Tow truck in British English



I was wondering, in the same way as "truck" is the American equivalent to "lorry" in British English, would we say "tow lorry" in the UK? I found the expression "towing vehicle" which sounds neutral, but is quite a mouthful to teach my two-year-old son!

Thank you
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  • In British English we also call it a tow truck.

    P.S. Your question was meant to read '*tow lorry', not '*truck lorry'?! Neither is correct. ;)
    Yup, I agree with WanderingJJ. We use both truck and lorry in BE – it's just that lorry doesn't work in AE.

    I would add, annoyingly, that they are not completely interchangeable in BE. They tend to be used according to common usage:

    tow truck
    dustbin lorry
    dumper truck
    articulated lorry
    I was also wondering if there is a British counterpart of the American term "tow truck" and I found on the Net such terms as "breakdown lorry/van/truck/service." Are they the real British terms?
    If your car breaks down, a breakdown van/vehicle may arrive to help you (if you are a member of this service!).

    If your car needs to be towed, the van may do it or a special vehicle may be called (recovery vehicle/truck). Tow truck could be used, but not van, which is too small and is defined as not having side windows at the rear or the back.

    The term that is used varies with the situation.
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    A lorry:

    A tanker:

    An articulated lorry (also known as an "artic'")

    Tow truck:

    A breakdown truck (also known as a tow truck, although it carries, not tows, the disabled vehicle.)

    A [car] transporter:

    a small van:

    A van:

    A Luton van:
    Thank you very much for the interesting pictures.
    So, in British English "tow truck" and "breakdown truck" are pretty much interchangeable. Recently the starter in my car had failed and it was towed to a shop by a big breakdown truck, similar in size to the lorry in the illustration above. It had a flat deck without the box. My car has never been towed behind, it was always carried.
    This vehicle is much bigger, but I think it was a low-loader because its back was quite low and the driver needed to pull out the ramps.
    I'd call Paul's "Luton van" a box truck; we don't have a specific term (at least, not that I'm aware of) for one with the cargo space extended above the cab.

    And his sixth picture is a portable parking lot. :D