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8 Ways to Equip a Tow Truck for Roadside Assistance

There really isn’t anything a roadside assistance service does that most tow truck drivers can’t accomplish – if they have the proper equipment. The main tasks of roadside assistance are tire repair/change, jump-starting batteries and unlocking doors. The following tools and accessories can help open a whole new revenue stream for your towing business.

Fuel Tanks for Towing and Roadside Services

It isn’t uncommon for drivers to call Roadside Assistance when they’ve run out of gas. Having an additional fuel tank on your vehicle will help you accommodate those service calls. A busy service should invest in a tank that mounts on the bed or some other flat service on the tow vehicle. In some places, transporting fuel in this way may necessitate a hazardous materials license, so be sure to check local regulations. 

A tow truck driver carrying a towing strap to a tow truck

Hydraulic Jacks for Tow and Roadside Service

Having your own hydraulic jack ensures you can do the job right and do it safely. Be sure to carry a low-profile floor jack to get under those little coupes and sports cars. 

Larger vehicles can require the use of a truck jack. It may look like any other floor jack, but a truck jack can often lift anything up to 100 tons. Investing in quality hydraulic jack is smart because they will long outlast their cheaper counterparts. Once those seals go, a cheap hydraulic jack is all but useless, and it can be dangerous before the damage is noticeable. 

Air Compressors for Tow Trucks

Adding an air compressor multiplies the jobs you can do, while also shortening the time it takes to do them. A tire change goes much quicker with an impact wrench, and it is much safer. Be sure to use a high-quality lug nut socket set for impact wrenches. Compressed air also makes roadside tire repairs possible. Often, just a simple patch kit can get the motorist back on the road, happy and ready to write a five-star review on Yelp. 

This is one area where it is never a good idea to skimp. A roadside assistance company can get quite busy at times, and consumer-grade air compressors will overheat if pushed too hard. An industrial-style, a commercial air compressor will actually save money in repairs in the long run.

Consumer-grade air compressors will overheat if pushed too hard. An industrial-style air compressor will actually save money in repairs in the long run.

Jump Starters for Towing Roadside Assistance

The most common cause of roadside assistance calls is a dead battery. Of course, the cause of the drained battery could be a faulty alternator, rather than say leaving the ignition switch in the “on” position. In that case, the tow truck will likely be towing the vehicle to a repair shop. However, a jump start is often all that is required.

Consider investing in a portable commercial-grade jump starter. When choosing a jump starter, be sure it has an absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery. The electrolyte in these batteries is contained within special glass mats to keep it from leaking in the event of a tip-over.

Car Unlocking Tools for Towing and Roadside Assistance

There likely aren’t many people who have never locked their keys in a vehicle. When that happens, there isn’t much the average motorist can do – short of smashing a window – other than calling a locksmith or roadside assistance. 

You need not be a professional locksmith to unlock the average car or truck door. All you need normally is a Slim Jim or some similar tool. Of course, the design of some vehicles makes using a Slim Jim difficult. That’s why there are auto entry kits available with specialty tools. A kit with multiple shapes of Slim Jim tools and different gadgets for triggering automatic locks or pulling manual ones can make unlocking any vehicle much easier. 

Tow truck driver securing a wrecked vehicle onto a towing trailer

Lighting for Roadside Assistance with Tow Trucks

In all likelihood, your tow truck already has some type of lighting besides headlights. However, fog lights and flood lights won’t cut it in the roadside assistance game. Instead, consider the benefits of portable, rechargeable work lights. These lights often use lithium-ion batteries, which can withstand countless charging cycles and repeated deep discharges. With several of these lights on hand, dark areas and shadows on work areas can be completely eliminated.

Tow Truck Storage for Roadside Assistance Gear

You’ve probably noticed that all this roadside assistance gear will take up quite a bit of space. Luckily, there are many different storage solutions for tow trucks on the market. A favorite of many operators is the steel underbody toolbox. Look for a box that is weatherproof and lockable, and add multiple toolboxes per truck when possible. They’re also great for storing other recovery equipment, such as slings, snatch blocks, load binders and more. 

Side Winch for Tow Service Roadside Assistance

The last suggestion for making a tow truck into a roadside assistance vehicle is the side winch. There is no better method for recovering vehicles from ditches or other roadside hazards. A good side winch will net you many recovery jobs when the competition is ill-equipped for the task. A good side winch should have outriggers for stability, high weight capacity and the ability to pivot so that positioning the recovery vehicle will be simple. 

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