Different Types of Wrecker Trucks

You may not have thought about it, but there are a lot of different types of tow trucks out there. There are not really two alike from the engine to the paint job. But there are three main categories you may have seen a lot on our site, and we are going to go into detail about them now. Light, medium and heavy duty; what do they mean and how to know which type of tow truck you will need?

Light Duty

Light duty tow trucks can lift a vehicle that ranges from 7,000-10,000 pounds. This is the most common tow truck because it picks up smaller common cargo such as cars, minivans, SUVs, and most pick-up trucks; the majority of the vehicles on the road. These trucks suspension is beefed up, they have very strong springs and are usually always a dually. Common trucks that are converted into tow trucks are Dodge Ram 3500-4500s, Ford F-350s, and Chevy Silverado 3500’s. There are a few different options when it comes to what unit the tow truck actually has.
Self Loader: A self loader tow unit that is custom made for towing by a company such as Miller. The lift is operated from the cab of the truck to the hydraulics in the arm and is powered at the flip of a switch. It is a very safe way to tow a vehicle because it is controlled and can be adjusted even while in motion. The bed is made with tool boxes integrated in the side for convenience and designed in a way for easy access to the dollies if needed. These trucks are perfect for getting into tight spots while working a private property parking lot. And convenient controls from inside the cab make it ideal for repossession. There are some awesome wreckers out there. There are also slides in units that can be mounted in the back of almost any pickup truck. But keep in mind not just any truck is good for the job it depends on the weight and carry capacity of the vehicle. Dodge Rams have a heavy Cummins engine and work really well for slide in tow units. These types of lifts are great for people who already own a truck and want to have a cost friendly option. All you have to beef up the suspension and your on the road.


Medium Duty tow trucks are the trucks that can haul 7,000 to 22,000lbs-max, depending on the truck. So these are what you need if you broke down in a cargo van, a very large pick up truck or a small bus. There are some medium duty self loader tow trucks out there driving a Dodge Ram 5500 but in most cases they are Flat Beds.
Flatbed tow trucks are ideal for a lot of specialty towing. It’s bed can extend down to the ground and it can drive or pull whatever is being hauled right onto the bed of the truck. These tow trucks are used frequently for towing things like lowered vehicles, all wheel drive SUV’s or badly wrecked vehicles. There is often a winch attached at the front of the tow bed to pull cargo up slowly and safely.


Heavy duty tow trucks are the big dogs that can haul a whopping 30,000 pounds. These rigs haul from Freightliners to Peterbilts, class A RVs, and loaded dump trucks. They are able to pull heavy trucks from mud and use their tow arm to shift loads. These trucks can be Freightliner, Perterbilt, Kenworth, or International and usually with a Cummins or Cat engine. A lot of towing companies don’t have a Heavy Duty truck in their fleet because it takes towing to a new meaning handling equipment that can potentially be very dangerous. Towing in general keeps our team alert at all times and handles everything from tows to heavy duty recovery in a safe and professional manner.

heavy duty tow truck in baytown

When calling for a towing service it is important to let the operator know the make and model of the vehicle and what is wrong with it. Knowing what is wrong with the vehicle can give the tow truck driver an idea of how the vehicle needs to be towed. When a vehicle is being towed it is necessary to lift the drive train off the ground. This means for a front wheel drive car you would need to tow it from the front, rear wheel drive is towed from the rear. In some cases a vehicle might need to be placed on dollies if 1) It is all wheel drive or 2) there is something wrong with the wheels of the car. In most cases a wheel lift or self loader tow truck will be the best option and a flat bed is almost nowadays obsolete.
If YOU NEED a tow truck in the Houston, Baytown, Channelview, La Porte, Pasadena, Humble, Atascocita, Mont Belvieu or any Houston area be SURE to call us NOW. Call 713-306-1816 We are here for you. Jeff Smith Towing has got you no matter the circumstance or situation. Towing is our duty for Houston and AMERICA. We are the towers to call. Call today. And be sure to check out our YouTube channel @ HTXrepo. God Bless and stay safe out there.

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