There are three varieties of tow trucks that achieve the goal of relocating your vehicle to another location. While the results are the same the methods are diverse.
As the name would suggest a flatbed tow truck has a long flat carrying base where the vehicle sits during transit. They are commonly referred to as rollback trucks, due to the ability of the carrying base to roll backward at a downward angle, making it easier to load and unload. This makes the flatbed tow truck the most desirable form of towing. Causing little to no damage, with no stress being placed on the wheel frames, flat beds are the safest of the three towing options.
Hook and chain tow trucks use a series of chains that are hooked around the axles and frame of the car. The tow truck then pulls the car from behind. These types of trucks are almost obsolete due to the amount of damage inflicted on the vehicle. Now they are reserved for moving cars that have been junked or will be used for scrap. We at Smitty Big Tow do not use hook and chain tow trucks.
The last type of truck is a wheel lift. It was introduced to the market as a substitute for the hook and chain. The truck uses a metal yoke that is placed under the car's wheels, a hydraulic system then lifts the back end of the vehicle for towing. This is perhaps the most common type of tow truck used because it is much safer than its predecessor, and less costly than the flatbed.
All in all, if you break down in Saint Paul and need your car towed there will be times we'll use a wheel lift and times we'll use a flatbed. That's why we ask so many questions when you call in for a tow. Only by knowing this information are we able to discern the best tow truck at the lowest rate for your benefit.
The temps are scheduled to hit 60 today and that has us thinking about motorcycle-riding season. We still have to get through another predicted snow storm on Friday, but weather like today reminds us that Spring is just around the corner. With spring comes motorcycles. Lots of them. Minnesota ranks in the Top 10 of motorcycle ownership per capita as do our neighboring states of South and North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Let’s get ready to ride.
9 prep tips for spring riding
1. The fuel system. Check the lines and fitting for cracks or leaks. Replace the fuel filter.
2. The oil. During winter storage the oil can separate, so it’s always a good idea to change the oil before riding.
3. The battery. If you left the battery connected over the winter, you may need to replace it. If you removed the battery for winter storage, you may just need to clean the cables. Either way, give it a good charge and then see if it’ll hold the charge. There’s not much worse than a dead battery on that first good riding day. Plan ahead.
4. The tires. There are a couple of things to consider here. If your motorcycle was stored on its wheels, chances are you may need to replace the tires. Look for cracks, flat spots, stress marks and bulges. Also check the air pressure.
5. The spark plugs. I know. Spark plugs have gotten so reliable that this is an often-overlooked step in Spring Prep. But it’s better to check it now than deal with it later. Pull the plugs and check the gaps. If you need to, use a gap-setting tool to set them to your bike’s specs.
6. The suspension. Move the forks back and forth to ensure nothing is loose and tighten accordingly.
7. The electrical system. Put your electrical system to the test to make sure the switches, lights (head, tail and brake) and gauges are working properly.
8. One last minor, but important detail for your bike -- make sure to lubricate the bearings and grease the kickstand.
9. If you laid up or changed your insurance coverage for winter storage, be sure you call your insurance agent to get the right coverage for riding season.
Since we never know when motorcycle riding season will arrive in Minnesota, you want to be sure your bike is ready to go on that first day. The 9 tips above will go a long way in being ready.
Look around and see all the cars with rust around the wheel wells. You don't see that in California or Arizona. That rust is caused by the road salt used in the Twin Cities to lower the freezing point of water so we can get traction when driving rather than slipping and sliding on icy roads.
While the road salt is a must for safe winter driving, it sure takes its toll on our cars' bodies.
Rust is the biggest problem caused by the salt and as the rust is exposed to more salt it speeds up the formation of more rust. The rust doesn't just affect how your car looks. Rust can also cause damage to the car's sub-frame and hydraulic brake system, among other things.
As we drive, we flip the salt up under the car, where it dries and crusts and eats away at the exhaust, muffler, coil springs and the frame itself. Going through puddles is the worst. That's where salt collects more than anywhere else.
You can also rust your car from the inside out if you bring too much salt into the car on your boots/shoes over time. So be sure you clean your car's carpet as well.
We can't wash the car when temps are below freezing so we have to get our cars washed when temps rise. And that is THIS WEEK!
Take your car to a car wash with an undercarriage spray to get that corroded salt off your frame. Or, if you want to clean your car at home, you can put a lawn sprinkler under your car and turn it on full blast to clean off the salt and corrosion. Be sure to move the sprinkler so that it reaches the entire undercarriage.
After your car wash consider taking your car to a collision repair shop to have an oil or wax-and-oil solution applied to your vehicle. The solution helps prevent salt from sticking to your car and therefore protects it from corroding.
You can be sure we'll be washing each tow truck top to bottom... most likely on Wednesday.
There are a few things about driving that cross over state and city lines, but have subtle differences. These sites answer those common questions when it comes to owning and driving a vehicle in St Paul, Minnesota.
1. Where do I get my license tabs?
In Minnesota, you’re required to renew your vehicle registration every year. Commonly called “renewing tabs” you can do it in person or online. The cost varies depending on the vehicle being registered. For information on renewing in person, visit https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/default.aspx
If you want to renew your tabs online go to: https://www.mvrenewal.state.mn.us/
2. What happens if my car is towed in St Paul?
It depends on where your car was parked when it was towed. If it was towed south of the Mississippi River or east of Lafayette Rd and south of I-94, you can retrieve your car at the 830 Barge Channel Road impound lot. If the tow truck towed your vehicle from anywhere else in St Paul, it’s across from the State Fairgrounds at 1129 Cathlin Street impound lot. Here’s the website https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/public-works/street-maintenance/snow-emergency-information/ticket-towing-storage-fees
3.Which highways are under construction or closed?
When major highways are closed, it is talked about on the local news, friends complain about it on Facebook and most people know about it. But when they’re smaller roads and highways we often don’t know about it until we get to the road. You can check out where the road construction is before you leave home. http://www.dot.state.mn.us/roadwork/current.html
4.What are the insurance requirements in Minnesota?
Minnesota requires its drivers to have no-fault insurance, liability insurance and uninsured motorist insurance. Other types of insurance that are available, but are not required include collision insurance and comprehensive insurance. Learn the specifics at http://www.dmv.org/mn-minnesota/car-insurance.php
5. Do you know the rules of the road? Are you sure?
I got my driver’s license 40 years ago and I haven’t taken a driving test then. When it comes time for renewal, I renew it on time, thus avoiding a test. In Minnesota, to renew your license you take a vision test, fill out a form, have a new photo taken and pay the fee.
If you’re in the same boat and want to test your driving, skills visit http://dmvexam.org/minnesota-mn-dmv-practice-test/drinking-and-driving-rules-minnesota-mn-dmv-test-questions . They have several practice tests online to either practice or put yourself to the test. They have a test for kids who plan to get their permit. They have a test on basic driving knowledge, drinking and driving, safe driving rules, road signs” and more.