Tow Trucks

Frequently Asked Questions About Tow Trucks

When looking to purchase a new or used tow truck on eBay, certain specific questions may arise. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about these types of trucks.

What is the difference between payload and towing capacity?

Payload and towing capacity represent two different things, but both have a relationship to a truck?s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and that same truck?s frame strength. Payload is defined as what a truck can carry in weight. It determines how much more weight you can add onto an empty truck and still be under or up to the GVWR.

Payload is usually less than a truck?s tow capacity. Tow capacity is defined as the amount of weight that a truck can pull behind it. For tow trucks, this pulling does not matter whether the vehicle is a flatbed tow or a wrecker. Exceeding either the payload or tow capacity can severely damage a tow. Automobile systems and mechanical parts, such as the suspension, brakes, chassis, and frame, can be damaged if the payload or towing capacity designation is exceeded. See the manufacturer?s specifications for GVWR for a given model year.

Are the GCWR and the GVWR the same thing?

No. Both the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) represent aspects of a vehicle?s weight estimates. They are two different concepts.

  • GCWR: This is the tow truck?s overall maximum weight, including the truck itself plus any cargo, fuel, passengers, trailer, and trailer cargo.
  • GVWR: This is the tow truck?s overall maximum weight, including the truck itself plus any cargo, fuel, passengers, and tongue weight. Tongue weight is the downward force from the tongue of a trailer as exerted on the tow?s hitch.

Where are the lift levers and toolbox located?

The location of the lift levers and toolbox will vary depending on the individual truck itself. Typically, most manufacturers will either place the lift levers on the side of the truck or at the very rear. Where the levers are located on the side again depends on the truck manufacturer. Some trucks have these levers directly behind the cab while others may have it still on the side but at the rear of the truck. Some wreckers have the tools located above the rear bumper. Toolboxes are usually either located in the cab or directly behind it.

 What is the difference between a carrier and wrecker?

A tow carrier refers to a tow that has a flatbed for its towing purposes. The length of the flatbed can vary, but a tow carrier can usually accommodate one vehicle on the flatbed and a second car being pulled behind. A tow wrecker is a smaller tow than a carrier and usually can accommodate a single car.