Industry News & New Products

  • Choose PRIME, our exclusive work truck car carrier package

    by Cameron Hanson | Feb 05, 2020


    Tow companies enter the car carrier market for a variety of reasons. They may need a backup for the winter, their business volume has dictated a fleet expansion or they simply want to upgrade or replace a tired piece of equipment.

    Zip’s AW Direct has rollbacks to fit any price point. We can build a custom car carrier to your exact specifications, or we can put you in a quality trade-in from our dealer lot. Another worthwhile option to consider is a PRIME car carrier, our exclusive work truck package that is reliable and economical.

    We arrived at the word PRIME because this base model has the primary features that will satisfy your essential flatbed needs. Here, you won’t find an elaborate lighting system, aluminum beds, a lot of chrome or optional accessories like a side puller.

    Don’t let the modest exterior fool you, though. A PRIME car carrier is a solid work truck. They offer steel decks with standard equipment, including wheel lifts, to get the job done. Select from five chassis manufacturers and from three package options. Enjoy the peace of mind of a factory warranty as well.

    PRIME trucks do not compromise on safety or quality. They won’t break the bank either. They are budget-friendly and can save you thousands of dollars. Whether you lease or finance through us, we offer the options to keep your cash flowing and your expenses in check.

    We have brand new PRIME carriers at our Michigan location ready for you to own today. You can fly in and drive out. We’ll pick you up at the airport in Detroit and can get you back out on the road in no time. If you can’t make it to our facility, we can have one delivered to you. Either way, we make it easy.

    When you choose PRIME, you get a new car carrier for the price of a used truck. Take in-stock delivery today and put it to work tomorrow. For more information on a PRIME car carrier, contact one of our personal truck sales consultants today at 800-222-6047. 

  • Employee Profile: Randy Wickman

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 28, 2020


    Randy Wickman joined Zip’s AW Direct five years ago as a service writer and warranty rep. He was named service manager for our used truck division about a year ago. He now oversees repairs and reconditioning of used truck trade-ins and helps determine what repairs need to be made before resale.

    Given his “intimate knowledge” of each used truck, Randy said he can offer support to the sales staff here and can also be a resource for the customer after the purchase. “I am always available to assist with each potential sale and provide advice on the unit’s representation,” he said.

    In addition to sales and shop personnel, Randy said he works with several other departments at Zip's AW Direct, including the body shop, car carrier plant, finance, marketing and shipping and receiving. He described his co-workers as an “amazing team of people.”

    “I work with each department to make sure our jobs get completed and out to our customers,” he said. “I enjoy my position in the service department because I get to interact with almost every department here.”

    Randy said he is proud of the trucks Zip’s produces and enjoys seeing all of the Zip’s-built trucks on the road, making recoveries and taking care of customers. That pride motivates him to make sure every job he takes on is “done right” and to the best of his ability.

    “At the end of the day, I drive home knowing that I did the best job possible with each project I take on,” he explained.

    Home is now an acreage he and his wife recently purchased. When he is not busy settling in and making improvements, Randy said he enjoys racing motocross in his free time and rebuilding dirt bikes in his shop at home.

  • Make an informed decision on your next tow dolly purchase with Zip's AW Direct

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 16, 2020


    You have a lot to consider when purchasing a new tow dolly. Zip’s AW Direct offers sets from two manufacturers: Collins and In The Ditch. We carry nine different models with capacities listed at either 3,040 pounds or 4,280 pounds, depending on tire size.

    In today’s blog as well as in the video above, we are going to break down the various components of a tow dolly and how they relate to durability and maintenance. Each featured part offers benefits and limitations, both of which can affect the price range of $1,485 to more than $2,000 per set.

    Due to their 8” utility tires, tow dollies typically have a maximum road speed of 60 mph, although most operators won’t push them past 50 mph for safety reasons. Choose from 5.70 or 4.80 tire sizes with steel or aluminum wheels. Besides speed, tire sizes also affect load capacity: the larger the tire, the greater the load it can handle. Be sure to check tire pressures regularly.

    Dolly assemblies are made from steel and are available with aluminum or steel axles. Aluminum axles offer a weight savings that your operators will appreciate. Steel components can be zinc-plated or powder-coated with each offering its own level of durability.

    Another item to consider is maintenance, especially this time of year. Tow dollies can often be neglected, and replacing a set may be the reason you’ve landed here. Zip’s AW Direct offers dollies with easy-to-lube grease zerks or with maintenance-free hubs. Featuring automotive sealed hubs and bearings, the latter can save you time and money and extend the life of your dolly. Choose what best fits your operation.

