Secure a Vehicle on a Flatbed Tow Truck

Edited by Jerry Rivers, Anonymous, Eng, Lynn and 8 others

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A flatbed, or rollback, tow truck is an ideal way to tow a vehicle. Since the vehicle being towed is riding on the flatbed, the towed vehicle's wheels are not turning. This saves wear and tear on your tires, and other parts that are affected from the spinning wheels ordinarily. If you have a four-wheel drive, damaged, or large vehicle, a flatbed tow truck is a life-saver. The tow truck operator can easily lower the back of the flatbed to the road surface, attach two end-hooks to tow slots at the bottom front of your vehicle, and pull your car or truck into place with a powerful automated winch. It is important to know how to secure your vehicle on a flatbed tow truck. You want to be certain that the operator is handling your vehicle properly.

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A rollback tow truck can drop the back end of the flat bed to the ground as a ramp to pull your car easily from your parking spot onto its flat bed. Unlike the four other main types of tow trucks, it will even secure your vehicle if it is heavily damaged or too heavy for the typical tow truck. If you have a four-wheel-drive truck, it can handle it with no problem. Before your vehicle is touched by the operator, most tow services will have you sign a waiver regarding any damage to your vehicle.

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  1. 1
    To secure a vehicle on a flatbed tow truck, the truck operator must pull up a couple car lengths ahead of it.
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  2. 2
    Then he will use a hydraulic system to make the flat bed like a ramp, so that your vehicle can roll up on it.
    The front wheels are aligned with the truck bed.
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  3. 3
    It has walls about a foot high to ensure the car is guided properly while the winch is pulling the vehicle onto the truck bed.
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  4. 4
    There are two slots on most models of vehicles, at the front and bottom, designed specifically for towing.
    Two hooks on the end of the winch are to hook up to your car or truck in those slots.  
    1. If you have a Chevy or Ford, there is a hole on each side of the frame for winch hooks and for tie downs.
    2. Nearly all Japanese cars have tie down slots under the front bumper.
    3. Mercedes and Audi both are a challenge to hook up because they have a plug that must be removed from a sticky undercoating.
    4. If it's a BMW to be towed, there is a tow hook provided in a tool kit found in the trunk.
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  5. 5
    Have your auto in neutral so that your wheels will roll freely for the winch.
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  6. 6
    The tow truck operator will have a lever at the middle of the truck bed on the side that he pulls to operate the winch.
    The cable connected to your car will wrap around the "spool" on the winch.
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  7. 7
    Another lever will swing the flat bad up until it is level once your car or truck is mounted on the truck bed.
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  8. 8
    Once your vehicle is in place, the operator will put the transmission in "park".
    He will also set the emergency brake "on" for extra security.
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  9. 9
    The operator will pull on this lever, or another one, to then hydraulically move the bed into position near the tow truck cab.
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  10. 10
    The operator will then take the extra security measure of tying down or hooking down each of your wheels for the trip.
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Towing your vehicle with a flatbed tow truck is the safest means to get your vehicle from one place to another if you're not driving it. It can cost up to $1,000 to tow a vehicle, but generally towing businesses will have a flatbed tow truck to your car or truck in a reasonable time in any weather condition.

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Although their operators are trained in how to secure your vehicle onto the flatbed, it is worthwhile to know the steps as mentioned above to ensure they are following protocol in towing your valued source of transportation. It is a good idea to observe the operator as he loads your car into place. He should also be willing to answer any questions or concerns before the drives away with your vehicle.

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Questions and Answers

What damage may have been done?

A towing company put our outback on a flatbed without our permission. It was a mistake but they dragged our car backwards onto the truck. They did not have a key to the car.

If your Outback was parked illegally, then any damage to your vehicle is not the responsibility of the tow company or the town or city where it was towed. When towing illegally parked vehicles, tow companies are exempted from damage to the vehicle, as illegally parked vehicles are categorized as a hazard, and their removal takes priority over damage to the vehicle.

