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Old 29th January 2014, 23:41   #1
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Default Buying a Tow Truck for community service

Prelude: (please bear with me) ACCIDENT is the most frustrating and wouding thing that can happen to a car owner and if he is passionate about cars like TBHPians, it hurts even more and it takes a lot of time to come out of. I and many of my freinds have had accidents and the cars have been damaged beyond drivability. The cars had to be "towed" to the service station. I and my friends happen to be the "simple common tax payer man" without any political / Goon / Police contacts.

My car met with an accident in 2010/2011 and it was damaged. the fenders were scraping against the wheel. Although the car was drivable, I preffered a tow truck. I called 2-3 tow truck companies and they quoted 20,000/- to me . I was already in a state of shock and this was like adding fuel to fire. My accident occured at 5:30 am at Chrompet, Chennai. the Twenty thousand quoted was for the follwing
  • Chrompet to Pallavaram (thiruneermalai road) police station (2 kms) for FIR filing.
  • Pallavaram police station to Tambaram west RTO (8 kms) - need to be completed by 11:00 am as per tow operator for his convenience.
  • RTO - HMP workshop @ Alandur canon (10 kms). Need to dispose the truck by 12:00 noon
Waiting time - extra sir
what if RTO delays - Extra Sir
what if police delays - extra sir
Traffic / jams / delays - Extra sir
If I am asked to come next day - Extra Sir
This cost is for same day only Sir. It takes only 5 minutes to write FIR sir. RTO inspection is one minute sir - just sign needed

Rs 1000/- per km for towing. This is daylight robbery. Mind it there are extras for every minute of waiting/delay.

Since i happen to be a common man - i get preferential treatment @ police stations and RTOs meaning, I get last preference. There is no guarantee that the RTO inspector would attend to me as the first customer. They prefer License tests and other tasks like new registrations etc and then help us if they have the mood and time. The people with influence can get free towing from the police vehicle and door-step FIR on the other man even if mistake is on the influential person. This is purely for the helpless common man, including people/vehicles from other states who are treated as aliens by natives (no offense meant).

Title of this thread

I was a victim of this harrasment by towing folks so i want to start a towing service purely as community service. I would be starting this and will first help out BHPians and then probably help out others. I am on a tight budget since I am not planning to do a business.

What are my options (need help here)
  • Buy a used tow truck
  • Buy a new tow truck
  • Buy a "truck" and retro-fit towing crane on it.
What are the challenges i would face(need help here)
  • Sourcing one is a pain
  • Team BHP ownership review on a tow truck does not exists (LOL)
  • Yellow board to white board conversion required?
  • Driving License endorsement required?
I am primarily looking at only the lift and tow or the dolly type towing. Flat beds are too costly for my budget. The MAtador bug has bitten me. How about buying a matador truck and fitting towing equipment.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this idea. Even if it junk - absolutely - please feel free to indicate it to me.

My Promise:
  • I am salaried, working for a bank and by gods grace i have a decent salary.
  • I do not intend to quit my job and start towing business
  • Once free always free. This service is purely free. Fuel and time are on me.
  • I will NOT make this commercial even if this idea is a success.
I prefer vehicles in Tamil Nadu only, however Chennai is preferred.

Uploading some pics of vehicles i found on the net. Please throw comments on this.

Tata 207 based - found numerous examples
Buying a Tow Truck for community service-207tow-truck.jpg

Tata 407 based - prices start 3 lacs + garage fees
Buying a Tow Truck for community service-dollytowing.jpg

Jeep - Cheap but i doubt the towing capacity
Name:  jeep crane.bmp
Views: 2403
Size:  859.4 KB

Name:  jeepcrane2.jpg
Views: 2312
Size:  49.7 KB

Name:  jeepcrane3.bmp
Views: 2648
Size:  859.3 KB

My Favorite - Nissan 1 ton
Name:  NissanTow.jpg
Views: 2827
Size:  393.2 KB

Last edited by scopriobharath : 30th January 2014 at 19:05.
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Old 31st January 2014, 18:12   #2
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Commercial Vehicles. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 31st January 2014, 18:40   #3
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

@Bharath, the 207 based truck should be sufficient for cars / SUV's. The vehicle has enough grunt, and is more than capable of lugging the weight of a towed vehicle.

