The Tow Truck Equipment Checklist Every Tower Needs


The type of equipment you will need often depends on the type of towing you’ll be doing. Whether you’re doing standard on-the-side calls, accidents, or private property impound, most states do require basic minimums.

These basics include:

  • Emergency light bar on top of the truck
  • Brooms
  • Shovels
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Signs
  • Flares
  • Flashlights
  • Safety chains
  • Pry bar
  • Trash can
  • Absorbents for oil spills
  • Shop rags
  • Paper towel
  • Communication, 2-way radio or cell phone
  • Booster or battery box or jumper cables
  • Hydraulic jack
  • Tire change equipment
  • Rubber mallet
  • Lockout tools
  • Motorcycle straps
  • Sledgehammer
  • Tool kit
  • Reflective safety attire (minimum requirement: reflective vest)


All of this equipment is essential to providing roadside assistance safely and effectively and is typically required by most towing companies to work with them. By following a tow truck equipment checklist and inspecting your equipment inventory before and after each job, you ensure that you are always prepared to service a wide range of towing needs. Each state will have its own list of required equipment you must keep on your truck while operating, so be sure to research your local and state requirements.

Tow Truck Weight Classes & Wrecker Towing Equipment Requirements

Tow trucks range in size, weight, and functionality and are designated into four separate classes, based on their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR):

Towing Tip #1: GVWR is the rating applied by a vehicle manufacturer, and represents the maximum total weight of the vehicle, cargo, people, fuel, and other fluids together. You can think of GVWR as the truck + whatever it can tow

Class Ratings:

  • Class A – Minimum 14,000 Pound GVWR
  • Truck size: 4-ton Boom Rating
  • Class B – Minimum 33,000 Pound GVWR
  • Truck size: 16-ton Boom Rating
  • Class C – Minimum 52,000 Pound GVWR
  • Truck size: 25-ton Boom Rating
  • Class D – Minimum 54,000 Pound GVWR
  • Truck size: 35-ton Boom Rating


Your necessary equipment specifications will vary depending on the class of tow vehicle you are operating. You can get an idea of a more exhaustive list of required equipment by reviewing a State Highway Patrol Tow Truck Inspection Guide like this one.

Inspection Due Diligence on Rotation

If you’re a tow operator who is on rotation and serving multiple clients simultaneously (Highway patrol, local city police departments, motor clubs, local shops, etc.) each of these clients will want to conduct their own inspection of your trucks and tow truck equipment once a year.

They will make sure the truck is in good running shape and if the truck fails, they won’t allow that truck to tow for them. If your towing company fails overall, they won’t allow you to tow for them at all and take you off rotation.

With a city inspection, you’ll have to take your truck to the city to be inspected. With a local police or sheriff’s department, you’ll prepare your truck and lay out all your equipment at the yard and they will come and conduct their inspections on site. Each department that you are on rotation to tow for will conduct its own inspections as well.

Towing Tip #2: Getting on rotation with police departments as a new towing business owner can be extremely difficult. These departments have strict requirements and often demand towers with years of experience and demonstrated integrity and reliability. They will conduct background checks and if a driver or tow business owner has a felony they will not consider partnering with that business. Most new companies will get the bulk of their work from the motor club industry as they build up experience.

Pre- & Post-Trip Inspection

Operating a towing business can be a taxing and time-consuming endeavor. While it may be unrealistic for operators and drivers to conduct a thorough inspection and inventory of their equipment in between every single job, tow truck operators are required by Department of Transportation rules to conduct basic pre- and post-trip inspections of their vehicles and equipment.

Things to include on your tow truck equipment checklist:

  • Do all your lights work?
  • Does your horn work?
  • Are your tires in good condition?
  • Are all truck functionalities operable?
  • Are your chains in good condition/not breaking?
  • Are your cables in good condition?
  • Keep in mind, equipment inspection checklists will vary based on vehicle class and vehicle type.


Where to Buy Tow Truck Equipment


Online Retailers is a great retail website to find tow trucks and towing equipment for your business. You will also find a wide range of workwear and apparel as well as repair products and helpful towing instructions. This is likely the most comprehensive selection of towing-related products from a reputable source.


Tow Shows

Another great venue for tow business owners to explore trucks, equipment, apparel, and even training is by attending regional tow shows. The Florida Tow Show, typically in April, is the largest event followed by the Baltimore Tow Show each November.

Tow shows allow you to meet different towers and vendors, and they offer opportunities to network with the industry. You can make new connections and share knowledge about your business practices.

Towing Tip #3: When attending to jobs on the side of the road, as a safety precaution, try to avoid positioning yourself between the truck and the guardrail. Give yourself as much open space to work and to escape in the event of a roadside collision or accident while you’re on the side of the road. Remember, towing can be a dangerous line of work and you always need to be taking your life and safety into consideration while doing the job.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget to utilize the free TowSpec towing instruction guides, powered by TRAXERO. With easy-to-understand instructions and diagrams of proper vehicle positioning, this handy tool will help you find the right way to tow vehicles of nearly every make and model.