If your vehicle breaks down on the road, you might need a lift. Before calling for a tow, remember that not all towing methods are created equal. Read below to find out which tow truck would best suit your vehicle’s needs.
Factors to Consider
In order to find the right tow truck, consider your vehicle’s:
- Drivetrain type (All-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive)
- Year, make and model
Drivetrain type is crucial in selecting a towing method because drive wheels should never touch the road during a tow, even if the vehicle is in neutral.
Flatbed Tow Truck
The safest but priciest option of transporting a vehicle is the flatbed. The flatbed is often the go-to for long-distance towing or towing that involves sport, luxury, or vintage cars. The tow truck uses hydraulics to pull the car onto a horizontal bed that sits completely off of the road. This option leaves the vehicle basically invulnerable to road debris and transmission damage.
Flatbed trucks are typically unable to tow vehicles that are stuck in Park, although tire skates can be used to allow the vehicle to be lifted onto the flatbed without rotating the tires and risking transmission damage. Another disadvantage of a flatbed truck might be that it takes longer than a wheel lift to secure your car in place, but the added security of your car might be worth the extra time and money.
Hook and Chain Towing
Hook and chain towing, in which a hook and chain is attached to a car’s undercarriage, is somewhat out-of-fashion today. This method risks transmission and undercarriage damage, and potholes and road debris increase the risk to the vehicle. Although hook and chain towing is relatively cheap and simple, it should only be considered as an option if your car is damaged beyond repair or in poor condition.
Wheel Lift Tow Truck
Wheel lift towing is a great option for transporting most vehicles over a short distance. A hydraulic yoke lifts one end of the vehicle, providing far better stability to the car than with the hook and chain and leaving the car less vulnerable to damage. The wheel lift is a cheaper option than the flatbed, and the truck is far more compact. With a lower clearance than a flatbed truck, a wheel lift truck can fit into most parking garages.
All-wheel drive vehicles must use a dolly with a wheel lift tow truck. A dolly props up the trailing tires of the towed vehicle and uses its own wheels to contact the road. However, if the vehicle is too long, too low to the ground, or too heavy, flatbed towing might be preferable.
Larger Tow Trucks For Larger Vehicles
Finally, large vehicles like heavy trucks, RVs, and trailers might require medium or heavy duty towing trucks. With these vehicles, a tow truck with a boom lift, winch, or 6-ton wheel lift is often necessary.
In order to minimize the risk of damage to your vehicle, consult a trustworthy towing service and use the information provided in this article to inform your decision. Knowing which type of tow truck will work best for your vehicle and situation will help you communicate your needs to the company you end up calling.