What Are The Different Types of Tow Trucks And Their Uses

There are different types of tow trucks that are not restricted to towing only certain types of automobiles. Instead, it has long been used to pull autos, trailers, and other trucks. As a result, tow trucks must have varying power, capacity, and strength to tow practically every type of car.

It is more than just the truck. Lifting equipment, fluids, winches, spare tires, and parts must be reliable.

Types of Tow Trucks

Flatbed tow truck

The most popular type of towing truck is a flatbed, which can carry a broad range of vehicles, from bikes to SUVs. It is also known as a ‘rollback’ truck since it has a long empty bed at the back. This bed can hold cars and other vehicles. The bed of this vehicle is moved up and down using hydraulics.

The truck bed is lowered to ground level, and the automobile is dragged snugly onto the bed. However, there is a weight restriction that should not be exceeded. Flatbeds are most typically used to transfer severely damaged or broken-down cars. In addition, it is one of the most secure towing systems.

Hook and chain trucks

The hook and chain tow truck is perhaps the oldest type of tow truck. However, because they exert a lot of strain on the towed automobiles, they aren’t used as often these days.

The hook and chain tow truck tow automobiles using a hook and chain from one place to another. The hook is attached to the bumper or axle of the vehicle, which might get stretched or damaged during transit. The chain can also scratch the vehicle’s body. Furthermore, you cannot use this type of vehicle for all-wheel or four-wheel drive trucks since it will damage the drivetrain.

Wheel-lift tow truck

Wheel-lift tow trucks originated from hook and chain tow trucks, although they work somewhat differently. It uses yokes to carry the vehicle using its front wheels. A yoke is a bar that is fastened to the rear of the towing vehicle and passes under the towed vehicle’s front wheels. Towing small to medium-sized automobiles using wheel lift trucks is simple, easy, and safe. While this truck cannot provide the same amount of protection as a flatbed truck, it does shield the bumper and has no chains that might harm the vehicle’s body.

Boom trucks

A boom truck is equipped with a hydraulic arm known as a boom. A hydraulic arm may be adjusted to retrieve automobiles from a ditch or over an embankment. It lifts the object using a hook and chain system and is ideal for heavy-duty recovery or towing. Tow truck operators now use slings and belt lifts to tow because they are safer. Heavy-duty boom trucks are essentially little mobile cranes.

Integrated tow truck

An integrated tow truck combines two different systems, the most common of which are a boom and a wheel lift incorporated into one unit. These are helpful for small projects where a full boom truck may not be required, and integrated trucks have controls on the inside of the vehicle, allowing you to pick up a car quickly without ever leaving the truck. The integrated truck is usually used to pick up illegally parked vehicles.

Because the arms are strongly entrenched into the heart of the vehicle, these trucks can be mid-size or intended for heavy-duty pickups, making them more stable and capable.

Oversized towing

These are trucks capable of towing and transporting large-scale operations. You might see these dragging big boats or cars down the road, but they aren’t your typical tow truck.

Most small towing companies will not have them in their fleet, but they are available if you need to move any large automobiles or construction equipment.

Uses of tow trucks 

Improperly parked cars  

If you’ve ever parked somewhere you shouldn’t have, you’ve probably encountered a tow vehicle. Improperly parked vehicles are infamous for being towed, and there are usually signs alerting you of this risk. Most of the time, an integrated truck will be used to tow the car because they are the most versatile, although various companies may use other kinds of trucks.

Heavy-duty jobs

Some towing trucks are only used for heavy-duty work, and all towing vehicles have heavy-duty variants. A typical-sized integrated tow truck can handle parked vehicles and trucks, although semi-trucks and school buses have to be towed on occasion.

Car accidents and breakdowns

You’ve probably dealt with a tow truck if you’ve ever been in an accident or broken down on the side of the road. Vehicles that are immovable or seriously damaged must be towed away from the scene and to a safe area.

The type of tow truck used to tow wrecked or broken-down automobiles is determined by the vehicle or the circumstances of the accident. For example, if your car is still on the road and can be pushed away, your towing company may use an integrated or wheel-lift truck. On the other hand, if your car becomes stuck in a ditch, a boom truck may be needed to pull it out. Flatbed tow trucks are often used to tow vehicles away in both cases.

For this reason, many repair shops also provide towing and roadside assistance.


Some tow trucks are only required to move a car, machine, or piece of equipment from one location to another. The tow trucks used for these operations will vary in size depending on the type of car. Tow trucks transport massive amounts of equipment and materials to specific locations.

Industry-specific uses

Tow trucks are needed everywhere, and several industries either use them regularly or keep them on hand at all times. Therefore, tow trucks are common in the following areas.

  • Private use: Most towing companies are private businesses that you engage in recovering after a breakdown, an accident, or something else.
  • Local police: Some police departments have their towing trucks, while others use private organizations to do the work.
  • Government departments: Some government departments have towing trucks. For example, Towing trucks may be owned by transportation authorities, fire departments, and public works departments.
  • Military use: The military may use their tow trucks to help them recover stuck cars as fast as possible.
  • Packaging companies: Because they have fleets of vehicles, packaging companies may have their towing trucks.


Every towing vehicle has a unique mechanism tailored to the situation at hand. A competent towing company will know the different kinds of trucks and will provide its customers with the most appropriate towing vehicle.

All drivers should generally know the many types of tow trucks since you never know when you might need one.

You’re probably going to pay for a certain type of truck, so choose the one that will safeguard your vehicle and securely transport it to the next place location.

If you’re looking for a tow truck service in Mobile, Alabama, feel free to contact us today!