American Towman Magazine - September 2022

Page 24

Tow Boss

Shopping Tips Whether Buying a New or Used Tow Truck, Keep These in Mind By Randall C. Resch


Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. He writes for TowIndustryWeek. com and American Towman, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and recipient of the Dave Jones Leadership Award. Email Randy at

ere’s an enticing offer: A 1991 International 4700 carrier for sale at $55,000. The ad listing showed less than 40,000 original miles. A screamin’ That shiny new tow truck on the show floor has a lot of visual appeal, but make deal? Maybe, maybe not. sure your investment fits with your business niche. While the low mileage night and day. Staying busy is clearly the sounds tasty, that’s a bunch of money for a 31-year old tow truck. key ingredient to generating income, so a two-car carrier is a better choice for running Which leads to our overall theme. Purchasing a tow truck requires plenty of multiple vehicles. Follow this basic advice up-front: “Don’t research and close inspection, as buying one sight unseen is a risky proposition. In the be oversold, don’t buy someone else’s junk, midst of this sketchy economy, choosing a and don’t make an impulsive purchase!” Get new or used tow truck has never been more the best bang for your buck in selecting type, size, and accessories for the niche you serve. challenging. In addition, since there are so many tow And once you figure that out, do you go new truck and and recovery categories, the hard or used? Buying new usually avoids possible choice is determining which business niche downtime, yet can pose a financial challenge you plan to pursue. For newer or startup tow business owners, it’s smart to first know for startup budgets. On the other hand, the your business segment, because not all savings of a used truck might seem enticing, wreckers and carriers fit all categories. It can yet needed repairs and replacing worn be hard to choose that one new or used tow equipment can cost many thousands more. truck that’s suitable for your tow operation Are you ready for that? and budget.


In considering what’s available in today’s marketplace, we won’t recommend specific products, but instead present some recommendations to ease confusion about operational aspects. For instance, an innercity auto loader would not be the best choice for working complex rollovers that require extra lift and extension as part of a recovery. A primary question to ask yourself: What services produce your greatest percentage of tow and recovery income? Obviously, wreckers versus carriers are as different as 24 • September 2022 |


Considering a couple of other niches, companies serving both private property impounds (PPIs) and asset recoveries are similar for a single reason—stealth. When it comes to “snatch and grab tows,” quick and quiet access is the ability to slip in without being heard or recognized. A word of caution here: flatbed carriers are neither stealthy nor quick on scene. That’s why PPI and repo operations prefer wreckers with gasoline engines over rumbling diesel motors for a less conspicuous approach. In addition, light-duty manufacturers