What are Internal Combustion Tow Tractors?

These tow tractors make use of engines that are powered by diesel, gasoline, or LP-gas or propane. Among the mentioned engines, gasoline is the one that is most commonly used. Diesel is used for units that are heavy-duty, while those that make use of propane still need to avail conversion kits. Internal combustion engine means that the fuel burns inside the cylinder. For instance, a car engine would have separate cylinders inside wherein gasoline would be frequently burning with oxygen in order to release heat energy.

Internal combustion tow tractor models are usually sit-down models. These tow tractors are bigger and more powerful than electric tow tractors. However, these types of tow tractors are less efficient than electric models. Engines that are powered by internal combustion give off toxic fumes, so these models are designed for outdoor applications.

The video below shows an aircraft tow tractor which uses a diesel-powered engine.

What are the Features of These Tow Tractors?

Small types of internal combustion tractors usually look like a power train that possesses a sliding gear mechanism as well as a friction clutch. On the other hand, larger types of internal combustion tractors make use of light highway truck transmissions.

A clutch is a device that allows power transmission from one component to the other when engaged. These clutches are used when power transmission or motion needs to be controlled either in amount or over time. Friction clutches are usually classified as either the push type or the pull type. It depends on the location of the pressure plate fulcrum points. In pull type clutches, pressing the pedal pulls the release bearing. This results in the pulling of the diaphragm spring and disengaging the vehicle drive. In the push type friction clutch, pushing the release bearing into the clutch disengages the vehicle drive.

Friction clutches are found in applications wherein frequent engagement and disengagement are needed. It is also used in applications where power is needed to transfer to machines that are partially or fully loaded.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of These Tow Tractors?

Internal combustion tow tractors are bigger and more powerful than electric models. These tow tractors have consistent power. Once you start the shift, it will not waver or decrease as time goes on. The tow tractor will operate at full capacity for as long as there is fuel in the tank. One tank is enough for a shift. Operators need not worry about interruptions for refills or recharging. The portability of internal combustion machines enables them to become widely used. This, in turn, makes these machines have more variety of options to choose from.

One of the disadvantages of internal combustion tow tractors is that emissions and odors that they produce may be hazardous and toxic for the operators. As with an internal combustion forklift, this type of tow tractor also causes more noise when in operation. These disadvantages explain why these tow tractors are more widely used in outdoor applications. These tow tractors are also dependent on fossil fuels. This is a critical factor especially for companies that are advocates of environmentally-friendly products as well as green technology. The next section wil discuss about the different tow tractor manufacturers.

Manufacturers of Internal Combustion Tow Tractors


Internal Combustion Tow Tractor

Model TC-80/120
Speed 13 mph / 20.8 km/h
Range 75 miles / 120 km
Tow Capacity 120 000 lbs / 54431 kg


Model TC-30/60
Speed 13 mph / 20.8 km/h
Range 75 miles / 120 km
Tow Capacity 84 000 lbs / 38 095 kg

Taylor-Dunn Tow Tractor

Model TC-30/50C
Speed 13 mph / 20.8 km/h
Tow Capacity DBP: 3 000 – 5 000 lbs


Hangcha Internal Combustion

Model QCD35-JW14B
Speed 27.8 kph
Weight 5800 kg
Tow Capacity 70000 kg (two towing pallet)