A wrecker is a vehicle used to haul other vehicles that are disabled or otherwise unable to be moved from a current position. This large vehicle is similar to a tow truck in that it hauls vehicles, but the design of the wrecker is quite distinct from that of a tow truck. Some wrecker parts include the deck, the winch, the hydraulic lift, the truck cab, and the frame. Other wrecker parts include the winch cable, hook, emergency lights, and tool boxes to contain hand tools used in the towing process.
The most recognizable wrecker parts are at the rear of the vehicle. The deck is a large, flat surface on which the disabled vehicle will rest during towing. This deck is usually made from high-grade steel for strength and durability. Beneath the deck, other wrecker parts are used to raise or lower the structure. A hydraulic lift is mounted to the frame of the truck and to the bottom of the deck; when this lift is activated, the front of the deck will be raised upward, thereby tipping the rear of the deck downward. This allows the operator to pull the vehicle from the ground onto the deck using a winch.
The winch is mounted to the front of the deck. This system features a long cable wrapped around a round drum. When the drum, which is mounted in a frame, rotates in one direction, the cable is fed out so it can be attached to the disabled vehicle. When the drum rotates in the other direction, the cable is retracted, thereby pulling the disabled vehicle forward onto the deck. Once the vehicle is positioned onto the tilted deck, the hydraulic arm can be lowered, thereby returning the deck to the horizontal position.
Other wrecker parts are used for the safety of the operator as well as passing motorists. Emergency lights are mounted to the roof of the truck cabin, as well as to the rear of the truck. Chains and hooks are used to secure the disabled vehicle in place once it is in position on the deck of the wrecker. Other blocks and stabilizers can be used as well to prevent the vehicle from coming loose and potentially dismounting from the deck during transport. A wrecker operator will often carry safety indicators, such as cones or reflective triangles, to be set up on roadways if the wrecker will be in position for an extended period of time.