2021 RAM 1500 Owners Manual - TRAILER TOWING


In this section you will find safety tips and information on limits to the type of towing you can reasonably do with your vehicle. Before towing a trailer, carefully review this information to tow your load as efficiently and safely as possible.

To maintain the New Vehicle Limited Warranty coverage, follow the requirements and recommendations in this manual concerning vehicles used for trailer towing.


The following trailer towing related definitions will assist you in understanding the following information:

The GVWR is the total allowable weight of your vehicle. This includes driver, passengers, cargo and tongue weight. The total load must be limited so that you do not exceed the GVWR

page 213.

The GTW is the weight of the trailer plus the weight of all cargo, consumables and equipment (permanent or temporary) loaded in or on the trailer in its “loaded and ready for operation” condition.

The recommended way to measure GTW is to put your fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale. The entire weight of the trailer must be supported by the scale.

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) The GCWR is the total allowable weight of your vehicle and trailer when weighed in


The GAWR is the maximum capacity of the front and rear axles. Distribute the load over the front

and rear axles evenly. Make sure that you do not exceed either front or rear GAWR

page 213.

The TW is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer. You must consider this as part of the load on your vehicle.

The frontal area is the maximum height multiplied by the maximum width of the front of a trailer.

The TSC can be a mechanical telescoping link that can be installed between the hitch receiver and the trailer tongue that typically provides adjustable friction associated with the telescoping motion to dampen any unwanted trailer swaying motions while traveling.

If equipped, the electronic TSC recognizes a swaying trailer and automatically applies individual wheel brakes and/or reduces engine power to attempt to eliminate the trailer sway.

A weight-carrying hitch supports the trailer tongue weight, just as if it were luggage located at a hitch ball or some other connecting point of

the vehicle. These kinds of hitches are commonly used to tow small and medium sized trailers.

A weight-distributing system works by applying leverage through spring (load) bars. They are typically used for heavier loads to distribute trailer tongue weight to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer axle(s). When used in accordance with the manufacturer's directions, it provides for a more level ride, offering more consistent steering and brake control, thereby enhancing towing safety. The addition of a friction/hydraulic sway control also dampens sway caused by traffic and crosswinds and contributes positively to tow vehicle and trailer stability. Trailer sway control and a weight distributing (load equalizing) hitch are

recommended for heavier Tongue Weights (TW) and may be required depending on vehicle and trailer configuration/loading to comply with GAWR requirements.

With Weight-Distributing Hitch (Correct)

Improper Adjustment Of Weight-Distributing Hitch (Incorrect)

Recommended Distribution Hitch Adjustment Towing With Air Suspension — If Equipped

    Verify that the vehicle is at the normal ride height.

The vehicle must remain in the engine run posi- tion with all doors closed while attaching a trailer for proper leveling of the air suspension system.

    Position the truck to be ready to connect to the trailer (do not connect the trailer).
    Enable tire jack mode through the instrument cluster or touchscreen radio settings. Tire jack mode will be canceled and procedure must be restarted if the vehicle is driven at speeds above 5mph (8 km/h).
    Measure the height of the top of the front wheel opening on the fender to ground; this is height H1.

    Attach the trailer to the vehicle without the weight distribution bars connected.

    Measure the height of the top of the front wheel opening on the fender to ground; this is height H2.
    Install and adjust the tension in the weight distributing bars per FCA recommendations so that the height of the front fender is approximately (H2-H1)/3+H1 (about 1/3 the difference between H2 and H1 above normal ride height [H1]).
    Use the instrument cluster or touchscreen radio settings and switch off tire jack mode. Make sure the truck returns to normal ride height. Perform a visual inspection of the trailer and weight distributing hitch to confirm FCA recommendations have been met.

    The truck can now be driven.


For all towing conditions, we recommend towing with tow haul mode engaged.


The following chart provides the maximum trailer weight a given factory equipped trailer hitch type can tow and should be used to assist you in selecting the correct trailer hitch for your intended towing condition.

Trailer Hitch Type and Maximum Trailer Weight

Hitch Type

Max. Trailer Weight / Max. Tongue Weight

Class III Bumper Hitch - 1500 Model

6,000 lbs (2,721 kg) / 500 lbs (226 kg)

Class IV - 1500 Model

12,750 lbs (5,783 kg) / 1,275 lbs (578 kg)

Refer to the “Trailer Towing Weights (Maximum Trailer Weight Ratings)” for the Maximum Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) towable for your given drivetrain.

