Most Common Types of Tow Trucks and Supporting Equipment
There are three types of tow trucks or wreckers most commonly used but five types of equipment in general. The three main types are used for different scenarios like emergency towing and may determine what type of tow truck a service sends out. The three main types of tow trucks are as follows.
- Sling or more commonly referred to as a hook and chain. Hook and chain trucks are very rarely used anymore because their designs often induces damage to the bumpers and front end of cars. The truck works by looping chains around the vehicle frame or axle, which is drawn aloft by a boom winch. Sometimes a sling truck is used for towing vehicles that have been in an accident or have one or two of the front or rear wheels missing because they cannot be securely towed by another type of wrecker.
- Wheel-Lift. A wheel lift truck is similar to a sling truck but instead of a hook and chain it uses a metal yoke that fits under the front or rear wheels. When the wheels are in the cradle of the yoke the front or rear end of the vehicle is lifted clear of the ground by a pneumatic or hydraulic hoist so it can be towed. The yoke is generally placed on the drive wheels of the vehicle and touches only the tires so no damaged caused to bumpers like a hook and chain truck.
- Flatbed also known as a slide. The flatbed truck is fitted with a bed that is hydraulically inclined and moved to ground level and the car is then driven onto or pulled onto the bed using a truck mounted winch. The flatbed has become the most common type of tow truck used especially for emergency towing.
Besides the three main types of trucks there are two additional pieces of equipment used by some service providers.
- Boom – A boom is a piece of equipment used on many types of tow trucks to recover a vehicle from a ditch or over an embankment.
- Integrated or Repo Truck – This is a specialized often light duty truck that integrates a boom and wheel-lift into one unit. These trucks have controls inside the cab that allow a vehicle to be repossessed or moved quickly without having to exit the truck to hook up.