Towing Vehicles

Posted on November 26 2018

Towing Vehicles 

Towing of cars and trucks is a unique form, with an industry dedicated to it. Specialized "tow truck" vehicle types are most often used. Some of these are flatbed, with hydraulic tilting beds and winches and dollies to position the car behind the bed and pull it up onto the bed. Others have a specialized boom hitch instead of a flatbed, which will lift one end of the car and allow it to ride on its remaining tires; they otherwise have similar equipment to the flatbeds and position and perform much like them. In other cases, a specialized vehicle dolly can be attached to a standard vehicle hitch; for example, some moving vehicle rental companies, such as U-Haul, will rent these dollies for one-way transport of cars.

Hitch tow trucks are mostly sized for cars and light duty trucks. Larger versions, with a long, weighted body and heavier duty engines, transmissions, and tow hooks, may be used for towing of disabled buses, truck tractors, or large trucks. The artificial sizing and weighting must be designed to withstand the greater weight of the towed vehicle, which might otherwise tip the tow truck back.

When many cars are to be transported, rather than using a specialized vehicle, a specialized trailer may be used instead, attached to a standard tractor truck or other large vehicle. These "motor carriers" often bring cars from factories to dealers. They typically have two levels that each hold 3-5 cars, ramps for moving the cars from ground to either level, and hook/chain ties and mounts to secure the cars for transport. Their beds, on each level, may have channels or tracks to guide loading and further maintain transport stability.

Vehicle towing may be performed for the following reasons:

  • Towing of disabled or damaged car at request of owner (the most common form)
  • Towing of car by government authorities or its agents, due to being disabled and/or abandoned on a public thoroughfare
  • Towing a car as a form of long distance shipping, such as during its owner's move to a new location, rather than driving the car
  • Repossession of a car by a lender
  • As part of impoundment of vehicles by government agencies for infractions involving the vehicle in question, such as unpaid parking or moving violations ("tickets")

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