Industry News & New Products

  • Zip’s Spotlight: Floyd and Sons Towing

    by Cameron Hanson | Sep 12, 2023



    Chase Leonard remembers going to the Wisconsin Tow Show as a kid with his dad. The flashing lights, the colorful paint schemes and the big iron were always a sight to see. Now, as a third-generation tow operator, Chase is returning the favor, showing off his company’s equipment and inspiring the next wave of towers.

    His latest entry is a two-tone Vulcan V70 straight stick mated to a 389 extended hood Pete. Besides its custom paint job, the Zip’s-built heavy features underglow lighting, plenty of work lights and other personal touches. His family’s towing company, Floyd and Sons, has been a customer at Zip’s for nearly 40 years, and Chase said he appreciates the effort put into his dream truck by sales rep Danny Mathews and the entire team at Zip’s.

    “They pretty much gave me anything I asked for,” he said. “This truck is me. Everything on it was built to my spec, down to where the screwdrivers go to where the chains hang. It is my first new truck all to myself, and I am very proud of it. That’s why I asked Zip’s to build it. They have superior builds with superior paint quality, and we have a pretty great salesman.”

    A big fan of the V70 engineering and design, Chase said he built the Vulcan to work but also appreciates the attention it’s getting on its days off. At the Wisconsin Tow Show this past June, the truck earned the Best in Show distinction in the Heavy-Duty Wrecker division, and during the inaugural ZIPSYS Truck Contest last fall, the fan favorite won the Zip’s Choice Award and finished second in the People’s Choice category.



    “I was very humbled to win the ZIPSYS because this truck is really not a show truck,” he said. “It works every day. But it’s fun to see your truck out there scattered all over the internet so your friends and family can see it along with other towers across the country. It gives you bragging rights with your friends and other towing companies. I think my dad would be pretty proud we won.”


    Along with his mother and brothers, Chase manages Floyd and Sons Towing in Racine, WI. The company was founded in 1959 by his grandfather and company namesake, Floyd Leonard. After an initial stint as a Texaco service station, the company entered the full-time towing business in 1981, eventually expanding with a satellite location south in Kenosha in the mid-1990s.

    Growing up in the family business, Chase said he and his brothers learned everything they could about the business from their father, Rick, and uncle, Skip. As kids, they helped out when and where they could, either grabbing a broom, cutting the grass and washing the trucks before eventually wrenching on the fleet and working the winches themselves.

    “My brothers and I have done every job in this place to help the business grow,” Chase said. “My father was here most of his entire life. He passed away six years ago. He was pretty much our fearless leader and handled everything, helping to get us to where we are now.”


    My father was here most of his entire life... He was pretty much our fearless leader...
    —Chase Leonard


    Taking over in his father’s absence, Chase currently serves as the terminal manager for the company, and when he’s not on a call himself, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the family business. He said it was an adjustment to step into a management role following the death of his father.

    “We learned a lot very quickly,” he acknowledged of the transition. “You’re the guy now. You’re the first call people make when they’re in trouble. If dad saw the business today, I think he would enjoy certain parts of it and shake his head at others. We are two different kinds of people.”

    Sandwiched between Milwaukee and Chicago, the company currently employs 16 people across both locations. Delivered last fall, their latest heavy-duty wrecker joins a fleet of 17 trucks, which includes a mixture of light and heavy wreckers as well as a few car carriers. Chase estimates three quarters of the business is focused on heavy work.


    “We continue to grow day-by-day, but predominantly, we are into heavy-duty towing,” he said. “I enjoy the rush and the steady work. You never know what you are going to get into. That keeps me going in the family business. It’s important for me to keep our legacy going because we are three generations deep. I enjoy everything that comes with it.”

    An inherited passion, Chase admits towing has always been in his blood, and the early memories of attending tow shows still motivate him. Their towing company belongs to the Wisconsin Towing Association, and its annual show around Father’s Day weekend is a great way to honor his dad and bring back memories of attending shows together back in the day.

    “My favorite memory growing up in this business was going to all the tow shows, especially the Wisconsin Tow Show,” Chase said. “To me, they were the best shows ever. As a kid, it was just amazing to look up at all the beautiful equipment there.”

    At the state level, Chase said it’s important to support the towing association because “we’re stronger together.” On the local level, Floyd and Sons also believe in community outreach, supporting local police efforts, attending car shows and participating in youth events, such as Touch-a-Truck and Back-to-School events.


    “We’ve been part of this community for nearly 65 years, and we still consider ourselves a local company, so we like to give back when we can,” he explained. “We want to be remembered as a company that does what they say they’re going to do when you make the call.”


  • Zip’s Top 10 List - Heavy Duty

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Sep 01, 2023

    Accessories to Add to Your Heavy-Duty Wrecker or Rotator


    When operating a heavy-duty wrecker, you never know what you’ll run into. Being prepared is just part of your job every day. Lucky for you, we have some fantastic products that can make being prepared a breeze.

    We’ve come up with a list of 10 items that’ll work to keep you ahead of the game. They’ll make a great addition to your wrecker supplies while also being a huge help in your daily operations.



    AW Direct Quick Connect Air Coupler Kit | Item #: ZAW-ACK


    Essential to heavy-duty tow operations, these fittings allow tow operators to tie into the existing air systems on Class 8 commercial trucks to supply air to the brake system when the power unit is disabled and can no longer perform this function. Using air supplied by the rear of the tow truck, this application allows the tow operator to release the truck’s brakes and prepare it for towing. The kit includes a variety of couplers, making it a great addition to your truck’s supplies.

    • 8-piece kit w/ hard-sided carrying case
    • Fits Mack, Volvo, Peterbilt, Freightliner, Prostar, International & more
    • Can supply air to airbags




    SafeAll Remote Brake Assist | Item #: BB100


    The SafeAll Remote Brake Assist makes for a great addition to any heavy-duty wrecker’s kit. The brake actuator is connected to the brake pedal and is secured in place by claws to the steering wheel. Air is supplied to the actuator by a line attached to the back of the heavy-duty wrecker. Therefore, when you press your brake pedal, the vehicle you’re towing engages its brake. Your brakes will thank you for not overworking them by distributing some of the pressure to the casualty's brakes. Not to mention, a remote brake assist is required to remain in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The law states that when towing vehicles or motor vehicle combinations, you must be able to decelerate at a rate of 14 feet per second and from a speed of 20 miles per hour and be able to stop within 35 feet or less. We know you tow extremely heavy truck combinations all day long, so stay safe and in compliance and equip all your heavy-duty wreckers with the SafeAll Remote Brake Assist!

    • Works with air brakes
    • Decreases stopping distance
    • Improves FMCSA compliance




    Zip’s HD Underreach Towing System | Item #: ZP-2211


    Variety is the name of the game when it comes to towing. When you roll up to the scene, you may need to pull a camper, horse trailer, converter dolly or even a gooseneck flatbed. With this seven-piece kit, you can easily tow a trailer without any issues. The included gooseneck trailer adapter, pintle hook, fifth wheel attachment, and king pin attachment can be stored in a side storage compartment while not in use, meaning you can take it to every job.

    • Welded construction
    • Powder-coated safety yellow
    • 3/4" plate steel




    Reelcraft DP5000 Series Air/Water Dual Pedestal Hose Reel | Item #: DP5000 SERIES



    When you’re dealing with heavy-duty tows, you never know if and when you’ll need some air. Whether it’s filling up a tire or operating a wide variety of pneumatic tools, air can be essential while towing. Luckily, this heavy-duty hose reel can help get you that air while holding up to the hardships of the road.

    • Corrosion-resistant powder coating
    • Compact design
    • Dual pedestal design to provide vibration resistance




    SafeAll Driveline Pro | Item #: DLP100


    Why ruin your back and shoulders when removing the driveshaft of a commercial truck? When it’s time to tow, simply pull out your SafeAll Driveline Pro from your toolbox and ensure the driveshaft stays safely in place. The hanger bar is adjustable both horizontally and vertically by using its basket rope. The width allows it to fit any frame for a variety of truck makes and models. While the rope will allow operators to position the height on the driveshaft to make towing easier. With the easy-to-use and very lightweight SafeAll Driveline Pro, you can save yourself from unnecessary injury and wasted time.

    • Easily adjustable hanger bar - No tools necessary
    • Snap clips and cinch ratchets for quick installation
    • Lightweight and user-friendly




    B/A Product Axle Chain Kits w/ Omega Links Grade 100 | Item #: CHAIN KIT G100 FAKIT



    Sometimes, products are common, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, chains are great at quickly tying down axles and securing vehicles. Using the ratchet from this axle chain kit, you can quickly and easily secure a vehicle. Plus, it has a 25% higher working load limit than a grade 80 chain would have.

    • Chain sizes: 3/8" - 1/2"
    • Chain length: 6'
    • WLLs: 8,800 lbs. - 15,000 lbs.




    In The Ditch 5-Ton Aluminum Tire Stand | Item #: ITD-1132


    Being underneath a massive vehicle can be terrifying and dangerous. If anything goes wrong, that vehicle could easily crush you. That’s what this wheel stand is for. Able to handle up to 10,000 pounds per wheel lift, you can count on it to hold the vehicle up for you as you secure the vehicle from below.

    • Each stand has a rating of 10,000 lbs.
    • Met the ASME PALD-2009 testing standards
    • Weight: 17 lbs




    TowMate TBOX Wireless Trailer Light-Powered Controller | Item #: TBOX


    Communication is important when you’re driving. Letting people know when you want to turn or stop can save their lives and yours, and when you’re towing, a trailer that can be even more important. Ensuring you can get that signal is easy with the American-made TowMate TBOX Wireless Trailer Light-Powered Controller. This battery-powered adapter allows you to use the trailer’s factory lights. As a result, you can skip hanging a tow light.

