Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki

A modern Breakdown truck or Wrecker

A military recovery truck with telescopic crane - at a city centre vehicle show

A Breakdown truck or also known as Recovery trucks, Tow trucks, Breakdown cranes and (in the USA) Wreckers. The names tend to get interchanged but are all slightly different vehicles but all used to tow or recover broken down vehicles in some way.


A demonstration of using a Boom and twin winches to right a tanker in a controlled manner with a modern recovery wagon

A demonstration of using air bags to recover (right) a trailer

Recovery trucks

Usually refers to the type of vehicle that picks up light vehicles and transports then to a repair garage or Impound yard. For cars and vans usually a truck fitted with a special slide and tilt body that forms its own ramp, and then winches the vehicle on.

Tow trucks

These usually pick the front or rear of the vehicle up. In some cases a solid bar or A frame is used to pull the vehicle to its destination.

Wrecker or recovery crane

These are specialist vehicles used to lift or pull vehicles back onto the road or back up onto the wheels. They are fitted with telescopic boom lifts (a type of crane) and high powered winches.

Alternative methods

Rather than using a crane / winch truck modern recovery operators also use air bages to right vehicles that have over turned, as some modern vehicles are structurally weak for fixing winch cables to and so could damage the vehicle further making removal harder.


A Typical UK Breakdown truck

The Lifting boom on a breakdown truck designed for suspended towing

An earlier conversion with simpler lifting boom on a 6x2 chassis (probably a 8x2 tipper originally) The roller guides for a winch are visible below the boom. With drawbars stowed on the deck and a hinged A frame under the boom.

Front of A Foden breakdown truck at the Donington Park CV show in 2009

The simpler latice fram jib on a 1970s truck ( a lot less versatile)

Ford D series from the front

A younger D series on a 6x4 chassis

The rear of 6x4 Ford D series breakdown truck

A HD ex Army wrecker at Donington Park CV show in 2009

See also

References / sources

External links