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Truck Topics

If It Has Wheels and an Engine…

By Sandy Long
Posted Mar 17th 2013 6:23PM

…it will break down has been a saying in the industry since 734873_10151573697073066_131161379_n.jpgthe beginning of motorized freight hauling.   Up until the invention of the internet and cell phones, breakdowns were horrendous events involving a trucker having to hitchhike to a truck stop or hope that someone would stop to carry a message to a repair shop to get help if they could not fix the problem themselves.  

Old time truckers were required to have some mechanical knowledge to drive; many carried a full tool kit and extra parts.   Necessity was the mother of invention in some cases where duct tape became temporary fan belts or hose repairs, and bungie straps replaced throttle springs to make it into a shop.   Those drivers were not alone back then though, if a truck were broken down on the side of the road, there would be at least one or two other drivers stopping to see if they could help.   Those days are gone due to both the new technology of the engines and the ease of contacting help.

Mobile or cell phones were first new technology on the scene, one could check their truck stop guides and call the nearest truck stop to find a local repair person to come fix the truck or trailer or find the closest tire repair shop.   This was at times a crapshoot because one never knew if the repair truck would show up or whether they provided good service.   Truck stops still usually will know of a repair shop close by, the repair shops market themselves by leaving business cards with the truck stops if there is no shop there on site at the truck stop.

photo.JPG_wrecker_1.JPGWhen the internet came into being, someone came up with the idea of offering websites just to find shops local to the broken down driver that could be contacted with a few key strokes or a phone call.   The most popular breakdown service sites are National Truck & Trailer Breakdown Services (, Find Truck Service and Truckers Assist.   All three sites are free, one just has to register on some and one can program their phone numbers into one’s cell phone for quicker service or if you do not or cannot access the net, they all offer 24/365 call in service.   Accessing on the net, one types in the state, city or zip code and repair shops nearby are shown along with contact information.   These sites have vendors that guarantee prices if one uses the service sites.

The nice thing about the above types of sites is that one has some recourse in case of shabby work.   One can contact the service site to report the shabby vendor at least.

Some large truck stop chains offer immediate dispatch repair trucks, if one is available at that precise time and some cover a wide radius from the truck stop.   TA/Petro has Road Squad that is the largest truck stop chain offering roadside service with over 400 locations of service trucks.   Pilot/Flying J/Bosselmans offers more than 78 locations of their UNI-MAXX Truck Care partnered with Goodyear Tires offering light mechanical and tire repair.   Loves has Tire Care that offers full roadside tire repair and mechanical services limited to jump-starts or fuel delivery.  

While most of the truck stop chains do offer roadside assistance, some of the larger mom and pop, or smaller truck stops also have shops with road service.   One should have a good large truck stop guide that shows if there are shops near or at the nearest truck stops, especially if one is out in the desert or in the mountains with no large chain truck stops near.   This type of information is priceless, if you find a decent repair shop in those areas, make note of them in your truck stop guide for future reference.  

Truck dealerships offer roadside services.   Freightliner is partnered with TA/Petro offering service on Freightliner trucks at TA/Petro facilities for light repairs, or can direct you to the closest dealer for major repairs.   Calling Freightliner Excelerator hotline can find the closest repair facility or can dispatch a repair truck to you.   Peterbilt, Kenworth and Volvo offer roadside assistance programs that will find the nearest dealer or designated Peterbilt provider to dispatch assistance or help you get into the shop immediately.   These are usually free for at least some period after buying your truck.  

Navistar/International offers Idealnet (this is the one I am most familiar with).  To utilize Idealnet, one must have a contract with them.   When one breaks down, a phone call gets them started locating help and they stay in touch with you until the service truck gets there or until you get to the shop.   The beauty of the dealership roadside services is that most get one into the shop and out again quicker than just showing up without the contact having been made.

For those running cargo vans/sprinters, you also can find roadside assistance through your dealerships.  General Motors, Ford, and Mercedes Benz all offer roadside service to their buyers. Some of these are by warrantee or contract.

If one is in a national account with some tire dealers, they too often offer roadside assistance.   General Tire offers TrukFix for Continental Tire National Accounts. Goodyear has FleetHQ roadside service.   Michelin has OnCall.   Some offer both tire and light repair services.

Breakdown equals downtime, which costs you and your company money and in the expediter world, downtime when under load is as horrendous as in the old days breaking a radiator hose in the desert 200 miles from help was.   Unfortunately, if it has wheels and an engine, it will break down so it is a given that at some point, breakdown will happen to your equipment.   Being prepared by having either a having the contact information readily available for sites that offer contact information to repair assistance can mean hours in downtime saved just trying to find help.


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