All trailer hitches should be professionally installed on your vehicle.

Remove the cap with a trim stick or screw driver to access the Class III hitch attachment.

Be careful not to scratch the bumper step pad.


For trailer towing information (maximum trailer weight ratings) refer to the following website addresses:


Consider the following items when computing the weight on the rear axle of the vehicle:

    The tongue weight of the trailer.
    The weight of any other type of cargo or equipment put in or on your vehicle.
    The weight of the driver and all passengers. NOTE:

Remember that everything put into or on the

trailer adds to the load on your vehicle. Also, additional factory-installed options or

dealer-installed options must be considered as part of the total load on your vehicle. Refer to the “Tire And Loading Information” placard for

the maximum combined weight of occupants and cargo for your vehicle.


Trailer Reverse Steering Control (TRSC) is a feature that will allow the driver to back up a trailer using a knob located on the center stack. The feature works by the user first hooking up a trailer and then performing the calibration maneuvers.

First bring the vehicle and trailer to a complete stop in a large open area, place the vehicle in PARK and push the TRSC button located above the knob in the center stack.

To calibrate a trailer, the driver must drive forward 100 ft (30 m). Then perform a 90 degree turn and return to a straight position for 65 ft (20 m). Perform another 90 degree turn, followed by another 65 ft (20 m) straight drive.

Upon completion this the feature will be available to activate.

The 90 degree turns could be in either the left or right direction.


    — Straight 100 ft (30 m)
    — Intersection turn with radius 50-65 ft (15-20 m) in either direction
    — Straight 50 ft (15 m)
    — Intersection turn with radius 50-65 ft (15-20 m) in either direction
    — Straight 50 ft (15 m)
    — Straight 65 ft (20 m), making sure to align ve- hicle/trailer to path center line
    — Feature is active, turn knob left or right to back the trailer up

Once calibrated the driver can shift to PARK, push the button on top of the TRSC knob and activate the feature. The knob is then turned either to the left or right depending on what direction the driver wants the trailer to go.


When steering the trailer with the knob, remove hands from the steering wheel.

There is also a holdover state where if during an active trailer steering maneuver, the driver shifts to NEURAL or DRIVE to straighten the trailer, the driver may shift back to REVERSE and not need to reactivate the feature. However the feature will cancel after 10 seconds or when the vehicle speed reaches 8 mph (12 km/h).

    “Drive forward to calibrate trailer” will display when a trailer is not calibrated and the vehicle is at standstill while the button is pushed.
    “Calibrating trailer” will display when the trailer is not calibrated and the vehicle is moving while the button is pushed.
    “To activate trailer steering shift to P” will display when the trailer is calibrated success- fully and the vehicle is not in PARK.
    “Trailer Steering ready, shift to reverse” will display when the button is pushed, trailer is calibrated and the vehicle is in PARK.
    “Trailer steering active” will display after the driver shifts to REVERSE and indicates the feature is active.
    “Trailer Steering Unavailable” will display if there is a fault in the system preventing acti- vation, the driver’s door is open, the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled, or the tailgate is open.

Other reasons the feature may cancel:

    The driver overrides steering by placing hands on the steering wheel.
    Trailer tracking is lost.
    If the trailer angle becomes excessive, the brakes apply bringing the vehicle to a stop and then applying the parking brake.
    Trailer steering button is pushed while active.
    Vehicle speed goes over 8 mph (12 km/h).
    Driver door is open and seat belt is unbuckled.
    Transmission shifted to PARK. Trailer Memory

The trailer steering system can remember up to

five trailers, so recalibration will not be necessary.

To store a trailer to memory, calibrate the trailer and then allow the vehicle to be off for a period of time. The next time the vehicle is started, place the vehicle in DRIVE and drive a short distance. The trailer system can then be activated.

Trailers may look different during day and night conditions. In such cases, the trailer may need to recalibrate.

Some trailers (such as boat trailers) will need to recalibrate while loaded and unloaded.

    The system may not detect a trailer in low light conditions. In sunny conditions, the performance may be degraded as shadows pass over the trailer.
    The driver is always responsible for safe oper- ation of truck and trailer.
    The driver is always in control of the truck as well as the trailer and is responsible for controlling the throttle and brakes.
    The system may not function when the camera lens is blocked, blurred (covered with water, snow, ice, dirt, etc) and will not work unless the tailgate is upright and fully latched.


