wheel lifts

What Is A Wheel Lift?

A wheel lift is a device that attaches to the rear of a tow truck and is used to lift and tow another vehicle by its wheels. If you’ve ever seen a car being lifted by its wheels or being towed standing on an angle, you’ve likely seen a tow truck with a wheel lift. They have all kinds of uses. It just depends on the type of towing job you’re doing. In this article, we’re going to cover all of the wheel lift basics, from what it is, to what it can do, and why it’s a great investment for anyone in need of a light-duty towing solution.

What Is A Wheel Lift?

A wheel lift is a hydraulic or mechanical boom with crossbars at one end. The wheel lift attaches to a tow truck and the crossbars slip under the front or rear wheels of a car to lift it up. A wheel lift raises either the front or rear wheels of the vehicle and the other two wheels stay on the ground.

A wheel lift is usually used to tow small vehicles, lightweight vehicles, and two-wheel drive cars over a short distance. This can be especially useful when a car is in a tight space or a low parking structure. A truck with a wheel lift can fit in smaller spaces than a regular flatbed tow truck.

Ways To Use A Wheel Lift

There are lots of different uses for a wheel lift. It can be used in many circumstances. It really just depends on what you’re looking to do. A few common ways to use a wheel lift include:

Vehicle Repossession

Vehicle repossession or repo service is one of the most common uses for a wheel lift. With a wheel lift, you can easily get in, pick up the vehicle, and get out and on to the next job as quickly as possible. 

Especially in the repo industry, you don’t have the time (or the space) to be put a car on a flatbed tow truck. The wheel lift is essential. 

Roadside Service

Roadside service is another place where a wheel lift comes in handy for light-duty towing. You can easily get to wherever the crash is or wherever someone needs help and not have to worry about small roads or small spaces on the side of the road.

A tow truck with a wheel lift can also save on fuel costs. Since these trucks are typically much smaller than a flatbed or wrecker, you don’t burn through fuel as quickly. That can save quite a bit of money.

But it won’t just save money, it can save time as well. A tow truck with a wheel lift can tow a car that’s been in a crash much more efficiently than a larger truck. 

Municipal Towing & Impounding

Local government and municipal organizations that are responsible for impounding vehicles also benefit from a wheel lift. They are easier to operate and much cheaper than a flatbed tow truck so they are preferred for this type of work. 

For a municipal government that doesn’t have a big budget, this can be the perfect piece of equipment to get the job done and not cost them an arm and a leg.

Impounding lots are also notoriously tight on space and a light-duty tow truck with a wheel lift can make getting into those tight spaces much easier.

Benefits of A Wheel Lift Vs A Full Tow Truck

There are quite a few differences between a wheel lift tow truck and a full tow truck. While they do relatively the same job, one can be better than the other depending on the job you’re doing and the car you’re towing.

More Affordable Cost

Wheel lift tow trucks are usually cheaper to buy and more cost-effective to use than full tow trucks. Since they are significantly smaller, they usually cost less and with less weight, the amount of fuel needed is much lower when compared to a full tow truck or even a heavy-duty wrecker.

Easy To Maneuver

Additionally, as mentioned above, since wheel lift tow trucks are smaller, they can maneuver more easily in tight spaces whether that be a parking lot, an auto lot, a service garage, or on a busy street.

A full tow truck or heavy-duty wrecker is significantly larger and will need much more room, not to mention be more difficult to move around. This can waste a lot of time.

Minimize Damage

A wheel lift can easily slide under the vehicle and be secured. This allows the weight of the vehicle to be supported by the drive tires. This minimizes the damage done to the frame and the bumper of the car. 

If the car has been in a crash, you never want to add to that damage. And if a car is in perfect condition, you don’t want to damage it with a tow truck. That could be very costly.

Understanding the Minute Man Wheel Lift

The Minute Man Wheel Lift is a slide-in wheel lift that’s designed specifically for light-duty towing. It includes a hydraulic-powered auto-load head and in-cab controls to make it a breeze to use and make the work of towing a small or midsize car as quick as possible. 

But besides being easy to use, the Minute Man Wheel Lift has quite a few other benefits including:

  • Works on various vehicles: can be installed on many different light-duty trucks and can be re-installed on another truck if one breaks down.
  • Inexpensive: the cost of a heavy-duty wrecker or a flatbed tow truck is much higher than a light-duty Minute Man wheel lift. On top of that, those tow trucks use more fuel and have more maintenance costs.
  • Quieter: Since the Minute Man wheel lift attaches to a more modestly sized truck, it’s much quieter than a loud, diesel wrecker or a large flatbed tow truck. This makes it perfect for repo or impounding services. Your employees can get in and out with the car and not have to worry about sacrificing their safety.

The bottom line? Wheel lifts make towing jobs quick and simple. And at Minute Man, we manufacture one that does it the best: the Minute Man XD Wheel Lift. Contact our team to learn more about its features and pricing, and how it could benefit your towing application.

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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