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Breakdown Solutions

Breakdown Solutions

Never was a breakdown management service more important than for rigs that broke down last year while traversing those hellish regions devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"When they needed it, they really needed emergency service," says Denny Devlin, president, Truck Repair Network. "They couldn't go into a Freightliner dealer or something to get service – the shops were flooded. Mobile mechanics, who didn't have shops that were flooded, stayed very busy."

Devlin's company was able to direct mobile repair services to those breakdowns, in cases where it would have been difficult for truckers to find the mobile services on their own.

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. Traditionally, fleets have handled this responsibility themselves. But with the large number of services available today, it's a good option for many companies.

"As more fleets outsource their maintenance and service functions, and as just-in-time delivery windows become even more stringent, fleets need to be able to rely on national service networks with known capabilities, coverage and costs," says Andy Turnbull, director of emergency services for Volvo Action Service. "A lot of them are really looking at the bottom line. Especially when [higher] fuel prices hit, they asked themselves, does this really make sense that we have that competence in-house? Is this a headache we really want to deal with?"

Devlin notes that overall, the cost of emergency repairs has gone up, thanks to factors such as high fuel prices and a technician shortage exacerbated by the Iraq war. Breakdown repair services are often able to find you a better, more consistent price than you could get calling around on your own.

For instance, he says, many vendors have had to deal with their own increased fuel costs. To compensate, some increase the labor rate, some raise or add a flat call-out fee, some change the mileage rate and others tack on a fuel surcharge.

His service prefers to work with those that use a fuel surcharge or increase the mileage rate. "If they kick up their [labor] rates to try to recover fuel costs, then when it's all over with, you don't find many people go down on their rates, so it gets stuck up there at a bad high," Devlin says. "Same thing with call-out fees. Mileage and fuel surcharges are OK, because those do get adjusted" when the price of fuel drops.

In addition to fuel price adjustments, there are a few other trends going on in the world of breakdowns.

"We're seeing more breakdowns due to engine-related problems as the EPA tightens their restrictions on exhaust," says Bruce Lohse, manager, customer assistance for Freightliner's Customer Assistance Center. It's usually not major problems, he says; rather it's usually a sensor issue that causes the engine to derate or shut down temporarily. "We usually solve it pretty quickly and get it going again."

Unfortunately, the technician shortage is making it harder to get trucks back on the road quickly, says CDI Services.

"The technician shortage has caused additional downtime for major repairs that must be completed by dealerships," says Dana McFletcher, sales manager/account specialist. "Unfortunately, most major repair work must be done by a dealer, therefore there is no way around this situation. Communication is key to helping the customer make decisions to locate a sub unit or to re-power the load whenever the unit in need of repair will be down for more than one day."

Another trend is increasing focus on the over-the-road emergency business, says Lane Goebel, president of NTTS Breakdown, which has been publishing a directory of breakdown services since 1989.

"Repair companies used to split work on locals and over-the-road business, but in the last couple of years, we see more repair companies catering to the OTR business, having people on standby ready to get someone going again," he says. "They're publishing their rates and soliciting for customers nationwide."

Probably the biggest trend, today and looking ahead to the future, is fast-changing technology. New technology being used by the call centers allows them to provide faster, more accurate roadside assistance.

Sophisticated computer databases allow call centers to pull up exact information on the specs and repair history of the truck in question; keep track of a fleet's preferences and contact information; and track thousands of vendors that will supply the roadside service.

For instance, the Paccar Customer Assistance Center has internal resources such as its ECAT electronic parts catalog, which allows for chassis-specific identification of a vehicle's specs and parts list. Some Peterbilt dealers even have the ability to access parts listings or vehicle schematics at the breakdown site in their mobile service units.

GPS and sophisticated mapping software have had a major impact on servicing breakdowns. "Instead of opening an atlas, you have software you can look at right on your screen," says John Diehl, director of Penske's SOS Services. "If customers are using onboard technologies such as Qualcomm, a lot of times you can get a direct latitude and longitude hit and pinpoint exactly where they are. This way we can get service out there to them [faster], and I think that really reduces downtime."

Trucks themselves are helping. "We can often ask the driver to tell us what codes he's looking at; we'll run through some checks on the instrument panel to bring up those codes," says Freightliner's Lohse. Those 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 will let him get back on the road. "The more we computerize the vehicle, the easier it gets."

Telematics, which allow the truck's electronics to communicate diagnostic information in real time, could revolutionize the whole business of managing breakdowns. Several services are actively exploring how today's technology could be used.

"Right now, we sort of play a guessing game in the roadside repair business," says Ryder's Henson. "We go by the noise the driver's telling us it's making, the lights going off in the cab, so we're taking out parts that we think are going to solve the problem, but often times the parts we've taken out based on the driver's description are not necessarily the right parts, and the repair can't be made on the side of the road, so we have to dispatch a tow truck."

Telematics could change all that.

"I think in the future, you'll see trucks that have the ability to communicate their problems, and those can be directed to a call center," says Peterbilt's Pearson. "The truck is determining its own problems and requesting a service appointment. That's a little bit further in the future, but that's the direction you see things moving – the increased ability of trucks to communicate beyond their home base."

