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Tow Truck Hookup Procedures

by Jay Motes; Updated September 26, 2017

Tow trucks are used to transport vehicles for a variety of reasons including being illegally parked and broken down. There are three basic types of tow truck, and each attaches to the vehicle needing moved in different ways.

Hook and Chain

A hook and chain tow truck attaches to a vehicle by the use of a chain. The chain is secured around the axle or other part of the vehicle. Due to the likelihood of damage to the towed vehicle, these tow trucks are not commonly used for most towing purposes. Hook and chain tow trucks are still used for towing badly damaged vehicles.

Axle Cradling

An axle cradling tow truck uses a metal yoke placed under the vehicle. The yoke is then secured to the wheels. The axle cradling tow truck lifts the car by the wheels, which reduces the chance of damage to the towed vehicle compared to the hook and chain tow truck.

Flatbed / Rollback

The rollback tow truck, also referred to as a flatbed, places the vehicle onto a platform for transport. The platform is lowered, making a ramp that the vehicle is driven or pulled onto. The rollback tow truck is the least likely to damage a vehicle of the three types.

About the Author

Jay Motes is a writer who sold his first article in 1998. Motes has written for numerous print and online publications including "The Dollar Stretcher" and "WV Sportsman." He holds a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in history and political science form Fairmont State College in Fairmont, W.V.

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Photo Credits

  • no parking tow zone sign image by Stephen Orsillo from