    You can compare options and learn more by visiting our tow dolly section online at www.zips.com/towing-accessories. Here you will find detailed product descriptions as well as tables identifying which features accompany each model.

    Also, don’t forget to check out our replacement dolly parts as well as our deck mounts and storage racks for your dollies when they are not in use.

  • Employee Spotlight: Nancy Caspersen

    by Cameron Hanson | Jan 02, 2020


    Nancy joined Zip’s AW Direct one year ago as a Customer Service Representative. She was recently promoted as one of three new Key Accounts Representatives here. In her new role, she is looking to maintain “high levels” of customer service in ‘Rigging and Recovery’ parts and accessories.

    “My motivation comes from addressing problems and obstacles and helping customers overcome them,” she said. “I want to empower my clients with the knowledge of parts and accessories in the industry. I look forward to becoming a leader within the rigging and recovery business and finding what motivates others.”

    Nancy said she plans to cultivate relationships with current and prospective customers and will be relying on social media to achieve that goal. Her hard work and dedication have already garnered the attention of several of her customers, including Brandon Davis, owner of ABBA Towing & Recovery, Pawlsey Island, S.C.

    “I started in the towing industry about the same time as Nancy did at Zip's AW Direct,” Brandon said in a review. “The first time I called looking for products for the tow company that I was working for, I was connected with Nancy.  I was unsure of exactly what I needed, but I had a customer service rep who was extremely knowledgeable on the phone to guide me.

    “Her first priority has always been finding the best solution for my needs rather than being an ‘order- taker’ that just cares about making a sale,” Brandon added. “She, alone, has made me a Zip’s customer for life. She is second to none and goes out of her way to make me feel the same way.”

    In between her phone calls, Nancy took some time recently to respond to a few questions for today’s employee profile. Her responses now follow:

    Q. What do you enjoy most about working here?

    A. The family environment. We all work together to ensure each and every truck and parts order is done to the highest standard.

    Q. Is the glass half full or half empty?

    A. I've always been an opportunist. Instead of the normal half full, half empty look, I like to think there's an opportunity to keep the glass full at all times.

    Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?

    A. As a mom of three boys, my spare time involves going to football games. I also enjoy rebuilding and racing muscle cars. My current project is a ‘78 Camaro. I also love cross-country traveling and camping.

    If you have any ‘Rigging and Recovery’ needs or questions, Nancy is eager to help. You can reach her at 800-222-6047x142.

  • Kentucky Brothers Complete First Custom Build with Zip's AW Direct

    by Cameron Hanson | Oct 09, 2019


    Brothers Steve (left) and Sam McGuire drove 12 hours straight through from eastern Kentucky to New Hampton, IA, last month to pick up their new LCG 21-foot steel car carrier from Zip’s AW Direct. The Century 12 Series rollback was the family’s first purchase from us.

    The brothers said they spared no expense on the exterior of the red 2020 Peterbilt and were planning to dress up the interior as well. The polished aluminum bed rails, stainless steel toolbox doors, shiny wide bumper, chrome bug shield and chrome visor were just a start, they said.

    “We’re shooting to make it back home in one day, but we have to stop by the chrome shop first,” explained Sam, who described himself as the “older and prettier” of the two siblings.

    “The interior is just too plain for us,” Steve joked, confirming their first stop of the return trip will be the famous Iowa 80 Truckstop two and a half hours away.

    The brothers hail from McGuires Towing, a 32-year-old towing and recovery company that is now well into its second generation. They operate out of Ashland, KY, and serve the tri-state area of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

    “Dad started out with just one truck in 1987 with a homebuilt bed, and we’ve kind of grown from there,” Steve said. “We’re just the next generation to keep it going.”

    “It has definitely evolved over years,” Sam added. “Dad has stepped back and given us the reins.”

    Their latest truck purchase joins a fleet that includes a Miller 1150 rotator, a heavy-duty straight stick, three car carriers, two tractor-trailers and other light-duty wreckers.

    Besides all of the exterior jewelry on this newest addition, the lighting package--highlighted by an LED message board--is sure to grab your attention as well. There’s also an SP9000 Sidepuller, GoJaks, storage trays and synthetic winch line.

    “We went a little overboard with this one,” Sam admitted. “We figured it’s just easier to do it now when it’s being built.”

    The brothers said they put together their shopping list for their custom car carrier by attending various tow shows and by researching Zip’s options online. “We’ve been following your trucks on social media and on your website for a long time now,” Sam said.

    Both Sam and Steve said their first time working with the staff at Zip’s AW Direct has exceeded their expectations. They were able to stay at the company’s complimentary on-site hotel suite and were very appreciative of the red-carpet treatment they received during their overnight stay here.

