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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.


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.


Auto Hauling: A Very Different Kind of Trucking

What is the most lucrative form of trucking? Is it dry goods or reefers? Or maybe it’s flatbed trucking. Perhaps the most lucrative way to make a living as a truck driver is hauling flammable or hazardous materials. The point here is that the definition of ‘lucrative’ has more to do with preference than anything else. Having said that, auto hauling deserves some consideration. If not the most lucrative, it is certainly a very different kind of trucking.

hauling

Auto haulers come in all shapes and sizes, as it were. There are employed truck drivers working for companies that specialize in carrying cars from distribution centers to local dealerships. There are independent operators who carry used cars from wholesalers in the South to small dealers in the North. There are even truck drivers who specialize in moving luxury and classic cars.

Auto hauling is very different for a number of reasons. From the equipment to the necessary skills, it is a career a lot of drivers aspire to but never attain. Here’s what makes auto hauling so different:

The Equipment

First and foremost is the equipment necessary for this kind of work. The owner-operator starts with a custom rig. Believe it or not, trucks and trailers for auto hauling have to be matched. You cannot just use any auto trailer on the back of any tractor. As a result, auto hauling rigs are significantly more expensive.

Next, owner-operators have to have a pretty significant supply of auto hauling equipment including hooks, shackles, rope clips, straps, and chains. There may not be any other form of trucking that requires so many pieces of equipment for a single run.

The Skill

Auto hauling is very different in terms of the skills a driver needs. What so many do not realize is that cars have to be loaded and secured in a certain way in order to prevent damage on the road. But loading and securing is not necessarily a cookie-cutter operation. Auto haulers have to account for different makes and models, different weights, potential weather conditions, and more.

Skill also comes into play on the actual journey. Drivers need to take a little bit of extra care due to the precious value of their cargo, especially when they are hauling expensive luxury or classic cars. They should be careful about accelerating and braking; they have to be careful about cornering; they need to be extremely cautious in bad weather.

The Experience

Just about every sector of the truck driving industry is affected by the conundrum of companies only wanting experienced drivers but new drivers not being able to get experience because they can’t find a job. Nowhere is this conundrum more prevalent than in auto hauling. Because auto hauling is so much more involved than simply applying some hooks and shackles, haulers almost always insist their new drivers have at least a couple of years under their belts – even if that time was spent hauling something else.

Drivers with extensive flatbed experience typically have an easier time breaking into auto hauling because they are already experienced with securing loads. They have used things such as hooks, chains and straps for cargo control. Suffice it to say that owner-operators who want to get into auto hauling have to work for it.

Here at Mytee Products, we are acutely aware of what it takes to be a successful auto hauler. We want to do our part by maintaining a solid inventory of auto hauling supplies for America’s owner-operators. From shackles and rope clips to auto hauling straps, we have everything the owner-operator needs.