A car that has broken down on the highway not only obstructs traffic but can also cause accidents. The car must be taken off the road as soon as possible. Tow trucks handle moving the cars off the highway. What is the A-frame that tow trucks use on a car?
The A-frame is not exactly a part of a car. Rather, it is a frame joined to the front of a car that allows another vehicle to tow it without needing to control the car directly. There are legal restrictions concerning its use in many countries.
This article delves into what the A-frame of a car is, where it is located, and some laws regarding its use. Also discussed is what the frame of a car is, the types of frames, and how you can find the frame of your car.
What Is Considered the A-Frame of a Vehicle?
As stated earlier, the A-frame of a vehicle is simply a piece of equipment that is separate from the car. It provides a connecting point between two cars: the tow vehicle and the car being towed. It has swinging arms and brake connectors for both cars.
With this frame, there is no need for a person to be in the car being towed to control it. The A-frame was initially designed for military purposes. It allowed the towing of lighter vehicles behind larger equipment (more immobile). Today, this system is commonplace.
Commercially, this A-frame attachment is used to take carry to repair shops and off the highway. You can also use it for other private purposes, like using an RV or motorhome to take your car to another city or country. You can also tow trailers and caravans.
Where Is the A-Frame Located on a Car?
A-frames are affixed to the backs of towing vehicles. The A-frame’s other end is mounted on the front suspension of the car being towed. Even though they have a design that fits many vehicle models, some cars cannot accept this frame.
Any car that cannot accept a generic A-frame will need to have one made specifically for it. Besides the A-frame, tow bars and couplings are attached to both. You must match the make and design of all the items to both cars for seamless towing.
Legal Requirements for Towing in Different Countries
Most legislation in the EU and UK say the A-frame and car become one unit and are considered as trailers. This means the rules for towing trailers also apply to them.
You can tow a car in the UK as long as you fulfill the lighting and braking requirements. Towing your car by A-frames is also legal in France and illegal in Spain. In Australia, you can only tow another car if you meet these requirements:
- You can control the movement of the vehicle you are towing without being inside.
- There is a person in the vehicle being towed, and they can operate the steering and brakes.
- The vehicle being towed is operable and safe for towing.
- The environment is clear for towing.
What Is the frame of a Car?
The frame of a car is the primary component of the chassis. It holds the other mechanical parts of the chassis. Your car’s fuel tank, engine, suspension system, wheels, brake system, axle, steering system, and transmission are mounted on it.
It handles the torque produced from the engine and transmission. The frame also deals with the sudden shock from collisions. The types of frames available include X-style frames, Unibody frames, Ladder-style frames, etc.
How Do I Find out the Frame of My Car?
Based on the requirements of cars, different types of frames are used. There are unique features of each type of frame that match it to specific car designs. To know the frame of your car, you have to know the types of frames and the cars they are often used in. Below is a description of the frames available:
- Ladder frames – it is the oldest and simplest frame design. Until they went out of style in the 1940s, almost all vehicles had them. In recent times, you can only find them on heavy vehicles like buses and trucks that are used commercially. Some pickup trucks also use ladder frames, although they are light vehicles.
- X-frames – their design increases the space for the car’s transmission and also reduces the height of vehicles. If you own a full-size car, there is a high chance that it has this frame. General Motors were the first to use this frame for their full-size American models, late in the 1950s and early in the 1960s.
- Unibody frames – most vehicles today have a unibody frame. This frame combines the body of the car and the supporting frame as one structure. They see extensive damage in accidents. Passenger cars like minivans, sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs use this design. The Ford Maverick is one pickup that also uses this design.
What Is Frame Damage on a Car?
This simply describes damage to any component of the frame of a car. Once the structural integrity of the car is compromised, it will not function as it should. Although collisions are the most common cause of frame damage, rust can also cause significant damage to the frame of your car.
To know the kind of repair a damaged frame needs, you ought to know the types of frame damage. They are:
- Sway damage – this occurs if someone hits your car in a corner. Your car will lean towards a particular direction and there will be excessive vibrations when you drive it.
- Mashed frame damage – a rear-end or head-on collision results in this type of damage. Your car folds in on itself and you can see distortions in the fenders, hood, and rails.
- Twisted or sagging frame damage – there will be gaps in the body of your car and an uneven arrangement of parts of the frame often causes it.
The choice to repair or scrap a frame damaged car will depend on the extent of the damage. With unibody frames, the cars often need to be scrapped because they have been damaged beyond repair.