The Difference Between Heavy Duty Towing and Light Duty Towing: All You Need To Know

Nobody wants to go through the stress of having to tow their vehicle. However, road accidents and vehicle breakdowns can happen anytime. And when they do, you will need the services of a professional towing company.

Here’s the thing, though: not all towing companies are the same. Most towing companies can rescue and offer roadside assistance to stranded sedans and minivans, but what if you’re driving something much, much larger than that?

This is why you need to know the difference between light-duty and heavy-duty towing – so you’ll know which service to avail when the need arises.

What is Light-duty Towing?

Light-duty towing typically involves the standard towing services that most towing companies offer, such as removing abandoned vehicles and recoveries from road and traffic accidents. They only require the use of conventional tow trucks – powerful enough for moving and hauling most passenger vehicles (sedan, minivans, pick-up trucks), but can be easily maneuvered through tight spaces and busy city streets.

What is Heavy-duty Towing?

Larger vehicles require a larger truck to perform the tow. This is where heavy-duty towing comes in.

Heavy-duty tow trucks are much, much larger than light-duty tow trucks as they’re designed to handle big jobs and lift even bigger loads. They are the largest tow trucks you can find in the market; equipped with a 25-ton boom lift and fully capable of supporting the entire load of another large vehicle.

Due to the complexity of heavy-duty towing, the truck driver has to be certified and with considerable hands-on experience in operating massive vehicles on the road.

Light-duty vs Heavy-duty Towing

Now, let us take a closer look at the differences between light-duty and heavy-duty towing.

Truck Classification

Trucks are classified according to their gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. There are eight GVWR classes in total.

Classes 1 and 2 are considered light-duty. Their GVWR ranges from 0 to no more than 10,000 lbs.

Classes 3 – 6 are medium duty trucks, with a GVWR of 10,001 to 26,000 lbs.

Lastly, we have Classes 7-8. These are the heavy-duty trucks with a GVWR of 26,001 to over 33,000 lbs.

Load Weight

Heavy-duty tow trucks typically carry loads that weigh more than 17,000 lbs. These trucks come equipped with a 25-ton boom lift and 6-ton wheel lift which allows them to tackle recovery jobs involving heavy vehicles such as garbage trucks, dump trucks, semi-trailers, tractors, and etc.

On the other hand, light-duty tow trucks have a towing capacity of between 7,000 to 11,000 lbs.


Light-duty tow trucks are mainly for towing light vehicles like sedans, motorcycles, pick up trucks, and small trailers. These are the tow trucks you usually see rescuing stranded motorists or assisting in traffic accidents and hindrances inside the city.

Heavy-duty trucks are meant for towing large cargo trucks and heavy materials. These tow trucks have more torque and horsepower, which allows them to move almost any type of load. They are used for removing garbage trucks, dump trucks, tractors, semi-truck trailers, shipping containers, and other large vehicles or cargo from the road as quickly and safely as possible. 

Using the Wrong Truck Can Cost You

It would be impossible for a light-duty tow truck to move loads that obviously require heavy-duty towing. Conversely, getting a heavy-duty tow truck to transport a small vehicle will end up taking more time than if a light-duty tow was hired to do it. Not to mention that it will also cost a few times more.

You need to hire the right type of towing service for the job at hand to avoid wasting time, money, and resources.

About the Author
Jeremy Keller leads the Content Marketing team for Elite Towing, a locally-owned, family-run business in Casa Grande, AZ that provides high quality towing services to both residential and commercial customers. He enjoys photography and doing drone videographies in his spare time.

Previous articleConnecting Small Business Sellers to Government Buyers
Next article7 Ways Velux is Using a Real-time Location System