The Three Main Types Of Tow Trucks

6 February 2015
 Categories: Automotive, Blog


Tow trucks are used to move vehicles that have broken down or are stuck in areas that they cannot get out of themselves. There are three main types of tow trucks that are used by companies like Big Valley Towing, all of which provide the same service in a different manner, using different tools. Understanding the differences between these three types of tow trucks can help you call in the right tow truck if your vehicle becomes stuck.

Chain Tow Trucks

The most common type of tow truck, and what most people tend to think of when they think about a tow truck, is a chain tow truck that has a chain and winch on the back, which is wrapped around the frame or the axle of the vehicle being towed. These types of tow trucks are gradually being replaced, and are not as common as they once were, because they can damage the car being towed. If the condition of the car being towed is not an issue, such as after a car wreck or in a junk yard, a chain tow truck may be used.

Wheel Lift Tow Trucks

Commonly used for roadside assistance and for moving a vehicle that is no longer operable, wheel lift tow trucks place a metal yoke between the front tires of the car, and lift it upwards so that the two rear wheels are still on the road, while the rest of the car sits on the back of the tow truck. This allows the tow truck to transport the towed car virtually anywhere, and does not damage the body or the frame of the car as chain tow trucks could sometimes do. 

Flatbed Tow Trucks

Flatbed tow trucks have a flatbed that can be lowered into a ramp, with hydraulic lifts and chains that can lift the vehicle up onto the bed itself. Flatbeds are the least common type of tow truck, because they are more difficult to use and cost more money to hire, but they provide the safest way to transport vehicles.

They place no stress on the towed vehicle, as it is not dragged behind the tow truck, and do no damage to the frame or body, as besides straps to keep it in place, nothing is touching the car itself. Flatbed tow trucks are commonly used to transport single vehicles extremely long distances. The main disadvantage of flatbed tow trucks is their size, which can makes them less than viable for operating in tight spaces.