There are five general types of tow vehicles that are commonly used and are based on the type and size of the vehicle.

Boom – Though not specifically for towing, a great number of trucks are equipped with an adjustable boom winch for recovering vehicles that are in a ditch, culvert, over an embankment or any place the vehicle cannot be safely backed-up to.

Hook and Chain – Also known as a “sling” or a “belt lift” these are chains looped around the vehicle frame or axle. This is positioned high by a boom winch to rest against a pair of heavy rubberized mats so a vehicle can be towed on its other axle. This type is seldom used because they can scratch the bumpers of a car. This can be used, however, for towing vehicles that have been in an accident or have one or two of the front or rear wheels missing or for pickup trucks and other vehicles that have steel bumpers.

Wheel Lift – The hook and chain technology has evolved into the wheel lift. A large metal yoke is fitted under the front or rear wheels to cradle them, lifting the front or rear end of the vehicle with the use of a pneumatic or hydraulic hoist so it can be used. A wheel life picks up the drive wheels of a vehicle (front wheels, rear wheels) touching only the tires.

Flatbed – Also referred to as a rollback or a slide, the entire back of the truck is fitted with a bed that can be hydraulically inclined and moved to a ground level, allowing the customer’s vehicle to be placed on it under its own power or pulled by a winch.

Integrated – This type integrates boom and wheel-lift into a single unit, thus its name. This is used in light duty trucks to retrieve vehicles or move illegally parked vehicles. It has controls for the apparatus inside the cab of the tow truck to allow quick pickup without the inconvenience of exiting the truck to hook up the vehicle.