Understand the difference between payload and towing capacity before you buy a truck. These two often misunderstood terms determine how much cargo or people a pickup can carry and tow behind it.
Towing trucks are a key part of any fleet and do essential work keeping roads clear and safe. They can also be used to transport vehicles to repair shops and junkyards.
What is a tow truck?
When it comes to towing, there are a variety of factors to consider. The location of the vehicle, its make and model and condition are the most important aspects. However, other minor aspects include the gear type, towing distance and more. As a result, there are a variety of different tow truck styles and sizes available for use, all designed for specific towing purposes.
Some common tow trucks are flatbeds, wheel lift tow trucks and integrated tow trucks. These trucks are usually used to haul a variety of vehicles, such as cars and small commercial vehicles. Additionally, they can be used to repossess or remove abandoned vehicles from the road.
The flatbed tow truck, also known as a rollback or slide, is a truck that features a long hydraulic flatbed on which vehicles can sit. This flatbed moves up and down, allowing the operator to easily drive or pull a vehicle onto it. The flatbed can also be lowered so that all four tires are off the ground, which reduces the risk of damage during transportation.
These tow trucks are often used for light-duty towing jobs, such as removing abandoned vehicles or recovering cars that have been involved in relatively minor accidents. They can also be used to transport disabled vehicles to repair shops. In addition, these tow trucks can be used to haul a variety of vehicles, including buses and commercial trucks.
A wheel lift tow truck, on the other hand, is a tow truck that uses a hydraulic lift to raise the front or rear of a vehicle, leaving its two driven wheels on the ground. This method of towing is not as safe as flatbed towing and can cause damage to the car being towed. Moreover, it is not suitable for four-wheel or all-wheel drives, as it can cause them to lose traction and be damaged.
Finally, an integrated tow truck is a tow truck that has its own heavy-duty towing equipment built into its body. This makes it easier for operators to carry out heavy-duty towing tasks, such as removing buses and commercial vehicles from the road.
How does a tow truck work?
In many cases, a tow truck is called in to transport vehicles that are no longer capable of traveling under their own power from one location to another. From a distance, it may seem like the tow truck driver simply makes a few connections and the vehicle is ready to be hauled away, but there’s much more that goes into this task than meets the eye.
The tow truck drivers who operate these trucks use different methods to secure cars to their beds. The most common is the flatbed tow truck, also known as a rollback tow truck. This type of truck features a flat-topped empty bed that can be moved up and down with the help of hydraulics. When it’s time to mount a car onto the flatbed, the tow truck driver angles the bed down so that all four wheels rest on it. This method of mounting a car on the tow truck doesn’t require much work from the driver and significantly reduces the risk that the vehicle might suffer any damage en route to its destination.
Other tow trucks employ a hook and chain method that uses heavy chains to grab one side of the vehicle, hanging it in the air while leaving only two wheels on the ground. This can be dangerous for the vehicle being towed, so it’s typically only used on damaged vehicles or for towing vehicles from a scene of an accident.
A third option involves using metal yokes that fit under a car’s front or rear wheels. These yokes can then be lifted with hydraulics to partially lift the car off the ground. This can be more effective than a hook and chain tow truck for moving a disabled vehicle from one location to another, but it does still leave the car susceptible to damage.
A more recent development is the wheel-lift tow truck, which doesn’t cause any stress to the vehicle being towed. This type of tow truck utilizes a set of brackets that are fitted in front and behind the drive wheels of a car, with each one being secured in place by pins. Then, when the tow truck driver operates a hydraulic mechanism, the brackets are closed around the car’s tires, cradling them in and securing them to the tow truck.
What are the different types of tow trucks?
There are many different types of tow trucks out there, each with its own unique capabilities. Depending on the type of work you do, it may be useful to know which one to use. For example, if you have to move a vehicle that is disabled in a parking lot or on the side of the road, a flatbed tow truck is the best option. These are typically built on medium or heavy-duty trucks and feature a long bed at the back that can be driven or pulled hydraulically to allow the car to be loaded onto it easily.
Alternatively, a boom or wheel lift tow truck can be used for more involved recoveries. These tow trucks can be used for both recovery and towing, and they are typically equipped with a crane that allows the driver to lift the vehicle up and down. This type of tow truck is great for vehicles that are disabled or in need of a serious repair.
Another common type of tow truck is an integrated tow truck, which is used for repossession or illegally parked vehicles. These tow trucks can be used for recovery or towing, and they are typically equipped with both a boom and a wheel lift. They also have additional axles for extra strength and arms that are embedded in the truck’s core to add even more stability.
Lastly, there is the hook and chain tow truck, which is a type of towing truck that uses a metal hook to grab the front of a vehicle and drag it behind it. This towing method is not very efficient and can result in damage to the vehicle being towed. This is why these tow trucks are often only used for junked or destroyed cars. However, they are still useful for certain purposes, such as moving broken down vehicles in a junkyard.
How do I know if I need a tow truck?
If your vehicle is in the middle of the road or stuck in a ditch, it’s likely time to call for a tow truck. A tow truck driver can use specialized equipment to safely pull the car out of trouble without damaging it or the surroundings.
However, you should first try to move your car to a safer location if possible. This could mean pulling over on a side street or parking lot and using extreme caution to get the car out of traffic’s way. You can also put on your hazards and erect any flares or triangles you have to warn other drivers.
It’s important to remember that the towed vehicle will likely be much bigger and heavier than your own. This means that it requires more power and braking capacity to both motivate and stop, as well as to maneuver and turn the vehicle. In addition, if the tow truck is required to travel a long distance, it will likely cost more than a short tow within a city or town.
Finally, be sure to ask the tow truck driver if they accept credit cards. In many places, tow truck drivers aren’t allowed to make you pay in cash and a credit card will help protect you from scams. It’s also a good idea to keep any paperwork the driver provides you with, as you may need it to file an insurance claim if your policy covers towing costs.
Whether it’s a flat tire, blown head gasket or dead battery, there are times when you’ll need to call for a tow truck. Just be sure to take precautions while waiting for one to arrive, such as staying in your car unless it’s unsafe to do so (e.g. if the vehicle is leaking fuel or is smoldering).
Additionally, be sure to stay safe and follow all applicable traffic laws. If you’re stranded on the side of the road, be sure to follow the “Slow Down, Move Over” law and give towing services plenty of room. Also, never try to drive your vehicle out of its predicament on your own — this can only lead to more damage and danger for yourself and other drivers on the roadways.