What You Need to Know: Heavy Duty Tow Truck Regulations and Capacity

From heavy-duty semi truck to box truck, tow trucks have been a staple of the transportation industry for decades, providing a much-needed service for those who need to move large vehicles. Whatever the size, tow trucks are an invaluable asset for any business or individual that deals with large vehicles. However, it is important to understand the tips and strategies needed to ensure a successful semi-truck towing experience. Knowing what to expect and how to handle any potential issues will make the towing process much smoother. From choosing the right tow truck to ensuring you have the right equipment; this guide will provide you with all the information you need about heavy-duty truck towing.

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Most of your questions will probably be answered by reading this article. But if, after reading, you still have questions about heavy towing or even getting locked in the car, contact Tow Near Me Company. We are your best choice in Canada and Vancouver, and you can count on us at any time.



What is a semi-truck?

Semi-trucks are large commercial vehicles designed to haul freight. They are usually longer and heavier than regular trucks and require special licensing for the driver to operate. Semi-truck towing is used to move commercial trucks that have become stuck, disabled, or need repositioning. Semi-trucks may be towed with a wide variety of tow trucks including heavy-duty tow trucks, S-tow trucks, or low-profile tow trucks. The purpose of semi-truck towing is to transport heavy loads over long distances. They are equipped with larger engines and drivetrains that allow them to carry heavier loads at higher speeds. They also have larger axles and tires to support their increased weight. All of these features make them ideal for hauling long freight distances, but they make them difficult to tow.

What is the difference between heavy duty tow trucks?

  • Heavy-duty tow trucks are designed to haul extremely large and heavy vehicles, including semi-trucks. They often have low-profile chassis and hydraulic reels that allow them to lift vehicles high enough to attach them to the tow truck with a sling. They are generally outfitted with a large winch that can pull very heavy loads. These tow trucks are often used to tow large commercial vehicles and are sometimes known as wreckers.
  • S-tow trucks are similar to heavy-duty tow trucks, but they are designed for lighter duty. S-tow trucks are designed for towing SUVs, cars, and light-duty commercial vehicles.
  • Low-profile tow trucks are designed for towing low-clearance vehicles, like sports cars and other small cars. They typically have a low-profile chassis that can fit underneath low-clearance vehicles.
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The capacity of semi tow trucks

The capacity of each tow truck will vary based on the model and manufacturer. However, it is important to note that the capacity listed by the manufacturer is usually the maximum weight the truck can haul. The recommended capacity is typically 10-15% less. This difference is due to variances in the weight of the vehicle, the condition of the road, the weather conditions, and other factors. Capacity will be important to keep in mind when towing a semi-truck. Semi-trucks towing are often very heavy, and the capacity of a tow truck may be exceeded when towing a semi-truck. Tow trucks may become overloaded if their capacity is exceeded, resulting in a number of problems. Make sure the tow truck can handle the weight of the semi-truck by knowing its weight.

How much can a semi-truck tow in Canada?

In Canada, it depends on the type of truck and the local towing laws. Generally speaking, a semi-truck can tow up to 102,500 lbs, depending on the tridem axle distance, as stated in [1]. Tow Canada states that the maximum truck/trailer length is 20 m (65’6”) and the trailer brakes must be required over 909 kg. There are also regulations on gross weight, single axle weight, and tandem axle weight. Divisible loads can be permitted, with a 6-axle truck capable of 107,000 lbs and a 7-axle truck capable of 117,000 lbs. As such, it is important to be aware of the local towing laws and weight restrictions before towing in Canada.


tow truck regulations in British Columbia, Canada

There are no federal regulations regarding the type of tow truck that can be used. Tow truck drivers must follow the regulations set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). However, provinces often have regulations regarding the type of vehicle that can be used for towing. Some provinces require that only a certain type of vehicle can be used to tow certain types of vehicles. These regulations are typically in place to protect the public and prevent injuries. If you will be towing large commercial vehicles like semi trucks, you may want to check the regulations in your area to make sure you are following the law.

In British Columbia, Canada, the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations state that any tow truck must comply with all regulations made by the municipality. This includes brake requirements, maximum lengths and widths, tow requirements, and brake requirements for drivers who are towing trailers. Trailers with brakes must also be equipped with brakes on every wheel if their carrying load exceeds 1,400 kg.

Heavy-duty tow trucks guidelines

Operating heavy-duty tow trucks requires a keen understanding of safety and operational guidelines. These trucks, designed for towing large vehicles such as buses, tractor-trailers, and other heavy machinery, carry a great deal of responsibility. The following paragraphs will outline some critical guidelines for managing these powerful machines.

  • Firstly, operators of heavy-duty tow trucks must possess the necessary qualifications and licensing to manage such vehicles. The requirements vary by region but typically include passing specific driving tests tailored to these large vehicles. Understanding road safety rules, including speed limits and how to maneuver in various traffic scenarios, is crucial for preventing accidents.
  • Secondly, the proper maintenance of heavy-duty tow trucks is vital. This involves routine checks on the truck’s essential components such as brakes, tires, lights, towing equipment, and other safety features. Regular maintenance not only ensures that the tow truck operates effectively but also reduces potential hazards on the road caused by equipment failure.
  • Thirdly, operators should be well-versed in correctly hooking up and securing vehicles to the tow truck. This process includes understanding weight distribution and using the right type of towing equipment for different vehicles. Missteps could result in damage to the towed vehicle, the tow truck or even pose a threat to other road users. 
  • In addition, operators must follow standard procedures during emergency situations. This may involve coordinating with local authorities or service providers to ensure safe and efficient operations. They must also know how to deploy safety devices such as safety cones and lights to alert other motorists about their presence.
  • Furthermore, heavy-duty tow truck operators must adhere to guidelines regarding driving hours and rest periods. To minimize the risk of fatigue-related accidents, many regulatory bodies enforce strict rules around the number of hours an operator can drive continuously and mandatory rest periods between shifts.
  • Finally, training and continuous learning are essential for heavy-duty tow truck operators. Ongoing education about new industry developments, safety protocols, and changes in regulations can help keep operators informed and ready to handle any situation they encounter on the job.

