With the unexpected passing of Pat Goss recently, MotorWeek has lost not just a contributor, but a great friend, a mentor and an irreplaceable pillar of our series. Now out of respect, we will soon be retiring the Goss’ Garage feature, but Pat left us with a few remaining unaired segments, and we know he would want to share them with you. So here he is, Pat Goss, with some advice for hitching up your wagon the right way.

PAT GOSS: If you’re shopping for a new vehicle and you plan on towing with that vehicle, I would suggest that you make sure to find out if that vehicle, number one, is capable of towing what you need to tow, and number two, if there’s a factory towing package that’s available for it.

You see, factory towing packages, number one, match the hitch to the towing capacity of the vehicle. So, you buy the hitch, you buy the whole thing all together, and what you might get, is different programming for the transmission, you may get a different alternator, because trailer brakes and so on require more electrical energy. You may get a bigger battery, you may get a bigger radiator, a bigger cooling fan. All of these things could be part of a towing package. The beauty of that is, that everything is set up to work together, and that you don’t pay as much money for it. You see, you’re not buying another battery, you’re only exchanging one battery for another that’s a little bit bigger, and so on with all these different things.

But suppose you’re buying a used vehicle, and it does not have a towing package. Well, you can buy a hitch yourself, no problem there.  Make sure that when you get the hitch, that you follow the directions to the letter. Now, if it tells you, ‘you need a torque wrench’, you need a torque wrench. Big thing is that these attach to the frame, and you’re probably going to have bolts that go up inside the frame, or nuts that have special adapters for you to install them in the frame.

And by the way, you’ll probably have to cut the valance underneath the bumper so that the hitch will fit out through it. But follow the directions, do everything the way it’s supposed to be done, and you’ll have a safe tow vehicle.