    “This has been a great experience for us,” Steve said. “You come to a place, and you usually don’t know where to stay, where to eat or anything like that. It’s nice to come here and meet all these nice people. They treat you like family here.”

    “We want to thank you guys for the hospitality,” Sam said. “We’re very grateful, and we’re definitely looking forward to doing business with you guys again.”

    To see the custom truck in person, visit our booth at the Tennessee Tow Show in Chattanooga Oct. 10-12.

  • Employee Spotlight: Carrick Johnson

    by Cameron Hanson | Sep 23, 2019

    Carrick Johnson serves as our equipment sales order entry manager at Zip’s AW Direct in New Hampton, IA. He has served in his role at Zip’s for the past three years. His primary responsibility is to take equipment sales quotes and then transfer them to a production order to initiate the build process. He orders all of our chassis and truck bodies and ensures the compatibility of the parts sold.

    When not at work, Carrick describes himself as an avid hunter, fisher and trapper. He said he also likes to “tinker” in his shop with metal and woodworking. Let’s see what else makes Carrick tick:

    Q. What do you enjoy most about working at Zip’s AW Direct?

    A. The people and work environment make Zip’s a great place to work.

    Q. What motivates you professionally and personally?

    A. I always try to improve upon a process using the skills I’ve acquired in my career. It motivates me to also help others with their professional roadblocks. I tend to see if there is a “simple” answer to a complex problem.

    Q. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    A. Half full, if you made me choose. But I feel I am more of an optimistic realist. I see the best in people but have realistic expectations of situations based on my experience.

  • New CARB Rules Lead to Fleet Upgrades

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 26, 2019


    Sacramento tow operator Ted Chima is bringing his fleet into compliance with new air-quality rules planned for 2020 from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

    Starting next year, carriers domiciled in California with trucks older than 2011--or using diesel engines manufactured before 2010--will need to meet the state's new Truck and Bus Regulation. Non-compliant vehicles will be blocked from registering with the DMV starting Jan. 1.

    Founded in 1987, family-owned Chima's Towing currently operates 15 tow trucks, including light-, medium- and heavy-duty wreckers, carriers and rotators. Over the last 18 months, Chima has worked with the sales staff here at Zip’s AW Direct to update five pieces of equipment.

    His company’s latest purchases replace their 1998 and 2007 medium-duty car carriers. Chima’s son, Iran, currently operates a new Century flatbed with a sidepuller, and his father was in New Hampton, IA, last week to pick up a 2020 International 21-1/2 foot medium-duty car carrier.

    “We really weren’t looking to replace either one of them. There was nothing wrong with them, but the requirements in California are making me,” Chima said as he inspected his new red-and-white rollback waiting for him on the lot.

    Chima said he began working with Zip’s a year and a half ago as a result of the company’s quick turnaround time on truck orders.

    “That’s how our relationship started,” Chima explained. “We told them what we wanted, and they had it ready in a month. That was it. We needed a truck quickly, and they were able to do it.”

    Chima said he plans to be back at Zip’s at least two more times, and he said he appreciates the personal service he receives when he’s on site. It’s the main reason he said he chooses to pick up his new trucks instead of having them delivered.

    “When something is wrong, they deal with it right away,” Chima said.

  • Colorado Tow Company Gives Back

    by Cameron Hanson | Aug 20, 2019
    Cozy Corners Towing

    Jeremy and Alicia Ray of Cozy Corner Towing drove 12 hours from Colorado to New Hampton, IA, last week to pick up a light-duty wrecker from Zip’s AW Direct. The new Chevrolet was the couple’s fourth purchase from Zip’s in the last year and a half.

    The timing of the Aug. 16 delivery was especially fitting for Alicia, coming the day after her late grandfather’s birthday. Bob Swaney founded the Lafayette, CO-based company more than 30 years ago, and Alicia is now a third-generation owner of the business.

    Inducted in October of 2003, Swaney is a member of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, TN. He was instrumental in organizing the Widows and Orphans Relief Fund in their state, and with their latest purchase, the Rays are planning to pay homage to the company founder.

    “Everybody has their own story to tell, but this is a pretty big deal to us,” Jeremy said. “I was never able to meet my wife’s grandfather, but our newest truck will be an ode to the person who started all of this…who started our company.”

    Swaney passed away 10 years ago. He was an active member and past president of the Towing and Recovery Professionals of Colorado. The Rays said they plan to keep the truck primarily white in honor of Swaney’s original company colors and will name it ‘Bobbie Joe’.

