TUNE FOR TOWING
QUESTION: My truck is a four-wheel-drive ’15 Ram 2500. Can the ECM be reprogrammed with the same settings as the 3500 for more towing capacity, since they have the same 6.7L Cummins engine and 68RFE automatic transmission? I asked my local Ram dealer about doing just that, and they didn’t have an answer. ANSWER: Nothing you do to a pickup will increase its hauling or towing capacities, because they are set in stone by the manufacturer— like the VIN. You can add a programmer, helper springs, bigger sway bars and shocks, and a huskier hitch or even change axle ratios. It may help improve handling and power, but the bottom line from a legal (read “liability”) standpoint is the manufacturer’s rating remains unchanged for that engine, transmission, and axle ratio as it came from the factory. Towing above that limit places all liability on the driver of the vehicle should it be involved in an accident. In addition, if it is still under warranty, whatever components have been changed/modified will be voided. Towing “heavy” can also result in fines if a weigh master or DOT enforcement officer wants to be a stickler on the topic. The reason the vehicle manufacturers place cargo/ towing limits on their vehicles is because they have determined—through extensive on-road and track testing in accordance With meeting a regime of requirements in SAE standard J2807—that’s the maximum safe level that particular truck’s cooling, braking, steering, suspension, axles, and drivetrain can handle. Part of the J2807 testing includes accident avoidance maneuvers.
Furthermore, reprogramming the ECU will have little effect on towing capacity in the first place, as your truck’s engine and transmission are already tuned the same as they would be in an equivalent Ram 3500.
Even though Ram 2500/3500HDs may share the same running gear, they have different trailer-towing limits based on meeting SAE J2807 testing requirements. Contrary to some beliefs, flashing a 2500’s ECM with the same calibration as a Ram 3500 or installing heavier springs, hitch, brakes, and other components, will not change the factory tow ratings for that make or model truck.