What type of tow truck does my vehicle require?

When waiting expectantly for a tow truck, it’s important to consider the needs and specific type of tow truck needed for your car. Not every company is alike so make sure you know who will come out and what type of towing equipment they have before calling!

There are different types of tow trucks, each with its own specific designs, and understanding the needs and specifics of your car should be considered when calling for a tow truck. A good towing company like Car King Towing will specifically ask for your car’s year, make, and model before sending a tow truck that fits your specific vehicle. The most important consideration when determining the type of tow truck you need is your car’s drive system, whether that’s front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD). The needs of AWD or classic cars can call for specialized towing to reduce damage.

About Different Drive Systems and AWDs

Depending on what type and class of your vehicle, there are different types of two-wheel drive systems to be aware of. A FWD (front wheel drive) car has its drive system in the front of the vehicle, and should be towed with the rear wheels on the ground, and a RWD (rear wheel drive) car has its drive system in the rear of the vehicle, and should be towed with the front wheels on the ground. There are actually two choices of tow trucks that are compatible with two-wheel drive cars (FWD or RWD): wheel lift and flatbed. In either case, it is important that the drive wheels are the ones lifted to avoid damaging the transmission of the car. Even a car in neutral will damage the transmission if towed by the drive wheels.

But what about AWD cars that utilize all four wheels? In this case, none of the wheels should be allowed to touch the road during towing, as this will seriously damage the 4X4 or AWD transmission.

As you will see in the descriptions below, the best way to transport an AWD is with a flatbed tow truck. These systems lift the entire car off the road and carry it that way to its destination with little risk of damage to the engine or driver system.

If no flatbed tow trucks can be found, wheel dollies can be placed beneath the rear or front set of wheels while it is towed by a wheel lift tow truck. This ensures that the transmission and drive system will not be affected by the being completely lifted off the ground. Both of these methods will preserve the longevity of your AWD transmission.

2 Types of Modern Day Tow Trucks 

Wheel Lift

Wheel lift tow trucks tow the vehicle on two wheels and are equipped with a powerful hydraulic yoke that lifts the vehicle off the ground. This provides great stabilization and less chance that the vehicle being towed will suffer any damage. Wheel dollies can be used if needed on an AWD vehicle, allowing all wheels and drive systems to be completely off the ground during transport. Wheel dollies are not recommended for long distance transport of your vehicle. Wheel lift trucks are the most conventional type of tow truck available in most tow truck company fleets, they are also better for getting into tight places and parking garages, as well as delivering to those tight places, alleys or parking garages.


The best way to transport an AWD, Electric (Tesla), or classis car is to carry the entire vehicle on the back of a flatbed tow truck. This ensures minimal damage to the car’s engine or drive system. The car is pulled with hydraulics, and a winching system that is designed to interact with the specific hook up points designed on your vehicles frame, specifically made by each vehicle manufacturer for flatbed towing. It is then pulled onto the back of the truck where it is safely fastened in place for the trip. The downside to flatbed tow trucks is that they cannot get into some tight places and never in a parking garage structure. Most companies will charge an extra premium for flatbed tow trucks, if they do have them in their fleet. Lucky for you, Car King Towing does not charge this premium.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, or to get a free quote on your towing needs.

Jess Horton