    • Weather-resistant housing
    • Utilizes TowMate's 'red antenna' receiver
    • Exclusively powered by Milwaukee 8-amp M18 battery




    RimSling Spliced Eye Synthetic Recovery Slings | Item #: RIMSLING-ROPE


    Rust and corrosion can be common problems for a lot of different lifting hardware. Luckily, RimSling offers a solution. By making their slings out of synthetic rope, you don’t have to worry about rust and most corrosion. Plus, they’re tough enough to handle whatever heavy-duty task you have in front of you, so why go with metal when you can get better?

    • Special braid guard at the center of sling for extended life
    • 5:1 Safety Factor
    • Rated for overhead lifting




    Spill Tackle Fluid Absorbent | Item #: ST20B1-KIT


    You never know what you’ll find when you come across a wreck. Sometimes, you’ll encounter a chemical spill that you weren’t expecting. Luckily, using the Spill Tackle fluid absorbent, you can pour it out and clean that spill up quickly and easily. This will make the environment safer and easier for you to tow the casualty you came for.

    • USDA bio preferred (sustainable)
    • Absorbs petroleum fluids off the top of water
    • 4 - 6 times more absorbent than clay



    No two jobs are ever the same, so having a wide variety of tools for every job matters. It lets you be prepared for whatever comes your way. With the constantly shifting field of towing, you’ll always need to be on your toes.

    Hopefully, with this list, you can expand your toolkit and stay on your toes. At Zip’s AW Direct, we carry plenty of helpful, durable tools that can expand your tow truck supplies exponentially. Feel free to explore Zips.com, or check out our other blog on 10 items for your light-duty tow truck.

  • Zip’s Top 10 List - Light Duty

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Sep 01, 2023

    Accessories to Add to Your Car Carrier/Light Duty


    When you’re out on the road, you never know what you’ll run into. Being prepared for any situation is essential for every operator. This means you should always hold onto a few items to make every job easier.

    Today, we’ll introduce you to a few of our phenomenal products. Together, they make for great additions to any existing truck’s toolbox. They all provide some utility that you may not have thought of.



    Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool | Item #: ZP-SPZ


    Speed and safety are essential on every call. Being able to adapt to whatever comes your way is a lot easier with the Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool. This towing accessory gives you 180 degrees of cable angle side-to-side and 90 degrees downward, allowing you the ability to tow from almost any angle, regardless of the situation. It’s also easy to install. All you need is to drill a 2" hole for an aluminum bed. On a steel deck, you don’t even need to drill a hole. Add this essential tool to your flatbed supplies today.

    • 9,000-lb. capacity
    • Compatible with a majority of manufacturers
    • Removable when not in use




    ITI Rollback Master kit | Item #: ITI-MK


    Whether you come across a disabled vehicle or a locked vehicle that needs to be moved, you need to have a solution. The best way to do that is with the ITI Rollback Master Kit. This kit comes with a variety of skates — all of which are made from extruded plastic — that help you get locked and disabled vehicles onto the back of a flatbed. Not only are they stronger than wood, but these skates are also rot, wear, oil and grease resistant. Make this kit part of your truck’s supplies.

    • (4) ITI Automotive Skate Ki
    • (2) ITI Big & Tall Automotive Skate Pair
    • (2) ITI XL Big & Tall Automotive Skate Pair
    • ITI Control Arm Skate
    • ITI Height Extender for the Control Arm Skate
    • ITI Axle Tube Height Extender for the Control Arm Skate
    • ITI Lockout Wedge
    • ITI Trailer Jack Skate




    Zip’s Receiver Hitch for Chevron 408 Light Duty Wrecker | Item #: ZP-408RHZ-PTB


    Sometimes you show up at a scene and realize you need to tow more than just a car. Lucky for you, Zip’s Receiver Hitch for Chevron 408 Light Duty Wrecker can easily be put directly onto your Autogrip autoloader on your Chevron 408 light-duty wrecker. This works with bumper hitch campers and toy haulers, and it comes with an optional pintle hitch and tri-ball attachment.

    • 8,000-lb. tow capacity
    • Solid welded construction
    • Easy bolt-on application




    Guardian AngelMicro Series Safety Light | Item #: GUARDIAN-ANGEL-MICRO


    Taking care of safety should be a top priority. Being seen is a big part of that, which is why this bright light can be placed right on your shoulder for maximum visibility. Thanks to its multiple modes, you quickly stand out. With its ability to flash in different patterns, it’s hard to be ignored. This magnetic light can also be placed on whatever metallic surface is available in order to light up whatever you need it to. Be seen for miles with the Guardian Angel Micro Series Safety Light.

    • Four different light controls provide maximum lighting versatility
    • Four different brightness settings-low, medium, high & MAX
    • Rated up to 3+ miles of visibility using high-powered LEDs




    Access Tools Contractor’s Lockout Kit | Item #: ACTACS


    When somebody locks their keys in their car, they’re having a rough day. The kind of day that needs a quick, easy fix. Luckily with this toolset, you can easily find the right tools to make their day better. Each vehicle is a little different, so knowing you have different tools to handle different situations is great. With its variety of tools to help you recover your customer’s keys, the Access Tools Contractor’s Lockout Kit is a great addition to your tow truck supplies.

    • Includes a handy carrying case
    • Three tools have a scratch-proof coating
    • Fits conveniently under or behind a seat




    TowMate 22” Wireless Tow Light, Lime | Item #: TM22G TOW LIGHT


    Whether you need to turn or stop, letting other drivers on the road know what you’re up to is important for your safety and theirs. This wireless tow light allows you to send those signals from the car you’re towing simply by setting it on a magnetic surface. With rubber boots to protect your customer's vehicle from scratches and bright LEDs to signal your intentions to other drivers, this tow mate proves why it is a top-selling wireless lightbar.

    • Four choices of transmitters
    • Durable PVC housing
    • Up to 10 hours of use between charges




    SafeAll Car Carrier Proportional Remote Control System | Item #: SA-RCS


    Winch lines can be dangerous if they snap, yet they’re essential to every tow driver out there. Being able to pull a car up shouldn't have to include the risk of getting struck by a different vehicle or the winch line, if it snaps. With the SafeAll Car Carrier Proportional Remote Control System, you can control it remotely, while having precise control over the vehicle with the use of your wrist. Unlike other remote control systems, it doesn’t interfere with tow lights. Easily control your winch lines while staying a safe distance away.

    • Rugged and weatherproof actuator design
    • Bluetooth technology aids in actuator synchronization/calibration




    JNC660 Portable Jump Pack | Item #: JNC660


    Let’s face it, there are times when all you need to fix a car problem is to give it a quick start. That’s made easy with the JNC660 portable jump pack. Regardless of where you’re at, this dependable jump pack will get that car started and running. Plus, it’s easy to use and has 1700 peak amps and 425 cranking amps to make the process as fast as possible!

    • 46" heavy-duty #4 cables
    • Built-in charger
    • Battery status indicator gauge




    Safe All Roll King | Item #: SA-RK


    When a car has flipped onto its roof, it’s already had a bad day. Having to flip it back over shouldn’t make the day worse. With the Roll King, you can easily flip the car right back over. This adjustable pole is able to fit multiple vehicle sizes, and with its grab hooks, fixed eye and clawfoot grips, you can easily flip over the vehicle with just one operator.

    • 29" steel tube with pair of welded grab hooks and fixed eye
    • Extends to 3 lengths with removable safety pin
    • Clawfoot grips pinch welds better than wood 4x4s or PVC pipe




    Torin Big Red Hydraulic Trolley Jack | Item #: 144865



    Despite only weighing 22 pounds, this hydraulic jack can lift up to 4,000 pounds. That’s right. This small jack can easily get a car up off the ground. This makes it easier to find a place to attach your line or to change a tire. Plus, it’s small enough to fit in the trunk of a car, so it will definitely fit in your truck’s toolbox.

    • 100% factory vertical load tested for reliability and safety
    • 360° rotating saddle
    • Corrosion-resistant



    Knowing what to bring when you’re out on a job is essential. Towing is one of those fields that is constantly shifting; no two jobs will ever be the same. Having the towing accessories and wrecker supplies you need to handle what comes your way is essential to every tow truck operator.

    Hopefully, this list has helped you expand your toolkit to handle any job you get. At Zip’s AW Direct, we carry plenty of helpful, durable tools that can expand your tow truck supplies exponentially. After you’ve picked up everything on this list, feel free to browse our site to find even more to help you out.

  • Ratchet Strap Guide: Set Up, Use and Release

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 21, 2023


    Once you have selected the right strap for the load, you need to prepare the strap for transport, and that starts with daily inspection. Here are some helpful hints on what to look for:

    Prepare Strap for Transport

    • Inspect for signs of damage, including cuts, abrasions and uneven wear.
    • Remove any knots to not compromise the strap’s strength.
    • Inspect the ratchet mechanism to ensure it is working properly.
    • Make sure the strap is clean and free of debris.


    Zip's Tips

    To clean your straps, soak them in warm water with a mild detergent. Avoid bleach and scrub to loosen any dirt and debris. Rinse and let air dry. Lubricating the ratcheting mechanism will also prolong the life of your straps.


    Next, make sure the WLL (Working Load Limit) of the strap exceeds the weight of the load. Additional straps may be needed to adequately and safely secure the cargo or equipment. Follow these simple steps to secure the strap to the load:

    • Position the ratchet strap in the desired location.
    • With the handle open, thread the tail end of the ratchet strap under the mandrel and back through the slot.
    • Make sure the strap does not interfere with the handle operation.
    • Pull the ratchet strap tight and take up the slack.
    • Begin ratcheting with the handle to tighten the strap.
    • Contain excess loose webbing with a bungee or zip-tie to keep it from flying in the wind as you head down the road.

