Heavy & Medium Duty Towing Differences

When you call a good towing company, they'll know if they're facing a light, medium or heavy duty towing service by asking a few questions and they'll tell you if they can handle the job with their towing trucks; however most people don't have a clue about their cars, even more, if they drive a big rig. If you ask what's the difference between heavy and medium duty towing and if your truck is in any of these categories, keep reading.

It's all about the size and weight
Maybe you bought this huge pick-up truck, advertised as a “heavy duty truck” and this can lead you to think that you'll need to call a different towing company, specialized in heavy-duty vehicles. The truth is that your pick-up and almost all trucks used for everyday use are classified in the light category. This classification is all about size and total weight.

Heavy Duty Towing VS. Medium Duty Towing

What determines the “duty” of any vehicle is the GVWR system. GVWR stands for “gross vehicle weight rating”, it takes on consideration the truck capacity, the weight (including gas and passengers and additional cargo). The GVWR tells the maximum operating mass of a vehicle. That includes everything: chassis, engine, fuel, accessories, passengers and even the biggest cargo that could be loaded. This classification system has nine classes, but those are grouped in three big categories, commonly known as duties. Cars and almost all pick-up trucks and SUV are in the first three classes, while dump trucks are in level 7.

Differences between medium duty and heavy duty

City cars, SUV and trucks are in the first three classes and are considered a light duty. Commercial vehicles like moving vans and some small buses are in the next three levels (4th to 6th), while heavy-duty vehicles are in the 7th to 9th classes. Large trucks, buses, tractors, trailers, and garbage trucks are considered heavy-duty vehicles.
 

Let's talk about numbers:
We already know that GVWR means the maximum weight of your vehicle, including cargo and passengers; but there's another significant number, the CW or Curb Weight. That means the weight of your empty car as if it were parked on the curb. If you subtract the GVWR and the CW you'll get the maximum amount of cargo that your vehicle can transport safely. You can check both numbers on the website of your car's manufacturer or in your vehicle manual. This numbers can be handy if you're thinking about getting a trailer.


Light-duty vehicles are those that have a GVWR of 14,000 pounds or less. Medium duty trucks are those that can weight between 14,001 to 26,000 pounds; while heavy-duty vehicles are those whose GVWR goes from 26,001 to 33,001 pounds. Let's remember that most cars and trucks are classified as light duty, and commercial vehicles can be in the medium category while just substantial dedicated trucks can be on the heavy duty class.

Differences between medium duty and heavy duty

Medium Duty Towing or Heavy Duty Towing?

Towing a vehicle is a delicate operation. Using the wrong kind of towing truck can make damage to the transmission, front or rear bumper. Also, a light duty truck won't be able to lift and move a big rig out of the way. While a dolly towing truck can manage most of the calls made by sedan, SUV or truck owners if the distance to travel is not long.

Medium duty towing needs to be handled by trucks able to load about 9000 to 22,000 pounds. Most of the time, those towing trucks are flatbeds instead of dolly-type. Flatbeds are the safest option for medium duty towing, as it will raise the vehicle onto the bed, eliminating all contact of truck's tires with the road. Flatbeds towing trucks are also the best option to transport light-duty vehicles for long distances.

Heavy Duty towing requires a different kind of towing trucks, equipped with bigger frames, reinforcements and powerful engines that could be able to carry up those large vehicles like tractors, trailers, tour buses and more. A medium heavy duty towing truck can carry up to 46,000 pounds. These powerful trucks could lift a small plane! Heavy duty towing operators need to be certified to handle this kind of cargo safely.

Asking for a medium or heavy duty towing service:
Some companies aren't truly ready to face a heavy duty towing service, as they don't have the right kind of trucks. They could be able to complete the job. However, this could affect the transported vehicle. Before calling any random company, asking for a heavy or medium duty towing service, you'll need to identify some signs:

- Ask about their trucks or wreckers. Their capacity must be expressed on tonnes.
- They must suggest one of their vehicles after asking for your vehicle information and distance to travel, not before.
- Heavy duty towing must be performed only by specialized operators, certified in heavy duty recovery and towing. Ask for those qualifications.
- The best advice is to find a reliable, experienced and well-reputed towing service company and keeping their number in your emergency contacts. That will guarantee that you'll get an efficient and excellent service and won't be taking the risk of having an unknown company handling your vehicle.