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What are the different kinds of tow trucks?

Have you ever wondered what the different tow truck types are?

What are the different tow truck types
In the towing service industry, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all tow truck. A towing company has to have a wide range of vehicles on hand. Every one of them must be properly maintained.

That means more than the truck itself. Lift equipment, winches, spare tires, fluids, and parts, all must be reliable. Each tow truck class is designed to tow a different vehicle type.

Some are made for maneuverability, others for lifting, and many for transport. Just some of the most common truck types you’ll see on the road include:

A light-duty tow-truck is nimble and small.

Light-Duty Tow TrucksTruck Information
Vehicle ClassThese are Class A vehicles. They include conventional and roll back wreckers.
Typical Truck WeightA light duty truck must have a minimum GWR of 5 tons.
Towing Weight CapcityThese vehicles are capable of towing between 7,000 and 11,000 lbs.
Trucks Typically TowSmall trailers, Motorcycles, Pickup trucks, Passenger cars
Common FeaturesWinch and Cable systems, wheel lifts, chains, fuel, water, coolant

When are light duty trucks deployed?

We rely on these vehicles for the majority of incidents. They can tow all passenger vehicles as well as motorcycles and smaller trucks. One of the biggest benefits is their size. Light-duty tow trucks are capable of maneuvering in tight spaces like parking garages and small lots. If a vehicle is stuck in a difficult to reach a place that is paved and flat, these vehicles are ideal for recovery.

Medium duty wreckers are perfect for in-between jobs.

Medium-Duty Tow TrucksTruck Information
Vehicle ClassThese are Class B vehicles. They include various flatbeds, lowboys, and more.
Typical Truck WeightA medium duty truck must have a minimum GWR of 11 tons.
Towing Weight CapcityThese vehicles are capable of towing between 7,000 and 17,000 lbs.
Trucks Typically TowCargo containers, Mack trucks, Multiple vehicles, Machinery, Farm equipment
Required Features12-ton capacity boom lift, 5-ton winches, wheel lifts

When are medium duty trucks deployed?

This vehicle class is used for heavier duty jobs. They are suitable for certain recovery operations, and well suited for change offs when cargo has to keep moving. Because they can still handle everything a light class truck can, they are preferred when maneuverability is not a concern. These trucks also have a range of configurations that include lowering platforms like landolls, automatic trailers, low-profile trailers, and more.

Heavy duty wreckers tackle the biggest jobs.

Heavy-Duty Tow TrucksTruck Information
Vehicle ClassThese are Class A vehicles. They are the largest towing and recovery vehicles
Typical Truck WeightA heavy duty truck must have a minimum GWR of 23 tons.
Towing Weight CapcityThese vehicles are capable of towing loads greater than 17,000 lbs.
Trucks Typically TowMultiple vehicles, multiple containers, Super-duty industrial equipment
Required Features25-ton capacity single or double boom lift, a 25-ton winch, 6-ton wheel lift

When are heavy duty trucks deployed?

These trucks pull so much they are required to have light and air brake hookups. Heavy duty trucks are the big boys. They handle the biggest recoveries and jobs. We commonly send them out to recover equipment and Mack trucks that have gone off the road or down an embankment.

Hauling capabilities means they can support an entire load of another vehicle at once. When a breakdown occurs on the highway and a serious multi-ton load needs transferring, these are the only vehicles we trust.

Now that you know what you could be driving, find out what it takes to become a tow truck operator.