    Once you have reached your destination, you can now loosen the strap for unloading. On the handle, locate the release mechanism and simultaneously pull up on the release and push down on the handle to get the strap to unspool from the mandrel. This may take some effort, depending on how new or how well lubricated the ratchet is.

    Once loosened, remove the strap from the load and remove the hooks. Be sure to take the time to neatly wind the strap for storage. Not only will it take up less room, this housekeeping measure will prevent damage from other objects while in storage. Smaller straps can be hand wound, but for larger straps, strap winders are available to simplify the process.

    Following these steps will help you to use a ratchet strap correctly and safely. It is important to remember to choose the right ratchet strap for your load and to inspect the ratchet strap before each use. Make sure you double check the ratchet strap after you have secured the load to make sure it is secure and safe for transport. And lastly, always follow safety instructions when using ratchet straps.

  • Zip’s Spotlight: Central Iowa Towing

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 18, 2023
    Zip’s Spotlight:
    Central Iowa Towing




    Eleven-year-old Jace Tapp dreams of playing in the NFL someday. If that doesn’t work out, his fall-back plan is to follow in the family towing business. Sounds like his dad will save a spot for him at Central Iowa Towing and Recovery. In fact, there’ll be room for everyone in the family if that’s what they want to do when they get older.

    “We have four children, and they have all been very active in this business, ever since they could walk, really,” patriarch Dustin Tapp said. “I would hope in 20 years that they would all want to be involved in this business, and I would love it if they could take it over. That’s not 100 percent my decision, but it’s definitely my goal.”

    A native of Nevada, Iowa, Dustin started Central Iowa Towing with his wife, Rickie, in 2014. Then 28, he had previously worked as a mechanic in nearby Ames, where he was first exposed to the profession, responding to accidents and breakdowns within a few weeks on the job. He said the decision to branch out on his own was by “accident,” pun intended.


    “I kind of fell in love with towing and started managing and growing that side of the business where I was working,” Dustin said. “I then reached the point where I wanted to do my own thing and bought my own truck. We started out with one rusty old tow truck out of a run-down, old farmhouse by Nevada, and it’s kind of escalated from there.” 

    In less than 10 years, the Tapps have grown Central Iowa Towing into one of the largest towing and recovery businesses in the state. Based in Ames, the company operates two locations there and has expanded into the Des Moines and Marshalltown markets. They also recently partnered with a towing company in Waterloo.


    Serving the heart of Iowa, their fleet consists of heavies, car carriers, light-duty wreckers and mobile service vehicles. The family favorite, according to son Jace, is the Century 1150 twin-steer rotator. Strategically located by Interstates 35 and 80, the crew stays busy responding to rollovers, breakdowns and weather-related incidents, including a 70-car pileup one winter.

    “We can do everything from your small car lockouts to tractor-trailer rollovers to underwater recoveries,” Dustin said. “We can do just about anything you can think of. I hope we’re remembered as providing the total package...that when our guys showed up, they got the job done.”


    “Central Iowa Towing is different because we take pride in what we do,” Rickie added. “Our trucks are clean, and we put a lot of effort into making sure our employees are taken care of.”

    The Tapps credit their team of operators, dispatchers and mechanics for the company’s success and solid reputation. Among those dedicated employees is Bailey Metzger, who has served as the company’s dispatch manager for the past three years. She makes sure all calls get routed correctly and in a timely manner.

    “I monitor all the calls that come in to make sure we’re getting accurate information for every call,” she explained. “Over time, you learn what information we need for certain situations. Once you’ve been through those scenarios, you remember what to do the next time.”

    “The most challenging aspect of running this company is managing employees,” Dustin admitted. “One of the best ways to manage our growth is by hiring the right people and trusting those people to do their job. I definitely went through a period of being a micromanager. It took me a lot to release everything, but once I did, it was the best thing I ever did.

    One of the best ways to manage our growth is by hiring the right people and trusting those people to do their job.
    —Dustin Tapp


    “We’ve been fortunate enough to hire some really good people and put them in the right places,” he continued. “But it’s tough nowadays trying to find young adults who want to put in the physical labor.”

    Hoping to buck that trend, the Tapps eagerly involve their children in the family business, and leading by example, they hope to pass their work ethic on to the next generation. Besides Jace, the family includes eight-year-old daughter, Carson; oldest son, Gage, 16; and youngest son, Cade, 6. Although still school age, the Tapps’ children help out when and where they can. 

    “I enjoy coming to work and talking with all the people here,” Gage said. “I help with washing trucks, and when I get older, I plan to continue to help my dad in the business.”

    “My dad is my biggest role model because he is a really hard worker, and he’s built this business in a short amount of time. He has come a really long way,” Jace added.

    Bailey said the “family atmosphere” is what she enjoys most about coming to work every day at Central Iowa Towing. “You get to have fun all day. It’s really not stressful at all,” she said.


    Rickie said working together as a family has strengthened their bond both professionally and personally.

    “Most proud, I would say, is seeing how Dustin and I have grown together,” she said. “Working with your spouse isn’t always easy. There have been ups, and there have been downs. Our relationship has really grown just by learning things that we basically have had to figure out on our own.”

    Besides the commitment from their employees and the support from their family, the Tapps said they also appreciate the response they’ve received from the communities in which they serve. To return the favor, they believe in giving back and regularly support school activities and community organizations by volunteering and giving donations and sponsorships.

    “There were plenty of other wrecker services when I started, but our home community, as a whole, took a chance on us, and I feel the best thing to do is to give back,” Dustin acknowledged.

    The Tapps said they are also grateful for their relationship with Zip’s AW Direct. Their company has been a loyal customer of Zip’s since they started, and whenever possible, the Tapps continue to purchase trucks, apparel and gear from their fellow Iowa-based company. Service before and after the sale also goes a long way, and first impressions make the difference.

    Nearly 10 years ago, “I walked into Zip’s with nothing to my name and told them I want to start a towing company. They took a big chance on me and let me drive a truck home that day with almost no money down,” Dustin said. “That’s one of the reasons why we are so loyal to Zip’s because they gave me a shot when nobody else would.”


  • The Right Hitch for You: Class & Style Explained

    by Tyler Nestvedt | Aug 11, 2023


    It can be a difficult decision when figuring out which trailer hitch works best for you. With a variety of different types of hitches, the right answer might not be simple. Lucky for you, we’re here to help. We’ll walk you through each type of hitch from ball mounts to pintle hitches. We'll show you what they’re used for and how you go about deciding what’s right for you.

    Before any of that, if you’re new to hitches, you may need a little vocabulary lesson before diving into the details. For example, tongue weight capacity is the amount of weight the hitch can take directly on top of it, while towing capacity is the amount that the hitch can tow.


    Types of Hitches

    There are a variety of hitches, but to start, let’s go over the basic types of hitches and what their weight capacities are.

    Ball Hitches

    Class 1
    These hitches are typically used for bikes or small cargo carriers. They can tow up to 2,000 pounds and support a tongue weight of 100 to 150 pounds, depending on the vehicle. These hitches work with a variety of vehicles, like compact or mid-size cars.
    Shop all Class 1 Hitches




    Class 2
    These hitches are a step up. They have a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, and depending on the vehicle, a tongue weight capacity between 200 and 350 pounds. However, they need bigger cars to handle them. They are installed onto the undercarriage of mid-size cars, SUVs, minivans and compact trucks. They’re perfect for ATVs, small boats and motorcycles.
    Shop all Class 2 Hitches




    Class 3
    These hitches are the first that are considered heavy-duty hitches. They can tow up to 10,000 pounds and support a tongue weight of 350 to 500 pounds, depending on the vehicle. These are designed to be used on larger vehicles like pick-up trucks, SUVs and vans. These are great for towing campers and cargo-carrying flatbeds.
    Shop all Class 3 Hitches




    Class 4
    These hitches are meant for your bigger jobs. The vehicle can tow heavy loads, up to 14,000 pounds. It can also handle a tongue weight of 500 pounds or more. The specific tongue weight capacity depends on the vehicle. These can only really be used by full-sized pickups or large SUVs. They typically require a 2 or 2.5-inch receiver to fully attach it.
    Shop all Class 4 Hitches




    These hitches are for people who need the most heavy-duty hitches around. They designed these massive hitches for pickup trucks and flatbed trucks. They typically have a towing weight between 12,000 and 20,000 pounds and a tongue weight capacity between 1,200 and 1,700 pounds.



    The last ball hitch we’ll talk about is the gooseneck hitch which is a variation of 5th-wheel hitches. The main difference is that 5th-wheel hitches are too big to use the receiver hitch. However, gooseneck hitches are designed to let you use the full bed of your truck, plus some have a ball that is removable.
    Buy this Gooseneck Hitch




    Pintle Hitches

    These are a different type of hitch entirely. If what you’re towing comes with a lunette ring, you can use a pintle hitch to latch onto it. This is much better for off-roading than ball hitches as it offers more versatility and mobility.




    Other Hitches

    Finally, there is often a hitch for those who can’t decide between pintle and ball hitches. They do this by being both. There are more types, but with the basics listed, we can help you choose what’s best for you.
    Buy this Tri-Ball Hitch



    Steps in Buying

    The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that your vehicle is what determines what kind of hitch you can get. What class of hitch you can get is highly dependent on what type of car you own, and the brand of hitch you can get depends on the make and model of your car. Ensure you look at what your owner’s manual has to say before deciding what type of hitch to get.