Inspection and maintenance requirements for towing equipment used with semi trucks

 The inspection and maintenance of towing equipment used with semi-trucks are of utmost importance in ensuring the safety and efficiency of transportation operations. Towing equipment, such as trailers, tow-bars, hitches, and coupling devices, undergo significant stress during their operation, making them susceptible to wear and tear. Therefore, routine inspections and regular maintenance practices are critical to ascertain their optimal performance and longevity.
The inspection process involves a thorough examination of all components of the towing equipment. This exercise should check for any signs of physical damage, such as dents or cracks, corrosion or rust, and any visible signs of wear like thinning or fraying. The hitch system, which connects the truck to the trailer, should be checked for any loose bolts or worn-out components. The electrical system that controls the trailer’s brake lights and indicators should also be inspected for any faults or damages.
Moreover, the braking system of the trailer requires special attention during inspections. A malfunctioning trailer brake system could lead to catastrophic accidents, especially when a heavy load is involved.
Maintenance of towing equipment involves regular servicing and replacement of worn-out parts. Lubrication is a crucial part of this process. All moving parts, including the hitch system and coupling devices, need to be well-lubricated to reduce friction, thus preventing premature wear and tear. Furthermore, electrical connections should be cleaned and tightened regularly to ensure effective communication between the truck and the trailer.
In addition to these, tires are another critical component that requires regular inspection and maintenance. Tire pressure should be checked regularly and maintained at the recommended levels. Worn-out or damaged tires need to be replaced promptly to prevent blowouts that could result in severe accidents.

How to choose the right heavy duty tow truck?

When choosing a tow truck for semi-truck towing, you will want to consider the following factors:

  • Vehicle size: The size of the tow truck is important for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that larger tow trucks can accommodate more weight. The heavier the load, the more the truck will sink into the roadway, making it harder to tow. The second reason is that larger tow trucks have more ground clearance and can get under low-clearance vehicles more easily.
  • Vehicle weight: The weight of the tow truck is important because more weight will increase traction, which is important for towing on slippery or uneven roadways. Heavier vehicles also have more stability and can better withstand strong winds.
  • Vehicle type: There are two types of tow trucks: conventionally towed vehicles and low-profile towed vehicles. Conventional tow trucks are the most common type of tow truck. They are designed to be pulled behind the tow truck. Low-profile tow trucks are designed to tow vehicles that are low to the road. They often have a low-profile chassis that allows them to clear low-clearance vehicles.

The safety precautions when towing by a semi truck

There are a few safety precautions that you should always keep in mind when towing. These will help prevent accidents and injuries, which can be common during towing.

  • Road conditions: The roadway conditions are essential to keep in mind when towing. If the roadway is wet, icy, or has loose gravel, the conditions can affect the speed of the tow truck. Always drive slowly and safely when traveling on these types of roads.
  • Weight of the load: Remember that the weight of the load can have an impact on both vehicles, so be sure to drive slowly when towing a heavy load.
  • Visibility: Drivers can’t see you when you are pulling a vehicle, so you need to make sure they can see you. Make sure both vehicles are equipped with lights and use them during the day and at night. Also, make sure that the lights are in good condition and can be seen clearly.


Trust is the most significant part of our work. It is very essential for Tow Near Me Company that its customers have complete trust and entrust us with one of their most critical assets safely. In Vancouver, we are the best in our field, and we will meet your needs in the best possible way.


Towing a heavy-duty truck in Vancouver, Canada can be expensive, as the fees from $149.00 per hour upwards. What makes this price, so broad is that additional services or fees may apply due to the specific circumstances of the job. Tow Near Me 604 208 9090


Yes, it is possible to tow a semi-truck. Towing your semi-truck using another semi-truck is an ideal way to transport it from one location to another. Standard tow trucks are not capable of towing semi-trucks due to their size and weight. Semi-trucks need to be towed by a heavy-duty tow truck. Tow Near Me 604 208 9090


In 2014, Mario’s Towing invested $1 million to acquire one of the most powerful heavy tow trucks in the world. Constructed by NRC Industries from Quebec, Canada, this exceptional towing machine set a new benchmark in heavy tow truck trends. Equipped with a 60-k winch and an 80-ton boom, it operates remotely from off the road to prevent causing additional traffic congestion. Moreover, it enables towing of wrecked and disabled vehicles efficiently, even from extended distances. [660 City News]

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Bob is an operation manager who has been working in roadside assistance since 2003. His labor of love is the towing service to people. He also blogs regularly on townearme.ca about roadside assistance, towing, automotive, and vehicles.

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2 Responses

    1. The license you need to drive a semi-truck trailer in BC is a class 1 primarily. You can drive most vehicles with this license, but you may have to pass specific tests before driving other commercial vehicles, such as buses.

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