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tow truck towing a small car view being wheel lift towed

Wrecker Vs Wheel-Lift Attachments

For towing companies, owning the right equipment is essential to making sure that each job gets done properly.

Tow trucks are the biggest asset of oru company and we make sure they are available for many different situations our customer find themselves in.  Some may be more affordable than others.

In many cases a wheel-lift tow truck, where an attachment lift the car or truck by one set of axles, may be the best choice, and there are three distinct options to choose from.

Let’s learn a bit more about what makes them unique…

Differentiating The Hidden Wheel-Lift And The Slide-In Wheel-Lift

Wheel-lift towing involves lifting the wheels of the car to be towed. Both the hidden wheel-lift and slide-in wheel lift tow the car with the same principle. The arms are responsible for going under the vehicle and securing onto the wheels.

This kind of towing is very useful for short distances or for light-duty towing. With it, you can successfully tow a vehicle without using a wrecker. However similar they seem, the two are still different from each other.

The Hidden Wheel-Lift

These are also known as under-mount wheel lifts or under-body wheel lifts. The lifts are usually secured under the truck. This provides two important benefits. The first is that you don’t really see it and secondly, the truck bed can be still used for other purposes.

However, this kind of wheel lift is not that easy to install. There are hidden wheel lifts that can only be installed properly when the frame of the truck is modified. This is installed in the frame of the truck and that connection should be welded in place to ensure that it is secure. With this kind of wheel lift, most of the weight of the towed vehicle is distributed in the rear portion ofo the truck’s frame. This can eventually damage the frame of the truck.

Another thing to look into is the accessibility of the wheel lift. Having it hidden is great but that also means it can take more time to get to it and use it. Due to welding, hidden wheel lifts can also be difficult to remove from the frame.

The position of the hidden wheel lift is also not ideal because being under the vehicle means it is more exposed to various elements on the road. It can easily be filled with dirt, mud, salt, or stones. This exposure can affect the life span of the hidden wheel-lift.

Slide-In Wheel-Lift

The slide-in wheel lift is another option and a more popular choice among those who are in the towing business. Instead of attaching to the frame of the truck, this attaches to the bed of the truck. Although the truck bed can’t be used, most towing businesses won’t mind because the main function of the vehicle is for towing.

What’s great about this kind of wheel lift is the longer lifespan. Due to lesser exposure to road elements, it is less likely to get damaged as compared to the hidden wheel lift. Also, the weight of the towed vehicle is better distributed across the whole truck instead of the back only.

When the current truck wears out, the slide-in wheel lift is easier to remove and transfer to another truck. This makes it more valuable and worth the price.

Comparison Between Wrecker And Wheel Lift Attachments

Aside from wheel lift attachments, there are also wreckers that can be used for wheel lift towing. Wreckers are more preferred for heavy-duty towing because the wheel-lift equipment is already built into them. They look very familiar because they are mostly used in roadside assistance or accident recovery.

However, one drawback to choosing wreckers is the limited mileage. Once it reaches the maximum, you have to purchase another new wrecker. Buying a tow truck can be very costly even if you find used ones.

With slide-in wheel lift attachments, the upfront cost is lower and it can also be transferred from one truck to another. This can help you save in the long run because you would be able to save at least the wheel lift attachment and simply transfer it.

Additionally, wreckers are designed to be heavy duty so they are most likely bulky. Although wreckers using the wheel lift towing method are smaller than flatbed tow trucks, they are still bigger than regular trucks fitted with the slide-in wheel lift attachment. For tight spaces or in parking lots, a smaller truck with a slide-in wheel lift is preferred.


All the wheel lift towing equipment mentioned here have their own benefits. Choosing one will depend on your goals. The slide-in wheel lift is great for repo works while the wrecker is best for heavy-duty towing. Depending on the services you offer, your budget and the clients you have, either the wrecker or the slide-in wheel lift will make a good choice.

In need of an affordable wheel lift tow truck in Virginia Beach?  Green Light has got you covered…

Green Light Towing Service

Green Light Towing Service is a fully insured and certified roadside service company covering Virginia Beach, VA and the surrounding communities. We operate on a 24/7 basis and take pride in our full suite of tow trucks and equipment to address your unique Road Service situation.

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