    Depending on what you’re using a hitch for and how often you’re using a hitch, you may need to look for something with a little extra added to it. For example, if you’re going to be doing a lot of off-road towing in environments where corrosion is pretty prevalent, you may want to look into powder-coated hitches that will let the hitch last longer.

    You will also need to look into special devices depending on what you’re towing. For example, you may want to invest in a weight distribution hitch in case what you are towing is extremely heavy. This will protect your rear axle. You may also want to look into a sway bar to prevent what you’re towing from swaying too much, either due to the wind or due to a steep turn.

    With all this information, all you need to do is look into finding somebody to install it, and you’re good to go. Knowing your specific situation is key to figuring out what kind of hitch you’ll need. You can find whatever hitch you’re looking for at Zip’s AW Direct.



  • Zip’s Spotlight: Mountain Recovery

    by Nate Kuennen | Jul 21, 2023


    It’s called Mountain Recovery for a reason

    Lured by the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Charlie Stubblefield moved his family from Wisconsin to Colorado five years ago. He said they were looking for a change of scenery and found it. Little did he know he would be making a career change as well when he got out there.

    With a background in construction, Stubblefield said he initially relocated three states west to pursue an opportunity in custom home building. When that didn’t pan out, the former paramedic and firefighter felt a calling back into service, this time helping motorists who were stranded or looking for assistance in the mountains. The need was fairly obvious, he said.



    “In the Midwest, you really don’t see a lot of crashed or broken down vehicles along the side of the road because they get towed and cleaned up very quickly,” Stubblefield explained. “But out here, I noticed there were stranded vehicles everywhere. I had to figure out what that was all about, so I started stopping to check on cars to see if I could help.”

    Settling in the Vail area of Interstate 70, Stubblefield said he was “mechanically inclined” enough to help motorists with heating and cooling issues, tire changes and other roadside assistance calls that first summer. Then when snow arrived on the mountain passes, he would sell and install tire chains to commercial drivers at the chain-up stations.

    “I was doing pretty basic stuff at first, but I eventually made enough money to put a down payment on my first heavy wrecker from Zip’s in July of 2020,” he said.

    Since then, Stubblefield has grown his company—aptly named Mountain Recovery–to include 25 trucks and just as many operators, dispatchers and mechanics. Headquartered in Vail, his fleet currently consists of six heavies, four car carriers, three mobile service trucks and a few support vehicles, including a command car and an off-road machine with a 30,000-lb. winch box. 


    “We definitely do a lot of off-road recoveries,” he said. “We’re in the mecca for outdoor recreation here and are busy with those kinds of toys no matter the time of year.”


    Not afraid of heights

    Mountain Recovery operates west of Denver between two of the tallest and steepest grades in the U.S.: the Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass. Both are at roughly 11,000 feet in elevation, and according to Stubblefield, “they are super steep up and super steep down.” To keep up with demand, a second shop was strategically added in Silverthorne, CO, “so we can service both hot spots within a 15-minute ETA.”

    In the winter, Stubblefield said his operators stay busy with pull-ups and jacknives on the 7% grade, and in the summer, they spend plenty of time dealing with CMV brake issues and pulling OTR trucks out of runaway ramps. He said most of the recoveries are the result of “driver error,” either ignoring to chain up during storms in the winter or selecting the wrong gear for the descent in the summer.


    “You would think we’re the busiest during the winter months, but the work is pretty steady all year round out here,” he said. “The winter months are just more sporadic, depending on the weather. We can do 50 to 100 pull-ups in a day when the weather’s bad. Summer time is just as busy, but more consistent with runaway ramp jobs, brake fires, overheating and radiator issues."


    Good operators are key to success

    In less than five years, Stubblefied said he has grown Mountain Recovery into one of the largest towing and recovery companies in the state of Colorado. They have also expanded into Wyoming. He said good employees are the key to his success. “I realized very quickly if you put a good operator in a good truck in this market, you will be able to make money,” he said. “We’ve been able to keep that snowball rolling, and here we are today.”

    Stubblefield said he tends to hire experienced operators for the heavy wreckers and is willing to train inexperienced operators on the light-duty carrier side. He usually pairs a new hire with an experienced operator for a few weeks for training purposes. “Once they feel comfortable and we feel comfortable—which varies from person to person—we can start to turn them loose in their own truck,” he said.



    “Light-duty work is definitely more entry level,” Stubblefield continued. ”On the heavy side, most of our operators have come to us with experience. Those greener guys work more light-duty calls and get to as many hook-ups as they can. Then on their days off, they can run with heavy-duty operators and shadow them.”

    Including a new 25-ton wrecker last fall, Stubblefield estimates 80 percent of his fleet has been built by Zip’s. He said he takes advantage of the in-house financing and also orders parts and supplies through Zip’s. He said he’s been approached by other vendors but remains committed to his relationship with Zip’s and sales rep, LeRoy Gossling.


  • Guide to Ratchet Strap Selection

    by Nate Kuennen | Jul 21, 2023


    How to Select a Ratchet Strap

    A ratchet strap is an adjustable strap used to secure freight, vehicles, materials and equipment for transport. Each assembly includes a short strap attached to a ratchet and a long strap to reach over the load. Both sections include an end hook fitting to secure the cargo to the other side of the truck or trailer.

    Made from polyester webbing, the straps are available in varying widths. Professional truck drivers typically use 3”W and 4”W straps to secure their freight on flatbeds or inside van trailers, while tow operators commonly use 2”W straps on their car carriers and wheel lifts. Weekend warriors often use 1”W straps to tie down off-road recreational vehicles.


    The size of the strap dictates the amount of weight it can secure, otherwise known as the Working Load Limit (WLL). Each strap should have its stated capacity stitched into the webbing or affixed to an identification label. For obvious safety considerations, the WLL should be never be exceeded. Here are some common per/strap capacities:

    1"W = 1,000 lbs.
    2"W = 3,300 lbs.
    3"W = 4,000 lbs.
    4"W = 5,000 lbs.


    Like the WLL, hook attachments on ratchet strap assemblies can vary as well, depending on the type of equipment or freight you are hauling and the type of truck or trailer you are using to haul it. Perhaps the most common hook fitting for all straps is the Double J hook. Here are some specific applications for various trailers and decks:

    • For flatbeds, a flat hook or Double J hook is a typical attachment to a rail or stake pocket.
    • For an open car carrier or car trailer, a chain tail is preferred to fit into a keyhole slot.
    • For inside a van or refrigerated trailer, an E-Track fitting works well if so equipped with that style of track.
    • For a recreation trailer, a coated, wire, or single J or S hook usually suffices.


    In addition to the end hook fitting, the length of strap is another consideration. Truck drivers typically need 20’ of length, while the recreational enthusiasts can usually get by with 12’. The length you need, again, depends on what you’re hauling. Please note the length does not affect the WLL.

  • Top 10 All American Zip’s Trucks

    by Nate Kuennen | Jun 30, 2023


    As we celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, we take a moment to recognize some of the patriotic wreckers and carriers we've produced over the years, courtesy of the custom wraps and paint schemes commissioned by our valued customers. Enjoy some eye candy with your hot dogs, burgers and sparklers this Independence Day.

    2022 Ford F550 Century 312
    P.J.’s Towing - Lansing, MI
    Leading the parade is this star-spangled entry from the Great Lakes State. Besides the stars and stripes wrap, this light-duty wrecker will also catch your attention with the SafeAll Traffic Commander perched atop the pylon.
    2020 Kenworth W900B Century 5130
    Collins Brothers Towing - St. Cloud, MN
    Up next is this viper red heavy with color-wash grill, tanks and steps. Up top you’ll find the sparkling Code 3 18-head LED light bar, and nestled inside a side storage compartment is an American Eagle 8-drawer toolbox.
    2022 FORD F550 Chevron 408V
    Precision Towing - Madison, WI
    Precisely built for Precision Towing, this flag-draped extended cab features a 94" aluminum crossover tunnel box as well as a self-loading Auto-Grip II wheel lift and motorcycle towing bracket. Also take note of the orange synthetic winch line and Truck-Lite 3/4" LED lights.
    2022 Peterbilt 567 Century 1150 Rotator
    Hunter Auto & Wrecker Service - Charlotte, NC
    This blacked out rotator keeps the flag flying in the middle of its 180" tri-axle body. Besides three-stage low front outriggers, this black beauty features a knee boom street Low Rider with an impressive 157" reach along with a Miller shackle kit and a Hella side lamp.
    2022 Ford F650 Century 12 Series LCG Carrier
    Lawrence Towing - Holland, MI
    Take a minute to appreciate this car carrier with its flag-themed storage boxes beneath a 21.5' aluminum deck. This rollback features a low center of gravity as well as Buyers LED interior strip lighting and a Zip’s Side Puller Recovery Tool.
    2021 Kenworth T800 Century 1075 Rotator
    Wes’s Service - Calumet City, IL
    This five-axle salute features a twin-steer front with a tandem-tag rear. The business end offers 360-degree continuous boom rotation and a 20-ton equalizer swivel. Complementing the graphics is an array of custom lighting, including M6 split-color lights from Whelen.
    2022 Kenworth T800 Century 9055
    Hitz Towing - York, NE
    The longer wheelbase and shorter bunk accommodate a 36" crossover tunnel box in front of the main body. This bonus space includes a toolbox shelf, chain rack and custom rollout storage to keep everything organized and within reach.
    2023 International MV Century 12 Series LCG Carrier
    Area Towing & Recovery - Taylor, MI
    Old Glory gets a makeover on this 21.5' car carrier. In addition to the orange, black and gray color scheme, this patriotic rollback is accented by Maxxima’s 3/4" round marker lights, and its steel bed is controlled by SafeAll’s Proportional Remote.
    2023 Peterbilt 389 Century 1150 Rotator
    Homer’s Towing and Service - Milwaukee, WI
    This blue-collar heavy has earned a day off but probably won’t take it. In addition to 360-degree boom rotation, this rotator features an SDU-4 Low Rider underlift, Miller Under Body LED strip lighting and McKissick Evolution Series snatch blocks.
    2023 Peterbilt 567 Vulcan V100
    Mighty’s Towing & Recovery - Plainfield, IL
    The tri-axle body upgrade on this heavy includes a 36" aluminum saddle-style tunnel box at the front. The body offers plenty of storage for such accessories as Miller’s pintle hook adapter. On top of the pylon is Whelen’s 72" 20-head LED light bar.
  • Road To Safety: Traffic Commander

    by Nate Kuennen | Jun 28, 2023


    Experts’ Opinions of the Traffic Commander

    Turn any busy highway into a Road To Safety with the Traffic Commander from SafeAll. This Variable Message Sign (VMS) mounts to any type of truck and effectively alerts motorists to accident scenes, lane closures, roadside

    assistance calls and other emergency situations.

