Heavy Duty Towing vs Light Duty Towing: 6 Comparison Points
Updated: Jul 17
Heavy duty towing and light duty towing are two of the most commonly used methods of transporting vehicles from one place to another. They are two different towing services requiring different vehicles and components.
Heavy duty tow trucks provide higher payload capacity compared light duty tow trucks, allowing them to transport heavier loads safely. Light duty towing trucks can reach their destination quickly due to high driving speeds, while heavy duty towing trucks drive at low speeds.
But choosing one between them, you must also compare the versatility of applications, vehicle size and components, emission standards, maintenance cost, and buying cost. Here we will discuss the differences between heavy duty and light duty towing to help you decide which kind of service best suits your needs.
Light Duty Towing vs Heavy Duty Towing: Know Their Main Differences
Towing is a necessary service for many types of vehicles and equipment. The scale of tow truck needed to safely and effectively tow a vehicle or equipment varies depending on the size and weight of the item being towed. Let’s explore these differences together in order to ensure a safe and reliable experience.
1. Weight Capacity:
The main difference between heavy duty and light duty hauling or towing is the amount of weight that can be towed. Heavy duty towing has a maximum towing capacity of around 26,000 to 33,000 pounds, whereas light duty towing has a payload capacity of up to 10,000 lbs.
Classes 7 and 8 of tow trucks are typically used for heavy duty towing due to their higher torque and horsepower levels. Classes 3-6 are more suited for light duty towing as they have lower torque and horsepower levels. These are typically used for towing 4x4 trucks on dollies in local areas.
2. Versatility of Applications:
Heavy duty towing is usually used for commercial or industrial purposes where heavy-duty traffic like trucks, loading docks, or roadways exist. It also handles rough terrain and adverse weather conditions better than light duty towing, as it can haul heavier loads over longer distances due to its higher GVWR capacity.
Light duty towing is used for personal use or light commercial purposes such as transportation of smaller loads in suburban or urban areas where city driving is preferred. It is not recommended for off-road use due to its lower limits on payload capacity and torque/horsepower numbers.
3. Vehicle Size and Components:
Heavy-duty towing trucks are ideal for transporting large and heavy vehicles, such as RVs, buses, and commercial trailers. They have a gross vehicle weight of around 15,000 kg or more, allowing them to carry their load without the help of a trailer.
These tow trucks are equipped with specialized equipment such as winches, cranes, and hydraulic lift systems, allowing them to maneuver heavy loads easily. The frames, engines, and transmissions of these tow trucks are much stronger than those found in light-duty tow trucks.
They are built with heavier-duty components like reinforced suspension systems and axles to withstand the wear and tear of their heavier payloads.
Light-duty tow trucks are designed to handle smaller vehicles such as cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. They do not have the same level of equipment or technology as heavy-duty tow trucks but still offer reliable transport services. Compared to heavy-duty tow trucks, light-duty tow trucks can tow your truck from your apartments if you can fit it into their schedule.
These vehicles typically operate with a crane system allowing them to transport lighter loads safely. They also tend to have less advanced suspension and braking systems but can still provide reliable services for small vehicles.
These vehicles are built with lighter materials such as aluminum or fiberglass to reduce weight while still offering adequate protection from normal wear and tear.
4. Driving Speed and Emissions:
Heavy-duty towing vehicles are designed for hauling large and heavier loads, and as such they travel at slower speeds than light-duty towing vehicles. This ensures the towed load remains stable and secure during transport. These vehicles also typically have larger engines that produce more emissions than light-duty vehicles.
Conversely, light-duty towing vehicles are made for smaller loads and can travel at higher speeds due to their smaller engines. They also produce fewer emissions compared to heavy-duty vehicles because of their smaller engines.
5. Maintenance Cost:
Heavy duty towing requires more frequent maintenance due to the heavier loads they are required to haul. This includes more frequent oil changes, brake checks, engine tune-ups, tire rotations, spark plug replacements, and other routine maintenance tasks.
Additionally, heavy duty tow trucks require dedicated parts that can withstand the stresses of hauling heavier loads. This means there are higher maintenance costs associated with owning a heavy duty tow truck than a light duty one.
On the other hand, light duty trucks require less regular maintenance as well as less costly parts for repair work. Most standard repairs on light duty tow trucks can be completed using off-the-shelf parts from an auto store or online retailer.
6. Buying Cost:
The initial cost of purchasing either type of tow truck depends on its capabilities and age and condition. As expected, due to their greater capacity for hauling heavier loads, heavy duty tow trucks tend to cost significantly more than their lighter counterparts when purchased new.
However, used models may be available at much lower prices if they are still in good condition and able to perform their intended function reliably. Light duty tow trucks also tend to be significantly cheaper overall than heavy.
Causes Behind the Differences between Heavy Duty Hauling and Light Duty Hauling
Heavy and light duty hauling are two types of towing services requiring different levels of expertise and equipment. Heavy duty towing is generally used for much larger loads than light duty towing, which is more suitable for smaller vehicles.
1. Expertise Needed by Operator to Handle Vehicle/Loads:
Experienced operators with specialized skills are necessary for both light and heavy duty tows to ensure the equipment’s safety.
For Heavy Duty Towing, there may be additional training required due to the size and complexity of the job at hand. Depending on the load size and destination, additional certifications may also be needed for operators to handle these tasks safely and efficiently.
2. Licensing Requirement:
Both light duty and heavy duty tow truck operators must have valid driver’s licenses. They need special certifications for operating larger vehicles such as cargo trailers or flatbed trucks when necessary for a job.
Additional certifications are also required for Heavy Duty Towing, such as a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or High Risk Driving Certification (HRDC).
3. Safety Regulations:
Heavy-duty tow truck operators should adhere strictly to safety regulations regarding loading limits, proper securing methods for large cargo items, speed restrictions, and other protocols. These regulations help ensure that no harm comes from these activities when done correctly.
These standards vary from region to region according to local governing laws, but common rules include making sure cargo loaded onto the trailer stays balanced during movement. So it does not tip over and cause an accident scene resulting in property damage and injuries.
Light duty truck operators are still expected to follow the same general guidelines. But they may have leeway depending on what kind of cargo is being transported such as automotive repair parts, rather than large pieces of machinery.
Select the Right Towing Service for Your Vehicle
Both heavy duty and light duty tow trucks have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. While heavy duty tow trucks can handle heavier cargo due to their higher payload capacity, they might not be suitable for long distance trips due to lower driving speed and increased maintenance costs.
Which one is right for your project will depend largely on the size of your vehicle, its components, and the type of terrain it will need to traverse during transport. By exploring the various elements of heavy duty and light duty hauling services, you can decide which type of service you require.