    The decision to minimize the decals on this latest truck purchase is in stark contrast to the rest of their fleet. Their other three trucks feature full decal wraps, displaying their support for various causes which are “personal to us and our families.”

    One truck features ‘Slow Down. Move Over’ decals and is dedicated to the Widows and Orphans Fund and the Wall of the Fallen tow truck operators' memorial. Another is decaled in support of breast cancer research, and a third calls attention to autism awareness.

    In addition to their moving billboards, they also donate a percentage of the revenue from each truck to its respective charity. They said it’s a way to promote the organizations they care about and to help improve the image of tow truck operators to the motoring public.

    “We just want to give back,” Jeremy said. “We don’t come from rich families. What we got is what we got. But being able to do something like this is one small thing we can do for others.”

  • Employee Spotlight: Kevin Einck

    by Brittany Bierle | Aug 13, 2019


    Kevin E. knows a thing or two about car carriers. He’s been installing them at Zip’s AW Direct in New Hampton, IA, for 15 years now and currently oversees production at the company’s “West Campus” facility.

    “I can usually walk by a truck and tell immediately if something’s not right,” he said. “I can point it out and let everyone know it’s not leaving the plant until it’s fixed. We don’t do sub-par work around here. We take pride in our quality.”

    With seven two-person crews on one shift, Zip’s produces as many as five new car carrier builds each week. Production ranges from the light-duty 19-foot rollbacks to the tandem-axle industrial carriers to the 30-foot four-car haulers.

    “We want to make sure we complete our trucks in a timely manner,” Kevin said. “Depending on the size, each build normally takes two and a half days. Some take longer with customization with lights and such. Our customers like a lot of bling and want to be noticed over their competitors.”

    Kevin works closely with the sales and parts departments at Zip’s to ensure each car carrier is built to exact customer specifications. He said he also assists the service department as needed and can walk a customer through an issue after the delivery.

    “Within two minutes, I can usually get the problem fixed over the phone and get them going again. I know this stuff over here like the back of my hand,” he said. “We want to take care of our customers and keep them coming back.”

    In his spare time, Kevin enjoys bowling, and during the summer, he’ll take an occasional Friday off to get a head start on the weekend to go camping. To learn more about car carriers at Zip’s, visit www.zips.com/trucks-and-equipment.

  • Lightbar Cleaning Methods

    by Austin Richards | Apr 05, 2019
    Lightbar Cleaning Tips

    Keeping wreckers clean and professional looking is part of maintaining a good business reputation. However, the cleaning methods used will vary depending on the components used on our wreckers. For instance, lightbar lenses have specific cleaning requirements depending on the manufacturer. The general steps for cleaning your lightbar are as follows:

    1. Wet lightbar with gently running water

    2. Use a mild, soapy detergent with a soft cloth to wipe lightbar clean

    3. Rinse lightbar with running water and use your soft cloth to remove water spots

    Below are excerpts from the owner’s manuals of several of our lightbar manufacturers.

    Whelen: “Use only soap and water to clean the outer lenses. Use of other chemicals could result in premature lens cracking (crazing) and discoloration. Lenses in this condition have significantly reduced effectiveness and should be replaced immediately. Inspect and operate this product regularly to confirm its proper operation and mounting. Do not use a pressure washer to clean this product.”

    PSE Amber: “Use either plain water and a soft cloth or Code 3® lens polish and a very soft paper towels or facial tissue. Because plastic scratches easily, cleaning is recommended only when necessary (about every six months). Do not subject the lenses to car washes that use brushes as these will scratch the lenses.”

    Federal Signal: “Crazing (cracking) of the lenses will cause reduced effectiveness of the light. Do not use cleaning agents (which will cause crazing) such as strong detergents, solvents or petroleum products. If crazing of lenses does occur, reliability of the light for emergency signaling purposes may be reduced until the lenses are replaced. Ordinary cleaning of the plastic lenses can be accomplished by using mild soap and a soft rag. Should fine scratches or haze appear on the lens, they can ordinarily be removed with a non-abrasive, high-quality, one-step automotive paste cleaner/wax and a soft cloth.”

    ECCO: “Occasional cleaning of the lenses will ensure optimum light output. Take care when cleaning lenses – although tough, polycarbonate scratches easily. Clean the lens and base with soap and water or a lens polish using a soft cloth. Do not use solvents as they may damage the polycarbonate. Do not subject the lightbar to high-pressure washers or automatic car washers.”
  • Snatch Blocks: A Better Way to Winch

    by Austin Richards | Feb 08, 2019

    Snatch Blocks

    Snatch blocks are a common tool on almost every tow truck for good reason. Snatch blocks can increase a winch line pull and provide several options in difficult recovery operations.