    As we recognize National Safety Month this June, Zip’s AW Direct would like to spend a little time reviewing this game-changing 3-in-1 message board and sharing what others in the towing industry have learned with this additional safety measure for their operators.

    We all know distracted driving is a danger roadside workers face every day. Texting, fatigue and bad habits all keep drivers’ eyes off the road and away from the task at hand. With its 18” LED block letters, the Traffic Commander

    will get motorists to pay attention, move over and help save lives.

    This VMS from SafeAll meets MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) requirements for roadside signage. Active messages can be tailored to each traffic condition, and for drivers traveling at highway speeds, the amber four- and five-letter words are visible from 4,000 feet and legible from 1,000 feet.






    Among the several unique features of the Traffic Commander are the 16 lights are placed around the perimeter of the sign to serve as a light bar, and two additional lights are located on the front side to warn oncoming motorists. As an arrow stick, the sign can also be used to move traffic over with animated chevrons and arrows.


    Industry First

    The Traffic Commander is a first for the towing industry. Message boards have been around for years in road construction, but they have not been readily available for the towing market until now. Joe Mitchell from Mitchell’s Towing and Recovery in Virginia is glad he bought one.

    quote-1-2-1200x230Studies have shown that the use of a VMS greatly improves operator and crew safety at roadside scenes. In January, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its findings on the effectiveness of a VMS on the side of the  road. Here’s what they discovered:

    quote-2-2-1200x230“Results showed statistically significant relationships between VMS use and behaviors of passing motorists,” the study reported. “When the VMS was active, drivers were more likely to move over (change lanes) and slow down than in the cases when the VMS was not active.”

    Jeremy Hoogerhyde from Otsego LakeService Inc. in northern Michigan has been in the towing industry since 1994 and has witnessed safety lighting on tow trucks evolve over the past three decades. While tow lights have advanced from a single amber beacon to modern LED light bars, he said nothing compares to the Traffic Commander.

    Before the Traffic Commander, Hoogerhyde estimated 20 percent of drivers would give him room to work, while the vast majority would yield just enough clearance for his truck. That all changed two months ago when he mounted the Traffic Commander to his rollback. He expects to add more to his fleet and would recommend this purchase to any one working alongside traffic.

    quote-3-2-600x650“Oncoming drivers definitely seem to be responding to what was displaying on the board,” Hoogerhyde said. “The board is very easy to use. I keep the tablet in its holder and just hit the buttons when arriving on scene. I will  definitely be adding this option to my new trucks in the future.”

    Also located in Michigan, Jerry’s Towing from the west central region of the state installed the Traffic Commander on one of their new car carriers. Operations manager Brent Baker said the VMS fits nicely with their operation’s focus  on safety.

    This message board from SafeAll really enhances our team's safety while working out on the roadways, especially in our urban market,” Baker said. “The sign complements our strong safety program and protects our

    team even more with its advanced warning and safety features.”

    The SafeAll Traffic Commander is available for purchase through Zip’s AW Direct. Installation instructions are included, and the unit also features an operator tablet, an inside cab mount for the tablet and 20 feet of power, ground and switch wiring. Learn more at Zips.com.

    “For the added safety benefit of the Traffic Commander, it’s really hard to put a price on that,” Mitchell said.


  • Zip’s Spotlight: Jerrys Towing

    by Nate Kuennen | Jun 20, 2023


    Three generations of the Baker family have been taking care of customers in central and western Michigan for nearly 50 years for Jerry’s Towing.

    Starting out in the auto repair business, namesake Jerry and Judy Baker founded the company in the mid-1970s, and now son Keith owns the multi-location operation with grandsons Brent and Brandon heavily involved in the business  as well.

    “We are currently under our second generation of ownership with the third generation on deck,” explained Operations Manager Brent Baker.


    Jerry’s Towing currently operates 10 locations in western and central Michigan in a primarily rural market. Their fleet consists of 46 towing and support vehicles, plus trailers, specialty equipment and other machinery. The Baker family employs 31 drivers, 11 dispatchers and five office staff.

    Like most towing companies, Jerry’s Towing operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They offer rotator and offroad recovery services as well as lifting, transportation and secure storage yards. Their roadside assistance efforts include mobile fueling and remote repairs for trucks, trailers and equipment.

    Diversification is key to their company’s success. Jerry’s Towing specializes in water recovery with a dive team, and the staff there is also trained in hazmat/environmental spill and clean-up remediation. They also own a set of air  bags for uprighting overturned semis and can also help with load shifts and reloading.

    “There isn’t any job we cannot handle. We can literally do it all," Brent said.

    The Bakers said the most rewarding aspect of their business is having customers call them in a moment of need and then to have “our awesome team” help them through that hardship with professional and courteous customer service.


    “It's even more rewarding to read all of the reviews of our team's great work out in the field,” Brent said. “We  understand our customers are not having a great day in the midst of calling us for service and a thank you goes a  long way anymore!”

    Over the years, Jerry’s Towing has purchased 16 trucks from Zip’s Truck Equipment, and the Bakers work closely with professional sales consultant Aaron Lippert from Zip’s suburban Detroit location. Brent said the  experience with Zip’s “has been incredible as you feel like you're valued.”


    Brent said his family’s company also relies on Zips.com to purchase parts and apparel. He said he especially appreciates the parts schematics, which help narrow down the search for the right part for the right piece of equipment.

    “The ease of filling your cart and having the order processed in a couple of clicks is critical to our day-to-day operation,” he noted. “Zip's customer service goes above and beyond to get you same day answers and solutions.”

  • Meet an Expert: Ruth Egan

    by Nate Kuennen | Jun 20, 2023


    Ruth Egan Manages Zip’s Store in Michigan

    In 2012, Zip’s opened a second location in the Detroit suburb of Taylor, Mich. Like the main campus in New Hampton, Iowa, the Michigan store features truck sales and service, a parts department and a retail outlet--just on a smaller scale.

    Since opening 11 years ago, the staff there has grown from four employees to 11, and among the original hires is Store Manager Ruth Egan, this month’s ‘Meet an Expert’ at Zip’s. Ruth said foot traffic, phone calls and office duties seem to keep each day interesting for her.

    “We are always busy here at our Michigan store,” she said. “From helping customers and taking calls to putting parts away and delivering trucks, there is always something that needs to be done at Zip’s.”

    Ruth joined Zip’s after working 10 years at the Michigan Humane Society and then three years as an animal control officer. While having little in common, Ruth said the shift in careers was made easier by the upbeat working environment promoted at Zip’s.

    “They are definitely different jobs,” Ruth admitted. “I love that everyone who works for Zip’s is like family. The friendships that I have built at work are amazing. Whether they work in Iowa or here in Michigan, I love my Zip’s family.”

    A Michigan native, Ruth said she appreciates being able to work close to home and be near her family. She is mother to six-month-old Makayla and six-year-old Marley, who will turn 7 this Fourth of July and who may also become a future employee at Zip’s.

    “They sure know how to keep me busy,” Ruth said of her kids. “Marley always says she will work for Zip’s one day because she wants to be able to help her mom.”

  • Zip's Spotlight: Pantusa Towing

    by Nate Kuennen | Apr 24, 2023


    Ryan and Dorian Pantusa took a leap seven years ago and landed firmly on their feet.

    In 2016, the San Antonio couple left their traditional careers behind and formed a towing company named Pantusa Towing. Ryan had worked previously in insurance, and Dorian was a nurse. They said owning their own business became a passion for them and fulfilled a lifelong dream.

    “We knew we wanted to be entrepreneurs in some way,” Dorian said. “We started out with one truck and one driver and wanted to see how it went. We started growing from there.”


    The multi-state company has since grown to more than 100 trucks and 100 employees. They began branching out in 2020, starting first with El Paso and then later adding operations in Atlanta and Nashville. Two years later, they opened satellite offices in Dallas and Macon, and earlier this year, added Colorado to the mix.


    Ryan said each expansion presented strategic opportunities for their family-owned company.

    “A lot of it was relationship-based,” he explained. “We were asked to go into those markets over the last three years by one of our larger clients. We were actually asked to go to several different areas but just stuck to the ones which fit us best.”

    Besides establishing a strong customer base, Ryan said their aggressive expansion plans and rapid growth have been a direct reflection of their dedicated employees. He said good equipment, good benefits and a positive working environment greatly improves driver retention and keeps everyone engaged.


    “I can’t give away all my secrets, but I will say we treat our company like a large, professional corporate organization with great leadership,” Ryan explained. “I feel we treat our drivers and employees excellently. I also think we provide some of the best benefits in the industry. The people are the key to our success.”

