The Differences Between Wheel-lift and Flatbed Tow Trucks

Different Trucks for Different Jobs 

When there’s an accident or rollover recovery, the driver that’s dispatched to the scene needs to know what kind of truck they need to bring to handle the job. There are different types of equipment needed for different jobs. There are so many different types of tow trucks and equipment that we have available to us here at Pepe’s. But not every truck is equipped to handle every job. Different trucks are better for different towing situations. Traditionally, towing is usually done by lifting one end of the vehicle or having the vehicle rest on the platform of the truck. The two most common types of tow trucks used in towing situations are wheel-lift and flatbed tow trucks. Here is some information about wheel-lift and flatbed tow trucks and some of the differences between the them. 

Differences Between Wheel-lift and Flatbed Tow Trucks

Functioning Parts Needed

Evolving from the typical hook and chain technology, wheel-lift tow trucks have a large metal yolk that can be fitted under the front or rear wheels to support them. It lifts the vehicle up with a hydraulic hoist so that it can be towed to its final destination. This truck picks up the drive wheels of the vehicle, meaning if it’s a rear wheel drive car, it would hoist the front end of the car so the rear wheels were on the ground. Or you can use dollies to tow the vehicle if it’s all wheel drive or has flat tires.

Wheel lift trucks are generally smaller and allow you to tow vehicles in more difficult spots, like parking lots or underground garages.  With a flatbed tow truck, the vehicle is put on a platform and needs to be directly in front or behind it, this makes it difficult if for example the car is parked between two other cars. You would have to side winch it which could cause damage to the car or tires. With a wheel lift and skilled driver, you can back up to it at an angle.


Another difference between wheel-lift and flatbed tow trucks is their versatility. A wheel-lift tow truck can perform complex recoveries that might be needed prior to a tow that a flatbed would have a difficult time doing. One benefit of flatbeds is the amount of cars they can transport at once. A typical wheel lift will transport one vehicle in tow, but a flatbed can have (depending on the size of the car and length of the bed) a car or two on the deck, with another on the lift. Some flatbeds are built with a deck over the cab for even more room. 

Professional, Reliable Tow Truck Drivers in Los Angeles 

At Pepe’s Towing Service, we have one of the largest fleets in all of Southern California. That makes it possible for us to respond to all different kinds of jobs. From flatbeds and wheel-lift tow trucks to 75-ton rotators, we have the equipment necessary to respond to any towing job in Los Angeles. Next time you or your drivers need assistance on the road, contact us. We’re open 24/7/365, ready to respond to any of your towing needs.