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.
- Equipment can take up a lot of space, so storage compartments or toolboxes are highly recommended.
- Consider things like an additional fuel tank and air compressors for quicker roadside solutions.
- A drained battery is the most common issue, so commercial-grade jump starters are a great investment.
- Consider a tool like a slim jim to help the occasional case of someone’s keys being locked inside their car.
- Roadside hazards like ditches may claim some vehicles, but a side winch can help safely recover them.
1. Fuel Tanks for Towing and Roadside Services
It isn't uncommon for drivers to call roadside Assistance when they've run out of fuel. 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.
2. Hydraulic Jacks for Towing
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.
3. Air Compressors on 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.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.
4. Jump Starters for 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.
5. Car Unlocking Tools
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.
6. Tow Truck Exterior Lighting
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.
7. Storage on a Tow Truck
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.
8. Side Winch for Tow Trucks
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.Published on: August 15, 2019
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