More from: Auto Hauling

Lessons from Experienced Tow Operators

There are a bunch of viral videos out there showing just what can go wrong when a car is towed improperly. Not only are they good for a laugh, they also clearly define the difference between professionally-trained tow operators and amateurs. The professionals obviously possess the skills, tools, and equipment to do the job right.

The best tow operators in the business are defined by how they do what they do. For example, there are certain mistakes every professional tow operator knows to avoid. These are the same mistakes amateurs make just before they end up on viral videos. Here are four of them:

 

1. Pay Attention to Weights and Ratings

A lot of what a tow operator has to worry about is directly related to physics. For example, every tow strap and chain has a working load limit (WLL) that cannot be exceeded and still be safe. Tow operators have to pay attention. They have to understand gross vehicle weight ratings, axle weights, towing capacities, and the like.

Not paying attention to such things could mean serious trouble. Thankfully, the pros understand what’s going on. They choose the right towing straps, chains, and hooks to correctly secure vehicles before towing begins.

2. Use A Sufficient Number of Anchor Points

The tow operator who drives a flatbed wrecker rather than a standard tow truck handles vehicles in a slightly different way. He or she has to anchor the vehicle in question to the bed of the truck rather than hooking the car from underneath. Then he/she uses a series of tow straps or chains to secure the vehicle.

Amateurs who might try this with a utility trailer often fail to use enough anchor points. That is, they do not secure the vehicle to the trailer on all four corners. That’s a mistake. Professional tow operators not only know where the correct anchor points are found, but they also use all of them.

3. Always Utilize Safety Lights

How many times have you seen an amateur towing a vehicle without any kind of lighting? The vehicle being towed is not running, so brake lights and turn signals are not working. This is a recipe for disaster. Inadequate lighting is an open invitation to a rear-end collision. The pros know this, which is why they use safety lights. They activate the safety lights on their trucks and put towing lights on the back of the car.

4. Drive Cautiously

Finally, a truly wise tow truck operator knows how foolish it is to drive his or her truck the same way he/she might drive a car. Amateurs don’t know the difference. They drive as though they are not towing at all. They drive at the same speed and brake just as hard, assuming nothing bad will happen.

The secret professionals know is that all the towing straps and chains in the world aren’t enough to compensate for reckless driving. They drive cautiously whenever they have a car in tow. And it’s a good thing they do because as they know what they are doing, and they do it well, the rest of us don’t have to worry about being in danger when we come upon a tow truck or flatbed wrecker.

For the record, Mytee Products appreciates the magnificent work professional tow truck operators do every day. They put their lives on the line nearly every time they go out on a highway job. We are pleased to be able to help them by providing the reliable and heavy-duty towing equipment they need to do what they do safely.


How To Choose Chains Suitable for Towing

Tow truck operators carry specific kinds of chains for doing what they do. Along with those chains are hooks, car hauling straps, and other equipment that operators need to safely rescue and transport disabled vehicles. One thing is for sure though, not all chains are suitable for towing. Tow operators have to have either G70 or G80 chains.

 

The ‘G’ in G70 chain stands for ‘grade’. Industrial chains made of steel are graded according to their tensile strength. The higher the grade, the stronger the chain. A G30 chain is the weakest of the options. This is usually a general-purpose chain made for light industrial and agricultural use. The strongest is grade 100. This kind of chain is made with a strong steel alloy capable of handling heavy loads during overhead lifting.

We explain all of this to say that tow operators cannot take chances with their chains. Any chains purchased with the intent of using them in vehicle recovery have to meet minimum standards for strength. Using inadequate chains is both unsafe and illegal.

Tensile Strength and WLL

There are two factors to consider when using chains to tow or lift overhead. The first is tensile strength, a measurement of how much force an object can withstand before breaking. That is where the grading comes in. A higher-grade chain can handle more force than a lower grade chain.

A G70 grade is capable of handling 700 newtons per square millimeter. It might elongate somewhat during towing, but it is unlikely to be compromised under normal circumstances. G70 chain has a strong enough tensile strength to withstand the punishment delivered by most towing operations. Having said that, it is not strong enough for safe overhead lifting.

The second factor to consider is working load limit (WLL). Although this measurement is similar to tensile strength, it is not quite the same thing. Working load limit measures how much work a chain can actually do before breaking. If a tow truck is towing a car in a cradle, with the rear wheels still on the ground, the load being carried is less because the ground is supporting some of the car’s weight. If that same tow truck were to lift the car straight off the ground, the load would be greater.

