The Front End
Light duty versus medium duty considerations on your next purchase By David A. Kolman
AT Chassis Editor David Kolman has been a longhaul truck driver over the years and is a multi-faceted trucking trade journalist with experience in print, online and broadcasting. He has hosted trucker television and radio programs and helped write trucking industry documentaries and video programs.
s with any vehicle purchase, there are many factors to consider when deciding upon a light duty or medium duty wrecker. A chief consideration is what kind of hauling/ towing the wrecker will be doing and what other capabilities will be needed. Another is gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This is how vehicle manufacturers label trucks based on U.S. government guidelines. GVWR indicates the maximum truck weight after it is fully loaded with cargo, fuel and passengers. In addition to satisfying the payload requirements, the gross combined weight rating (GCWR) needs to be adequate if the truck will be towing a trailer or vehicle. The government classifies light and medium duty vehicles into six classes. Light duty trucks: • Class 1: GVWR of 0 to 6,000 lbs. • Class 2: GVWR of 6,001 to 10,000 lbs. • Class 3: GVWR of 10,001 to 14,000 lbs. Medium duty trucks: • Class 4: GVWR of 14,001 to 16,000 lbs. • Class 5: GVWR of 16,001 to 19,500 lbs. • Class 6: GVWR of 19,501 to 26,000 lbs. Not to be overlooked in the decision making is the importance of ensuring that the wrecker can reliably perform the job it will be required to do with minimal issues over the life of the vehicle. The wrecker needs to be spec’d with enough power and payload capacity, plus be built to withstand the application it will be in for many years.
CABOVER OR CONVENTIONAL
On a conventional truck, the cab is situated behind the engine and steering axle and has a hood. This configuration adds to the vehicle’s overall length and weight which decreases payload potential, maneuverability and visibility. However, the positioning of the cab behind the 18 • June 2021 | Towman.com
engine makes for a more comfortable ride and easy ingress and egress. The cabover design has a flat front face, the engine is housed beneath the cab, above the vehicle’s front axle.
Cabovers have superior
even in tight, confined spaces like narrow streets and alleys due to their tighter turning radius. Cabover trucks offer some advantages over conventional truck designs. With the driver sitting over the engine and closer to the windshield, no hood to block the view ahead and a “wraparound” windshield, there is greater visibility. Cabovers have superior maneuverability, even in tight, confined spaces like narrow streets and alleys due to their tighter turning radius. On average, cabover trucks have a 30 to 40 percent tighter turning radius than that of a conventional truck. The turning radius of a vehicle is the diameter of the narrowest circle it is capable of maneuvering. This is dependent on many design factors, including wheelbase length, axle width and the steering mechanism design. A disadvantage of a cabover truck