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Commercial Vehicle Classification GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

CLASS 1 GVWR of up to 6,000 pounds

CLASS 2 GVWR between 6,001 up to 10,000 pounds

CLASS 3 GVWR between 10,001 up to 14,000 pounds

CLASS 4 GVWR between 14,001 up to 16,000 pounds

CLASS 5 GVWR between 16,001 up to 19,500 pounds

CLASS 6 GVWR between 19,501 up to 26,000 pounds

CLASS 7 GVWR between 26,001 up to 33,000 pounds

CLASS 8 GVWR in excess of 33,001 pounds 14 • June 2021 | Towman.com

What is not being considered is the weight transfer to the rear axle or the many times this truck will be called upon to tow a van, suv or pickup truck. Remember, the total weight of your tow truck, it’s tools/supplies and the casualty vehicle can not exceed the manufacturer’s declared gross weight rating if the towed vehicle does not have operable brakes nor can you exceed the individual component ratings of the axles or tires. Now, I am not saying do not buy a class 5 chassis as a light duty tow truck, just be aware of it’s intended use and working load limits. If you were to jump up to a class 6 truck (19,501-26,000 GVWR) you would not only increase the total combined weight capacity before auxiliary brakes were required but also likely increase the rear axle capacity as well. This jump does change the availability of chassis manufacturers, although there are many great options available in this range of chassis, including offerings from brands that are well respected in the class 4 and 5 truck market. Many class 6 trucks are also available with air brakes, and contrary to popular belief, these air brake trucks do not require a CDL to operate unless you exceed the limits in your state for requiring a commercial driver license. Typically, in most states, this happens when you have a combined weight of 26,001 pounds with a towed vehicle in excess of 10,000 pounds gross weight rating (making the combination a CDL-A vehicle). Remember, air brakes are not an endorsement on a license but rather a restriction placed on commercial driver licenses. Regular non-commercial driver licenses, including “chauffeurs”

in most states, do not restrict air brakes. This is how recreational vehicles and household rental trucks can be equipped with air brakes yet driven by anyone in the country with a regular license. If class 6 is good then class 7 (26,001-33,000 GVWR) is even better, yes? Perhaps, although this class of truck will require a CDL driver at all times and may not be as economical to operate as it’s lighter duty counterpart may be. A class 7 chassis makes a true medium duty wrecker that has many possible uses and is perhaps the most versatile unit on the market. In my personal experience with the fleets that I have managed throughout my career the 16 ton medium duty was always the most profitable truck in the fleet when measured in terms of return on investment. A true medium duty tow truck will be equipped to tow everything from a small car using wheel grids to a road tractor, or even small motorhomes and everything in between. Again, ratings and intended use as built must be kept in mind but there is no doubt in my mind that a medium duty is a very versatile unit, especially for winching and recovery of passenger vehicles and vocational trucks. Other considerations that may help you decide on both chassis class (5-7) and tow body manufacturer include the need for regular, extended or crew cab configurations, desired creature comforts and accessibility for disabled passengers. Some areas of the country tend to have a greater demand for passenger transportation, including special needs passengers, while other regions may dictate short wheel base trucks with regular cabs for visibility and maneuverability.

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American Towman Magazine - June 2021  

American Towman Magazine - June 2021  

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