6 Types of Tow Trucks: Usage & Best Practice

In recovering and moving vehicles, tow trucks are a vital tool. Tow trucks come to the rescue, ensuring that stranded or damaged automobiles are removed safely and effectively, whether it be a breakdown on the side of the road or a vehicle involved in an accident.

Tow vehicles are not all made equal, either. Tow trucks come in various varieties, each built to handle particular scenarios and car kinds. Both towing industry specialists and regular motorists needing help must know the many types of tow vehicles. In this thorough study, we dig into the varied world of tow trucks, investigating their distinctive qualities, functions, and uses.

Let’s explore the exciting variety of tow trucks that keep our roads free and automobiles moving, from the traditional hook-and-chain tow trucks to the cutting-edge flatbeds and wheel lifts.

1. Trucks with Hooks and Chains

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Tow trucks with hooks and chains are used by businesses to move abandoned autos. These vehicles have a large hook and chain fastened to the back of them. Operators can attach the hook to a cargo item or a vehicle that has to be towed and pull it behind the truck as it travels down the road. When a user fastens the hook and chain to a car, it raises one side, hanging it in the air while leaving the wheels on the other side on the ground.

These kinds of tow trucks essentially drag the car behind them as they bring it to its destination. This mode of transportation puts the bumper and other components of the automobile in danger, which can result in scratches and more severe damage. Additionally, since the dragging tends to damage these vehicles’ drivetrains, these tow trucks are incompatible with four-wheel or all-wheel drives.

Companies often only use hook-and-chain tow trucks for damaged autos and other goods that don’t require careful handling due to the risk of damage during the towing procedure. These tow truck models used to be among the most common ones. They are still helpful today for particular purposes like hauling autos to junkyards.

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2. Integrative Tow Trucks

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One of the primary categories of heavy-duty tow vehicles is integrated tow trucks. These trucks are experts in helping to retrieve and haul large, heavy vehicles like buses and rigs. These tow trucks are often used to move automobiles for repossession or illegal parking since they can quickly connect to vehicles.

A wheel lift and boom are typically combined into a single element on an integrated tow truck. They also include an additional axle since they are made to tow huge and heavy automobiles. By strengthening and stabilizing the tow truck, the second axle can endure the severe strain exerted on it during transit. Integrated tow trucks mount their arms into the vehicle’s core for stability.

Operators don’t need to get out of the truck while picking up a car since they can manage the wheel lift system and boom from their cab. This option to remain within the cab is handy when an operator wants to move quickly to seize a vehicle.

3. Oversized Towing

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Other kinds of oversized towing trucks can be found in addition to integrated tow trucks. Giant-scale things like giant boats or vehicles can be transported and towed by these specialist trucks. They may not seem like traditional tow trucks, but they have the same function: moving heavy goods down the road.

Large automobiles or heavy construction equipment can be transported with them, even if not frequently encountered in the fleets of minor towing businesses.

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4. Rollback or Flatbed Tow Truck

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Tow trucks with flatbeds or rollbacks have an empty bed with a flat top on the back that can transport automobiles on top of it. When installing a car on their bed, these tow trucks use hydraulics to shift the flatbed up or down vertically.

When a car is ready to be picked up, the operator places their flatbed on the ground and drives it on top of it. The driver will use chains and a winch to hoist the car onto the truck if it is inoperable and unable to be driven. The tow truck’s robust hydraulic mechanism raises the bed and the car into a safe position behind the cab once placed on the bed.

You’ll frequently see flatbed trucks on the road hauling automobiles since they’re simple to operate. Recovery towing firms typically use them to carry cars in accidents or break down on the road.

The capacity of flatbed trucks to move vehicles in a protected manner has contributed to their widespread popularity. You don’t drag the car on the ground or apply any potentially hazardous pressure to pull automobiles while using this tow truck. Instead, the flatbed handles everything, keeping the vehicle safe from dangerous elements while being transported.

Related: Top 7 Trucks For Towing Fifth Wheels Effectively 2023

5. Wheel Lift Tow Trucks

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A wheel lift tow truck is an improved version of the hook and chain truck that raises a vehicle’s front or rear while leaving the wheels on the opposite side of the road. The automobile is then dragged behind the tow truck as it travels to its destination. These tow trucks are typically used to transport broken-down cars to repair facilities.

A wheel lift tow truck secures the car using a metal yoke, unlike hook and chain tow trucks that use chains. The operator places a vehicle’s front or rear wheels beneath the metal yoke. The car is then partially raised in the air behind the tow truck using a pneumatic hoist or hydraulic lift. The driver may then take the tow truck and the car to the desired location after positioning the vehicle in this manner.

