Believe it or not, tow trucks are actually fairly complex vehicles. There are a wide variety of different types that are used for many different purposes. When you call for a tow, the towing service will always ask you for details both about your particular type of car and the situation that you currently find yourself in. The towing service isn't being nosy! They need this information in order to determine which type of truck they should send to your location and if it is even possible for them to provide towing service at all.
While your towing company will have the expertise to make this call, it can still be useful to know a bit about towing so you can be sure that your car is being hauled the correct way.
The Importance of Drive Wheels
Your car's drive wheels are the wheels that are directly powered by the engine. In a front-wheel drive car, only the front wheels are directly connected to the engine. Likewise, a rear-wheel drive has only its rear-wheel connected. As you might suspect, all four wheels are powered in an all-wheel drive car. Why does this matter? It's important that your drive wheels are not pulled across the road as your car is being towed. Towing a car with its drive wheels rolling on the ground can lead to serious damage to the car's transmission or differential.
This has a few implications for being towed. First of all, it means that flatbed trucks are often the best option. With a flatbed truck, your car can be pulled onto the bed and safely towed with all four wheels remaining stationary. For cars that are not all-wheel drive, it is still safe to tow a vehicle with only two wheels raised so long as the raised wheels are the drive wheels. In this case, the towing company may use either a wheel-lift truck or a traditional chain truck.
Getting Out of Sticky Situations
Of course, you can only rely on these basic choices if your car can be safely pulled or rolled onto a flatbed. If your car is currently located in a ditch, off the road, or otherwise in a difficult or inaccessible position, then you may need a more specialized type of truck. Many tow trucks are equipped with winches which can be used to pull disabled vehicles back on the road, but these are limited to situations where a car isn't completely stuck.
In more serious situations, your towing company may send an integrated truck or a boom truck. Boom trucks have large arms which can be used to extend over difficult to reach areas and pull your vehicle clear. An integrated truck has a boom in addition to a traditional towing mechanism, so it can be used to tow your vehicle once it is free of its current predicament.
Heavy Duty Trouble
Finally, specialized towing equipment will be required if your vehicle is particular large. This isn't generally necessary for even the largest SUVs, but it can become an issue with heavy duty trucks or other commercial vehicles. For this reason, it's important to inform your towing company of your vehicle's exact details so that they can make a judgment call about their ability to perform a successful tow. Attempting to move a vehicle too heavy for the towing truck can potentially damage both the towing vehicle and the vehicle being towed.
Contact a service, like Green's Towing & Auto Repair Inc, for more help.