very helpful. We just picked up a 2017 Camplite 11FK, dry weight of about 2400 and dry tongue weight of 350. So far I've only towed it home from the dealer. I'm completely new to towing so not exactly sure what is normal and what is not, but there did seem to be some up/down movement on the back of the Atlas. I know some is probably normal but perhaps there is too much tongue weight? Has anyone installed the air bags yet? Something worth doing in my case?

The camper is an off road version so it sits up pretty high, perhaps this adds to the up/down movement too?

Thanks!
Think of the trailer as a giant seesaw, with the body/chassis of the trailer being the "board" one would sit on and the axle being the fulcrum. Move the fulcrum and you move the weight distribution. You will need to be sure that the drop/rise of your hitch has your trailer level when sitting. The frame of the trailer should be level when fully hitched to your Atlas. This may require purchasing a different hitch insert to get you the drop/rise you need to get her level. That will optimize your tongue weight and should make for better trailering. Best of luck!
 

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I too recently purchased an Atlas SE/w Tech...wanting to know is it best to use factory hitch or install myself? I have seen that the factory you have to cut the bumper but on non-VW hitch you don't? Not wanting to really cut my bumper?? So, factory or not?
The factory tow package also includes the factory wiring harness tie-ins for the 7-pin connector, auxiliary transmission oil cooler, etc. If you add an aftermarket hitch, you're limited to 2700lbs of tow weight with a logical 10% of that for tongue weight at 270lbs.
 

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So, it appears that my blind spot monitor does not work, after installation of a braker controller, as noted in an earlier post. Has anyone actually had this addressed? Can it be corrected? If so, will my dealer likely understand what needs to be done? I'm hoping that this can be done free of charge.
 

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You can easily take care of this yourself. The brake controller will automatically cause the BSM to turn off. You can’t use the BSM when towing. You can manually turn it on and off by going to Car on the display and choosing Settings, then Assistance Systems. Make the BSM active again by checking the box.

So, it appears that my blind spot monitor does not work, after installation of a braker controller, as noted in an earlier post. Has anyone actually had this addressed? Can it be corrected? If so, will my dealer likely understand what needs to be done? I'm hoping that this can be done free of charge.
 

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Well, I learned about reactivating the BSM, after a visit to the dealer service department. I couldn't remember turning it off, so now I know that happens automatically when the trailer wiring is connected. Thanks for the explanation, psyprof!
 

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Hello Skiier47,

Thank you so much for your video. Mechanically challenged people like me was able to follow your video. I have not mounted P3 yet but all the hard work is done.
I wanted to ask you about airhelper and see if you did video on airhelp as well. I received mine and was wondering how hard your installation was and maybe share picture of your installation.

Thanks so much!
 

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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.
I thought "quick reply" was replying to your post but it went to all the way back.

Hello Skiier47,

Thank you so much for your video. Mechanically challenged people like me was able to follow your video. I have not mounted P3 yet but all the hard work is done.
I wanted to ask you about airhelper and see if you did video on airhelp as well. I received mine and was wondering how hard your installation was and maybe share picture of your installation.

Thanks so much!
 

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I hope you have better luck than I am having, when we bought the atlas it was a $ 15 K upgrade to the version that came with the 5K trailer hitch, it also had a panoramic roof, a technology package and lots of other things we did not need so we bought the SE with all motion and the VR6 and said we would add the hitch later it was not worth paying 15 thousand dollars more to get a trailer hitch. 6 months down the line I went to get a hitch, first was told oh no no 5000 pound hitch that is only factory equipped versions. I pointed out that there was a 2019 Atlas SE just like ours on their lot with a 5K hitch and where I saw the following on a VW dealer website,

"You can have a factory-installed trailer hitch added to the rear to safely secure a trailer to take advantage of this SUV’s towing abilities."
"When you have the 3.6L V6 engine and the factory-installed trailer hitch, you’ll be able to manage up to 5,000 lbs. behind the new Atlas."

One would believe that if you bought the Atlas with the 3.6L V6 then you could retrofit the vehicle with a 5K hitch, nowhere in any of the VW sales literature does anyone tell you that if you do not get the factory installed hitch you are restricted to a 2000 pound hitch. I have heard all sorts of excuses the factory version with the 5K hitch has a bigger radiator, it has a bigger alternator, it has a transmission cooler, it has better venting, it has a higher wattage fan, I have heard all sorts of things but when I spent some time with a parts guy looking up parts these things don't seem to be true. In talking with someone who talked to a factory rep he told me that there is a difference in the chassis done at the factory that allows for a 5000 pound factory hitch.

I do know this, other manufacturers don't do this. If you want to buy an suv from Ford or Chevrolet they don't advertise a trailer capacity that is impossible to get unless you have a factory installed hitch. If Volkswagen wanted to be honest they would advertise the Atlas as having a towing capacity of 2000 pounds with a 5000 pound capacity available only when installed when built at the factory. But after the diesel thing I don't guess we have a right to expect honesty of Volkswagen.
 

