Operate Controls On A Rollback Truck

A ramp is used tp load the vehicle onto the truck/trailer.

The tilt-bed truck has a flatbed that pivots like a teeter-totter. When the front of the bed tilts up the back meets the ground. The angle of this type flatbed is steep, therefore it’s difficult to winch a vehicle onto it. The rollback truck has a flatbed that slides back on the truck’s frame several feet, then tilts down at a slight angle, making it much easier to drag a wrecked vehicle up on the bed. The flatbed controls of a rollback are more complicated to operate than those of a tilt-bed.


Operating a Rollback Truck

1. Park the rollback truck in front of the vehicle to be loaded. Allow enough room — about 8 feet — between the flatbed and the vehicle to be towed because the flatbed rolls backwards before it tilts down to meet the ground. Engage the emergency lights and flashers.

2. Apply the emergency brake and engage the power take off (PTO) unit. If the rollback is a standard shift model, push the clutch until the PTO cable is pulled and engaged. If the vehicle is newer it may use a simple toggle switch to engage the PTO. Most PTO cables are engaged from inside the truck cab.

3. Place wheel chocks on the front and back side of one wheel on the rollback truck. Proceed to the back side of the truck where the hydraulic controls are located. Some rollbacks have a set of hydraulic controls on both sides of the bed. Choose the side away from traffic to operate the rollback.

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4. Locate the control box and the lever labeled “Forward and Backward.” Push the lever to the backward position and slide the rollback bed away from the cab of the truck until the bed stops. Inside the control box there is a switch marked “Throttle” that when engaged will increase the speed of the engine and increase the speed of bed movement and winch.

5. Locate the lever that is labeled “Tilt” using up and down arrows. This can be a bit confusing, because it doesn’t clearly say tilt the front or the rear up. Some rollback controls may be labeled slightly different. Using the bed tilt lever, tilt the rear of the bed down until it meets the ground in front of the vehicle to be towed.

6. Locate the winch found on the front center of the bed. On the winch there is an L-shaped lever that when turned allows the winch to free-spool so the cable can be pulled out by hand. Pull the cable down the bed and hook the cable to a frame hook on the front of the vehicle being towed.

7. Re-engage the winch by turning the L-shaped lever to lock. Using the hydraulic lever marked “Winch,” wind the winch cable tight between the winch and the vehicle to be towed. While holding the vehicle by the winch cable, shift the car into neutral. Now that the tow vehicle is able to roll, finish winching it onto the bed. Once the rear wheels are safely onto the bed, use the forward lever to run the bed forward, until it comes within 1 foot of the cab of the rollback.

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8. Tilt the front of the bed back down onto the frame of the truck. Run the bed forward until it stops. Some truck frames have a clip that keeps the bed hooked to the frame, so be sure the bed is not too far forward before tilting it down. Otherwise, the bed will end up on top of the clip and become unstable when transporting.

9. Hook a safety chain on both sides of the rear of the vehicle being hauled. Chain it to the chain slots in the flatbed. Run the winch forward, tightening the rear chain. Add another safety chain from the front of the vehicle to the hole slot in the bed. This chain must have an attached load binder that is hooked into the chain on both ends and ratcheted tight.

10. Place the towed vehicle back in gear or park. Remove the wheel blocks, disengage the PTO and the vehicle is ready for transport.