Are you ready to break into a million-dollar trucking industry?
Tow-truck drivers are in a booming job market! The total revenue in the auto-recovery field is expected to reach $6.5 million in 2022.
Whether you’re excited to start a brand new career or you want to give your towing business a boost, it’s good to be ready with tools you can use. With this ultimate guide, get the gear to take every car recovery job in stride.
1. Electric Winch
An electric winch, sometimes called a motorized winch, is the KEY TOOL to start tow-trucking. You literally can’t tow a car without one.
An electric winch winds up the cable that gets attached to the car you want to tow, doing the heavy-duty work of hauling that car out of a ditch or back onto the road.
Winches vary in their power (measured in volts), and in their strength capacity. A stronger, more powerful winch can tow heavier vehicles than a less powerful winch, which can be a great asset.
On the other hand, a less powerful winch uses less electricity, which means it doesn’t drain your truck’s battery as fast as other winches.
Read More: How to Use Electric Winches Safely?
2. Towing Chains & Tow Straps
Most towing chains are v-shaped bridles that connect the end of a winch cable to the underside of a stuck car.
Tow chains have two chain legs with grab hooks that anchor onto a pear link, which then connects to a winch cable. The other ends of the chain legs have RTJ-hook clusters to connect to the vehicle you need to recover.
Two legs are better than one because they’ll give you multiple pressure points. That spreads out the pressure (force) when you’re pulling in the wrecked car, which in turn limits the risk of damaging the car from the force of the winch’s pull.
Some high-grade transport chains are not v-shaped.
Make sure to only select chains that are Grade 70 or higher. Check the weight of the car and the chain’s working load limit before you use it.
Towing straps are similar to v-chain assemblies. Often called v-strap assemblies, these configurations fit two-strap legs to a pear link instead of chain legs.
3. Winch Cables
Drivers also called winch cables “wire rope“. Engineers weave together steel strands for strength and flexibility to create these cables.
These cables come in different lengths, thickness sizes, and core options (fiber core and independent wire rope core). Thickness changes a cable’s working load limit (WLL) and what end-fittings the cable’s compatible with.
The core also affects the wire rope’s strength and the rope’s tendency to “birdnest” and how frequently it needs to be lubricated.
For more information on wire ropes check out this document: Wire Rope Safety Document
4. Tow Dolly & Wheel Net Baskets
A tow dolly is a type of trailer used to haul cars a short distance.
When a tow dolly trailer is hooked up to your truck, you can load the front wheels of the car you need to tow onto it and let the back wheel stay grounded so they can roll along.
This can be an easier method of transportation in some circumstances because it puts less stress on the towed vehicle.
Cars are secured to tow dollies with wheel net baskets. Wheel net baskets are woven nets made from reinforced polyester webbing straps, similar to ratchet straps or winch straps.
Typically, they have a flat hook or snap hook end-fittings, so make sure to choose the fitting that fits your tow-dolly. Alternately, you can purchase a separate adapter to anchor flat hooks onto anchor points other than slots.
5. Snatch Blocks
A snatch block is a specific kind of pulley, a simple device that makes it easier to lift or pull a heavy load with less force. It’s sort of a strengthening mechanism. All pulleys use a spool and casing to hold a rope.
The increased leverage you get with a snatch block lets your wire rope or cable last longer, and you can get a wider range of jobs done without having to invest in extremely heavy-duty equipment (that is, maximum strength winch winders or crane motors).
For more information on how to use snatch blocks: Check out this blog post.
6. Tow Hooks
Tow hooks can encompass RTJ clusters, large J-hooks, pintle hooks, snap hooks, slip hooks with latches, and grab hooks.
RTJ clusters specifically are designed to be compatible with anchor points on different types of car frames.
R-hooks are compatible with Ford vehicles, T-hooks for Chrysler / GM cars, and J-hooks work with Japanese and European-made vehicles.
Pintle hooks are a type of towing hitch. These hooks close around a ring that’s mounted to a trailer. Pintle hooks are engineered to be incredibly strong, and they’re useful for heavy-duty towing.
Slip hooks, grab hooks, and large J-hooks are multipurpose hooks that are compatible with many types of anchor points, including most rings, shackles, and chain links.
Slip hooks often have a latch for extra security to prevent it from jostling loose.
7. Recovery Slings
Developers designed recovery slings to wrap around the bottom of a piece of cargo, then lift that cargo vertically via a crane. They can also pull a car or wrecked vehicle at an angle to haul it up a ramp or out of a ravine.
Professionals also call these tools round lifting slings, recovery straps, eye-to-eye slings, or web slings.
Designers often make these slings out of fabric-covered wire rope, heavy-duty reinforced polyester fabric, or heavy-duty reinforced nylon.
Most recovery slings are either closed loops themselves or designed so the user can create a closed loop around the cargo easily by running one end of the sling through the looped or closed end-fitting on the opposite end sling.
These tools can make or break a towing gig.
Shackles are a vital towing recovery tool.
A tow truck driver can use these removable anchor points with recovery and lifting slings. Craftsmen forge bolt shackles from a steel alloy and coat them with powder so the shackles resist rust. Rigging shackles are u-shaped, and they typically incorporate a pin or bolt to close the loop securely.
Bolt shackles, sometimes called anchor shackles, lifting shackles, or trailer shackles, can anchor two slings at once, to lift an incredibly heavy or wide piece of cargo. This is particularly helpful if you need to dredge a wrecked car out of a ditch.
9. Recovery Straps
Engineers reinforce recovery straps with polyester webbing, similar to ratchet straps. These straps work similarly to recovery slings.
Recovery straps wrap around the vehicle you’re trying to recover so you can get a solid grip on it to tow it.
Towing with a recovery strap can prevent damage to the vehicle by distributing tension from the towing force across the frame, or even off of the frame entirely, instead of pressing all the tension on the pressure points of hooks.
Because it mitigates the risk of damage from pressure or tension, recovery straps are a must-have asset for auto-towing and recovery.
10. Tire Skates
Tire skates are great if you’re trying to recover a vehicle stuck in mud, ice, or other slippery conditions.
You can place tire skates under the wheels of a stuck car in order to give the car extra traction. This gives the wheels more grip, so you can pull the vehicle out readily.
Mud and icy weather can happen at any time. Having tire skates on hand can keep you prepared for even the trickiest towing gigs.
11. Outrigger Pads
Outriggers are the metal legs that unfold from mobile equipment, including cranes, rotator tow trucks, fire trucks, and other mechanisms involved in trucking and rigging.
These legs give this complex, heavy equipment the stability and balance they need so you can use the machines safely.
However, outriggers can’t safely rest on every type of ground. That’s why you need outrigger pads.
Outrigger pads are high-density, non-conducive, waterproof pads.
There are different types of pads to choose from, so make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, including fitting and training guidelines, before you use one.
Make sure the rated capacity of your pad exceeds the weight of your outrigger, verify that the pad is undamaged, and make sure the ground is flat and stable.
Whether you’re at the start of your auto-towing career or ready to take it to the next level, these eleven tools are truly things you can’t do without.
At Mytee, we want everyone to be able to succeed in the industry. That’s why we cut out the middleman: so we can save on unnecessary costs and pass those savings onto you.
Our auto-towing and recovery products are the quality you need to stay safe at a price you can afford. Why not invest in your towing career?