Everything You Need to Know About Tow Trucks

Over the years, tow trucks have rescued countless drivers from precarious situations, such as when having flat or blown-out tires, running out of gas, or getting locked out of their car. Tow trucks made these possible by dragging or hauling heavy cargoes from one place to another due to their great towing capacity, ranging from 7,000 to 17,000 pounds. Tow trucks are also equipped with special features that allow them to safely and efficiently tow heavy vehicles. These include a strong chassis, a robust engine, and a reliable towing system that can handle the weight of the load.


The Cost of a Tow Truck

The cost of new tow trucks ranges from approximately $58,000 for light-duty units to around $850,000 for heavy-duty models. Although they are quite pricey, investing in a quality tow truck will be well worth it in terms of reliable performance and safety of the driver and customer alike.  However, for those who are tight on budget and don’t require all the latest features, used tow trucks are recommended since they are less expensive than the price given above. To make sure you are getting the greatest deal possible, it is essential to do research on various dealerships and manufacturers before settling on one.

Factors That Influence the Price of a Tow Truck 

Buying a new tow truck requires a significant investment, and a few factors can affect the price of your selected vehicle. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Size – The bigger the truck, the more expensive it will be. This is due to the additional raw materials needed for larger vehicles, as well as the design and production complexities of creating a vehicle at a larger scale.
  2. Type of tow truck – Different types of tow trucks vary in size, payload capacity, towing capacity, and features, so understanding your specific needs and budget is essential to select the right truck for your needs. For instance, a standard heavy wrecker carrying 25 tons of weight costs $250,000, while an ultra-heavy-duty wrecker holding a 35-ton weight can take up to $850,000.
  3. Engine power – Higher engine power will generally equate to more expensive models, while lower engine power will cost less but may not provide sufficient capabilities for performance and durability. 
  4. Special features of the tow truck – These features may include extra towing capacity and front-wheel or rear-wheel drive capabilities. Special safety considerations, such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control systems, winches, and other specialized tire setups, may also add to the cost of the truck. 
  5. The tow truck’s weight – Heavier trucks are more expensive due to the increased power and additional technology needed for them. On the other hand, lighter trucks can provide low-power runs on basic jobs, reducing the cost of purchase and maintenance. 

Customization and Options for Tow Trucks

Tow truck customization and option selection can be time-consuming, which requires great time and effort from a professional mechanic. This, however, shouldn’t be a problem, as it guarantees that your tow truck’s modifications meet the required specifications and features you desire. More importantly, it will be well worth it in the end because you’ll have a vehicle that’s optimized for speed and power, ensuring that the quality is up to the standard. Ultimately, you can rest assured that your truck will be tailored to your needs. 

Considerations When Purchasing Used Tow Trucks

Purchasing a used tow truck can be a great way to save money. However, keep in mind that it has a few drawbacks. So before purchasing one, it’s important to consider these factors to ensure that its performance isn’t that greatly compromised:

  • Depreciation: You must find out the current market value of a tow truck based on its age and condition to determine if you are getting a fair deal. Surely, if it’s too old enough, expect to pay less since its value has already depreciated. That said, in turn, you shouldn’t be surprised when its performance is below the average. Moreover, if you want to ensure that everything works properly while the price is still reasonable, consider the depreciation if it’s manageable. And if necessary, ask for additional warranties for further protection.
  • Quality: This should be at the top of your list; after all, you want the truck to operate reliably and effectively for many years. So before making a purchase, inspect it thoroughly and ensure that all of its parts and features are in good working order. Also, check its performance specifications to know if it meets the requirements of your business. 
  • Maintenance: It’s important to proceed cautiously when assessing a used tow truck and look closely at any signs of prior wear and tear, ensuring all parts are in proper working order. When perusing offers, ask the right questions and get all the details in writing. A thorough inspection of oil levels, brakes, lights, tires, towing equipment, and any other decisions that may affect its condition should also be carefully considered.
  • Mileage of the truck: It’s also important to consider the truck’s mileage, as it may seriously impact the vehicle’s wear and tear, compromising its reliability down the road. Typically, a good mileage for a used truck with a gasoline engine is below 100,000 miles, while a diesel engine should be under 200,000 miles. Remember that higher mileage will require more maintenance and repair costs than a less-driven vehicle.
  • Condition of the vehicle’s paint: Not only does this reveal any potential damage or collisions, but it can also point toward the tow truck’s age and maintenance record. It may also be possible to discern an amateur paint job from a more professional one. That information can help you decide if purchasing a used tow truck is truly cost-effective, given that it may require aesthetic repairs before it can be used.

Different Classes of Tow Trucks

There are various classes of tow trucks, each designed for a specific purpose. Below are the common ones:

Class 4 Trucks for Small-mid Size Vehicles

When dealing with smaller to mid-sized vehicles, Class 4 tow trucks are an ideal solution for those in the auto recovery and towing industry. These trucks offer immense power due to their diesel engines and air brakes, allowing for efficient and safe handling of many vehicles. A flatbed design is one of the features of these vehicles that allows easy loading with minimal damage to the towed vehicle. Moreover, Class 4 tow trucks contain accessories such as adjustable outriggers, a winch, and built-in seating to provide a more comfortable ride during transport. Their distinctive safety features make them a dependable choice when hauling heavy cargo.

Class 8 Trucks for Heavy Hauling

Class 8 Trucks are specifically designed for towing large and heavy vehicles, like semi-trucks, as they have powerful engines and large decks capable of handling significant weight. Operators typically have special training to operate this class of vehicle, making sure items are loaded correctly, and all safety protocols are followed. These trucks aren’t just large but also powerful, with features like hydraulic hoists and winches that make the entire process easier than ever before. And for those especially challenging jobs where a standard tow truck isn’t enough, Class 8 trucks offer a great solution.

Safety Considerations

Truck drivers must be mindful of not overloading the truck beyond its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). It’s because the excess weight has a direct effect on performance and safety standards. It also puts excessive strain on the brakes and tires, increasing braking reaction time and decreasing the effectiveness of the brakes. This can result in a brake malfunction and may even damage your truck’s suspension if exceeding the weight limit is not addressed promptly. Thus, truck drivers must pay attention to GVWR information and keep track of their cargo loads to ensure safe driving conditions.


Before purchasing a tow truck, it’s essential to consider a few factors in mind. Doing so helps you to find the right truck for your needs and ensure that your safety is your top priority. Basically, the type of truck you need will depend on the type of towing you’ll do. For example, if you are hauling large, illegally parked vehicles, you should opt for a heavy-duty integrated tow truck. 

Also, the truck’s size matters in finding the right fit for the job. If you choose a truck that’s too small, you won’t be able to tow bigger vehicles, or it may cause damage to your tow truck’s components. Similarly, if you pick a truck larger than you require, you’ll just spend more money on it. Other factors include the cost, payload and towing capacity, engine power, and mileage, as well as the depreciation if you buy a used tow truck — considering all these before making a purchase contributes to the overall performance and fulfillment of your towing demands.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.