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Auto Towing and Winches: How to Use a Winch Safely

Operating a tow truck or wrecker does require a good understanding of safety procedures. Between working in traffic and having to deal with hazardous conditions related to weather and topography, things can go wrong even on the easiest of jobs. The tow operator doesn’t need to make things even less safe by not knowing how to properly use his or her equipment. This includes the electric winches found on tow trucks and wreckers.

By itself, an electric winch is a harmless and inanimate piece of machinery. But hook it to a car and you have an entirely different matter. Once in action, winches are inherently risky tools that need to be treated with a safety-first mindset. Improper use of a winch could lead to property damage, serious injury, or even death.

Do not Neglect the Owner’s Manual

Using a winch safely starts with reading and understanding the owner’s manual. We know, it is so easy to discard the manual along with packaging. But it’s included for a reason. Not only should it not be ignored, but it should be fully understood before installation and use.

Along with all that is the basic principle of installing an electric winch according to manufacturer specifications. Those specifications are found in the owner’s manual. Safe operation requires doing exactly what the manufacturer recommends, right down to little details like not welding mounting bolts and using only approved power cords and wire rope.

Operational Inspections

Manufacturers will always recommend a tow operator inspect his/her winch before using it. This means before every use. Even if a tow operator doesn’t think an inspection is necessary on every job, the winch should still be inspected on a regular basis. The operator should be checking winch rope, hooks, slings, and all visible moving parts of the winch.

Frayed, kinked, or damaged winch rope should never be used. Any moving parts that appear to be worn should also be considered for replacement. You can never be too careful when you are connecting an electric motor to a 12,000-pound vehicle using a piece of winch rope.

Safety During Use

The nature of towing and vehicle recovery is such that problems with an operator’s equipment are usually not apparent until he or she is in the middle of a job. In other words, a visual inspection may not reveal a potential weak point in a winch rope. The operator might never know the rope is weak until it snaps during a recovery.

As such, the tow operator should always assume that danger is present whenever using a winch. Basic safety rules always apply no matter the circumstances. For example, the operator should stay out of the direct line of the wire rope during recovery. A winch dampener should be used just in case the rope snaps.

Operators should use spotters when possible. The spotter should also be out of the direct line of the rope. Neither the operator nor the spotter should attempt to manually assist the winch by pulling on the rope.

Finally, tow operators should never use electric winches to recover loads that are too heavy. They should never be used for overhead lifting either. Winches come with weight ratings that should always be adhered to. Exceeding the stated limits of an electric winch will almost always end badly.

Mytee Products sells a range electric winches for tow operators. We also carry a complete line of towing supplies including auto hauling straps, hooks, chains, and safety lights. Feel free to use our inventory to stock your tow truck or wrecker.


Here’s Why You Keep Your Tow Truck Fully Stocked

One of the things we try to consistently do here at Mytee Products is remind our customers to pay attention to their inventories. For example, consider tow truck operators. We are thrilled to be able to serve operators across the country who rely on us for towing chains, straps, lights, and a whole host of other supplies. We do our best to remind them to make sure their trucks are always fully stocked.

This really is a no-brainer for most tow operators. But every year there are new operators joining the industry and just getting started in their careers. Their lack of experience may lead them to take a job without having the proper equipment to do it safely and completely. If there is one thing that we have learned from working with tow operators over the years, it’s that you never know what you’re going to come up against on any recovery.

An Example from NC

We will be well on the way toward rough winter weather by the time this post is published. So let’s use a recent example from the past to illustrate why it’s necessary to keep a tow truck fully stocked. The example comes out of Maple Hill, North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

On September 19 (2018), a truck pulling a mobile home behind it was blown over by hurricane-force winds. That mobile home was destined to be a rest station for hurricane recovery workers in need of rest. Unfortunately, Florence saw to it that the trailer never made it to its designated location. The state Highway Patrol had to call for assistance to right the trailer as quickly as possible.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been difficult enough. The job probably would have required multiple tow trucks using chains and winches to get the trailer back in an upright position. But this was no ordinary circumstance. Florence pounded the Carolinas for some 30 hours in total. By the time tow trucks were dispatched, the trailer was already under 10 feet of water.

The team of four tow operators all arrived on scene and realized it was going to be a tough job. Even after the water had receded, righting the trailer/mobile home required precise techniques and the proper use of the right equipment. It’s a good thing the tow operators knew what they were doing. Even with 4 feet of water still inside, they managed to pull the trailer upright and move it to the shoulder.

It’s About Being Prepared

The success of these four tow operators is a testament to their abilities, experience, and equipment. Their story is also a reminder that tow operators have to be prepared for anything. No one knew just how bad Florence was going to be, but every person who knew that he or she was going to be involved in the cleanup had to be as prepared as possible.

As a tow operator yourself, you may never experience anything like the damage caused by Hurricane Florence. But you’ll still see your share of stranded cars, highway accidents, repos, and municipal tows. Your truck needs to be fully stocked with everything you need to do your job safely and correctly. Mytee Products has you covered.

We have a complete inventory of towing chains, mesh straps, tire nets, hooks, winches, and even towing lights. If you need it to stock your tow truck, we probably have it. And if we don’t, we’ll still do our best to get it for you. Don’t head into the busy winter season without knowing full well that your truck is fully stocked.