    Basically, a snatch block is a pulley block with a swing-open plate and is intended for relatively short winch line runs and intermittent service.

    When selecting snatch blocks for your truck, verify that the working load limit (WLL) of the winch line and snatch block are compatible. The snatch block must be at least as strong as your winch line. You also need to verify that the groove in the snatch block’s sheave wheel is sized for the diameter of your winch line. A groove that is too large won’t fully support the winch line and could cause damaging flat spots while winch line that’s too large can crack the block. To determine the proper size sheave wheel, use a 12:1 ratio. For example, a 3/8" winch line dia. multiplied by 12 yields 4.5" which is the ideal sheave diameter for a 3/8" wire rope.

    Changing Directions.

    The primary use of a snatch block is to change the direction of pull. Because blocks are anchored in a fixed position, the wider the angle is at the block leads to the less force the anchor point has to withstand. One of the most common direction changes is attaching a snatch block onto your bed to feed the wire rope straight into the winch so it winds properly on the drum and not to one side.

    Snatch blocks are also used as anchor points to change the winch line direction from the disabled vehicle or tow truck to increase pulling power. Multiple snatch blocks can even be used for self-extraction. This can be achieved by routing the winch line from the back of the tow truck to several anchored blocks to the front of the tow truck.

    Increased Pulling Power

    Snatch Blocks can increase pulling power by having a moving vs. fixed snatch block. In this situation, attach a snatch block to the load so it moves with the load as the winch is operated. The amount of line angle at the moving block determines how much mechanical advantage is gained. Maximum gain is when the input wire rope is parallel, or zero degrees, to the output wire rope. This is called a double line pull. It comes in handy when your winch is not rated for the amount of weight of your casualty. This setup effectively doubles the capacity of your winch by distributing the load over two lines.

    Another situation is when the casualty is heavier than your recovery vehicle. In this instance, the tow truck’s wire rope goes through the snatch block attached to the casualty and back to another fixed snatch block then back to the load. This is a triple line pull and gains a 3:1 advantage. The more lines ran between the tow truck and the casualty, the more the pulling power increases.


    When lubricating snatch blocks, use either sodium- or lithium-based grease. Bronze bushed blocks and sheaves generally need to be lubricated after 8 hours of continuous usage or at least every 14 days with intermittent use. Roller bearing blocks and sheaves can handle 24 hours of continuous use before needing lubrication, but the same guideline of 14 days with intermittent use applies. Swivels follow the roller bearing lubrication schedule. Always follow your particular manufacturer’s lubrication timeline.


    Wear is a fact of life and will eventually affect the load a snatch block can handle. This means that regular and frequent inspection is needed. During inspection, keep the following in mind:

    • Deformation of any part is an indication of overload and the snatch block must be replaced immediately.

    • Swivel end-play of more than 1/16" is a danger sign. Replace the snatch block immediately.

    • Spreading side plates are caused by overload and must be repaired or replaced.

    • Looseness in the side plates are a sign of loose retaining nuts.

    • Sheave alignment issues such as wobbly sheaves are caused by bearing wear.

    • Groove wear in the sheave is caused by cable wear and can prematurely reduce wire rope life. Replace grooved sheaves immediately.

    • Hook latches are designed to hold loose rigging under slack conditions. Replace any damaged latches.

    • Any hook deformation, crack, gouge or distortion needs to be replaced immediately.

    Having several snatch blocks on your tow truck can provide options when faced with challenging recoveries. Keeping them in proper working order will ensure they are ready when you need them most.

    Before using any equipment described; be sure to read, understand and follow all manufacturers instructions and guidelines.
  • Transfer or Transport - How to Select the Correct Gas Can

    by Austin Richards | Jan 23, 2019
    Fuel Can Guidelines

    You’ve all experienced road service calls where someone simply runs out of gas. Simple solution, right? Well, maybe not. The choice of which container used to bring fuel is actually not so simple.

    There are three basic types of containers: Safety can, portable can and D.O.T. compliant can. Here’s the difference.

    • Safety Can: Safety cans are approved by a third party safety company such as UL or FM. Safety cans must be five gallons or less and have a flash-arresting screen, a spring-closing lid and spout cover and be designed to safely relieve internal pressure when subject to fire exposure per OSHA 29 CFR 1926.155(l). This type of can is required when used by any business or commercial enterprise for storing or transferring flammable liquids. These cans meet OSHA requirements and are available in steel or plastic.


