Are you thinking about getting into the towing business? If so, you’re likely looking to buy a tow truck, but you may be uncertain where to start. There are several different styles to choose from, as well as different categories like medium or heavy-duty models. The right choice for your needs will depend upon your budget, local market and the type of service you plan to offer. To help you get the information you need before buying, here’s what to know before purchasing tow trucks for your business.
While the old hook and chain models were used widely years ago, now they’re more of a vintage item than anything else. This is due to the risk that they’ll damage the vehicle which they’re towing (1). For this reason, you’ll likely be looking to buy either a wheel-lift tow truck or rollback flatbed design.
-Rollback Flatbed Tow Trucks.
A common model seen often on the road today, the rollback flatbed tow truck ensures that the vehicle being towed is moved without being harmed. They can also tow vehicles which have extensive damage, such as a car that’s been in a serious accident at highway speeds.
The towing process is quite different from other designs. The bed of a rollback tow truck angles down, and using a high-strength tow cable and winch, the car is then slowly pulled up onto it. Then, the bed is moved back up to its starting position and the truck is ready to move.
Tow truck drivers often prefer this style, as it allows them to tow wrecked vehicles. This capability will enable you to take more types of service calls, which can make your towing business more versatile – for a more stable income (2).
-Wheel-lift Tow Trucks.
These vehicles use a powerful metal cradle to lift up either the front or rear wheels of the car being towed. The cradle on light-duty versions typically only touches the wheels of the towed vehicle, so no damage occurs. Medium and heavy-duty models often have a beefier cradle that picks up the vehicle by the frame or chassis instead (3).
Different Benefits of Each Style.
The differences between a rollback flatbed and wheel-lift tow truck can make it difficult to select the appropriate one for your new business. To help you get a clearer picture in your mind, here are the specific advantages of each type:
Generally, a wheel-lift design will be cheaper to buy, though that’s not always the case. They’re often somewhat smaller than a rollback flatbed tow truck as well – which can also make them more economical to run (due to less gas being used). These cost savings may make it easier to gain entry into the tow truck business, if you’re just getting started. Finally, wheel-lift tow trucks may be able to maneuver more easily in tight spaces.
-Rollback Flatbed Advantages.
In contrast, a rollback flatbed truck may cost more upfront and have somewhat higher operating expenses. These may be negligible, however, as it will vary depending upon the size and efficiency of the motor in the specific tow truck you purchase. One of the major advantages of a rollback design, is that it can more easily and safely handle larger vehicles like consumer trucks or SUV’s (4).
As already mentioned, you’ll also be able to tow extensively damaged vehicles. This can allow you to handle service calls from your local highway patrol office, for cleanup services on the motorway after an accident (5). This can be an important income stream (one which many wrecking companies rely upon), so it’s something to consider before choosing which style to buy.
While there are always a multitude of factors to consider before a major purchase or starting a new business, the above information will help get you started. If you’re still having trouble deciding, talk with other towing service personnel in your area. They may be happy to give you free advice as to what type of towing vehicle they prefer.
You can even work for a local towing company for a few months, which will allow you to get paid while you learn the ins and outs of the various tow truck models. This is an excellent and safe strategy, especially if you have no previous towing experience (6). Or, you may simply be ready to get started immediately. No matter what route you choose, we’ve covered much of what to know before buying your tow truck – so you can make the best choice for your business.