4 Types of Tow Trucks and Their Applications

Here’s something that might be a surprising fact: Not all tow trucks are alike. There are actually different types of tow trucks, each with different applications. Knowing which type would best meet the needs of your towing or repo business plays a big role in maximizing productivity and profits while minimizing operating and maintenance costs. Obviously, choosing the right tow truck is a big deal, so let’s take a look at the four main types of tow trucks and what they can do for you.

1. Flatbed Tow Truck

One of the most common types of tow truck, a flatbed is exactly as it sounds: it features a long bed with a flat top. The bed moves up and down hydraulically which makes it easy to drive or pull a car up its ramp. All four tires sit on the bed so the car is secure and completely off the ground, which lowers any risk of damage en route.

Also called rollbacks or slides because of their extended back ends, this type of tow truck is great for offering roadside assistance, and has the ability to safely transport a wide variety of vehicles, including fairly heavy-duty loads. 

2. Hook and Chain Tow Truck

When people think of tow trucks, this is typically the variety. Hook and chain tow trucks have been around for a long time and are actually considered the original in the business. They can tow just about anything using a large hook to secure the car’s axle or bumper and chains to wrap the car frame. A boom then lifts the front end of the car, leaving the two back wheels on the ground. 

While this was once the go-to type of tow truck, over time it has become evident that hook and chain tow trucks put a lot of pressure on the towing vehicle and often incur damage to the car being towed. Not only can the hook cause damage to the bumper or axle, but the chains can scrape and scratch the car’s paint, and if used on a 4×4 or all-wheel drive vehicle, it can damage the drivetrain as well. 

As a result, this forerunner of the industry is now typically delegated to towing already wrecked cars to the junkyard, since any further damage to the car at that point won’t matter.   

3. Integrated Tow Truck

If you’ve got some major towing to do, this is your best bet! Integrated tow trucks sport extra axles for added strength and stability and an arm firmly embedded in the center of the truck, designed specifically to do some serious heavy lifting. If you regularly need to move big rigs, motor homes, or buses, this type of tow truck has the power to get the job done. In fact, no job is too big for an integrated tow truck — it can handle loads even larger than itself.

4. Wheel Lift Tow Truck

This type of tow truck uses a similar method as the hook and chain kind but without the high-risk of damage. Wheel lift tow trucks use what’s called a yoke that is placed under the front or rear tires of the car. The front or rear of the car is then hydraulically lifted off the ground, and the tow truck driver is ready to roll. 

Though these don’t offer as much protection from damage as a flatbed, compared to other wreckers, they are less expensive and ideal for the light-duty towing of small to midsize cars. Because they’re so easy and quick to use, wheel lift tow trucks are popular with those in the repo business who want to get in and out and on to the next as quickly as possible. 

If you want a reliable option that keeps drivers on the road so they can pick up the greatest amount of cars in the least amount of time, a wheel lift tow truck is the way to go! 

Think this is the right type of tow truck for you and your business needs? Talk to the Minute Man team! Our Minute Man XD Slide-in Wheel Lift is exceptionally durable and simple to use. It’s perfect for a variety of applications, including stealthy towing and even roadside assistance. Give us a call at 877-593-6959 to learn more. 

Legal Disclaimer: The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information on the website as a basis for making business, legal or other decisions.


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