    Eagle Type I Red Safety Can

    • Portable Fuel Can: A portable fuel can is any container designed and marketed for use by consumers for receiving, transporting, storing and dispensing gasoline, diesel fuel or kerosene. Cans that are red, yellow or blue are deemed to be portable fuel containers regardless of how they are labeled per EPA 40 CFR 59.680. Red cans are used for gasoline, yellow for diesel, and blue for kerosene. Portable fuel cans are designed to control evaporative emissions and reduce spillage and are often referred to as CARB (California Air Resource Board) compliant cans. These models are also designed with child-resistant features to meet the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act. These cans may meet EPA requirements, but not OSHA or DOT requirements. These cans are generally made of plastic, but there are some metal cans on the market.


    No-Spill CARB Gas

    While safety and portable fuel cans can be used for storing or transferring fuel, the key for our industry is whether they can be used for transporting fuel on our commercial road service vehicles. The short answer is… it depends on the can! This leads to the third type of can.

    • DOT Compliant Can: These cans need to meet the Performance Oriented Packaging requirements of the Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations. For instance, a standard safety can does not meet the requirements for transport. However, there are Safety Transport Cans that have a hold-down bracket for the lid and guards to protect the spout assembly that do. Some portable fuel cans have DOT caps that replace the spout assembly during transport to make them compliant. Jerri cans with screw-in caps that replace the spout assembly can also meet DOT requirements. Only cans meeting DOT requirements can be used for transporting flammable liquids.


    DOT Compliant Cap

    To see if your gas cans meet DOT requirements check the label or imprinting on the can for DOT approval stamp or the presence of UN marking numbers such as 1A1/T1.2/100.

    The choice of which gas can you purchase depends on how the container will be used. Safety cans are great in maintenance shops or storage yards while DOT approved cans are best for road service vehicles. See more Fuel Cans.

    Before using any equipment described, be sure to read, understand and follow all manufacturers instructions and guidelines.

  • Hi-Vis Guidelines

    by Austin Richards | Jan 03, 2019
    Be Safe, Be Seen: Guidelines for High Visibility Clothing

    Hi-Vis Guidelines

    At Zip’s AW Direct we get a lot of questions about high-visibility guidelines. Being seen on the job is critical to your safety out on the road. The sooner motorists see you, the safer you are.

    ANSI specifies two primary classes of reflective wear for people who work on the road. These classes are based on the amount of visible materials and the design attributes of the garment:

    Class 3: These garments offer the highest level of visibility and are designed for people working where traffic exceeds 50 mph. Typical jobs requiring Class 3 include road construction, tow truck operators and emergency responders.

    Check out the various styles of Class 3 reflective wear from Zip’s AW Direct.

    Class 2: Class 2 reflective garments aren’t as reflective as Class 3. Class 2 reflective vests are made for work where traffic exceeds 25 mph but does not exceed 50 mph. Common job classifications requiring Class 2 vests include school crossing guards, tow truck operators and law enforcement while directing traffic.

    Check out the various styles of Class 2 reflective wear from Zip’s AW Direct.

    Other Classifications: Apparel rated ANSI Class 1 is only appropriate for off-road work areas like construction sites and parking lots. Apparel rated ANSI Class E, typically pants or bibs, exists to enhance the overall visibility of the worker, but is not independently compliant.

    Keep in mind that reflective garments will get dirty, wear out over time and lose some of their reflectivity. And, as you wash your apparel, each washing will gradually reduce its reflectivity. Reflective material can typically be washed up to 25 times before needing to be replaced. Always check with your manufacturer for washing instructions.

    If you need to upgrade or replace your reflective apparel, browse the wide range of styles from Zip’s AW Direct here.
  • Choosing & Caring for Winch Lines

    by Brittany Bierle | Dec 07, 2018

    Learn the different strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of winch lines, as well as how to properly care for winch lines.

    Winch Lines

    Wire winch lines are the heart of our recovery operations. A damaged line is a serious safety issue and a broken one removes a recovery vehicle from service. Unfortunately, winch lines are often misunderstood. In this article I will cover the basics of winch lines (commonly called wire ropes). I will discuss both what to look for during an inspection of your winch line and how to select a new winch line.

    Rope Cores: Rope cores serve as the foundation for the strands. They keep the rope round and strands properly positioned. There are 3 different core types: fiber core, independent wire core (IWRC) and strand core. Fiber core offers the greatest flexibility. It is commonly made of polypropylene fibers, but natural fiber options are also available. Independent wire rope core (IWRC) is made of wire rope. It is the strongest type of core available and is 10-15% stronger than fiber core. Strand Core is made of stands of wires. It is least flexible of the three types discussed and is mostly used on utility cables.