    Pantusa Towing began working with Zip’s in 2021 and has since purchased more than 20 new trucks from us. Ryan said the need for additional equipment was the result of the company’s growth as well as upgrading older equipment at their original location.

    “We’ve been replacing a little bit at a time, but our purchases lately have been mainly for expansion,” he noted.


    Based on their customer needs, most of Pantusa’s fleet are car carriers. They operate a handful of heavies and a small fraction of light-duty wreckers. The Pantusas work closely with sales consultant Eric Albertson and have mapped out how they want their trucks. Ryan said those specs make the purchasing process seamless and painless.

    “Eric makes things really easy for us,” Ryan said. “We’ve told him exactly how we want our trucks so when we go to place orders for new units, he already has down what we want to a science to meet our standards. There are no questions. We place the order and already know what to expect. All of them are exactly the same.”


    One new accessory Pantusa has been adding to their fleet recently is the SafeAll Traffic Commander. Ryan said they have been installing this variable message sign on select new equipment as a way to improve operator safety, to promote their business and to stand out from the competition.

    “These signs have been fantastic,” he said. “We’ve never used anything like them before. We appreciate the improved visibility this sign creates and the added safety benefits for our operators. It also brings a uniqueness to our fleet. It’s nice to have something that sets us apart from other companies—leading the way in the markets in which we serve.”

    The Traffic Commander is just one accessory Pantusa Towing gets from Zip’s. The company orders all of its parts here as well, and Ryan said he appreciates that Zip’s AW Direct is a one-stop shop for all of their company’s needs: from truck purchases to financing and leasing to ordering parts and accessories to custom company apparel.

    “It really works so well for us because we are so spread out,” Ryan said. “All of our regional managers have a central point of contact at Zip’s. We order a lot of parts and equipment, and the employees all have the link to order their own apparel through Zip’s should they choose to do so. Zip’s makes everything so convenient and easy for us. They have added a tremendous amount of value to our organization.”

  • Identify & Fix Damage to Lifting Slings

    by Nate Kuennen | Apr 14, 2023


    Sling Inspection and Retirement Checklist


     Any synthetic rope that has been in use any period of time will show normal wear and tear. Some characteristics of a used rope will not reduce strength while others will. Below, we have identified conditions of damaged slings that should be inspected on a regular basis of its service life.

    If upon a periodic inspection you find any of these conditions, you must consider the following before deciding to repair or retire it:

    • The length of the rope
    • The length of time it has been in service
    • The type of work it does
    • Where the damage is
    • The extent of the damage


    In general, it is recommended to:

    • Repair the rope if the observed damage is in localized areas and the applications permits
    • The rope should be removed from service if the damage is over extended areas


    Regular wear


    Track progression

    What to look for:

    • Slight fuzzy look
    • Slight color fading
    • Other characteristics appear normal
    • Brittle or stiff areas


    • Initial Use
    • Abrasion




    What to look for:

    • Visible sheen
    • Stiffer than rest of rope but loses stiffness with repeated bending


    • Setting of fiber around object (hooks, etc.)

    Corrective measures:

    • Bend rope back and forth to remove compression

    Pulled Strand



    What to look for:

    • Pulled strand protruding from the rest of the rope
    • No damage present


    • Snagging on vehicle or equipment

    Corrective measures:

    • Work back into rope by "milking" back and forth
    • Ensure strand is back in place before attempting to use

    Chemical Degradation


    Retire Sling

    What to look for:

    • Fused/bonded fibers
    • Discoloration
    • Brittle fibers


    • Chemical contamination

    Head Degradation


    Retire Sling

    What to look for:

    • Fused/melted fibers
    • Very stiff
    • Can't be brought back by bending like compressed fibers


    • Exposure to high heat

    Inconsistent Diameter


    Retire Sling

    What to look for:

    • Tight flat areas
    • Looks as if strand or strands have been pulled tight
    • Bumps or dips


    • Broken or pulled internal strand(s)
    • Shock loading

    Volume Reduction


    Retire Sling

    What to look for:

    • Reduction in size of strands/rope diameter


    • Abrasion
    • Sharp objects
    • Cyclic tension wear (fatigue)
  • Meet an Expert: LeRoy Gossling

    by Nate Kuennen | Mar 10, 2023

    leroy-gossling-spotlight-mar2023-low-res-9 1200x630

    This Month’s ‘Meet an Expert’ at Zip’s AW Direct is LeRoy Gossling, a professional truck sales consultant whose territory primarily serves the state of Nebraska. A 30-year employee, Gossling also handles national and international sales, covering what the sales team here likes to call the “rest of the world.”

    After spending a short time on the East Coast, Gossling, a northeast Iowa native, returned home in 1990 and joined Zip’s in the Parts Department three years later. Referred to the position by another employee at the time, Gossling said he spent his first six years here ordering, shipping and receiving parts and educating himself about the towing industry.

    “It wasn’t just knowing all the parts but really the sales of those parts,” Gossling recalled. “I learned the behind-the-scenes side of the business, such as the shipping and receiving, doing inventory, stocking shelves and so on. I learned a lot from Rick and Chuck–two parts guys at the time–and I have to give both of these gentlemen credit for teaching me a lot about the towing industry.”

    Gossling said that on-the-job training eventually led to an interest in equipment sales. Following an opening in 1999, he made the transition and joined the sales team here. That staff now numbers a dozen full-time consultants, and Gossling is the second-longest tenured sales rep. Returning the favor, he said he has helped guide other consultants who have come on board after him.

    “As we have grown over the years as a company, I have taught or mentored a number of new or newer employees in the sales process,” he explained. “I feel obligated to, I guess, as I was lucky enough to have a few fellow employees mentor me. It’s the right thing to do. We all want to be successful here.”

    Gossling describes working at Zip’s as a “family atmosphere” and that translates into his success in truck sales. Zip’s itself is a family-owned business, and many of the customers he works with are multi-generational, family-owned tow companies. 

    “We have all become family over the years here. That makes a difference, I believe, along with getting to know your customers and learning about their operation,” Gossling said. “My customer base is filled with a number of family-owned, family-run companies and eventually you become part of their family.”

    Gossling said many of the customers he works with have been in business for more than 40 years, and they usually know what they want when they call. Other inquiries he fields may come from younger customers who are just starting out in the business and need guidance on their equipment. He treats each sales call equally.

    “A lot of my customers buy and update their equipment annually or at least every few years, so they usually know exactly what they want. But I still may provide guidance on ‘what's new’ in the industry,” Gossling explained. “I also get calls every day from very young companies, or someone who wants to get into the towing business, so this involves a lot of time and discussion on what type of equipment they need not just to start with but down the road as they grow.”

    According to Gossling, the towing industry has “evolved” greatly in his three decades in the business, and he said it’s important to keep his customers abreast of the changes and improvements. During his time with Zip’s, Gossling has sold everything from light-duty wreckers, heavy-duty wreckers and rotators to car carriers and industrial trailers.

    So what gives him the most satisfaction from his position? “The best part of my job is when a customer sees their new truck for the first time, and I hear ‘WOW, this is beautiful’. I call that the ‘wow factor’.”

  • Must-Have Cargo Hauling Accessories

    by Nate Kuennen | Jan 31, 2023

    Hauling flatbed freight can be tricky. Make sure you have the right tools and cargo control accessories to help simplify the process. Zip’s AW Direct offers a full line of Cargo Control products. These products protect your load, assist in tarping and keep everything secure.

    You already know about our durable straps and chains. In today’s blog, we are going to look at the types of accessories that can make any tie-down job easier. We call them ‘must-haves’. Find room in your storage compartments for these hand-picked favorites that can help your flatbed operation.


    Ancra Lever Binder Lock

    Once you have tightened down your chain, make sure the chain binder lever binder stays put. Using the Ancra Binder Lock you can lock the lever in place. Featuring a two-position pin, this metal lock prevents the accidental release of the lever in transit.

    • Secures binder lever to body frame with locking pin
    • Powder-coated to withstand harsh road spray
    • Safety yellow finish easily identifiable
    Item #: AI-50117-10
    Buy it


    Strap Winders

    We’ve all seen the tail of a winch strap flying in the wind behind a trailer. Don’t be that driver. Zip’s AW Direct offers three types of strap winders. They store excess webbing neatly behind the winch cap and keep it from becoming a streamer.

    • Winds straps up to 4”W
    • Attaches to rail for mechanical operation
    • Dual handles for improved control
    Ancra Web Winder
    Item #: AI-45801-10
    Buy it
    Ancra EZ Winder 2 Handle Strap Winder
    Item #: AI-50092-10
    Buy it
    Premium Cargo Strap Winder
    Item #: AI-50391-10
    Buy it


    Ancra Heavy-Duty Strap Storage Band Pack

    When you’re empty or don’t need all of your ratchet straps, make sure you keep them organized. Don’t create a rat’s nest in your storage compartment with loose straps. Count on Ancra Storage Bands to keep them rolled tightly so they can be stacked and stored with ease.

    • Keeps straps from unraveling
    • Dimensions: 1”W x 7”L
    • Ancra-blue heavy-duty rubber
    Item #: AI-50433-10
    Buy it


    All-Grip Telescoping Retrieval & Rigging Tool

    Your loaded trailer can reach as high as 13’6”. Throwing straps, chains and tarps over that stack of freight can be challenging. Use the All-Grip Telescoping Retrieval and Rigging Tool to get your tie-down gear where it needs to get. This lightweight aluminum pole extends to 8’ and locks into position for easy maneuverability.

    • Collapses to 42” for easy storage
    • Hi-tech poly retrieval hook
    • Marine finish for durability
    Item #: 11810-5
    Buy it


    Corner Protectors

    Your freight comes in all shapes and sizes. When it shows up as pallets, building materials and angle iron, make sure you have corner protectors to shield your straps from cuts and abrasions. Zip’s AW Direct offers 13 different options to add a layer of defense against sharp corners and edges.

