Local vs. Long-Distance Towing: What’s the Difference?

When you think of the different kinds of tow services, what comes to mind? Most people think of that basic tow truck that arrives after an accident to take away an inoperable vehicle. And while car crashes are common causes for needing a tow, tow services extend far beyond that typical type of tow. Just like tow trucks come in all shapes and sizes, so do tow services.

The Ins and Outs of Long-Distance Towing

Tow services are used to transport a vehicle from one point to another, right? But just how far an automobile needs to be transported varies greatly from one job to the next. One person might need their car only moved a mile down the road, while another individual wants a tow that extends across the state.

No two towing jobs are exactly the same. There are significant differences between short-distance towing and long-distance towing services, and it is important to understand those variables when you need to move a vehicle.


While it might seem obvious, let’s clarify that short-distance towing usually encompasses less than a 100-mile radius. Short-distance towing is also referred to as local towing.

So when your car malfunctions and breaks down on the side of the road, short-distance towing is an excellent resource. You can simply call up a local tow company for assistance, and they can quickly arrive to get you towed to a nearby auto repair shop. Local towing is designed to respond to urgent situations where a vehicle needs to be removed from a roadway immediately.

In comparison, long-distance towing services are typically planned out beforehand. While a tow company might transport a damaged vehicle a considerable distance if asked to do so, most long-distance towing customers want to move a car for a particular purpose. They might want to relocate a vehicle or need it towed to complete specialized repairs or customized upgrades.

Tow Truck

Specific tow trucks move specific automobiles. Not every tow truck is capable of transporting large or heavy vehicles, especially for extended distances.

If you need a long-distance tow, you must make sure your desired tow company is equipped with the right size of tow truck for your vehicle. Pretty much any type of tow truck can accommodate a small compact car. On the other hand, not just any type of tow truck can transport a heavy-duty Class 7-8 truck.

Furthermore, tow trucks transport vehicles in different ways. Some remove all four wheels off the ground during the tow. Other tow trucks keep two wheels on the ground at all times. If you plan to tow a car across the country, having two wheels on the ground makes for a lot of prolonged wheel wear and tear.

Moreover, an all-wheel drive vehicle has different towing requirements than a two-wheel, four-wheel, or front-wheel drive vehicle. You can essentially destroy an automobile’s transmission by towing it incorrectly based on its drivetrain. When you take into consideration these sorts of details in addition to distance, you can see how important it is to seek out a long-haul tow truck meant for extended trips.


It is clear that using the correct tow truck for a long-distance trip protects the vehicle being towed. It is equally important to note that using the proper equipment keeps the tow truck operator safe along with others on the road.

Long-distance towing comes with risks. Tow operators must take certain safety precautions to prepare a vehicle for a long-distance tow. Securing a vehicle for an extended trip takes knowledge and skill. You must know the tow capacity of the tow truck. You must be able to balance the load. You need to ensure the hardware and equipment are in working order, from the tow bar and safety cables to the wire connections and brakes.

Tow truck logistics are not the only safety concern, though. Before setting out, you need to know about the road types and road terrains you will encounter on your journey. You need to be aware of any potentially dangerous weather conditions. You need to have planned stops to avoid driver fatigue. Safety measures are your friend on long-distance tows.


Do you have the proper registration, licensing, and permits to operate a tow truck? Are you following the interstate regulations based on your location? Is your insurance up-to-date?

State and local laws vary throughout the United States. Just because you know the rules of one state does not mean those same rules apply elsewhere. Carrying a long-distance load comes with legal obligations. A safe journey is a legal journey.

When Searching for a Towing Company Near Me

There are significant differences between short-distance and long-distance towing, which means attempting a long-distance tow on your own can lead to a disastrous outcome without the correct equipment and proper knowledge base. Given all of the logistical requirements and safety standards involved with towing a car, your best bet is to call the pros.

Since not all towing companies are equipped to offer more than local towing, look for a company that specifically specializes in long-distance towing or “state-to-state towing near me.” Here at Roadside Rescue, we offer long-distance towing. Give us a call today for an estimate.