You might be thinking about starting a tow truck business. Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for a while now, but you’ve got this question on your mind: how much do tow trucks cost? That’s a great question. The cost of a tow truck depends on the options that you choose for your truck. Most towing equipment is customized to suit the needs and convenience of the end user, and the choices that you make influence the tow truck cost. Depending on the options you choose, the cost of a typical tow truck can be anywhere between $58,000 and $850,000.
Anyways, that’s our disclaimer. Below we have some typical pricing for different types of tow trucks.
How much does a new tow truck cost?
Like we said above, tow truck and wrecker costs can vary greatly. In the list below, we’ve got pricing for different classes of tow trucks so that you can get an idea of the difference in price between a light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty tow truck.
Class 4 (14,001-16,000 GVWR) and Class 5 (16,001 – 19,500 GVWR):
Examples: Ram 4500 (Class 4) and Ford F-550 (Class 5)
- Light duty wheel lift with the body painted to match: $58,900 – $ 72,500 (Gas/Diesel)
- Light duty 2-car carrier with a 19’ truck bed: $61,900 – $ 72,500 (Gas/Diesel)
Class 6 (19,501 – 26,000 GVWR) and Class 7 (26,001 – 33,000 GVWR):
Examples: Ford F-650 (Class 6) and Ford F-750 (Class 7)
- Medium 2-car carrier with a 21’ truck bed, standard removable rails: $80,000 – $103,500 (depending on chassis)
- Medium wrecker, 12-ton – 20-ton with the body painted to match: $99,995 – $250,000 (cost depends on what kind of chassis the tow truck has)
Class 8 (33,001-150,000 GVWR):
Example: Tractor trailer
- Heavy standard wrecker, 25-ton – 100-ton with the body painted to match: $250,000 – $650,000
- Rotator ultra-heavy-duty wrecker, 35-ton – 75-ton $499,000 – $850,000+
These values are priced as the dealer specified and ordered the truck, not as the end user ordered it. The price shows a tow truck with a regular cab chassis and factory appointments. The price also reflects standard equipment painted a single color to match. The pricing does not include extra accessories or bells and whistles. Another thing to keep in mind is that the chassis price can vary based on the manufacture and the specifications.
How much does a used tow truck cost?
Great question! The prices above are for new tow trucks. It is possible to save money buying a used tow truck, but that depends on a lot of factors. You have to consider depreciation – the second you buy a used tow truck, the value goes down (although the same is true of a new tow truck.) Then there’s the quality of the tow truck to consider, meaning how well it has been maintained. If the tires and brakes are in good shape, the interior has been looked after, there’s no broken or cracked glass, the lighting and bed hydraulic system work, and there are no big dents, you’ll probably see a decent return on the investment in the used tow truck. And at the same time, you’ll save money. But again, it all depends on the used tow truck you’re looking at.
What kind of tow truck do I need?
Of course, the type of wrecker you’re getting greatly influences how much that tow truck will cost. And the type of tow truck you need reflects what you’re going to be using it for – the heavier the loads you’re going to be hauling, the heavier a truck you’re going to need. It’s important to get a vehicle that suits your needs and that can handle the load you want to tow with ease.
You may have noticed the “GVWR” in the descriptions above, and that stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or the maximum safe weight of the vehicle. That includes the vehicle itself, the weight of the occupants, the fuel, and the load. (There are different classes of vehicles based on their GVWR, which you can also see reflected in the prices above.) The heavier the loads you want to tow, the more truck you’re going to need.
Things to consider when buying your tow truck:
Okay, we know you’ve got a lot on your mind if you’re trying to buy a tow truck. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind while you’re shopping for the perfect vehicle.
- Weight of the tow truck
- What you need the truck to be able to do
- What features you may need to add to your tow truck
- Towing capability of the vehicle and GVWR
- Age of the tow truck (if you’re buying used)
- Mileage (if you’re buying used)
- Insurance (which we discuss in more detail below)
What kind of tow truck do you need?
Each class of tow truck is geared towards certain jobs. They can haul different types of vehicle. Here’s a general idea of what you can haul with each of the classes of tow trucks seen above:
- Class 4: Small, mid-size autos and trucks
- Class 5: Small, mid-size, full-size autos and trucks
- Class 6: Same as 4-5 plus most vehicles up to 19,500 GVWR (including small to medium box trucks, campers and single axle tractors)
- Class 7: Same as 4, 5, and 6, plus air-brake type trucks (including single-axle tractors with trailer, larger motorhomes, and small to mid-size equipment)
- Class 8: Same as 6 and 7 plus pretty much anything else (Landoll with heavy equipment, heavy-duty wreckers and Ultra Heavy Rotator for recoveries and towing)
Safety first – A word about GVWRs and exceeding the weight limit
A Tow Times article from May 2017 points out that safety is the primary concern with overloading a tow truck and exceeding its rating. It’s unsafe to overload your truck and go over the GVWR. Overloading the vehicle will make it hard to control and stop. Of course, those are obvious hazards to both the tow truck driver and those that they’re sharing the roads with. Plus, if you overload your tow truck, you cause the vehicle to start to age and wear before it should. You’ll end up having to pay more money to fix your truck and keep it alive because it’ll be worn out. And, of course, you don’t want to get pulled over while you’re overloaded. Not good.
When considering how much a tow truck costs, it might be tempting to go with a lighter vehicle that costs less. However, as we just pointed out, it’s important to get advice from a professional who works in towing and recovery sales to help you figure out what kind of truck you need and what will work best for you. They can help you find a vehicle with the chassis you need.
Where can I go to find tow trucks?
There are a few resources you can try to find some tow trucks for sale.
And then there’s tow truck insurance.
And when you’re ready to buy your shiny new vehicle, you’re going to need some tow truck insurance. It’s highly possible that you’re a little bit worried about how much tow truck insurance costs, and that’s entirely understandable – tow truck insurance rates have been rising lately. But we’re tow truck insurance experts, and our goal is to save towing and wrecker businesses money on their insurance by helping them shop around for the best coverage at the best rate. To get tow truck insurance quotes, all you have to do is fill out our quote form or give us a call today.
Shepard, Dayton. “Why Gross Vehicle Ratings Matter – Or, How Much
Truck Do I Really Need?” Tow Times, May 2017, pp. 51-52.
Director of Business Solutions
Miller Industries, Chattanooga, TN