    • Wide footprint evenly distributes pressure
    • Metal or plastic construction
    • Pre-bent to 90 degrees
    Zip's Corner Strap Protector
    Item #: ZCSP
    Buy it
    Ancra X-Treme Guard HD Poly Corner Protector
    Item #: AI-50089-GUARD
    Buy it
    All-Grip Plastic Corner Protector
    Item #: WS-25037025
    Buy it


    Reversible Load Signs

    Sometimes, your freight doesn’t fit the width of your trailer. To maintain compliance with DOT regulations, you need to notify other motorists of your oversized load. If that’s the case, Zip’s AW Direct offers several different options for reversible banners to address the situation.

    • Double-sided, DOT-compliant sign
    • Secures with attached rope
    • Vinyl material rolls up for convenient storage
    Zip's Wide/Oversize Load Banner
    Buy it
    Ancra Wide/Oversize Load Banner
    Item #: AI-49894-BANNER
    Buy it


    Ancra Toss 'N Tie Strap

    Don’t throw your arm out tossing heavy straps over your flatbed freight. Use the Toss ‘N Tie from Ancra to get your straps where they need to go. Attach the carabiner to a strap end and then toss the much lighter nylon string and rubber reel over the freight. Then go to the other side and pull the tie-down strap over.  

    • String length: 28’
    • Molded synthetic rubber reel
    • Includes high quality carabiner and ring
    Item #: AI-50409-10
    Buy it


    Ancra Tarp Protector

    Tarping your load is likely the least desirable aspect of your job. Don’t add to the frustration by causing tears and holes in your expensive tarps. Use Ancra’s Tarp Protector to soften corners and prevent cuts and abrasions. This plastic pyramid makes contact with each surface and the rounded tip won’t pierce straps or fabric.

    • Yellow plastic for visibility
    • Three points of contact
    • Rounded tip to soften corner
    Item #: AI-49913-10
    Buy it


    We hope you find these accessories useful and beneficial to your operation. You can browse more options by visiting the Cargo Control section at Zips.com. Just remember, the most important tip is making sure you have the right tools to perform your job safely and efficiently.

  • 10 Tips to Maintain Your Industrial Trailer

    by Nate Kuennen | Jan 26, 2023


    Preventative trailer maintenance on your industrial flatbed trailer can keep your rig rolling down the road. By performing regular checks to catch and fix defects before they become problematic. This early intervention makes sure your deliveries stay on time. It also avoids service delays caused by unexpected downtime and fix-it tickets from roadside inspections.

    In today’s blog, we are going to look at the 10 most common areas to address. These tips of all types of trailers including your lowboy, dropdeck or traveling axle trailer. Some tips should already be part of your daily inspection routine. Others may occur during PMs, and some need to be completed at other regularly-scheduled intervals.

    Find the schedule that works the best for you and your fleet’s operation. The key takeaway here is to not ignore issues or put off routine maintenance. Preventative maintenance measures can ultimately save you time and money and preserve your reputation as a dependable carrier. Let’s start our rundown where the rubber meets the road.

    1. Wheel torque

    Wheel Torque

    Rust streaks on the surface of your rim are a tell-tale sign of loose lugnuts and possible issues. Make sure you keep your lugnuts tight and secure by properly torquing them to manufacturer specifications. Correct torque settings prevent tire, axle and bearing wear, especially following a hub service or the arrival of a new trailer.

    When mounting a set of tandems, be careful not to damage the wheel studs and make sure the valve stem for the inner wheel is accessible from the outside wheel hole. Tighten the nuts by following an alternating criss-cross pattern to an initial setting of 50 ft.-lbs. Once the wheel set is snug, torque the lugnuts to the final setting of 450-500 ft.-lbs. following the same rotation.

    2. Hub inspection


    Similar to wheel torque settings, you should also take a good look at the hub.. According to manufacturers like Landoll, the wheel end contains the most “consumable service items.” Major repair costs can be occurred when components are not maintained and serviced properly.

    During your visual inspection, make sure the hub oil is at the recommended level on the sight glass and fill accordingly. Excessive hub temperature is a sign of poor lubrication and low oil levels. During your pre-trip, be sure to look for oil leaking on the inside of the rim and on brake components.

    You should also keep an eye out for loose, damaged or missing fasteners. If you discover any, put the trailer out of service if any of these defective conditions are present. 

    3. Suspension overview

    Suspension Overview

    While still under the trailer, proceed next to suspension components, once again looking for loose, cracked or broken parts and verifying torque specifications on all nuts, bolts and fittings. Air bags should also be inspected for equal firmness, and leaf springs should be scanned for cracks. Refer to the trailer manufacturer’s manual for further instructions.

    4. Tire alignment

    Tire Alignment

    After looking at your trailer’s lugnuts, wheel bearings, hubs and suspension, take a minute to check the tire pressure and the wear patterns on your trailer tires. Many industrial trailers offer tire inflation systems to maintain tire pressure. A quick check with an inflation gauge will prevent a roadside repair farther down the highway.

    If you see signs of uneven tread wear, notify shop personnel. The trailer may be out of alignment or may be suffering from a damaged suspension or axle component. Scuffed tires or tires with feathered edges could be a sign of negative camber and should be addressed by certified technicians.

    According to trailer manufacturer Landoll, proper axle-to-kingpin alignment is “necessary to obtain straight tracking.” If axle alignment is off, “dog-tracking” occurs. Check alignment manually or with a semi trailer alignment machine. A thorough inspection of the complete suspension system must be performed, and all defects need to be corrected before alignment.


    5. Brake systems

    Brake Systems

    The importance of stopping your trailer needs little explanation. Whether equipped with drum or disc brakes, daily brake inspections on your trailer need to be part of your dispatch routine. Most out-of-service tickets are related to brakes being out of adjustment, and most roadside DOT inspections are looking for brake system violations. Don’t risk an out-of-service ticket.

    At a minimum, manufacturers like Landoll recommend trailer brake systems be inspected every 500 miles. Drivers and technicians should be looking for chafing air lines, hose kinks and damaged fittings. Keep an eye out for loose, missing or corroded fasteners. As always, any defects discovered should be fixed before the trailer returns to service.

    Brakes need compressed air to operate, so make sure your power unit’s compressor is in operational condition. The gladhands should be sealed with plumber’s tape and the rubber grommet insert is not missing or deformed. Always remember, audible air leaks do not pass inspections.

    To prevent ice build-up in air lines, be sure to drain the air reservoir daily. A drain cock is located on the bottom of the reservoir and allows collected water and oil to drain properly and exit the system before problems develop. Once complete, make sure the cock is sealed tightly to the bottom of the tank.


    6. Hydraulic system

    Your industrial trailer needs uninterrupted hydraulic fluid to function properly. Make sure you keep your tractor’s wet kit free of debris and water so fluids can flow freely without restriction. Start with a 10-micron filter and regular service changes. A well-maintained system will keep your trailer working as it should when you need it to. 

    Just like your semi’s engine oil, be sure to check the hydraulic oil level daily and look for signs of fluid contamination. Evidence or presence of foreign materials can clog your system and may require a full-system flush. Don’t let debris stop you in your tracks when you are in the middle of a delivery.


    7. Deck condition

    Deck Conditions

    It’s hard to haul flatbed freight with a compromised deck surface. Whether your trailer’s deck is made from wood, metal or a combination of both, inspect for loose sections, missing fasteners and other surface defects. Over time, the condition of your trailer’s deck can suffer from loading abuse, road vibration, weather elements and repeated washing.

    If primarily wood, the best way to prolong the life of your deck is to treat the wood annually with preservatives. A deep penetrating oil-based formula that repels moisture will pay itself back over time. Check with your local home improvement store or refer to the can for application instructions. Periodic recoating could prevent deck failures in the future.


    8. Electrical connections


    The mark of any good pre-trip inspection is working lights on both the tractor and trailer. How many times have you seen a tractor-trailer heading down the highway with a burned-out headlight or clearance light? Did the driver actually perform a walkaround inspection?

    Don’t get trapped by apathy. Make sure you do your job. Just remember, if a light is on your trailer, it needs to work.

    Faulty trailer lights are just the beginning of your trailer’s electrical inspection. Always check the seven-pin connection to the trailer and ensure a solid fit. The cord end should be free of debris and bent or loose pins. Additionally check for, any wire, electrical connection or electrical component showing signs of corrosion, wear, breakage or unraveling.

    9. Roller and wear pad inspection


    If your industrial trailer features a traveling axle setup, make sure you inspect the rollers and wear pads located on the undercarriage. These key components must be properly maintained to ensure smooth axle travel. If a bearing is seized and not rolling freely on the main beams, the roller could suffer a flat spot and require replacement, causing additional cost and downtime.

    Landoll recommends lubricating rollers monthly or every 2,000 miles. Refer to your trailer owner’s manual for grease zerk locations and scheduled maintenance intervals. Wear pads need to be replaced any time unusual wear appears, compromising bolt heads and mating material.

    10. Dock leveler maintenance

    Dock Lleveler

    Lastly, dock levelers round out our list of inspection points on your industrial flatbed trailer. Typically located between the rear axles, these dropdown legs provide support while loading equipment from a ramp or dock and prevent unnecessary suspension damage. Before moving a trailer, always make sure the legs are in the raised position for transport.

    Daily use of leveler’s legs keeps the system fresh, but if your cylinders are seldomly used, you should still cycle the legs up and down at least weekly so oil circulates through the lines. This extra step ensures the leveler’s legs are ready and available when you need them.