To promote proper break-in of your new vehicle drivetrain components, the following guidelines are recommended.

Perform the maintenance listed in the Scheduled Servicing section for the proper maintenance intervals page 395. When towing a trailer, never exceed the GAWR or GCWR ratings.



    Do not attempt to tow a trailer while using a compact spare tire.
    Do not drive more than 50 mph (80 km/h) when towing while using a full size spare tire.

    Proper tire inflation pressures are essential to the safe and satisfactory operation of your vehicle.
    Check the trailer tires for proper tire inflation pressures before trailer usage.
    Check for signs of tire wear or visible tire damage before towing a trailer.
    Replacing tires with a higher load carrying capacity will not increase the vehicle's GVWR and GAWR limits.
    For further information page 443.
    Do not interconnect the hydraulic brake system or vacuum system of your vehicle with that of the trailer.
    An electronically actuated trailer brake controller is required when towing a trailer with electronically actuated brakes. When towing a trailer equipped with a hydraulic surge actuated brake system, an electronic brake controller is not required.
    Trailer brakes are recommended for trailers over 1,000 lbs (453 kg) and required for trailers in excess of 2,000 lbs (907 kg).

Your vehicle may have an Integrated Trailer Brake Module (ITBM) for Electric and Electric Over Hydraulic (EOH) trailer brakes.

This module has been designed and verified with electric trailer brakes and new EOH systems. Some previous EOH systems may not be compatible with ITBM.

1 — GAIN (-) Adjustment Button 2 — GAIN (+) Adjustment Button 3 — Manual Brake Control Lever

The user interface consists of the following: GAIN Adjustment Buttons (+/-)

Pushing these buttons will adjust the brake control power output to the trailer brakes in

0.5 increments. The GAIN setting can be increased to a maximum of 10 or decreased to a minimum of 0 (no trailer braking).

The GAIN setting is used to set the trailer brake control for the specific towing condition and should be changed as towing conditions change. Changes to towing conditions include trailer load, vehicle load, road conditions and weather.

Slide the manual brake control lever to the left to activate power to the trailer's electric brakes independent of the tow vehicle's brakes. If the manual brake control lever is activated while the brake is also applied, the greater of the two inputs determines the power sent to the trailer brakes.

The trailer and the vehicle’s stop lamps will come on when braking normally with the vehicle brake pedal. Only the trailer stop lamps will come on when the manual brake control lever is applied.

This light indicates the trailer electrical connection status.

If no electrical connection is detected after the 4

ignition is turned on, pushing the GAIN

adjustment button or sliding the manual brake control lever will display the GAIN setting for 10 seconds and the “Trailer Brake Status Indicator Light” will not be displayed.

If a fault is detected in the trailer wiring or the Integrated Trailer Brake Module (ITBM), the “Trailer Brake Status Indicator Light” will flash.

This should only be performed in a traffic free environment at speeds of approximately 20–25 mph (30–40 km/h).

    Make sure the trailer brakes are in good working condition, functioning normally and properly adjusted. See your trailer dealer if necessary.
    Hook up the trailer and make the electrical connections according to the trailer manufacturer's instructions.
    When a trailer is plugged in with electric or EOH brakes, the trailer connected message should appear in the instrument cluster display (if the connection is not recognized

by the ITBM, braking functions will not be available), the GAIN setting will illuminate and the correct type of trailer must be selected from the instrument cluster display options.

    Push the UP or DOWN button on the steering wheel until “TRAILER TOW” appears on the screen.
    Push the RIGHT arrow on the steering wheel to enter “TRAILER TOW”.
    Push the UP or DOWN buttons until the Trailer Brake Type appears on the screen.
    Push the RIGHT arrow and then push the UP or DOWN buttons until the proper Trailer Brake Type appears on the screen.

    In a traffic-free environment, tow the trailer on a dry, level surface at a speed of 20–25 mph (30–40 km/h) and squeeze the manual brake control lever completely.
    If the trailer wheels lockup (indicated by squealing tires), reduce the GAIN setting; if the trailer wheels turn freely, increase the GAIN setting.

Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the GAIN setting is at a point just below trailer wheel lockup. If towing a heavier trailer, trailer wheel lockup may not be attainable even with the maximum GAIN setting of 10.