 


Auto Towing Products Are an Investment in Your Business

You may have decided to start your own towing business in advance of the busy winter season. That decision has brought you to our website to search our auto hauling and towing inventory. We are happy you’re here. Hopefully, you have the resources necessary to make a go of things as a small business owner. We would like to encourage you with our own bit of advice: look at your auto towing supplies as an investment in your business rather than just the tools of the trade.

Starting a business always requires at least some financial investment. In your case, you are likely putting a lot of money into your brand-new venture. In addition to towing chains and hooks, auto hauling straps, emergency lights, and all the other equipment supplies you need to outfit your truck, you also have the cost of the truck itself.

You have insurance to think about. Then you are going to have office expenses, labor, and so much more. It all adds up to quite a hefty bill. So again, this is why we say you should treat your auto towing supplies as an investment.

Investments Are Long Term

The thing about investments is that they are long term in nature. Even those considered short term investments by professional investors still have a longer shelf life than putting your money into consumable products. Where towing chains, hooks and ratchets are concerned, your goal should be to get your hands on products you can count on to last a long time.

There is a temptation to cut as many corners as possible when starting a new business. That may work in some industries, but it is not wise in auto hauling and towing. It is well worth it to spend a little more on high-quality towing supplies now rather than saving some money up front only to have to spend more to replace faulty items later.

Another thing to consider is the psychological value of looking at your startup costs as an investment. Yes, money will be spent to get your towing operation off the ground. But the money you’re spending today will generate profits down the road. That’s what this is all about. So investing more in high-quality towing supplies will pay off in the long run. Knowing that can make spending more on quality a lot easier to embrace.

It’s Your Safety, Too

Investing in reliable towing supplies also amounts to investing in your own safety. The last thing you need as a tow operator are chains and hooks that are not going to hold up to the stresses of vehicle recovery. Just remember that it only takes a single snapped cable or broken chain to cause a serious accident.

We recommend never skimping on chains, hooks, straps, and ratchets. Everything you use in the towing business needs to be high-quality and reliable. Life and limb are just too valuable to risk on sub-par towing supplies.

Beyond the chains and hooks are the lights you’ll need for your truck. Those emergency lights found on the tops of tow trucks are not there for decoration. They are there to alert other motorists that a vehicle recovery is underway. Flashing amber lights can mean the difference between a successful recovery and a terrible accident.

You are doing more than just buying tools of the trade for your new business. You are investing in yourself and your future by purchasing the towing supplies you’re going to need to do what you do. Purchase wisely. If you have any questions about the products we sell, don’t hesitate to ask.


Top 4 Reasons to Use Side Mount Wheel Nets for Auto Hauling

Do you agree with the idea that there is a right tool for every job? If so, and if you are a tow truck operator, you probably have an extensive collection of chains, hooks, and tiedown straps on your truck. Do you have side mount wheel nets complete with hooks and ratchets? If not, you probably need some to make hauling easier. These are great tools for securing vehicles prior to transport.

 

We offer several variations of side mount wheel nets in different configurations. We recommend purchasing them either in pairs or lots of four so that you never find yourself one short. If you have never used one of these nets before, we suspect you’ll be a convert the minute you do. They make the job of towing easier and faster than it has ever been before.

Still not convinced? Well, here are the top four reasons to use side mount wheel nets for auto hauling:

1. Fast and Easy Deployment

At the top of the list is the speed at which you can deploy wheel nets. You simply place the loop of the net over the top of the tire and then work it down along the sides until it’s about one-third of the way down. At this point the loop should be completely encircling the top third of the tire.

Next, you use the included hook to secure the strap to your flatbed or tow bar, then deploy the ratchet to tighten it down. With a little practice, you can do this in under a minute. As a side note, the net should always be placed over the tire with the ring facing the rear of the vehicle. That way, the vehicle is pulled forward as you winch down.

2. Webbing Material Is Durable

There is no doubt that chains are pretty durable. But guess what? So is the webbing material used to make wheel nets. You will get plenty of years of reliable service from your nets as long as you take care of them. They stand up well to temperature extremes, precipitation, snow and ice, road debris, and so much more.

3. Webbing Material Is Flexible

While chains may be just as durable as side mount wheel nets, they are not as flexible. There are a lot of sensitive parts on the underside of a car, and you have to be very careful when you’re using chains. Wheel nets are a lot less risky because of their flexibility. They are easier to deploy without damaging anything underneath, and the webbing material itself will never scratch the finish of a car. You still have to be careful with hooks and ratchets.

4. A Cost-Effective Solution

Last but not least is cost. While every tow truck should be equipped with an adequate number of chains, buying chains can get expensive. Wheel nets are a lot more cost-effective. For less than the cost of a good meal at a four-star restaurant, you can purchase a high-quality wheel net more than capable of doing the job.

Save your expensive chains for those tough jobs when they absolutely have to be used. For the rest of your jobs, use side mount wheel nets instead. You will spend less money without sacrificing the integrity of your work.

Mytee Products is proud to serve America’s tow truck operators with a full range of towing equipment and supplies. In addition to side mount wheel nets, we carry a complete range of tiedown straps, hooks, chains, winches, ratchets, and towing lights. Everything you need to fully outfit your truck is available here.


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.