Vehicle Breakdown and Road Repair
Breakdown services operate call centers 24 hours a day, every day of the year, where drivers with emergency roadside needs can call into a toll-free number and get the proper help dispatched, whether it's a mobile repair truck or a tow truck to the appropriate shop.
Be prepared to provide the call centers as much information regarding your location and breakdown issue as possible to allow faster, more accurate roadside assistance. The more information you have about the status of the breakdown, the better you'll be able to make decisions such as whether another truck needs to be dispatched to take over the load. It also allows you to communicate with your customers to let them know if a pickup or delivery is going to be late.
Recognizing codes can help the call center troubleshoot the problem over the phone, more accurately dispatching help or even walking the driver through a procedure that allows less repair wait time.
One factor to consider in choosing a breakdown program is the experience and knowledge of those answering the phone. Many breakdown services do more than just manage the breakdown for you. For instance, many services now offer password-protected web sites that allow users to track a breakdown's progress as well as offer a look at breakdown trends to reduce future breakdowns.
Penske customers can log in and get not only a progress report, but see all the conversations between the call center technicians, the driver, the dispatcher, the Penske shop, etc. A few services, including Ryder and Peterbilt, record all calls, which are available online.
BREAKDOWN SERVICES GUIDE
The list of providers below offer help managing your breakdowns. Unless otherwise noted, all services provide 24/7 call centers that will take information from the driver about the unit and the problem and locate and dispatch service from the appropriate provider in their database.
Most services follow up on the call to make sure the truck gets back on the road. Some services are available to everyone; others are available only to customers or fleet operators. Some are available only for specific equipment, such as tires, engines or trailers.
BANDAG EMERGENCY TIRE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ETA)
Who it's for: National account customers, preferred customers (owner-operators and small to mid-sized fleets signed up by a Bandag dealer), and outsourcing customers
Cost: $25 dispatch fee
Features: Customer specifications and preferences are filed in the system, along with service provider capabilities. ETA focuses on dispatching service from its network of 1,600 Bandag dealer sales and service locations but will go outside the dealer network if needed. Customers can be tied in with the service provider on a three-way conversation. Choice of new tires or Bandag retreads. Retread replacements must meet or exceed ETA Spec Tire guidelines. If they fail within 60 days, customers get refund for both tire and the service. New tires can be billed through national account agreements with the tire manufacturer. Reports on the specifics of each breakdown can be e-mailed or faxed the next day. Monthly reports summarize all of the breakdown calls.
Who it's for: Fleets of all types and sizes, medium duty through Class 8, all makes of power and trailing equipment
Cost: Customers are charged a flat per-occurrence rate for each breakdown transaction in addition to vendor repair charges
Features: FleetNet pretty much invented the truck breakdown service industry, spinning off in 1993 from what had been the breakdown department of Carolina Freight Carriers for more than 35 years. Has more than 60,000 service providers. Experienced breakdown coordinators averaging more than 20 years of medium and heavy-duty mechanical experience, meaning solutions often can be achieved over the phone and problems can be diagnosed better for more accurate dispatch of vendors. Select Towing Program provides contracted towing rates unavailable to the general public on a "walk-in" basis. Major emphasis on providing customers with data to help them reduce road service needs by identifying problem areas. FNA also offers maintenance software integration. For better service, it is preferred that accounts be established in advance. However, COD/"walk-in" customers get the same level of service as credit customers. Also provides breakdown services for various organizations and companies, such as eOwnerOperator and Continental Tire North America.
More info: (800) 972-8872
HD AMERICA ROADSIDE SERVICE
Who it's for: Anyone in need of parts and service
Features: Call the 800 number and the operator will direct you to the closest HD America distributor, which will supply parts and service needed to get back on the road. Available from more than 500 HD America locations across the U.S. and Canada. Also offers parts replacement packages for consistent and cost-saving prices. Not a complete breakdown management service.
More info: (800) 949-3580
INTERSTAR NATIONAL BREAKDOWN SERVICE
Who it's for: Any truck operator, from owner-operators to large fleets
Cost: No per-call charge, enrollment or membership fees. Company makes its profit on the difference between discounted rates it pays vendors and what you pay.
Features: Tire, mechanical and towing services. Managed vendor network covers U.S., Canada and Mexico. Consistent pricing. Repair requests can be submitted by phone or online. 60-day warranty on repairs. Customized reports to locate trends in road service expenses. Has been providing maintenance and repair solutions for intermodal equipment owners since 1983, but opened doors to independent truckers and commercial fleets in 2004.
Who it's for: Any truck operator, from owner-operators to fleets of all sizes
Cost: Free; service is supported by vendors who pay for listings
Features: Unlike the other services listed here, NTTS is a do-it-yourself guide of repair services. Available in printed directory form since 1989 and online since 1996. Search by city, state, service category and brand. Also available on CD-ROM with add-a-vendor feature. You deal directly with the vendor during the repair process.
TRUCKDOWN.COM VENDOR LOCATOR
Who it's for: Any truck operator
Cost: Free; TruckDown Advanced offers additional features for $20 a month
Features: This is a do-it-yourself option, allowing you to search online for vendors providing mobile repairs, tires, towing, etc., as well as truckstops and other services. Listings displayed start closest to the search point, with premium listings (those that pay for listing) given priority. If you register, you get additional features such as identifying your preferred vendors, recording private vendor-specific notes, rating vendor performance. Paid users can search by latitude and longitude, see ratings assigned by other registered and advanced users, and other additional features. New TruckDown Wireless is in beta testing and allows a text-based search for web-enabled cellphones and similar wireless devices.
TRUCK REPAIR NETWORK
Who it's for: Small, medium and large fleets
Cost: $45 per breakdown
Features: Custom-designed dispatch system with high-tech mapping capabilities. Flexible payment options. Billing available for fleets with excellent credit. Serves many fleets that lease owner-operators. Preferred Fleets get regular maintenance reports and special pricing.
Must enroll in advance.
More info: (800) HELPRIG
TTS (TRUCK TIRE SERVICE)
Who it's for: Truck and bus operators of all sizes, from owner-operators to large fleets
Cost: No registration, membership or dispatch fees
Features: Initially founded to handle tire breakdowns, now also handles mechanical repairs, towing and more. Preestablished national labor and tire service rates for all tire-related breakdown service. To register, you complete a one-page fleet registration form, determining the authorization procedure, invoicing location and other special requirements, as well as a simple credit application. Qualified members get a generous line of credit. TTS also accepts major credit cards and Comcheks. Customized reports show usage history so you can track expenses.
More info: (800) DIAL-TTS