Towing and Recovery – Which Do You Need?

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    Key Takeaways:

    • Towing and recovery are closely connected with distinct differences
    • You’ll only need one or the other if you don’t have a roadside assistance problem
    • Recovery services are necessary to handle heavy, awkward jobs that tow trucks can’t
    • Knowing whether you need to be towed or recovered saves time and trouble

    You’re in a bad spot on the road. You just want out. Don’t place that rescue call until you understand what service is best for you!

    Towing and recovery companies get a lot of queries. Two of the most common are “How much do your services cost?” and “How soon can you get here?” They rarely get another critical question: “Exactly what’s the difference between towing and recovery?”

    It all boils down to the fact that not every road rescue team can tow you when you’re in trouble. The same goes for providing recovery services. There are also times when both towing and recovery are necessary and can be provided by the same company.

    Knowing the finer details of these processes will help you assess your situation more confidently and call the right company the first time. Here are the similarities and differences between towing and recovery and who to call to get them!

    Disqualify Roadside Assistance First

    Drivers must be sure they’re not in a roadside assistance situation before they even start thinking about towing vs. recovery. Roadside assistance is the least serious of the three (mechanically speaking) and will require minimal repair effort. These situations are often so relatively minor that many drivers will be capable of fixing them alone.

    Situations in this category include running out of gas, having a flat tire, or dealing with a dead battery – nothing having a gas can, spare tire, and jumper cables in your trunk can’t fix. Using some common sense car maintenance can also help prevent getting into these low-level binds in the first place!

    Not everyone travels with the right tools or follows a proactive maintenance schedule, so some may need to call for roadside assistance. This is when the lines of service definition start to blur a little because there is some crossover between roadside assistance and towing. Getting caught in these gray areas is when you really need to understand towing vs. recovery.

    Examples of Situations Where You May Need a Tow

    One of these gray areas is when you run out of gas. Some companies will bring you gas and send you on your way. Others won’t, so you’ll need to be towed somewhere to find fuel.

    The crossover also applies to any roadside assistance problem depending on where you’ve stopped. Towing is avoidable if you get your vehicle to a clear zone before inspecting the problem. Even a minor auto issue, though, can become a major risk if it strands you in a high-traffic spot.

    Your vehicle could pose a threat to others in such a vulnerable position. It could also open you to serious injury if you try to solve any issues. Trust us – it’s even a very risky business for professionals. Getting yourself and your vehicle safely out of such precarious situations is one example of when towing is best.

    You may already have been in an accident that left your vehicle in the middle of the road. This can also require a tow – usually to a mechanic so the damage can be professionally assessed for insurance purposes. Some accidents will require recovery services, and we’ll discuss those below. Let’s first quickly cover which trucks make towing happen.

    Five Tow Truck Types

    Tow trucks come in assorted designs that make them better suited to particular jobs. You may be towed by any of the following trucks depending on your vehicle and the needs of the situation:

    • Flatbed – These small, versatile trucks are capable of handling lighter loads vs. heavy-duty.
    • Hook and chain – Old-school designs that are rarely used today because they may damage your car.
    • Wheel-lift – These low-profile, highly maneuverable models are safer than hook and chain.
    • Boom tow – Use a hydraulic arm that works with a winch.
    • Integrated – These modern, multi-use designs combine the best of booms and wheel lifts.

    Knowing the pros and cons of how these designs differ can help you make informed decisions. Choose a towing company based on how their truck might help or harm your vehicle.

    Four Times When Recovery Trucks are Needed

    It would be incredibly frustrating to call a towing company only for them to show up and shrug that they can’t help you. This will happen if your problem is out of their league. Here’s what separates the tows from the recoveries:

    1. Recovery Handles More Labor-Intensive Jobs

    Recoveries are usually more difficult than tows because they require specialized equipment and skills. This is due to more complicated operating situations. You’ll likely need a recovery team if any of the following are required:

    • Rescuing a vehicle that’s gone off-road
    • Righting an overturned vehicle
    • Releasing a vehicle trapped by mud, snow, or other obstacles
    • Containing hazardous materials
    • Lifting a submerged vehicle back onto land

    Tow trucks lack the size, power, and delicacy to handle these scenarios safely. Any attempt to do so could endanger people and traffic and make a bad situation worse.

    2. Recovery Can Handle the Heaviest Tasks

    Recovery can get any sized vehicle out of the situations above. It’s the only service to call when vehicles are on the larger, heavier side. Standard tow trucks can’t handle weights in the 30,000 pounds plus range, whereas recovery trucks can handle upwards of 70 tons (140,000 pounds and over).

    Recovery trucks are also more maneuverable, thanks to a 360-degree rotating hydraulic arm that is very effective in reaching vehicles that are in awkward spots. The long reach of this arm saves the truck from having to edge too close and risk sliding, tipping, or being submerged. This is especially useful in harsh weather where slipping and sliding is a pronounced risk.

    3. Recovery Trucks Can Overcome Awkward Situations

    Rotating recovery arms are also great for getting around obstacles that trucks can’t pass through. This can save a lot of vital time, and a quick recovery could prevent further problems from arising. Another time-saving aspect of recovery trucks is that the driver doesn’t have to get out and start fixing hooks and chains; they can perform the whole operation from their cab.

    Recovery trucks also excel in very tight spaces where tow trucks would fail. This can be very valuable on an accident scene where traffic has to be kept flowing while emergency services also need room to come and go or establish a position.

    4. Recovery Can Balance Sheer Power with Sensitivity

    The sheer power of rotator recovery trucks is complemented by their ability to be very delicate. The best-equipped teams have air cushions they can use as they move vehicles, providing an extra layer of security against further damage.

    Remember when we said earlier that occasionally both towing and recovery are needed? Once a vehicle has been righted, pulled out of mud, or hauled back uphill, it can sometimes drive off under its own power. Other times it’s been too damaged and needs to be towed to a mechanic or hauled to the salvage yard.

    You now know everything the professionals can do when you need some form of road rescue. Let’s discuss how critical you can be in streamlining the rescue process!

    The Customer’s Role in Towing and Recovery

    You have an important part to play in making towing and recovery go as smoothly as possible. Your first reactions can save a lot of trouble for you, other drivers, and the towing company. The most important thing is following best safety practices after an accident that requires either towing or recovery.

    We assembled ten things to do, including getting to a safe zone if possible, calling 911, and cataloging the accident thoroughly. You should also follow the five steps of calling a towing company to have your vehicle towed safely. These involve contacting friends or family and telling the towing company valuable information about your situation (vehicle size, model, nature of the problem, etc.).

    Motorists face one final issue even after doing the above: calling a reliable and experienced towing and recovery company. The expertise required to help you increases with the delicacy and complexity of the job. Don’t place that call to just anybody!

    Contact Geyers Towing and Recovery for Top Class Road Services

    Our team has the knowledge and equipment to provide whatever service you need, from a simple battery jumpstart up to towing and recovery. The trained Geyers Towing specialists are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you always have peace of mind that a friend is here to help.

    We’re fully registered and insured for everyone’s protection, and we can handle anything from the smallest vehicles to the biggest and heaviest. Our 30 years in business have made us the region’s premier road rescue team. You can contact us any time by calling (301) 259-3177 or visiting our contact page for a fast and free quote!

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