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Types of Tow Trucks and When to Use Them

Introduction When you find yourself in need of a tow, it's important to understand that not all tow trucks are created equal. Differen...


When you find yourself in need of a tow, it's important to understand that not all tow trucks are created equal. Different types of tow trucks are designed for specific purposes and vehicle conditions. In this article, we will explore some of the most common types of tow trucks and when it is appropriate to use them.

Wheel-Lift Tow Trucks

Wheel-lift tow trucks are the most commonly seen type of tow truck on the roads. They are suitable for towing vehicles that are still able to roll and are not severely damaged. These tow trucks have a hydraulic platform that can lift either the front or rear wheels of the vehicle off the ground, allowing the remaining wheels to roll freely. Wheel-lift tow trucks are often used for smaller cars and light-duty vehicles.

Flatbed Tow Trucks

Flatbed tow trucks are ideal for towing vehicles that cannot roll, such as those involved in accidents or with flat tires. These tow trucks have a hydraulic bed that can be lowered to the ground, allowing the vehicle to be either driven or winched onto the bed. Flatbed tow trucks provide a secure and stable platform for transporting vehicles, especially in cases where the vehicle is heavily damaged or needs to be transported over a long distance.

Integrated Tow Trucks

Integrated tow trucks are a specialized type of tow truck that is built into the back of a pickup truck or van. These tow trucks are commonly used for towing smaller vehicles, such as motorcycles and ATVs. Integrated tow trucks offer convenience and versatility, as they can be easily maneuvered into tight spaces and are suitable for short-distance towing.

Choosing the Right Tow Truck

When selecting a tow truck, it is crucial to consider the specific needs of the vehicle being towed. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  1. Vehicle Condition: Assess the condition of the vehicle. If it is still operable and can roll, a wheel-lift tow truck may be sufficient. If the vehicle is immobile or severely damaged, a flatbed tow truck is a safer option.

  2. Vehicle Size and Weight: Consider the size and weight of the vehicle. Smaller cars and light-duty vehicles can typically be towed by a wheel-lift tow truck. However, larger vehicles or those with specialized requirements may require the use of a flatbed tow truck.

  3. Distance of Towing: Determine the distance the vehicle needs to be towed. For longer distances, a flatbed tow truck provides a more stable and secure mode of transportation.

  4. Special Considerations: Take any special considerations into account. For example, if you need to tow a motorcycle or ATV, an integrated tow truck may be the most suitable choice.


Understanding the different types of tow trucks and when to use them is essential for ensuring a safe and efficient towing experience. Whether you opt for a wheel-lift tow truck, flatbed tow truck, or integrated tow truck, selecting the right type of tow truck for your specific needs will help protect your vehicle and ensure a successful tow. Remember to always consult with a professional towing service to determine the most suitable tow truck for your situation.

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