These tow trucks don’t exert as much stress on the car since they employ metal yokes rather than chains. Consequently, unlike hook-and-chain trucks, they don’t harm the automobile, and operators don’t have to worry about denting a car’s bumper. Wheel lift tow trucks are suitable for automobiles that need to be repaired instead of those that go to a junkyard because of the absence of damage.

6. Boom Truck

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A truck with a hydraulic arm is called a boom truck. A boom truck’s hydraulic arm is referred to as the boom. The automobiles that need to be towed will be grabbed by this boom, which extends past the end of the towing truck. The boom truck will resemble a little crane. A boom truck will initially reach a truck you could see performing electrical work rather than a tow truck.

However, that boom has several uses, one of which is to pull a car. Regarding towing, the truck’s boom remains in a constant position, making it an exceptionally sturdy alternative. For many years, a boom truck would pull a car like a hook-and-chain tow truck would. They would first wrap a hook and chains around the vehicle’s front bumper to secure the automobile to the boom.

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Purposes of Tow Truck

1. Unsuitably Parked Cars

If you’ve ever parked somewhere you shouldn’t have, you may have previously dealt with a tow truck. It is common knowledge that improperly parked automobiles are towable, and signs usually alert you of this potential.

Most of the time, an integrated truck will be used to tow the car because they are frequently the most adaptable, although different businesses may employ other truck types. Of course, the vehicle also has an impact.

2. Heavy-Duty Jobs

All towing truck types include heavy-duty variants, and certain towing vehicles are only used for heavy-duty tasks. An integrated tow truck is a typical size and can handle parked automobiles and trucks. However, semi-trucks and school buses must occasionally be hauled, which may necessitate a unique vehicle. Tow trucks may be included in a company’s extensive fleet of cars, mainly if it includes buses and other vehicles.

3. Car Collisions and Breakdowns

You have probably dealt with a tow truck before if you’ve ever been in an accident or had a breakdown on the side of the road. Vehicles that can’t be driven or have significant damage must be hauled from the scene and put in a secure area.

The tow truck dispatched to retrieve wrecked or disabled automobiles will vary depending on the kind of vehicle or accident. Your towing firm could employ an integrated truck or a wheel-lift truck, for instance, if your car is still on the road and can still be wheeled away. But if your vehicle is stuck in a ditch, a boom truck could be required to hoist it. Flatbed tow trucks are frequently employed in both scenarios to tow away cars.

The tow trucks often transport your car to a garage, house, or a predetermined place. For this reason, many repair companies also provide roadside assistance and towing services.

4. Transportation

Some tow trucks are merely required to move a car, machine, or machinery from one location to another. The type of vehicle will determine the size of the tow trucks needed for these tasks. To move substantial machinery and materials to specific areas, tow trucks are employed.

5. Industry-Specific Uses

Tow trucks are required everywhere, and certain companies either utilize them regularly or keep them on hand at all times. The following regions are all frequented by tow trucks.

Private Use

Individuals employ most towing businesses to help them get back on their feet following an incident, a breakdown, or another circumstance.

Local law enforcement

Some police agencies have their towing vehicles, while others hire other businesses to do the work.

Government Agencies

Other agencies have their towing vehicles. For instance, departments of public works, transit agencies, and fire departments may each maintain a fleet of towing trucks.

Military Use

The military may also have tow trucks that aid in the quickest possible recovery of stalled vehicles.

Packaging Business

Since they operate a fleet of vehicles, packaging businesses may also own towing trucks.


What type of tow truck is most typical?

Currently, flatbed tow trucks are the most popular type of tow truck. On the other hand, you’ll also come across many wheel lift tow trucks.

What distinguishes a tow truck from a wrecker?

A wrecker may be unable to tow a car, but a tow truck is explicitly made to pull or transfer a vehicle. A wrecked truck can tow automobiles in addition to recovering them. A wrecker cannot be a tow truck.

What is the name of giant tow trucks?

Oversized and integrated tow trucks are used to describe large tow vehicles. The giant trucks may be transported by these two specialized vehicles.

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Tow trucks are essential for recovering and transporting autos. Hook-and-chain, integrated, significant, flatbed, wheel lift, and boom trucks are some of the several varieties available. Each category manages various circumstances and serves specific needs.

Tow trucks are vital for retrieving automobiles from accidents or breakdowns, conducting heavy-duty tasks, towing poorly parked autos, and transferring machinery or vehicles. The most prevalent types of tow trucks are wheel lifts and flatbed models. In general, tow trucks are crucial equipment for ensuring the efficient and secure removal of cars.

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