    Leveler legs should always be in the retracted position prior to transport. During your pre-trip inspection, you should check for loose, missing or damaged hardware. You should also look for hydraulic leaks and any unsupported lines that may be damaged. If any unsatisfactory conditions exist, put the trailer out of service for repair.



    We hope you find this list useful. Always refer to your trailer’s owner’s and service manuals for exact details and instructions. Inspection points may vary by manufacturer, but the intent here is to not skip a step.

    Once again, drivers and fleet managers need to remain mindful of all the moving parts on a trailer. Keeping your trailer in its best shape is in everyone’s best interest.

    Having the products and equipment that you’d need to inspect your trailer on-hand can be the difference between performing these inspections or not. Be sure you have the supplies you need by visiting our Auto & Truck Service department.

  • Meet an Expert: Randy Gilbert

    by Nate Kuennen | Jan 10, 2023

    randy-gilbert-spotlight-jan2023-low-res-2 1200x630

    Seeing the country and meeting great customers makes Randy Gilbert’s job pretty rewarding.

    Delivering brand new tow trucks definitely turns a lot of heads going down the road for Randy Gilbert, a part-time driver for Zip’s Truck Equipment and this month’s ‘Meet an Expert’ employee profile. 

    The shiny chrome, the extra lights and the fresh paint job offer plenty of eye-catching bling for passing motorists. Whether a rotator or light-duty, the rolling billboard makes for pretty good advertising for the company.

    “I’ve always said I bet I could take a new truck down the road and have it sold in two days,” Gilbert said.

    Gilbert joined Zip’s as a part-time driver in 2019 following a career with two companies in nearby Charles City and 17 years owning a saleyard north of Floyd in northeast Iowa. He was looking to fill his spare time and was referred to the position by current employees at Zip’s. 

    His wife went to high school with company owner Paul Rottinghaus, and his son-in-law and grandson both work in the heavy-duty production shop here.

    “I got a call from Zip’s one day, and they were looking for someone to deliver a truck,” Gilbert recalled. “I went over, filled out the application, and before I got halfway home, they called me back and offered me the job.”

    Besides all the attention he gets going down the road, Gilbert said the best part about delivering trucks for Zip’s is the opportunity to see the country. He said he also likes interacting with customers when he shows up at their doorstep with a new addition for their fleet.

    “Everyone’s great, and I’ve had several requests to deliver their next truck,” Gilbert said. “I usually stick around after the delivery and shoot the breeze a little bit before I leave. They are usually happiest as can be. I’ve pretty much been a people person all my life.”

    Gilbert said he normally delivers one to two trucks each week and primarily focuses on heavy-duty trucks. Lately, with the demand for car carriers, he’s been delivering more rollbacks for Zip’s. “That’s what’s been selling,” he noted.

    Last year, Gilbert delivered a new wrecker to customers in every continental state except Maine. He typically goes wherever he’s needed and has been to the same customers multiple times. He said he appreciates the flexible scheduling, and driving gets him back to his roots.

    At his sale yard, he would deliver farm equipment with a small fleet of flatbed trailers, and hailing from a family of house movers, he worked for his father and grandfather in his younger days. “I drove a truck before I drove a car,” he joked.

  • Meet an Expert: Tierney Lensing

    by Nate Kuennen | Sep 27, 2022

    tierney-lensing-portrait-sep-2022-low-res-7 1200x630 (1)

    Helping Others Comes Naturally for Tierney Lensing

    This month’s ‘Meet an Expert’ employee profile at Zip’s AW Direct is Tierney Lensing, a product sales representative. Lensing joined Zip’s two years ago in customer service and processes customer requests and orders over the phone, by email and even through web and text messaging.

    Through effective communication, Tierney said she is able to build strong relationships with Zip’s customers by sharing her extensive knowledge of products and services. She has established a rapport with many of them by offering solutions through support and recommendations.

    “Being in customer service at Zip’s, you are helping people on every call,” Tierney explained. “Just being able to help them with a positive approach and mindset and knowing that you impacted their day in a positive way is a win in my book.

    “I have always been motivated by learning and helping others,” she continued. “I find that working at Zip’s, you learn something new every single day…from products, customers or something new in the industries we serve. By learning, it helps you strive and grow.”

    Tierney said she is impressed by the breadth and depth of the products offered by Zip’s AW Direct. The company currently carries more than 60,000 products from more than 400 vendors. Every week, new customers discover Zips.com, and Tierney wants to make sure they stay.

    “I am a firm believer that people can hear a smile through the phone,” she said. “It amazes me all the customers that we have and the different industries that Zip’s has products for. There is truly something for everyone here.”

    In her role, Tierney tracks order histories and inventory levels through databases and spreadsheets. She says keeping information current helps with each call, leads to job satisfaction and assists others in the call center. Teamwork, she said, is what she likes best about working at Zip’s.

    “Everyone is treated like family here,” Tierney said. “We all build such great relationships with our customers and our co-workers. Everyone truly cares about each other—whether it be on a personal or professional level. Zip’s is always evolving, and they want every one of their employees to grow as well.”

  • Limit your liability: Accurately Lugnuts

    by Nate Kuennen | Sep 09, 2022


    Close enough is not good enough. Don’t rely on your own judgment or the sound of your impact wrench to determine if lugnuts are properly secured. Always torque them to exact vehicle and manufacturer specifications.

    Professionally-torqued lugnuts prevent dangerous wheel separations on the highway and limit a mechanic’s liability. A loose wheel can cause property damage, personal injury or, in the worst case scenario, a fatal accident.

    The internet is littered with videos showing close calls with runaway tires on highways and on busy streets, nearly striking emergency personnel, pedestrians and the motoring public. Don’t risk a loose wheel. Invest in a torque wrench and give yourself peace of mind.

    Lugnut specifications range by rim size, stud diameter and vehicle ratings. Passenger tires vary from 70 ft./lbs. to more than 100 ft./lbs.

    Refer to a vehicle’s owner manual or check available resources online for proper specifications. Here is an example of the torque ranges available with the TorcUP torque wrench.

     Square Drive 3/4" 1" 1" 1"
     Min. Torque (ft/lbs) 120 240 500 750
     Max. Torque (ft/lbs) 500 1000 2000 3000
     Min. Torque (Nm) 165 335 700 1025
     Max. Torque (Nm) 660 1355 2700 4025
     HEIGHT A (w/ battery) (in) 10.40” 10.40” 10.40” 10.40”
     HEIGHT A (w/ battery) (mm) 265 265 265 265
     LENGTH C (in) 8.86” 10.97” 11.45” 13.94”
     LENGTH C (mm) 225 279 291 355
     DIAMETER D (in) 2.56” 2.85” 3.09” 3.75”
     DIAMETER D (mm) 65 72.4 78.5 95.3
     WEIGHT (w/o reaction arm & battery) (lbs) 8.3 11.5 13.1 19.6
     WEIGHT (w/o reaction arm & battery) (kg) 3.8 5.2 5.9 8.9
     WEIGHT (w/ reaction arm & battery) (lbs) 10.4 14.5 15.9 22.5
     WEIGHT (w/ reaction arm & battery) (kg) 4.7 6.6 7.2 10.2
     RPM at Min. Torque 12 2 2 0.5
     RPM at Max. Torque 20 8 5 2


    Improper implications

    Undertightening a lugnut will put additional strain on the remaining lugnuts and will eventually cause them to fatigue, loosen and separate. Relaxed lugnuts will also cause the lug holes to elongate and become oblong, thus ruining the rim.

    An overtightened lugnut is just as dangerous. Too much force can strip the threads and cause them to stretch, effectively losing their clamping pressure. Over-exertion on the wheel stud can also force them to crack and break off.

    The intent behind properly-torqued lugnuts is to prevent wheel separations. One study found “fastener failure” was to blame in 85 percent of reported wheel separation accidents. Don’t become part of that statistic and always follow manufacturer recommendations.

    Each time a wheel is removed–whether for tire rotation, new tires or other routine wheel maintenance–the lugnuts need to be torqued accurately before the vehicle leaves the shop. They should also be rechecked two more times in the first 100 miles.


    Invest in a quality torque wrench 


    A properly calibrated torque wrench will prevent wheel separation and avoid any unnecessary exposure to risk. Several torque wrenches are available in the automotive market, from manual “click” wrenches to battery-powered models. 

    At Zip’s AW Direct, we sell and recommend the TorcUP, a quality, durable cordless unit delivering digital precision and offering reduced user fatigue. Click here for complete details on the six options available.

    With the TorcUP, you can accurately tighten a lugnut to exact specifications with less effort and greater convenience. This cordless unit frees yourself from manual lever-type torque wrenches and improves confidence, knowing you’ve accurately tightened a lugnut.

    The TorcUP also allows you to reach inside a wheel well without a cumbersome lever getting in the way. For safety, yellow “reaction arms” are available to brace against or lock onto neighboring lugnuts to absorb the force generated by this power-packed wrench.

    A digital readout at the base of the TorcUP wrench allows you to input the exact torque setting. To set it, press the up and down arrows. You can switch between standard and metric readings by pressing both arrows simultaneously. 



    At a max RPM of 20, the TorcUP wrench spins slowly and deliberately and then stops turning when the torque setting is achieved. To improve your efficiency, you can use a standard impact wrench to tighten the nut and then switch to the TorqUP wrench for the final torque setting.

    Please note the TorcUP does not record individual torque settings. We recommend documenting each wheel setting and then listing that information on the customer’s invoice. This will limit your exposure to risk once the vehicle leaves the shop.

    Accurate recordkeeping and properly tightening lugnuts are the hallmarks of a professional automotive technician. You don’t cut corners and have the safety and best interest of your customers and the motoring public in mind. Invest in a TorcUP wrench and sleep good at night.