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Looking to get into towing?

Can’t seem to figure out how to get certified?

Well, in most states, you’ll first need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Then, you’ll have to add a certificate — this is where the W – tow truck endorsement comes into play. 

Some states, on the other hand, require specific tow truck licenses. For example, in Texas, you’ll need an Incident Management license. 

So before anything else, check the requirements for your state. 

Now, here, we’re going to answer the question…

What is a W – tow truck endorsement?

We’ll go through the details, when it’s needed, the requirements, and the steps to get one. 

Are you ready to begin?

Let’s go!

What is a Tow Truck Endorsement?

Tow Truck Endorsement
Source: canva.com

A tow truck (or W) endorsement is a certification that CDL holders must possess to operate towing vehicles.

As we mentioned above, the need for the W endorsement will vary by state. 

Some states require a CDL AND the W endorsement, while other states need a different license type. 

Usually, in states where the W endorsement is required, it applies only when towing vehicles of significant size or weight. Again, the specifications will vary on state laws.

So make sure you always do your research before anything else. 

When is a Tow Truck Endorsement Needed?

A tow truck endorsement is required if you plan on moving or removing disabled, illegally parked, or abandoned vehicles.

However, according to the FMCSA, the W endorsement is NOT required if…

“The towing operations are restricted to emergency “first moves” from the site of a breakdown or crash to the nearest appropriate repair facility.”

But, as always, there are some states that do require the W endorsement to move any type of vehicle — even those involved in an accident. 

So again, research the specifics of your state. 

What Are the Requirements for a Tow Truck Endorsement?

The W endorsement requirements will vary per state. 

But generally, you will have to meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Possess a valid CDL (if required in your state)
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Pass a background check
  • Clear vision and physical tests
  • Pass the W endorsement examination

How to Get a Tow Truck Endorsement?

To add the W endorsement to your CDL, you’ll need to visit your local DMV.

From there, you should:

  • Apply for the endorsement
  • Present any documents required by your state’s DMV
  • Take and pass the W endorsement exam
  • Pay the fees
  • Have the endorsement added to your CDL 

Background, physical, and vision checks are usually done with your employee. They will be the ones to conduct this instead of the DMV. 

The background check usually takes around 4 weeks to come back. But as long as you’ve got a clean record, you shouldn’t be too concerned about it.

We sound like a broken record — but we’ll say it again. 

The process is different for every state. 

You might not even need a W endorsement. 

So always look for what’s needed in YOUR state. 

FAQs About the Tow Truck Endorsement Test

How Long Does the Tow Truck Endorsement Test Take?

The W endorsement test consists of a knowledge-based portion that’ll take less than an hour to complete.

However, getting processed at the DMV can prolong the whole process. You’ll likely spend more time handling the bureaucracy.

How Many Questions Are on the Tow Truck Endorsement Test?

The number of questions on the W endorsement test will vary from state to state, but you can expect around 20 to 30 questions.

What is the Passing Score for the Tow Truck Endorsement Test?

For endorsement tests, the usual score required to pass is around 80%. This means you’ll need at least 16 correct answers if your test consists of a total of 20 questions.

FAQs About the Tow Truck Endorsement

How Heavy Can a Tow Truck Endorsement Carry?

The vehicle you tow should match your CDL class. 

Let’s look at this.

  • If you hold a Class A CDL, the tow truck should be 26,001 pounds or more and the towed vehicle alone exceeds 10,000 pounds.
  • If you hold a Class B CDL, the tow truck should be 26,001 pounds or more, but the towed vehicle should not go over 10,000 pounds. 
  • If you hold a Class C CDL, the tow vehicle should be fewer than 26,0001 pounds, and tow a vehicle fewer than 10,000 pounds. Also, the towed vehicle should be required to be placarded with Hazardous Materials and is towed after the initial movement.

It’s important to note that Class A CDL allows tow truck drivers to tow vehicles falling in all other categories. Class B CDL allows tow truck drivers to tow vehicles falling under Class C as well.

What Happens if I’m Caught Without a Tow Truck Endorsement?

Operating towing vehicles without endorsement in states requiring such is a serious offense involving serious consequences.

In addition to fines, you may even face jail time. This is if failure to gain adequate endorsement has resulted in damage.

How Long Does the Tow Truck Endorsement Last?

The W endorsement can last anywhere from 2 to 4 years, depending on the state you’re in.

Will I Need to Go Through a Background Check?


However, this is usually done by your employer instead of the DMV. 

To apply as a tow truck driver, you will have to submit to a background test. This will go over your record to see if you’re fit to tow vehicles.

For the background check, you must submit your fingerprints either at your local DMV or through a private organization.

As long as you haven’t been involved in any major accidents or felonies, then this is just a formality. You won’t need to worry about it.

Usually, background check results will come back within a span of 4 weeks. However, cases with incomplete information or red flags may extend the duration significantly.


What is W – tow truck endorsement?

It allows you to drive tow trucks and tow vehicles — as simple as that. 

Again, the W endorsement is different in all states. 

Some states require their own towing license. 

Other states require a CDL with the W endorsement. 

Still, other states allow just a CDL. 

So before looking at the tow truck endorsement, it would be best to consult your state/local DMV to understand the guidelines on towing vehicles.

Whatever the case, though, it’s still a good idea to know about the W endorsement and see whether you need it or not.

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