6 Main Types of Tow Trucks (Differences, Uses, Benefits)

If you work in the tow truck industry long enough, you’ll start to learn that not all trucks are built the same. Turns out, there are several different trucks for you to check out. Though, you want to make sure you’re operating a truck that’ll meet the needs of your job. Whether you’re towing a car or recovering a vehicle, using the right type of truck can ensure you save tons on maintenance. In today’s blog, we’ll review the different types of tow trucks and which is right for you.

The Different Types Of Tow Trucks

Type of Tow Truck and Difference Between - Infographics

It pays to know which tow truck will help you complete a job in the most efficient manner. Knowing your tow trucks by heart, whether that be Flatbed or Boom Truck, lets your superiors know you’re willing to learn the trade. Not to mention, you could become pretty good at trucking in general. Let’s go over some of the most common tow trucks in the industry:

1. Flatbed or Rollback Tow Truck:

Flatbed Tow Truck

To start off, a Flatbed Tow Truck comes with a platform that can accommodate an entire car. It’s often powered by hydraulics, giving it a little extra strength. Furthermore, Flatbed Trucks are also referred to as Rollbacks, due to the fact that their flatbed is angled down to the ground to help the car drive onto it. By putting the car entirely on the platform, you can avoid any type of accident from happening on the road.

More importantly, a Flatbed Tow Truck is often used to transport either totaled or immobile vehicles. Additionally, these tow trucks help transport new cars across state lines and even to car dealerships. Bottomline is if your customer wants optimal protection of their vehicle, the Flatbed Truck is the best way to go.

2. Hook and Chain Tow Truck:

Hook and Chain Tow Trucks

Another popular tow truck you’ll see on the road is the Hook and Chain Tow Truck. In fact, whenever you call a tow truck company, you’re probably expecting to see this version. As the name implies, the Hook and Chain Tow Truck comes with a hook at the back of the tow vehicle. Moreover, that hook can be extended to the vehicle’s bumper and the chain wraps around its frame.

At that point, a boom is used to lift the front of the vehicle. However, the back end stays down on the ground. This could potentially cause damage to the back of your vehicle. On a more positive note, the Hook and Chain Tow Truck does have the ability to pull your vehicle out if it’s stuck in the snow. Like the Flatbed Tow Truck, they’re even great at handling totaled cars.

3. Wheel Lift Tow Truck:

Wheel Lift Tow Trucks

Rather than being tilted or hauled, the Wheel Lift instead lifts the towed vehicle. Specifically, it’s lifted by the component called the Yoke, which fits around the underside of your front wheel tires. Like the Hook and Chain Tow Truck, the yoke acts as a hook and is attached to the back of the tow truck. Though, it leaves very little room for damage to happen to a person’s vehicle by lifting it off the ground. Making it even better, the Wheel Lift is super easy to operate. It provides flexibility by attaching to the car with either the front or back wheels. They’re primarily used when damaged cars need to be removed off the highway immediately. Additionally, they can be used to transport vehicles and passengers as well.

4. Boom Tow Truck:

Boom Tow Trucks

Similar to the Hook and Chain Tow Truck, a Boom Truck will use a hydraulic arm, known as a Boom, to lift the vehicle. The Boom device primarily helps to keep the truck balance whilst it tows a vehicle. Unlike the previous tow truck styles though, the Boom Truck uses a belt or sling to haul a vehicle, which causes less damage. However, you should refrain from using a Boom Truck for vehicles with all-wheel drive. More importantly, they’re used to pulling cars out of ditches. You can really get a lot done with a Boom Truck.

5. Integrated Tow Truck:

Considered one of the most powerful tow trucks in the towing industry, an Integrated Tow Truck helps transport larger vehicles, such as trucks, RVs, motorhomes and buses by using towing and hauling supplies. Specifically, the arm on an Integrated Tow Truck helps promote the stability of the truck when towing larger vehicles. Additionally, they’re used in recovery situations where they remove cars from busy roads. Overall, an Integrated Tow Truck makes towing larger cars feel like a breeze. This tow truck can even handle most towing jobs bigger than itself. There’s clearly no job too large for the Integrated Tow Truck.

6. Oversized Tow Truck:

Oversized Tow Truck

If you’re constantly towing huge vehicles every day then you should definitely look into operating an Oversized Tow Truck. The Integrated Tow Truck doesn’t even compare to what the Oversized Towing Vehicles can handle. As the name suggests, these tow trucks can transport a variety of large items, such as boats, vehicles, tractor-trailers and construction equipment by using high-quality towing products. Apparently, they can do it all. Furthermore, truckers can count on an Oversized Tow Truck to help move a semi-truck with no problems at all. All in all, these tow trucks are meant to handle huge to extreme vehicles. If you want a job well done, then an Oversized Tow Truck is the right choice for you.

Choose The Right Tow Truck

Now that you know the differences between the several types of tow trucks, you can choose the one that best suits your needs and explores tow truck equipment inventory to do your towing application. Though, you should always make sure that the customer’s car remains safe during transport and towing. At the end of a long work day, you want to walk away knowing you did a job well done.


What is the most common tow truck?

The Hook and Chain Tow Truck still remains a popular choice amongst truckers. Though, the Flatbed Tow Truck has definitely made an even bigger mark on the industry.

What trucks are used for towing?

The type of trucks that are strictly used for towing are Hook and Chain and Wheel-Lift Tow Trucks.

What is a semi tow truck?

A Semi-Tow Truck is considered a type of heavy-duty tow trucking experience. These kinds of trucks often haul extremely large loads.

What is the difference between a rollback and a wrecker?

There are a lot of differences to note between a Rollback and a Wrecker truck. Perhaps the biggest dissimilarity between the two styles is that the Rollback or Flatbed Truck has a platform that the entire vehicle can fit on and be secured. A Wrecker basically acts similarly to the Wheel Lift, where it comes with a boom and a yoke to help lift the vehicle.