Rollback tow trucks are used to tow severely damaged cars or late-model cars that need special care. Because the bed tilts, or rolls back, the car is hauled up on top of the truck for towing. This minimizes any further damage to a disabled vehicle.
The rollback is operated by using levers on the side of the bed to control movement. The bed rolls back and then tilts up to provide a ramp for the car. A winch and a set of tie-down chains are on the inside of the bed. A vehicle can be pulled up using the winch or driven up the ramp. The bed is put back in the horizontal position, and the vehicle is tied down for transport.
The entire system operates hydraulically. A power take-off switch, or PTO, is in the truck cab. When engaged, it pulls power from the truck's engine to move the bed. The PTO switch can only be used if the truck is in park, making sure the rollback stays locked in place if the truck is moving.
Use of a rollback is advised when towing cars with fiberglass and plastic parts. No matter how carefully the driver chains up a newer car, bending bumpers and air dams is always a possibility. Rollbacks also protect transmissions. Front-wheel drive cars must be towed from the front, while rear-wheel drive models must be picked up from the back. Drivers using rollbacks don't have to worry about this rule.