There are five basic types of tow trucks, and depending on what type of vehicle needs to be towed or where the vehicle is situated will determine which one is best.
Boom trucks use an adjustable, telescopic boom connected with a winch to remove vehicles from difficult places such as ditches, over embankments, and other high hazard areas where the safety of the vehicle and operator is in question. Think Edmonton’s river valley.
Wheel lifts are the most common as they are they ones you typically see on the roads picking up a car or truck by the front or back wheels. They work best when they attach to the drive wheels and then a second set of small wheels are attached for transport.
Integrated are a combination of Boom truck and wheel lift on the same truck. Traditionally used for a quick grab of a vehicle such as repossession o a vehicle. The big plus about this type of truck is that you can operate the lifting components from inside the cab for improved driver safety.
Flat bed trucks are just like they sound. A flat bed is placed on rails and it can then tilt and use the winch to pull the vehicle on to the bed. The vehicle is then secured to the bed with ratchet straps around the wheels
Lift flat bed. A boom truck that can lift the vehicle straight up and then place it on the back of the flat bed. Used mostly in parallel parking situations, also very common in Europe due to tight spaces on streets.
These are the typical styles of truck but you could then have a variety of combinations of these attributes. Depending on the type of vehicle needing to be moved.
A heavy duty Boom Truck
A large red Peterbilt tow truck with a large Boom on the back
A wheel lift tow truck
A typical light duty tow truck found most often on Alberta roads.
A typical looking integrated tow truck. Usually used for heavy duty towing
A large white semi truck used for heavy hauling
A Flat bed tow truck getting with the bed tilted up
A medium duty tilt flat bed ready to pick up a vehicle.
A French Police tow truck for dealing with tights spaces on a Paris street
A Police operated tow truck for use on busy city streets