    Rope Grades: The most common rope today is extra improved plow steel (EIP or XIP). It is typically used on winch lines and is generally 15% stronger than improved plow steel grade (IPS). Extra extra improved plow steel grade (EEIP or XXIP) is also available for added strength in higher rated equipment.

    Rope Types: Bright wire is un-coated and is the most commonly used winch line. Another option is galvanized wire, which improves corrosion resistance. However, galvanization can reduce a wire’s strength up to 10% compared to bright wire unless the wire is drawn again. Stainless steel wire contains chromium and nickel. It is very corrosion resistant and used primarily on yachts or as control cables.

    Construction: Construction determines how the wire rope performs. For instance, a 6 x 19 rope will have 6 strands of rope that have between 19 to 26 wires. Each added wire makes for better abrasion resistance. A 6 x 37 construction has 27 to 49 wires and is more flexible, while a 19 x 7 construction is rotation resistant.

    Lay: There are two categories of lay, directional lay and lay orientation. Directional lay refers to what direction the strands of the rope face when you are looking down the rope, and lay orientation refers to the direction the wires within the strands are twisted. Directional lay is either right or left. Lay orientation is either regular or lang. In regular lay, the wires are twisted in one direction while the strands are twisted in the opposite direction. In lang lay, the wires are laid in the same direction as the strand in the rope. Regular lay ropes are less likely to untwist. They are also less likely to fail because of crushing and distortion; however, they are less flexible than lang lay ropes. Wire winch lines use right regular lay construction.

    Design Factors: Design factors are safety factors required by government and industry organizations for wire rope. While they vary depending on application, typical towing winch lines have a 3:1 design factor, while lifting wire ropes have a 5:1 factor.

    During a winch line’s “useful life” all wire rope will gradually lose strength due to surface wear and metal fatigue. Metal fatigue is caused by normal use of the winch line but is made worse by excessive bending, which can be caused by a sheave that is too small. Inspecting your winch lines periodically for damage can save you many headaches on the road. Unfortunately, I suspect many can relate to having a winch line break that’s connected to a car with its owner watching. It’s never a pleasant or inexpensive experience! Below is mechanical damage to look for when inspecting your winch line and determining whether to remove it from service.

    • Hook damage: Look for any cracks or deformation of hooks. If the throat opening has been enlarged by 15% or twisted out of plane by 10%, it needs replacing.

    • Broken Wires: Pulling winch lines across edges, fatigue or overload can all break individual wires. If you find five or more broken wires in a single strand or 10 or more in one lay, the wire should be replaced.

    • Wear: Dragging a winch line on the ground or loading over the winch line will cause flat areas on individual wires of the cable. If these wires have lost 1/3 or more of the original diameter the line needs to be taken out of service.

    • Corrosion/Heat Damage: Any discoloration from rust or lack of lubrication promotes fatigue. If the wire rope is severely pitted or individual wires rusted through, replace the line. Fiber core slings need to stay below 180°F and steel core below 400°F. Exceeding these heats greatly reduce wire rope strength.

    • Kinking: Shock loading or forcing the line against an edge causes bent strands. This prevents the rope from rotating properly and greatly reduces its strength, making it necessary to replace the rope. Use load pads to protect the line and prevent this.

    • Crushing: A load set on top of a winch line can flatten the cable. This has the same effect as kinking, making it necessary to remove the line from service.

    When you are inspecting your winch line and have not found any damage that would require replacement, it is an ideal opportunity to lubricate the line to get the maximum service life possible. Be sure to use a lubricant especially made for wire rope. Proper lubrication reduces internal friction within the wires and strands of the wire rope. In addition, it protects the rope from oxidation and corrosion.

    When selecting a new winch line it should be based on the diameter, length and type recommended by the winch manufacturer for the model of winch you own. This information can be found on the winch nameplate, otherwise you can contact the winch manufacturer or local supplier. Beyond making sure your rope is compatible with your winch, there are a few other things you may want to consider. First, swivel hooks will help relieve rotational tension as the rope moves, so you may want to invest in them. Also, keep in mind that imported ropes can provide substantial cost savings without sacrificing quality. To reduce damage to whatever winch line you choose, use roller guides and tension plates. These aid in the proper winding of wire rope on the winch drum.

    Periodic inspections and lubrication of your winch line will save your business money, but more importantly, keep your employees safe and your customers happy. That is the heart of our industry.

    See all our Winch Line Products >>
  • Winter weather is here!

    by Brittany Bierle | Nov 28, 2018
    Work King jackets and bibs are some of the warmest and most functional winter wear you will ever own! It's simply the best.

