The Different Types of Tow Trucks and their Various Uses

Are you curious about the different types of tow trucks that tow companies use and their corresponding various uses?
Read on to find out about the different types of tow trucks that are most commonly used for towing services in Sacramento, the differences between them, and what they’re commonly used for.

Flatbed tow truck

Like its name suggests, a flatbed tow truck is a tow truck with a long, flatbed, used for towing vehicles stopped on the road, to transport cars from one place to another (for car deliveries to a local manufacturer), to impound improperly parked cars, or to haul cars that have been involved in car accidents out of the way in order to free up the highway. Other terms used for flatbeds are wreckers, breakdown truck, recovery vehicle or breakdown lorry. Flatbeds are the most commonly used types of trucks for vehicle “rescue” operations or to respond to on the road emergencies.

Wheel-lift tow trucks

A wheel-lift truck, sometimes called a spectacle lift, evolved from the hook and chain tow truck technology. Wheel-lift tow trucks are used to haul cars by stowing either the front or rear end of the vehicle so the part being hauled is not touching the ground but instead, are cradled by the metal plates or “spectacles” of the truck. This part of the truck consisting of the metal plates are called “cradles” because they are literally cradling either the front or rear wheels of the vehicle so only the other end is touching the ground. This type of truck is ideal for towing manual transmissions because the wheels are still capable of movement, as opposed to the automatic transmissions requiring the use of a flatbed.

Hook and Chain tow trucks

Again, as the name suggests, the hook and chain trucks are a variation of the wheel lift trucks which use a hook and chain to drag either the front or rear portion of the vehicle so the other end of the vehicle is moving down the road along with the tow truck being used. Sometimes, both ends of the vehicle stay flat on the road and the purpose of the truck is relegated wholly to attaching the vehicle to the hook and chain and pulling the vehicle along the road.This type of truck, along with the wheel lift, leaves the vehicle being towed more susceptible to damage because of the force and strain being exerted in the bottom part of the vehicle to drag it off the road.

Integrated tow truck

The last type of tow truck, also called a self-loader, snatcher, quick pick or repo, “integrate” the boom and wheel-lift technology in one vehicle. These are most commonly used to haul or lift vehicles stuck in ditches or hard to reach places where dragging is not very effective. They are useful in major emergencies such as when a car gets stuck on a ditch or gets run off the road due to a high impact collision.