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Just thought I’d give a very quick update. We went camping on 4 trips towing a loaded 4,200GVWR travel trailer with the tongue weight at the max, loaded with gear in the car, and 4 passengers, and I could not be happier with the Atlas. It towed comfortably, with responsiveness under steering, acceleration and braking. Sometimes the transmission/engine would have a very slight smell from working harder, but nothing of great concern. I like to go overkill, and I am pushing this right to the limits, so I will keep my eyes on some mid-size pickups or the new Jeep Gladiator and Ford Bronco for a greater tow capacity. It would also be comforting to know the vehicle is rated for a load distribution hitch. But we are still planning to use the Atlas for another season or two of camping. Hope all are having as much fun and success!
 

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irhutch,

Did you ever find a solution? I am is the same boat. Bought a Atlas SE assuming that with an installed hitch I can tow 5,000 lbs. VW should be MUCH more clear on this. I essentially bought a massive vehicle that is kind or worthless to me.
 

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Hi Guys, thanks for the awesome thread! It helped me on my project. Bought the wife a 19 SE w/tech and the only R line on the west coast with here color combo and fearures didnt have the towing package. I spent countless hours researching what ours is missing. I have came up with the following discoveries. 1. Factory hitch installed at the factory and the 2k hitch you can buy from VW have the exact same part #.(881b superseded by 881c) 2. Factory adds a module out back that switches off the rear collision sensors when the lights are plugged in.(avail on amazon and has w/VW parts numbers) 3. Upgraded factory cooling. This one was tough. It appears that they add an external tranny cooler. I am hoping one of you guys w/ factory tow will post a pic so we can help others with the cooler size and location. The wrecked unit I have been compairing to is smashed to the fire wall and missing the front clip/engine. In my research the tranny cooler is the most important piece of the puzzle. For mine I bought a stacked B&M cooler w/ electric fan and temp sensor. My theory is, my cooler with the added fan will also help the cooling system by adding extra air flow through the radiator. 4. They may have cut out a couple shapes on the front valance to open up the air flow. Again, hoping someone will post pics.
Along the way I learned a few things.
 

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Got cut off... continued
You dont have to notch the rear valance to add a hitch as shown on the interweb. You can remove the valance and cut a hole to stick the hitch through with simple hand tools. I made mine a bit smaller that factory. Installed the hitch then put the bumber back on. After, I found that you can order the valance from VW for $200 and they have it to match all trim levels. So, if you dont like the S valance you could buy the SEL or Rline with cut out to match your liking. Same for the front if you would rather have the front smooth Rline look.
Also, if you tow a travel trailer. One manufacture makes a hitch with a 900lb. Tongue rating and 6k gross. Unlike the factory hitch and aftermarket 'hidden' hitch the 6k hitch 2" square receiver is located just under the rear valance. This does two things, 1 you dont have to cut the rear valance and 2 gives you the added capacity. Still isn't distribution rated but, the mounts are a few inches longer and braces the rear frame tubes all the way forward to the exhaust mount.
 

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Tranny cooler update. 2019 SE w/tech 4 motion came with a transmission cooler. Went out to make a parts list, got it in the air, pulled off the cold air intake/air box and found that there is already a tranny cooler in place.
Wrote down the part numbers on the electric fan plate and will be asking my VW contact to see if he can ask around about the "enhanced cooling" feature. Good news is, I can put the B&M cooler back on my shelf for its original use. Bad news is, I thought I had figured out the enhanced cooling...
 

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Finally got a call back from VW USA. According to the rep the factory installed towing package is exactly the same as the one you can buy from the VW Parts counter. The parts added is, the towing module, wiring harness from the module to dummy plug(plastic cover on hitch), the hitch, bolts/nuts, and the lower valance.
The reason why the factory hitch is rated for 5k and the exact same thing from the dealer isn't, is a legal issue. The factory has tested and certifies the hitch they install. The dealership or any other installation is official considered "after market" VW doesn't guaranty the installation of anything other than factory. Pretty plain and simple... Same as it has been every since the 1st reciever hitch was invented and installed back in the 60's. Didn't even consider it was that simple. Just a legal thing.
 

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This is some quality posts here. Big thanks to Jatlas.
I was looking for this information for a long time. My brother and i both got Atlases Se vr6. He got factory hitch with "towing package" and my doesn't. I have been comparing the two and could not find any difference. Suspension is the same, and as far as i know both have trans coolers. I will take both cars to the shop and confirm Jatlas's info, but I'm sure he is correct.
 

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Unfortunately this is a reality of doing anything that can impact your warranty term.
However when we can do servicing outside the dealership environment and save money their, its one more way to save money.
 
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