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Types of Towing

What is Towing Types Guide - CURTWhat is Towing Types Guide - CURT

What is Towing?

Towing is the act of pulling a vehicle behind another vehicle. The vehicle doing the pulling is called the tow vehicle and the vehicle being pulled is called the trailer or dinghy. Some common types of towing include recovery towing, trailer towing or trailering and dinghy towing.

Choose a type of towing to learn more

Recovery Towing Tow Truck CarRecovery Towing Tow Truck Car

Recovery towing

One of the most common type of towing is recovery towing or vehicle towing. Recovery towing is when a tow truck hauls away a broken down or wrecked car. Some tow truck services use flatbed trucks to haul the car away, while others hook onto the car’s frame or tow ring and pull it up so two of the wheels are off the road.

If you’re ever stranded, a call to your nearest towing service may be necessary. Towing services range from small car towing to RV towing.

Tow Truck Hauling CarTow Truck Hauling Car

Equipment for recovery towing

Offroad Towing JeepOffroad Towing Jeep

Offroad towing

Another type of recovery towing involves offroad vehicles, whether it’s one vehicle pulling another or a vehicle getting itself unstuck from a difficult spot. This can be done using a tow hook and tow strap or a winch.

Offroad vehicles, such as the Jeep Wrangler, are commonly equipped with recovery towing accessories to allow them to recover (get unstuck) when crawling over rocks and uneven terrain.

Offroad Recovery Towing Jeep TruckOffroad Recovery Towing Jeep Truck

Equipment for offroad towing

Car Towing Boat TrailerCar Towing Boat Trailer

Trailer towing

Perhaps the most common type of towing is trailer towing or trailering. Trailer towing is when an automotive vehicle, such as a car, SUV or truck pulls a trailer behind it.

Vehicle-trailer combinations can vary greatly, from a subcompact car towing a kayak trailer to a full-size truck towing a flatbed trailer. For an automobile to tow a trailer, it requires a hitch.

Learn more about types of hitches

Pickup Truck Towing Boat TrailerPickup Truck Towing Boat Trailer

Equipment for towing a trailer

For a more extensive list, check out our towing essentials guide

Flat Dingy Towing RV JeepFlat Dingy Towing RV Jeep

Dinghy towing

Dinghy towing is when one vehicle tows another vehicle. Typically, the tow vehicle is an RV or motorhome, and the towed vehicle is a car, SUV or pickup truck.

When a vehicle is being pulled by another, it is referred to as the dinghy.

Dinghy towing requires a tow dolly or tow bar to create a safe connection between the two vehicles. Other equipment, such as a wiring harness, is also needed.

RV Dinghy Towing JeepRV Dinghy Towing Jeep

Equipment for towing a vehicle

Get a complete walkthrough with our dinghy towing guide

5th Wheel Towing Truck Camper5th Wheel Towing Truck Camper

5th wheel towing

5th wheel towing is a specialized form of heavy-duty trailering. It requires a trailer with a kingpin connection, as well as a pickup truck with a 5th wheel hitch.

The 5th wheel hitch is very similar in design to a hitch found on a semi tractor trailer, comprised of a pivoting head plate and jaws. The head and jaws couple to the kingpin on the trailer, forming a 5th wheel towing connection.

Truck Towing 5th Wheel RVTruck Towing 5th Wheel RV

Equipment for towing a 5th wheel

Gooseneck Towing Truck FlatbedGooseneck Towing Truck Flatbed

Gooseneck towing

Gooseneck towing is similar to 5th wheel towing. It involves heavy-duty, specialized equipment. Gooseneck towing requires a trailer with a gooseneck coupler, as well as a pickup truck with a gooseneck hitch or ball.

Gooseneck towing is popular in farming, construction and other work settings, used for its high weight capabilities.

Truck Towing Gooseneck Horse TrailerTruck Towing Gooseneck Horse Trailer

Equipment for gooseneck towing

Pintle Towing Hook Truck FlatbedPintle Towing Hook Truck Flatbed

Pintle towing

Pintle towing is a form of heavy-duty towing, commonly used in agricultural, military and commercial settings. Like ordinary trailering, a pintle connection involves a vehicle towing a trailer. However, instead of a ball and coupler, a pintle hitch is made up of a hook and ring.

Pintle hitches can be rated to tow as much as 60,000 pounds, depending on the design. That makes this connection ideal for towing large flatbed trailers, machinery, heavy-duty equipment and more.

Pintle Towing ConnectionPintle Towing Connection

Equipment for pintle towing

ATV Towing TrailerATV Towing Trailer

ATV towing

An all-terrain vehicle or ATV can be used to tow a variety of small trailers and other equipment, including a tow-behind mower, tiller or sled. In ATV towing, the four-wheeler, quad or UTV serves as the tow vehicle, while the pull-behind attachment acts as the trailer.

ATVs are especially useful for yardwork, landscaping and other forms of offroad towing. They can be set up with a variety of towing accessories, such as a ball mount or tow hook, to accommodate different trailer styles.

4 Wheeler Towing Trailer4 Wheeler Towing Trailer

Equipment for ATV towing

Lawn Tractor Towing TrailerLawn Tractor Towing Trailer

Lawn mower towing

A riding lawn mower can make a highly effective tow vehicle around the yard. Most lawn tractors come with a tongue or welded ball to hook up a trailer coupler.

Lawn mowers can be used to pull small utility trailers, fertilizer trailers and other yardwork trailers. They’re perfect for moving landscape materials around your property, tilling up a large garden or hauling yard waste to the curb.

Lawnmower Towing TrailerLawnmower Towing Trailer

Equipment for towing with a lawn tractor


  1. What does in tow mean?
    In tow refers to the state of a trailer being pulled behind a vehicle. The trailer being pulled can be anything from a basic utility trailer, to another vehicle, to even a boat in the water.
  2. What is bumper pull towing?
    Bumper pull towing is the act of towing a trailer with a bumper pull hitch or receiver hitch. This is perhaps the most common type of trailer towing. A receiver hitch is mounted at the back of the vehicle, under or near the bumper, and the receiver is used to create a towing connection with the trailer coupler.
  3. What is flat towing?
    Flat towing is a type dinghy towing. It is also called all four wheels down towing because the dinghy vehicle is pulled behind the RV with all four of its wheel touching the pavement. This is different from other forms of dinghy towing that use a tow dolly to elevate the front wheels of the dinghy vehicle.
  4. What is RV towing?
    RV towing may refer to one of many forms of towing. It may be a scenario in which an RV is simply pulling a regular trailer behind. It can also be another word for dinghy towing. However, the most common reference to RV towing is RV recovery towing. If your RV breaks down, an RV towing service provides a helpful solution to get your RV back on the road.