Types of tow trucks

Types of Tow trucks – All you need to know!

Tow Trucks are used in a variety of traffic-related situations. These are used to move vehicles that may be immovable, parked incorrectly, or have been in some form of accident. These vehicles are specifically designed for these purposes only. Thus, they are pretty powerful. A lot of people run services dedicated to just towing and are available to help out people on phone. Now, there are a few types of two trucks that you may want to know about. We are going to go over these different types.

Now, this is some very useful information for someone that wants to purchase one, or if you are generally interested in different types of vehicles. These trucks come in all shapes and sizes; depending on the vehicle they have to tow, the size increases. Some tow trucks can even tow large vehicles like buses and other trucks.

Types of Tow trucks – The Famous Ones!

Hook and Chain Tow Trucks – The Classic

This is the most common truck anyone thinks of when we talk about tow trucks. Hook and Chain tow trucks date back to the 1950s and are still used in some parts of the world. To remind you what one looks like, this is the one with a hook and a chain at the back of the truck which is used to lift the vehicle by towing the bumper. If you have ever had to interact with one, you already know why people don’t use these anymore.

The problem with this type of tow truck is the damage it can cause to the vehicle or equipment it is towing. The hook can at times, severely damage the bumper of the car, and the damage caused can become expensive to repair. These also damage the tires of the vehicles and cause drivetrains to wear out.

That is not to say that these are completely useless now. If a car is pretty much just scrap, a hook and chain tow truck is ideal for handling it. These tow trucks are also compact in design. This is why these can fit and access locations that can be trickier for larger tow trucks. These are also useful for taking scrap to the dump; you will often see every dump owning a tow truck just for this purpose.

However, for the most part, people don’t exactly use these anymore. More modern designs have made into the public space.

Flatbed Tow Trucks – The most common one!

We talked about the Hook and Chain tow truck, and how it used to be the most common and iconic tow truck. However, now, Flatbed tow trucks have taken that role. They are widely used all over the world in all sorts of capacities. The excellent design and space make it ideal for all sorts of moving, loading, and even delivery.

As you can imagine based on the title, these trucks have a literal flat surface that can carry weight and vehicles. Hydraulics are used to move the flatbed in upwards and downwards direction. Now, if you are to load a vehicle, all you need to do is drive up the ramp, and the rest is easy to manage. If the vehicle is immobile, it can easily be pulled up as well. This is one of the safest ways to tow a vehicle. Because of the variety in size, even boats can be transported quite easily. There’s not a lot of faults in the design and for the most part, work exceptionally well. Now, if you order a Tow Truck to have your vehicle sorted, in an accident, or generally transport it, chances are that you will be sent a tow truck to handle the situation.

Wheel lift tow truck – Something in the middle!

The last type we will be discussing is the Wheel lift tow truck. Now, the two trucks we previously mentioned fall under different price ranges; a flatbed, despite being extremely common now, is still a fairly expensive vehicle. This is because it uses hydraulics to operate, and that equipment is pretty expensive.

Now, even though a wheel lift tow truck also makes use of hydraulics, it isn’t using it to the degree a flatbed would. In this case, the tow truck essentially slips the bars that come with the wheel lift under the rear or front wheels of the vehicle. The other set is kept on the road, and then the tow truck simply drives away to the destination, while half the vehicle is on the ground. It’s a careful balance but works remarkably well for most vehicles.

The reason this is basically a middle between the flatbed and hook and chain is because of the price, and size. Unlike a flatbed, which is a massive vehicle, there’s no doubt that the wheel lift tow truck is not only smaller, but cheaper as well. This can get into tight spaces, and lift vehicles that could be potentially in areas a flatbed can’t reach. This also means that it can’t tow really big vehicles; there are some models suited for that as well.


There are many types of tow trucks. The most common ones as we discussed above are the flatbed tow trucks, wheel lift tow trucks, and even the Hook and Chain tow trucks. All of these still have some usage, and there are pros and cons to each. Now, for the most part, the flatbed has become the most common type. It has plenty of benefits, and can fit not just cars, but even boats on its flatbed surface.

The hook and chain tow trucks aren’t that common for commercial use but are still used to carry around scrap. You will find these still pretty common at dumps. The last one is the wheel lift tow truck which is a good compromise, and its size and price can be a factor for many when looking in the market to buy a tow truck.