What are Auto Wreckers?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Auto wreckers are called after a car wreck occurs.
Auto wreckers are called after a car wreck occurs.

It may sound like 'auto wreckers' spend their days smashing into cars, but they're actually called in after the fact. The terms 'auto wreckers' and 'tow trucks' may be used interchangeably, but not all auto wreckers use towing equipment to remove wrecked or inoperable vehicles from the road. Tow trucks may also have a different destination than auto wreckers. It all depends on the fate of the vehicles involved.

Auto wreckers may use flatbed trucks to take cars to an impound lot or a junkyard.
Auto wreckers may use flatbed trucks to take cars to an impound lot or a junkyard.

Whenever an accident occurs, the first responders will usually call for auto wreckers to assist in the clean-up efforts. Oftentimes several local towing services will be dispatched in rotation to handle these emergency calls. Drivers of auto wreckers will most likely sweep away glass and other debris from the roadway, then deal with gasoline spills and other hazardous situations. Finally, auto wreckers will haul away the crashed vehicles to designated repair centers or impound lots. Sometimes the vehicles can be attached to standard tow trucks and transported to the garage, but other times the entire vehicle must be lifted onto a flatbed trailer.

Auto wreckers are not always associated with car service centers or local garages. Many auto wreckers take wrecked or inoperable vehicles to a large open field with hundreds of other cars. Employees of these wrecking yards spend much of their time salvaging usable parts for resale. If the wrecked vehicle is declared a total loss by the owner's insurance company, an auto wrecking service may assume ownership of the carcass. Even if there are few salvageable parts remaining, the metal can be sold to scrap metal dealers for recycling.

Auto wreckers may also be called in to remove unwanted vehicles from private owners. This service may be offered for free, since the salvage company often benefits financially from the resale of parts. Others may offer a nominal payment for ownership papers and expensive parts like batteries and radiators. Sales of wrecked vehicles are considered final, so make sure all personal valuables and important documents have been removed before auto wreckers become involved.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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    • Auto wreckers are called after a car wreck occurs.
      Auto wreckers are called after a car wreck occurs.
    • Auto wreckers may use flatbed trucks to take cars to an impound lot or a junkyard.
      Auto wreckers may use flatbed trucks to take cars to an impound lot or a junkyard.