    Work King Winter Wear

    It's not too late! Order your new high-visibility winter wear now at Zips.com. We have great Work King jackets, bibs and more on hand, ready to go to work for you! Order now! 
  • Make your Jump-Start Pack Last!

    by Brittany Bierle | Oct 30, 2018

    Tips for Preserving the Life of Jump-Start Packs

    portable jump packs

    Older vehicle batteries show their age in the cold temperatures. Fortunately, the jump-start pack is an operator’s best friend in these types of conditions. A quick boost will get many customers back on the road and you off to the next call. In order to keep your jump packs working when you need them, here are a few tips.

    • Keep the jump pack charged according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Yes, this seems like an easy one, but jump packs have different charging techniques. Some packs have built-in overcharge protection so they can be plugged in all the time while others require charging for a specific timeframe and then must be removed from the power source. Constant charging will damage the battery on packs on units without overcharge protectors.

    • Jump-start packs require cool-down periods between jumps. The high amperage needed to start a vehicle heats up the internal components of the jump pack. The timeframe varies depending on the manufacturer, but in general, after 6 seconds of trying to jump-start start a vehicle, a pack will need 3 minutes of cool down time.

    • Cold temperatures reduce the capacity of the jump-start pack. Keep the pack warm between uses.

    • Train employees on the proper hook-up of the battery hand clamps per manufacturer instructions.

    • Use to charge non-frozen lead-acid batteries only.

    Browse jump-start pack options here >>

  • Top Tire Chain Tips

    by Brittany Bierle | Oct 25, 2018

    Helpful Winter Towing Hints


    Tire Chains

    In many parts of the country, winter season is not far off. Having the most traction possible for snow and ice covered roads is very important for safety. For those unsafe snowy and icy weather conditions in which tires alone do not suffice, one of the best ways to gain additional traction is the use of tire chains (also referred to as snow chains).

    Tire chains or cables are selected based on the size of the vehicle and the amount of wheel clearance available on the vehicle. The tire chain manufacturer/retailer will have information on the correct size of tire chain while the vehicle manufacturer will have information on the clearance, usually in the vehicle owner’s manual. When first purchased, all tire chains need to be properly fit to your tires for best performance, traction and safety. They need to be as tight as possible by hand and then readjusted after driving a short distance. If needed, rubber or spring chain adjusters can be used.

    Helpful Hints:

    • The maximum driving speed with tire chains is 30 mph

    • Fit and practice installation of tire chains before you need to use them

    • It’s much easier to install tire chains for winter safety before losing traction vs. after you’re stuck

    • If installing chains on the side of the road, always wear appropriate high visibility apparel.

    • Do not deflate tires to install tire chains

    • Extra links can be cut off or secured to the side chain

    • Mount so the cut ends of the cross chain hooks are away from the tire

    • Avoid twists and kinks in the side and the cross chains

    • If a cross chain should break, immediately repair or remove

    Various states have different statutes regarding tire chains, so it is best to check with your state’s Department of Transportation or towing association. In general, most states either allow the use of tire chains outright within certain calendar dates or permit them during hazardous, snowy weather or related incidents as long as they do not damage the highway surface.


    Shop Tire Chains from Zip’s AW Direct >>

  • A safer and stronger strap

    by Brittany Bierle | Oct 24, 2018

    Zip’s AW Direct Straps


    Our straps are built to be safer, stronger and last longer than any other strap in the industry. We have a variety of products using this patented material, including tie-down kits, magnetic axle straps and lasso straps. Take advantage of free shipping on all orders of $100 and get your straps shipped today! Shop now.
  • Endless reasons to shop at Zips.com!

    by Brittany Bierle | Sep 19, 2018

    Seven great reasons to shop with Zip's!

    Zip’s AW Direct is more than just a marketplace for transportation and truck equipment. We sell, maintain and custom-build the truck equipment you need to be successful. Enjoy amazing benefits when you shop at Zips.com or give us a call at 800-222-6047! Shop now.

  • Be seen anytime, anywhere with this chain!

    by Brittany Bierle | Jun 01, 2018
    Introducing Grade 100 Hi-Viz Chain Assemblies that come in a high visibility yellow color for safer usage.


    This Grade 100 Hi-Viz Chain will be seen in any weather, day or night. Grade 100 chain is made from alloy steel and is extremely strong. It has a 25% higher work load limit than grade 80, making it ideal for recovery or lifting as well as overhead lifting. The bright color allows this chain to be seen clearly when in use. Order your hi-viz chain assembly today!