How Does The Tow/Haul Button Work? [And When To Press It?]

Have you noticed the tow/haul button on the dashboard when you are driving your truck? It is sometimes next to the hazard lights button. Have you ever wondered why that button is there and what it can do? Did you ask your dealer what it did when you bought your SUV or truck? If you are not too sure, don’t worry, we shall help you understand why that button is present in your vehicle and how you can use it.

What Is A Tow/Haul Button?

The Tow/Haul button does not come in every car or truck. It comes in certain models only. If the truck or the SUV is an automatic transmission, the tow/haul provision helps control the vehicle’s shifting cycle. This is typically used when the vehicle has to tow or haul a trailer behind it.

When Do You Use The Tow/Haul Option?

When the truck tows or hauls a trailer, even an empty one behind it, it is dragging more weight than the engine was designed to. The engine exerts more pressure and does more RPM to manage the extra load.

While some of the newer models are equipped with powerful engines to handle the extra weight, the provision enables you to pull in more help if you feel your vehicle needs it.

Follow the below-provided steps:

  • When you are hauling very heavy cargo that is close to your vehicle’s pulling capabilities, and your truck needs some extra help
  • When you are towing heavy cargo up the hill or on steep terrain
  • When you are towing another heavy vehicle up a slop or for some distance

If you have an automatic transmission truck, the engine could be one of the newer ones with enough capability to haul heavyweights. However, sometimes, you might feel your vehicle is struggling with the load and may need some extra reinforcements, and that is exactly what pushing the tow/ haul button would do.

How Do You Use The Tow/Haul Button

So, how do you use this button? Whenever you need to tow something or only when you are hauling very heavy cargo, do you feel your truck can’t manage on its own?

It depends on your manufacturer. Companies design their trucks very differently from one another. Sometimes, even the same vehicle can have different instructions from model to model, meaning the current year’s version of the truck may have different instructions from what the previous year’s model had.

So always check with your manufacturer about how and when you should use this button. If they ask you to use it every time you pull more weight than your truck, then ensure you follow the instructions. Failing to do so might cause your engine to strain too much and result in damages the manufacturer won’t cover in the warranty.

Some manufacturers ask you to push that button only when you feel your engine is struggling to haul the weight. This could be a more advanced engine with an auto transmission designed to drag that extra weight. Even in such trucks, when you haul the weight on a slope, the drag will be more, and the engine will require extra help.

Pull out your owner’s manual and flip through the pages. You will find clear instructions about the tow/haul button.

What Does This Magical Button Do Exactly?

Now, coming to the main part of the discussion, what exactly does the tow/haul button do? How can one small button make so much difference in the capabilities of such a big truck?

First, you need to understand this provision is available only in tow trucks, pick-up trucks, and SUVs with “automatic transmission.” If you are driving a vehicle with a manual transmission, you won’t have this provision as it is not needed.

When you push that tow/haul button:

  • The indicators will light up to warn the other vehicles on the road that your truck is towing weight and won’t be moving as fast or navigating as quickly as it should
  • The tow/haul mode will be activated in your vehicle.
  • The vehicle will shift to a lower gear, which will exert more power and thus pull the weight easily.

Why Does The Tow/Haul Button Shift The Vehicle To Lower Gear?

In automatic transmissions, you do not have control over the gears. The vehicle will automatically shift gears based on your speed and terrain. When you are in a higher gear, the vehicle runs more smoothly and exerts lesser power, meaning lesser torque.

If you have to haul some weight when the power exertion is less, the engine may not be able to pull it. So, by pushing that button, you make your vehicle shift to a lower gear; exert more power and torque to pull the extra weight.

Irrespective of any kind of truck the gear controls are always in your hands. So, if you feel your vehicle is struggling up the hill or hauling that trailer, you can always shift to the 1st or 2nd gear and make your vehicle exert more power. When there is more power and torque, your truck can pull more weight without causing any damage to the mechanism.

What To Expect

When you push that tow/haul button, you can feel the shift under you. If you are a regular driver and are used to driving that truck, you can feel the shift. You will feel the extra power exerted by your truck to drag the extra weight.

The more power your engine exerts, the more fuel it consumes. So, when you are dragging more weight in a lower gear, your fuel consumption will increase. Only by burning this extra fuel does your truck get the energy to haul more weight, whether on a flat surface or a slope.


The Tow/haul button is an additional feature to help your truck exert more and do its best to drag weight. Like how you would need some extra help at times, your car would do. Providing this timely help will preserve your engine and won’t let it spoil easily.

Liam Dare

As CEO of, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.