Light Electric

Heavy Electric

Light EOH

Heavy EOH

Type of Trailer Brakes

Electric Trailer Brakes

Electric Trailer Brakes

Electric over Hydraulic Trailer Brakes

Electric over Hydraulic Trailer Brakes


*Under 10,000 lbs

*Above 10,000 lbs

*Under 10,000 lbs

*Above 10,000 lbs

*The suggested selection may change depending on the customer preferences for braking performance. Condition of the trailer brakes, driving and road state may also affect the selection.

The trailer brake control interacts with the instrument cluster display. Display messages, along with a single chime, will be displayed when a malfunction is determined in the trailer connection, trailer brake control, or on the trailer page 114.

    An aftermarket controller may be available for use with trailers with air or elec-

tric-over-hydraulic trailer brake systems. To determine the type of brakes on your trailer and the availability of controllers, check with your trailer manufacturer or dealer.

    Removal of the ITBM will cause errors and it may cause damage to the electrical system and electronic modules of the vehicle. See your authorized dealer if an aftermarket module is to be installed.

Whenever you pull a trailer, regardless of the trailer size, stoplights and turn signals on the trailer are required for motoring safety.

The Trailer Tow Package may include a four-pin and seven-pin wiring harness. Use a factory approved trailer harness and connector.

Do not cut or splice wiring into the vehicle’s wiring harness.

The electrical connections are all complete to the vehicle but you must connect the harness to a trailer connector. Refer to the following illustrations.

    Disconnect trailer wiring connector from the vehicle before launching a boat (or any other device plugged into vehicle’s electrical

connect) into water. 4

    Be sure to reconnect once clear from water area.

    — Ground
    — Park
    — Left Stop/Turn 4 — Right Stop/Turn

    — Battery
    — Backup Lamps 3 — Right Stop/Turn 4 — Electric Brakes 5 — Ground

6 — Left Stop/Turn 7 — Running Lamps

This feature will run the trailer lights through a sequence to check the trailer light function. It is available in the Instrument Cluster under the Trailer Tow menu page 118.

When activated the feature will enable all of the exterior lights sequentially for up to two minutes for time to walk around and verify functionality.

The following exterior lights will remain on for the entirety of the sequence:

    Park/Running Lamps
    Side Marker Lamps (if equipped)
    License Lamp
    Signature Lamp (if equipped)
    Low Beams
    Fog Lamps (if equipped)
    Daytime Running Lamps

During this time the following lights will sequence, each activating for three seconds:

    Brake and CHMSL (third brake light)
    Left turn signal
    Right turn signal
    Reverse Lamps
    High Beam

This light check sequence will continue for a total of two minutes.

The sequence will only activate if the following conditions are met:

    Vehicle is equipped with the Trailer Tow Package
    Vehicle is in PARK
    Vehicle is not in motion
    Ignition in ACC or RUN
    Remote start is inactive
    Brakes are not applied
    Left turn signal is not applied
    Right turn signal not applied
    Hazard switch is not applied

The sequence will cancel if any of the following conditions occur:

    Brakes are applied
    Vehicle is shifted from PARK
    Vehicle is no longer stationary
    Left turn signal activated from stalk
    Right turn signal is activated from stalk
    Hazard switch is activated
    Any button on the key fob is pushed
    Ignition button is pushed
    High Beam stalk position is changed
    Sequence is canceled in the instrument cluster


Before towing, practice turning, stopping, and backing up the trailer in an area located away from heavy traffic.

The DRIVE range can be selected when towing. The transmission controls include a drive strategy to avoid frequent shifting when towing. However, if frequent shifting does occur while in DRIVE, select TOW/HAUL mode or select a lower gear range (using the Electronic Range Select (ERS) shift control).

Using TOW/HAUL mode or selecting a lower gear range (using the ERS shift control) while operating the vehicle under heavy loading conditions will improve performance and

extend transmission life by reducing excessive shifting and heat build up. This action will also provide better engine braking.

To reduce potential for automatic transmission overheating, activate TOW/HAUL mode when driving in hilly areas, or select a lower gear range (using the (ERS) shift control) on more severe grades.

    Do not use on hilly terrain or with heavy loads.
    When using the Cruise Control, if you experi- ence speed drops greater than 10 mph

(16 km/h), disengage until you can get back to cruising speed.

    Use Cruise Control in flat terrain and with light loads to maximize fuel efficiency.

To aid in attaching/detaching the trailer from the vehicle, the air suspension system can be used page 165.

The vehicle must remain in the engine running position while attaching a trailer for proper leveling of the air suspension system.

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