This suggests that the same chain may be appropriate for one operation but not another. So tow truck operators have to understand working load limits in relation to the kind of stress each particular recovery will have on the chain being used. Attempting recovery operations without understanding tensile strength and WLL is dangerous.

Towing with a Passenger Car

With just this little bit of information it should become apparent just how dangerous it is to use ropes or chains to tow a disabled vehicle using a passenger car. Yet we see it all the time. You might see a four-door sedan towing a disabled SUV down city streets using nothing more than a piece of rope the driver grabbed from the garage.

Such dangerous towing is an open invitation to disaster. The driver of the tow vehicle can easily lose control; the person in the towed vehicle behind could slam into the vehicle in front by not braking quickly enough; ropes and chains can snap, etc. There is just no good way to tow a disabled vehicle without a purpose-built truck.

No, not all chains are suitable for towing. You need a steel G70 chain at minimum. If you have any plans to lift vehicles rather than simply towing them, you will need either G80 or G100.


The Subtle Difference Between Towing and Recovery Straps

Here at Mytee Products, we sell an extensive list of equipment and supplies used by tow truck operators. Among them are both towing and recovery straps. These straps may look similar in terms of size, color, etc., but they have very different properties. They are designed for different jobs as well.

The average tow operator has both kinds of straps on board. They are used to recover cars from ditches, secure cars to the backs of flatbed trucks, and even tow them with a cradle or tow bar. Straps are incredibly versatile tools that make the job of tow operators easier.

Towing Strap Basics

The first thing to note about towing straps is that they are typically made with polypropylene or Dacron so that they do not stretch. They are also fitted with hooks designed to be attached to predefined towing spots on the vehicle being transported. When used properly, towing straps will keep the vehicle secure during transport.

Tow operators will not use towing straps as their only means of securing a vehicle during transport unless the vehicle is being carried on the back of a flatbed. Otherwise, a cradle or tow bar carries most of the load while towing straps simply secure the vehicle in place. Towing straps can be used to pull a vehicle short distances so that it can be safely mounted on the tow truck.

Recovery Strap Basics

The main difference with recovery straps is the material used to make them. Rather than polypropylene or Dacron, nylon is the preferred material for recovery straps. Why? Because nylon has a bit of elasticity. This property is ideal for vehicle recovery.

Imagine a car that has gone off the interstate and now rests in a low spot in the center median. Using a towing strap to drag that car out of the ditch may work, but there is a real risk of the strap breaking. A recovery strap is what the tow operator needs.

A recovery strap’s nylon material will stretch until it reaches its limit of elasticity. At that point, the natural tendency of the material to want to return to its original, compressed state generates force that, combined with the force being exerted by the winch, helps to drag the vehicle from the ditch. It all happens with minimal risk of breakage.

Recovery efforts tend to put more stress on straps and winches than straight towing. That’s why manufacturers make the two different kinds of straps.

Using Chains for Recovery

Every experienced tow truck operator is fully aware that there are times when the stress of recovery is too great even for nylon recovery straps. The solution is either chain or winch cable. Both offer the superior tensile strength necessary for difficult recovery. The only caveat here is that chains and cables are in no way elastic. Operators have to be very careful about any shock or stress that could cause a chain or cable to snap.

This is where chain grades and working load limits come into play. Tow truck operators should never use anything less than a G70 chain for vehicle recovery. A G80 or G100 would be even better.

We Have Everything You Need

Mytee Products is happy to supply tow truck operators with everything they need for safe vehicle recovery and towing. We have a complete selection of recovery and towing straps, chains of multiple grades, hooks, and other components. If there is something you need that we don’t have, feel free to contact us anyway. We might still be able to get it for you.


Towing Lights to Hauling Straps: There’s A Lot to Towing

There are lots of jobs that appear easier than they are. Take tow truck driving, for example. To the untrained eye, driving a tow truck seems a simple matter. You just hook up the car and go, right? Wrong. From towing lights and hauling straps to anticipating oncoming traffic, an awful lot goes into towing safely.

Tow truck operators are among the hardest working people on America’s roads. They toil around the clock, under all sorts of weather and traffic conditions, to recover broken down and damaged cars. Often times they put their lives on the line to do so. Here at Mytee Products, we have the utmost respect for America’s tow operators.

Things They Worry About

Tow operators are not unlike workers in any other sector in that there are job-related things they always have to worry about. Before the start of every shift, the driver has to check his toolboxes to make sure he has everything he needs for the day. Are his towing chains and hooks in good working order? Does he need a few more auto hauling straps? Are the strobe bar and marker light both working?

