How Do Tow Trucks Tow Cars?

How Do Tow Trucks Tow Cars?

Towing is an essential component of the automobile industry. If your car ever breaks down on the road, then short of solving its issues on the spot, you will need your car to be towed to a workshop. Yet, for many car owners, we are oblivious to how towing is done.

Learning how a proper car tow service is performed is important as it informs us as to whether the technician is taking care of our car. It also gives us a means of judging the quality of the towing company.

The Evolution of Car Towing

In the past, whenever a car was to be hauled away, tow trucks with chains and hooks were employed. The chains and hooks were wrapped around an axle or frame rail in order to have a firm grip on the car. This early towing system provided a very secure transport process but risked scratching or indenting the car.

The usage of chains and hooks are still chosen under specific conditions. However, given the need to avoid damaging your car, towing operators now use more modern methods.

Tire Lift Devices

In most cases, tow truck operators now use tire lift devices in order to avoid damaging the vehicle. As the name suggests, the tow system only touches the tires, thus avoid any damage to the body of the car.

 Tire lift devices work by having brackets fitted in front of and behind the drive wheels. These brackets are then secured in place by steel pins before the operation. Once the wheels are cradled between the brackets and secured, the tow truck lifts the vehicle’s drive wheels.

 Typically, the tow truck operator will manually position the brackets and insert the pins. This process will take him or her a couple of minutes, inclusive of checks.

Integrated Lift

Otherwise known as a self-loading wrecker, the integrated lift is a new mechanism in tow truck technology. Unlike the tire lift device, the integrated lift does not require the tow truck operator to manually attach the system.

 Instead, this wheel-lift system is controlled from the inside of truck and is deployed using hydraulic power. The driver is required to back up the tow truck to your car before a long arm (stinger) extends out. The stinger contains wheel cradles that will get in under your car. From there, the brackets are closed via hydraulics, thus cradling your car’s tires on both sides.

 Once the wheels have been secured, the tow boom is lifted along with the drive wheels. At this point, the tow truck can safely begin the journey back to the workshop. 

Flatbed Truck & Cable Winch

Certain car or vehicle models may be too heavy for wheel lift systems. In which case, an alternative method involving a cable winch is applied. For such heavier cars, a flatbed truck with an electric cable winch can be used for tow operations.

Fundamentally different from wheel lift systems is the usage of a flatbed at the back of the truck. The flat bed can be hydraulically inclined before being maneuvered back into level position when driving.

The operation starts with the cable winch pulling your car onto the flat bed through hydraulic force. Once your car is firmly in place on the flat bed, the flat bed is returned to its level position. At this point, your car would be physically on the tow truck and can be strapped down in order to secure it for the journey.

Hydraulic Power

Most tow trucks generate sufficient power to lift cars through hydraulics. Hydraulics is a broad term that refers to a system of fluids and cylinders that are used to generate force. Commonly these trucks have hydraulic pumps that are either powered by the engine or a separate power system. 

Common Questions Surrounding Car Towing

It is important that you recognize situations or actions during towing that may lead to damaging your car. Here are two common questions that are often posed:

·       Can a car be towed with the emergency brake on?

·       Why do operators use a king dolly?

·       Does the model of the tow truck make a difference?

·       Can tow trucks tow cars backwards?

·       Can your car be towed with you sitting in it?

·       What if your car does not have tires?

·       What should you do while waiting for the tow truck to arrive?

Towing a Car with the Emergency Brake On

It is recommended that you release your parking brake before your car is towed. If your car’s emergency brake cannot be released, then it cannot be towed using a wheel lifting system. Instead, it will have to be loaded onto a flatbed truck or a self-loading dolly (King Dolly) for towing.

Using a Self-Loading Dolly (Also commonly known as King Dolly in Singapore terms)

A king dolly is an extra set of wheels that are added beneath your car’s wheels so that they do not touch the ground. The dolly has a set of 4 wheels with a long horizontal connecting structure that has a gap in the middle. This gap allows for your 2 car wheels to be fitted on top (either the front or back wheels). During the tow, only the king dolly’s wheels are ever in contact with the ground.

The Kind Dolly towing method is recommended when towing:

·       4 Wheel Drive vehicles

·       All Wheel Drive vehicles

·       Lowered vehicles as normal towing might damage the body kits or body works of the vehicle

A Difference in Towing Capacity Among Truck Models

Each tow truck has its own towing capacity that determines the amount of weight it call pull without damage to the transmission, engine, frame or cooling systems. It is mandatory that these restrictions are observed as damage to these components could lead to severe consequences.

It is advised that you always inform the engaged tow truck service of your vehicle model and any modifications that you have performed beforehand. This will allow them to dispatch an appropriate tow truck for the operation.

Towing Your Car Backwards

It is absolutely possible for tow trucks to hook up to the back of the vehicle. For rear wheel drives, this is actually the preferred method.

Never Sit in your Car while it is being Towed

We cannot stress it enough that at no point should you physically be in your car while it is being towed. This is applicable to both wheel lift systems and flatbed trucks. If any towing company advises otherwise, you should be wary of their services.

Towing a Car Without Tires

Under typical circumstances, it is not possible for a tow truck to tow your car when it is stripped of its tires. While it is possible to use a chain to pull the car onto a flatbed before transporting it, this is still highly difficult.

Instead, tow truck operators often offer a spare set of temporary wheels to be fixed onto your car. This allows the operator to safely tow away your car with minimal risk of further damage.

What Should You Do While Waiting For A Tow Truck To Arrive

While waiting for the tow truck to arrive, you should perform the following steps:

·       Shift your car onto the side of the road if possible

·       Place the hazard reflective triangle to alert all motorists to your presence

·       Exit your car and stand on the road side if possible.

·       Remove any valuables from the car

·       Prepare your identification and vehicle insurance details

Once the tow truck has arrived, it is good practice to note down both the name of the driver and his or her license number. 

Call Shenton Recovery Pte Ltd for Emergency Towing

Shenton Recovery Pte Ltd offers efficient and affordable tow truck services. Our team of reliable drivers and repair technicians boast many years of experience. Be assured that we will expertly handle your vehicle recovery and offer any roadside assistance as required.

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