Hydraulic-powered repossession trucks, called self-loading wreckers, work by using a wheel-lift system that enables a repossession agent to control the vehicle from the driver's seat. When the agent drives near to the target car, he maneuvers a long arm, known as a stinger, to sprawl on the ground behind the truck. The other end of the wheel cradles slips beneath the car once the foremost end reaches the target car's tires.
The repossession agent operates the truck to close the brackets, carry the tires safely on both sides and lift the tow boom. The tow truck pulls away when the drive wheels are above the pavement. Wheel-lift devices touch only the tires, ensuring a repossessed car is safe from damage. Experienced repossession agents take less than a minute to arrange the brackets and insert the pins when recovering a vehicle.
In some cases, repossession agents use a flatbed truck instead of a regular tow truck when recovering a very heavy or damaged car, a four-wheel-drive vehicle, or an all-wheel-drive car. However, flatbeds make it hard for agents to retrieve cars, because they are generally large and require time to elevate, attach the winch and secure the target car. Because massive power is necessary to lift and tow vehicles, many tow trucks use hydraulics, which produce force by using fluids and cylinders, to generate sufficient power.