Having the necessary equipment is just the start. The tow truck operator also has to make sure the truck itself is in good working order. There are tires, winches, and flatbed inspections to do. Even simple things like windshield wipers and checking oil and transmission fluid levels has to be taken care of.

Once on the road, the tow truck operator has to worry about everything from traffic conditions to weather. Recovering a vehicle in a parking lot or driveway is pretty straightforward, but if the tow operator is trying to pull a stranded car out of a ditch alongside a snowy highway, that’s another deal altogether.

Tow truck operators always have to keep an eye on traffic. Whether they are securing a wreck to a flatbed with hauling straps or using a chain and winch to recover a wreck, oncoming traffic always poses a significant risk. Wise tow truck operators know enough to expect trouble. Managing a recovery without any incidents is a bonus.

Taking Some of the Worry Away

The crew here at Mytee Products obviously cannot do a lot to help tow drivers stay safe. There is not a lot we can do to make sure their days go smoothly. But we can take some of the worry away by stocking the equipment supplies they need to do their jobs. That is exactly what we do.

Our inventory of auto towing and hauling equipment starts with a full range of hauling straps to meet a variety of needs. For example, we carry tire straps with swivel J hooks and rubber pads for securing cars around the wheels. We also have side mount wheel nets as well.

Moving on, our inventory of G70 towing chains and hooks are the real beef of any towing operation. Rest assured that all our chains and hooks are made to meet or exceed all regulations and industry standards. We do not carry junk chains and hooks drivers can’t rely on.

Last is our selection of towing lights. We carry these products because we believe in the safety-first mentality. We want tow truck operators to have a full selection of towing lights usable in virtually any scenario.

There is a lot to tow truck operation than meets the eye. Our hats are off to America’s tow operators from coast-to-coast. Thank you for the tough work you do to make life better for the rest of us.


Towing Lights: A Matter of Personal Safety

Some of the things we sell at Mytee Products are designed for the sole purpose of making the lives of truck drivers easier and more productive. Towing lights are not one of them. We sell towing lights to tow truck drivers and fleet owners because it is a matter of life and death. Towing lights are very much a matter of personal safety.

As we all know, tow trucks come with a range of safety lights already on board. For example, a light bar mounted to the top of the truck cab is standard. The towing lights we sell are considered accessories. Rather than being permanently affixed to the tow truck, they are temporarily affixed to the vehicle being towed so as to make it more visible to drivers who may not be paying close attention.

Traffic: The Biggest Hazard

Driving a tow truck is certainly not an easy or terribly safe job. In fact, it is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers from 2016, some 745 drivers were killed in 2015. Far too many died in accidents involving oncoming traffic.

Traffic is the tow truck operator’s biggest hazard. Whether people are tired, distracted, or just not paying attention, it only takes one momentary lapse for the driver of an oncoming car to strike a tow truck operator or his/her vehicle.

Unfortunately, there is only so much that drivers can do to protect themselves. At the top of the list is making themselves and their vehicles more visible. That is what towing lights are all about. Lights make a tow truck and the vehicle being towed more visible to traffic moving in both directions. Second, drivers have to pay close attention to everything going on around them; they must have eagle eyes whenever they are working.

The Operator’s Inventory

Mytee Products recommends tow truck operators keep at least a basic inventory of lights on board. A good inventory starts with at least one light bar that includes turn signal capabilities. A 360-degree strobe that can be easily placed on top of the towed vehicle should also be part of a basic inventory, along with a heavy-duty flashlight that doubles as a chemical-free flare.

There are plenty of other towing lights an operator can add to his/her inventory. The three mentioned here represent only a starting point. The more lights an operator has at his or her disposal, the more visible the tow truck and tow vehicle will be.

We also recommend going with rechargeable towing lights rather than traditional corded models. Rechargeable lights are faster and much easier to deploy in emergency situations. As long as the operator keeps batteries charged, lights will provide hours of reliable service.

Safety Is Always the Priority

As a tow truck operator or fleet owner, what is your first priority? It ought to be driver safety. No car is valuable enough to risk the safety of someone trying to tow it. No job is so important that tow truck drivers should put themselves at risk unnecessarily. There are already enough hazards to worry about in the towing industry; drivers don’t need to add the lack of a safety-first mindset to the list.

Safety should always the priority for tow truck operators. To that end, towing lights are a valuable safety tool in that they make tow trucks and their cargo more visible to other drivers. Mytee Products is proud to serve America’s tow truck operators with a full line of equipment and supplies, including towing lights.