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Wheel Lift Towing vs. Flatbed Towing: Which One is Right for Your Vehicle?

When your vehicle breaks down or gets into an accident, choosing the right towing method is crucial. An estimated 55,000 vehicles are towed daily in America, highlighting the importance of reliable towing services. With so many cars needing assistance, understanding the differences between wheel lift and flatbed towing can help you make an informed decision. Premio Towing Company, your trusted towing service in Dallas, TX, is here to help. Call us at (469) 269-5499 for reliable and efficient towing solutions.

Defining Wheel Lift Towing

Wheel lift towing is a method that uses a hydraulic lift to raise the rear or front wheels of a vehicle off the ground. The tow truck then pulls the vehicle with the other two wheels on the road. This method is quick, efficient, and cost-effective, making it a popular choice for many towing situations.

Advantages of a Wheel Lift Tow

  1. Cost-effective: This type of towing is generally more affordable than flatbed towing, with the average cost of towing a car in the United States being around $109.
  2. Quick and efficient: The setup process for wheel lift towing is faster, allowing for quicker response times.
  3. Versatile: It can handle a variety of vehicle types, including sedans, compact cars, and small SUVs.

Disadvantages of a Wheel Lift Tow

  1. Potential damage: If not done correctly, this type of towing can cause damage to the towed vehicle’s drivetrain or suspension.
  2. Not suitable for all vehicles: Some cars, like those with all-wheel drive or low ground clearance, may not be compatible with it.
  3. Limited stability: Vehicles towed using the wheel lift method may experience less stability during transport compared to flatbed towing.

What is Flatbed Towing?

Flatbed towing involves loading the entire vehicle onto a flat, hydraulic bed that’s attached to the tow truck. The vehicle is secured on the bed using straps or chains, preventing any movement during transport.

Advantages of Flatbed Towing

  1. Maximum protection: Flatbed towing ensures that the towed vehicle is completely off the ground, minimizing the risk of damage during transport.
  2. Suitable for most vehicles: This type of towing can accommodate a wide range of vehicle types, including classic cars, luxury vehicles, SUVs, and trucks.
  3. Increased stability: With the entire vehicle secured on the flatbed, there’s less chance of swaying or instability during transport.

Disadvantages of Flatbed Towing

  1. More expensive: Due to the specialized equipment and longer setup time, flatbed towing typically costs more than a wheel lift tow.
  2. Slower and less efficient: Loading a vehicle onto a flatbed takes more time, which can lead to slower response times.
  3. Limited availability: Not all towing companies have flatbed trucks in their fleet, which may limit availability in some areas.

When to Choose Wheel Lift Towing

Wheel lift towing is an excellent choice for short-distance tows, vehicles with front-wheel drive, and lightweight cars. It’s also a good option if you’re working with a tight budget, as it’s generally more affordable than flatbed towing.

Situations Where Wheel Lift Towing is Appropriate

  1. Short-distance towing: If your vehicle needs to be towed a short distance, such as to a nearby repair shop, this can be a quick and cost-effective solution.
  2. Towing vehicles with front-wheel drive: This kind of towing is well-suited for vehicles with front-wheel drive, as it allows the rear wheels to be lifted off the ground while the front wheels remain on the road.
  3. Towing lightweight vehicles: Sedans, compact cars, and small SUVs are typically lightweight enough to be safely towed using the wheel lift method.

When to Choose Flatbed Towing

Flatbed towing is the preferred method for long-distance tows, vehicles with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, and heavy or oversized vehicles. It’s also the safest choice for classic cars, luxury vehicles, motorcycles, and ATVs.

Situations Where Flatbed Towing is Necessary

  1. Long-distance towing: If your vehicle needs to be transported a considerable distance, flatbed towing is the safest option to minimize the risk of damage during transit.
  2. Towing vehicles with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive: Vehicles with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive require all four wheels to be off the ground during towing to prevent damage to the drivetrain.
  3. Towing heavy or oversized vehicles: Flatbed towing is essential for heavy or oversized vehicles that may exceed the weight capacity of wheel lift towing equipment.

Types of Vehicles That Require Flatbed Towing

  1. Classic cars and luxury vehicles: These high-value vehicles often require the added protection of flatbed towing to minimize the risk of damage especially during transport.
  2. SUVs and trucks: Larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks may be too heavy for a wheel lift tow truck and require the stability of a flatbed tow truck.
  3. Motorcycles and ATVs: These smaller vehicles are best transported on a flatbed to ensure their safety and prevent damage during towing.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Towing Method

When deciding between wheel lift and flatbed towing, consider the following factors:

  1. Distance of the tow: Longer distances generally require flatbed towing for added safety and protection.
  2. Type and condition of the vehicle: Consider your vehicle’s drive type, weight, and ground clearance when selecting a towing method.
  3. Budget and cost considerations: Wheel lift towing is typically more affordable than flatbed towing, so consider your budget when making a decision.
  4. Availability of towing services in your area: Not all towing companies offer both wheel lift and flatbed towing, so check the availability of services in your area.

How to Ensure Safe and Secure Towing

Regardless of the towing method you choose, it’s essential to work with a reputable towing company like Premio Towing Company. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and secure towing experience:

  1. Choose a licensed and insured towing company: Verify that the towing company you select is properly licensed and insured to protect yourself and your vehicle.
  2. Prepare your vehicle for towing: Remove loose items from your vehicle and provide keys to the tow truck operator to ensure a smooth towing process.
  3. Communicate clearly with the tow truck operator: Discuss your vehicle’s condition and any special requirements with the tow truck operator to ensure they use the appropriate towing method.
  4. Inspect your vehicle after the tow: Once your vehicle is delivered, inspect it thoroughly for any potential damage that may have occurred during the towing process.


Understanding the differences between wheel lift and flatbed towing is essential when your vehicle needs assistance. By considering factors like distance, vehicle type, budget, and availability, you can make an informed decision and choose the best towing method for your situation. Remember, Premio Towing Company is always here to help with your towing needs in the Dallas area. With our expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction, you can trust us to provide fast, reliable, and professional towing services. Call us at (469) 269-5499 whenever you need assistance, and we’ll be there to help you get back on the road safely.

Ronald Whitehill

Premio Towing Company is a fully insured and certified roadside service company with services for Dallas, Texas and the surrounding communities.

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