A crew-cab 207 Di should allow even a LMV driver (non-commercial) to drive it.

But my bigger concern is the reaction to you / your service from these tow-truck service guys you mentioned at the start of your post.

All the best !
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Old 31st January 2014, 19:14   #4
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
@Bharath, the 207 based truck should be sufficient for cars / SUV's. The vehicle has enough grunt, and is more than capable of lugging the weight of a towed vehicle. A crew-cab 207 Di should allow even a LMV driver (non-commercial) to drive it. But my bigger concern is the reaction to you / your service from these tow-truck service guys you mentioned at the start of your post.
All the best !
Hi Condor - Initially the service will be only to BHPians and the truck for sure will say Free Towing and/or sport a TeamBHP sticker set or heck might even paint a TBHP on it. I will also mention community service on the truck and will NOT publish my number on the truck

I would be well dressed (AHEM) and would shake hands with the BHPian and talk in English. This will set the tone that I am a personal friend helping one in need and NOT a commercial person.

Secondly, If this idea becomes popular, BHPians will call me on the first stroke, so the nose-cut of calling a towing company and rejecting them would not be applicable then
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Old 31st January 2014, 19:19   #5
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

@Bharath, un-doubtedly an excellent initiative.

When I said reaction, I was not refering to the reaction from the stranded motorists. I was trying to tell you that the existing tow truck companies would not take your service kindly.

Btw, when your car was down, why did you not contact your ASS ? The service is far cheaper than what these guys quoted.

Last edited by condor : 31st January 2014 at 19:20.
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Old 31st January 2014, 19:32   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
@Bharath, un-doubtedly an excellent initiative.

When I said reaction, I was not refering to the reaction from the stranded motorists. I was trying to tell you that the existing tow truck companies would not take your service kindly.

Btw, when your car was down, why did you not contact your ASS ? The service is far cheaper than what these guys quoted.
OH Ok - The percentage of BHPians meeting with an accident is miniscule that too in chennai area. So it obviously going to be a one-off case.

The accident occured @ 5:30 am and the reception was closed. The phone kept ringing but no one picked up . Also - i had to reach office for an important call @ 6:00 am.
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Old 31st January 2014, 21:23   #7
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

Dear scorpiobharath, your idea is excellent and a reflection of your humility. But the implementation can become a challenge. Since, you have other commitments you may not be available round the clock.

Why don't you involve some fellow Bhpians in the initiative. Ultimately this is for the benefit of all. If this pilot idea works, other interested Bhpians from across the country may soon join and explore new areas/ways of helping stranded people.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 12:34   #8
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

I think you SHOULD charge at least for the diesel and driver's salary (and cost of the vehicle depreciated over 5 years).

Very noble though about the towing services.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 14:10   #9
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

IMO you should go ahead after clearing all legal issues around this, if any.

Also be aware that your services stand a chance to be sabotaged and/or deliberately interrupted by the existing players. Do not expect them to play by the rules.

I believe you can register a charitable society and provide services. Do not publicize or advertise. Also, please hire a driver and provide services in the no-loss-no-gain model (diesel+driver salary+taxes+misc) to make this sustainable in the long run.
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Old 3rd February 2014, 14:55   #10
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

I believe it is a very good initiative. As a few mentioned below, instead of making it free ( when something is offered for free in this world it loses its value. It is taken for granted), I would suggest you charge them a decent amount ( for fuel/driver/maintenance etc expenses) so that the initiative becomes self sustained else the expenses over a period of time could make the initiative crumble on its own weight. Further I believe if a person can drive a car worth a Million Rupee, he could as well afford a couple of thousand Rupee to get his vehicle towed ( though not in 20K range!!). so you are not doing any disservice here.

