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What is the Difference Between Flatbed Towing and Recovery Towing?

When it comes to towing vehicles, there are various methods and techniques used to transport them safely from one place to another. Two common types of towing methods are flatbed towing and recovery towing. While these terms may sound similar, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the disparities between flatbed towing and recovery towing, helping you understand which method is most suitable for your specific needs.

What you will learn in this Article:

  1. What is flatbed towing?

  2. Advantages of flatbed towing

  3. Recovery towing

  4. Advantages of recovery towing

What is the difference between flatbed towing and recovery towing?

What is Flatbed Towing?

Flatbed towing, also known as rollback towing, involves using a specialized truck equipped with a flat, level platform on the back. The platform, often referred to as a "bed," can be hydraulically inclined or remain parallel to the ground. Flatbed towing is commonly used for transporting disabled or non-functioning vehicles that cannot be driven.

Advantages of Flatbed Towing

  1. Safety and protection: Flatbed towing offers a high level of safety and protection for your vehicle. Since the entire car or truck is loaded onto the flatbed, it eliminates the risk of additional damage during transport. Your vehicle remains securely strapped in place, ensuring it reaches the destination without any further issues.

  2. Versatility: Flatbed towing can accommodate vehicles of various sizes, including motorcycles, small cars, SUVs, and even larger commercial vehicles. The flatbed's adaptable design makes it a versatile choice for transporting different types of vehicles.

  3. All-Wheel drive and specialty vehicles: If you own an all-wheel-drive vehicle or a specialty car with low ground clearance, flatbed towing is the ideal option. With all wheels elevated off the ground, there is no risk of damage to the drivetrain or scraping the undercarriage.

What is the difference between flatbed towing and recovery towing?

Recovery Towing

Recovery towing, also known as hook-and-chain towing or wheel-lift towing, involves using a specialized truck with a tow truck boom and chains or straps. The boom is fitted with a hook or sling, which is attached to the disabled vehicle's front or rear axles.

Advantages of Recovery Towing

  1. Cost-Effective: Recovery towing is often a more cost-effective option compared to flatbed towing, especially for shorter distances. The simplicity of the equipment used and the reduced labor requirements contribute to its affordability.

  2. Quick response: Recovery towing is commonly used for vehicles that have minor mechanical issues or are parked illegally. Tow truck operators can quickly hook up the vehicle and transport it to the desired location without the need for additional equipment.

  3. Off-Road recovery: Recovery towing is particularly useful for off-road vehicles or cars stuck in challenging terrains. The hook-and-chain method allows tow truck operators to easily extract the vehicle and bring it back to a safe location.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between flatbed towing and recovery towing is crucial to ensure your vehicle is transported safely and efficiently. Flatbed towing offers superior protection and versatility, making it an excellent choice for non-functioning vehicles, all-wheel-drive cars, and specialty vehicles. On the other hand, recovery towing is cost-effective, quick, and well-suited for shorter distances or off-road recovery situations. Assess your specific needs and the condition of your vehicle to determine which method is most suitable for you. If your vehicle is specially modified then you can contact TTN Roadside Assistance to find out how flatbed towing handles those types of vehicles. Remember, in case of an emergency, don't hesitate to contact TTN Roadside Assistance for reliable and prompt towing services.

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