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However, if they illegally towed your vehicle, they are liable for any damages and associated costs.

In either case, you should have your vehicle inspected by an authorized service center. In most cases, dragging a parked vehicle the short distance necessary to load it onto a flatbed will not cause damage. It is possible that if your emergency brake was engaged, that it could be damaged. It's also possible that, if you have an automatic transmission, that the bands could have been stressed, but these are extremely unlikely scenarios.

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Most of the time, damage to vehicles is caused by improperly hooking up the tow cables, or carelessly offloading a vehicle, which usually only causes cosmetic damage, such as paint scrapes, or dents.

I have a 1999 Cadillac Escalade it was towed by a flatbed truck but it was in park at the time it was towed because it wouldn't start will this cause damage to my vehicle it made a loud noise when first being pulled but the tow driver said that was just the chain hitting the bed of the truck?

Do you think being in park may have damaged my transmission

The tow truck operator was correct when informing you that the loud noise you heard from the flatbed tow of your Cadillac Escalade was due to the tow chain, and not your vehicle. While it is always preferable to have your vehicle in neutral when loading it for a flatbed tow, the short distance necessary to move your vehicle onto a flatbed is not enough to cause damage - especially not damage that would make the noise you are describing. In the event that you do find damage, you'll need to file a claim with your insurance or AAA agent.

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See more questions like this: Could this happen during the tow?

Is a 4 point tie down on a vehicle being towed on a rollback enough in California?

I was told California dot mandates a 6 point tie down on vehicles being towed on a 28000 gross roll back

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Can a vehicle to successfully winched onto a flatbed if the car is lock and the driver is unable to put it in neutral?

My 2008 Equinox sustained $3,500 worth of damage by a tow company. The tow company is denying any damage. When looking at the vehicle, you can clearly see that the damage was done when the left front tire fell through a wheel lift. Major damage by the L arm. Now that I am pressing the issue of a law suit, the tow company states that the car was loaded onto a flat bed. However, the car was locked when they arrived. The vehicle is a front wheel drive and I was told that I didn't need to be present at the time of pick. Could they have used a flat bed without having access to the inside of the car to put it in neutral? If so, if it was loaded without the car being placed in neutral would damage result? I'm trying to piece things together to see if they are lying about how the vehicle was transported. Thank you.

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The Tow company probably used "Skates" which are placed under each of the wheels. The "Skates" will slide on the ground allowing the vehicle's wheels to remain stationary. Tow operator will winch the vehicle onto to the rollback without damaging the drivetrain.

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Can towing a 2006 Toyota Tundra on a flatbed truck cause the boot to be damaged?

Just had our 2006 Toyota Tundra towed home; I just noticed that one of the front boots is completely ripped off. Could this have been done during the towing?

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How do I explain the damage done from a tow company?

How do I explain the damage done from a tow company? My 93 Camry was towed from the rear onto a flatbed tow truck, when returned the hole space at the bottom left bumper is cracked and there is a 51/2" � - 2 1/2 " rectangular imprint into the bottom corner of my radiator, directly behind the hole space on bumper, and my radiator and fans are caved into the motor. I need to explain how this happened in writing. Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it.

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VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Do you have a link that shows 4point tiedown on a rollback?

4point tiedown on a rollback wrecker

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Can you tow a car on a flat bed that is not a road back, if so what will you have to do?

About a road back if it is able to tow cars without it being a road back. I have tried: Nothing, thinking of buying one

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How do I secure a Toyota Sienna to a flatbed car hauler?

There are no rings like my Acura.. I have tried: I( have looked over the underside all over the front and can find no rings. I think it was caused by: Should I wrap strap around the sub-frame behind the shock mount. For the rear, what do you think of the ring which attaches to the ball hitch receiver?

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I want to buy 10 units towing vehicles on truck mounted chassis?

I am looking for the assembler of towing vehicles.

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Categories : Automotive

Recent edits by: Ronnie 3, RayBautista, Edward Balbas

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