Second thing. restricting the services only to T-BHPians severely restricts the whole motive ( of serving others). In my personal opinion T-BHPians are a much educated lot (road/rules/safety wise) so the number of vehicles to be towed, that you could be looking at, could be bare minimum. so your resources are not utilised to it's max. Alternatively you could offer the services to general public and offer a discount to T-BHPians. Also I believe that you should make a decent profit out of this endeavour ( the monies could be used as a buffer / savings for maintenance / eventualities) and also if you intend to expand and buy another tow vehicle to be plied in Chennai or some other city in Tamil nadu or elsewhere.

The point is with such a noble initiative you can reach larger mass and it could be a win-win situation to both. You could also create a website where an awareness is created about your service and people / companies could freely register with you for your services where at you can then give them a contact number to call in case of emergencies. the idea is to create awareness and spread of the service. I think you can advertise your website link on your tow truck and invite people to register for free and also use the local radio to advertise in their channels during peak traffic hour.

Once you charge for your services (though very much lower), the other towing services cannot fault you as your business model is different from theirs and also you can convince them that with the burgeoning irresponsible drivers / traffic and the pathetic infrastructure that we have here, there is more than enough work for all.

your "service-on-wheels" initiative could be even taken a step further by providing mechanic / technical services on the spot ( many a time, the vehicle is towed to the repair center only to be diagnosed with a very minor issue, even may be a blown fuse or stuff like that and most drivers being technically challenged the vehicle obviously ends up at the service center. so a tow service for mangled car or a repair service for a stranded car would add some value to it.

If the driver were to carry a first air kit and trained in basic first aid / paramedics you have some more value added to your service though it cannot replace a proper ambulance or doctor. Imagine a situation. a vehicle in accident and the driver / passenger stuck inside needing medical attention. the victims cannot be extricated unless the vehicle is moved to a more suitable position and while the ambulance is on the way, if you were informed and reached earlier, you could possibly save some lives too..Just my thoughts.

Last edited by ashkamath : 3rd February 2014 at 15:10.
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Old 5th February 2014, 18:16   #11
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

People share thier experiences and reviews including accidents and DIYs to all of us. We all become richer in knowledge. Ideally everyone should be charging for posting then . I like to do it free because, I want to show that something in the world is indeed free without dependency on time or cost. Most businesses start with a profit motive or in the long run become profit driven by either overcharging or cheating or reducing service quality & levels. I am okay even if it is a small fuse and i need to tow someone;s car to the local mechanic or workshop. When i do not have intent to make money, I will not bother about time or fuel. I will just look at helping a fellow citizen. Answering the query, i will drive the pickup truck to the accident spot and personally will help in towing. I do not have the knack to command a driver and make him work. I am salaried and can work but cannot drive some one to work. Kudos to businessmen on this.

Gentlemen - Any thoughts an whether we could fit a crane mechanism on a pickup truck ? Tow Trucks are seeming too costly. I am thinking about a used Matador or similar for about 50-60000 and then retro fit a crane. Costs including Matador serivce/overhaul and crane fitting should be in the 1-1.25 lac range.

Any thoughts on this please?
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Old 5th February 2014, 18:27   #12
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

Quote:
Originally Posted by scopriobharath View Post
People share their experiences and reviews including accidents and DIYs to all of us. We all become richer in knowledge. Ideally everyone should be charging for posting then . I like to do it free because, I want to show that something in the world is indeed free without dependency on time or cost. I will not bother about time or fuel. I will just look at helping a fellow citizen. Answering the query, i will drive the pickup truck to the accident spot and personally will help in towing.
Dear scorpiobharath, I am extremely touched by your sincerity and devotion to this endeavor. God Bless a noble soul like you and may your tribe grow.
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Old 5th February 2014, 19:34   #13
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Default Re: Buying a Tow Truck for community service

Probably the first time I am seeing something like this. Kudos to your spirit and hoping that your venture flourishes in providing you with the satisfaction that you so richly deserve.

I may sound stupid, but if the idea is to help people tow their vehicles to the nearest mechanic, isn't it possible to just pull it along with your existing vehicle? If its a major accident and the car is completely immobile then I doubt you will be able to help with your limited sources.

Either ways, all the very best my friend.

Last edited by dass : 5th February 2014 at 19:36.
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