For instance, Peterbilt recently added multiplex technology, which allows fault or diagnostic codes to be not only downloaded at the time a truck goes in for PM service, but can appear as fault or warning codes in the cab to alert the driver, and be broadcast to the home base.

Telematics systems could even detect problems before an actual breakdown occurs. In December, fleet maintenance consultant service PHH Arval introduced PHH Onboard, a telematics-powered service that combines information from the vehicle (engine diagnostics, odometer readings, etc.) with information stored in PHH's database to help clients lower maintenance costs and improve vehicle performance. Fleet managers can address vehicle problems proactively before they become expensive repairs.

Freightliner's Lohse foresees a system comparable to GM's OnStar service. "You punch a button and you're immediately in contact with somebody, and have that trouble diagnosed electronically because the vehicle would be transmitting what the problem is."

THE NEXT STEP

One factor to consider in choosing a breakdown program is the experience and knowledge of those answering the phone. Freightliner says its Customer Assistance Center staff average 18 years of experience in the trucking industry.

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 in order to reduce future breakdowns.

Penske customers can log in and get not only a progress report, but actually 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.

"Many times they can see right away, 'was my driver where he was supposed to be, how long does it look like it's going to be,' " says Mary Henson, program manager for Ryder Customer Response Center. "Maybe he's got a load that needs to be somewhere at a specific time and they can't afford to wait for the repair. They could get a second vehicle out to get to their customer's site on time."

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.

To possibly help prevent future breakdowns, you can take advantage of the reporting and tracking capabilities now offered by many breakdown services.

For instance, Peterbilt's system allows not only real-time status tracking of a breakdown on a password-protected web site, but also provides users' historical breakdown information.

"It could be as simple as, say, an electrical problem," explains Scott Pearson, assistant general manager for sales and marketing, "where a truck's having a problem with a headlight frequently needing to be replaced. They're able to see there's something more than simply a replace-the-bulb issue."

You might want to review breakdowns by type; for instance, a high number of tire-related breakdowns might point to changes needed in your tire maintenance program.

"They can track it by driver," says Ryder's Henson. "There may be a driver that appears to have more breakdowns than others; is it the unit, or is it the driver?"

At FleetNet America, they go a step beyond and can integrate the data into maintenance software.

"Maintenance software interface and data analysis are critical cost-reduction factors for today's fleet," says Mike Hagaman, vice president of sales and marketing. "Isolating problem areas and combating them from the preventive maintenance arena is the true road to reducing breakdown frequencies and lowering maintenance costs."

BREAKDOWN SERVICES GUIDE

We've put together information on 30 or so services that 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. Must sign up in advance.

Info: (800) 8BANDAG, www.bandag.com/services/index.html

BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE FLEET SUPPORT CENTER

Who it's for: Fleets enrolled in National Fleet (national accounts) or National Preferred programs, both for tire and mechanical breakdowns

Cost: $27 per breakdown to National Fleets and National Preferred Fleets for full tire breakdown management. $37-$45 for full mechanical breakdown management. No charge to just get dealer location information. Negotiated pricing for fleets who use the system to manage their own solution.

Features: Fleets can call the hotline number for provider information and self-dispatch, or have Fleet Support Center handle complete breakdown management. Large network of branded authorized tire providers (dealers & truckstops), plus a 50,000-provider listing for all services. Digital voice recordings of customer, agent and service techs. Access to "Breakdown Manager" case management system via the Internet allows you to build your own case, view a case built by Fleet Support Center, and get automated e-mail notifications when cases are created, changes in status and closing case. Fleets can manage their vehicle unit information or have FSC manage info. (The National Preferred program provides credit and guaranteed nationwide pricing on tires and service for qualifying fleets of nearly any size.)

More info: (866) 464-2912 for National Preferred enrollment info, (800) 815-9793 for dealer locator info, www.trucktires.com

CATERPILLAR TRUCK ENGINE CALL CENTER

Who it's for: Caterpillar customers

Cost: Free

Features: The people answering the phone are Caterpillar employees, and they are able to answer many questions right over the phone, decipher fault codes, etc. Drivers need to have engine serial number handy. Good idea to call in advance and make sure engine is registered for warranty purposes.

More info: (800) 447-4986, www.cattruckengine.com

CDI EMERGENCY ROAD SERVICE

Who it's for: Transportation fleets or leasing companies with one or more units; fleet maintenance providers for 1,000 or more vehicles

Cost: Dispatch fee based on average volume of breakdown calls received per month

Features: CDI's most experienced staff handles the initial breakdown call and setting up repairs with more than 50,000 vendors. You must have an account established in advance. Once account is established, one call does it all, with CDI handling authorization, setting up repair or towing services, obtaining estimates, tracking breakdown process and advising all parties of status. Offers Internet access to real-time breakdown information.

More info: (800) FOR-A-FIX (800-367-2349), www.911roadrepair.com

CONTINENTAL TIRE NORTH AMERICA'S TRUCKFIX

Who it's for: National account customers of Continental Tire & General Tire

Cost: No charge for tire-related service call dispatching. Customer pays predetermined tire and service pricing anywhere in U.S.

Features: Offered for more than 20 years. Administered by FleetNet America (see separate listing), which allows tracking of breakdown status online, requests for repair via e-mail.

More info: (877) TRUKFIX, www.conti-online.com/generator/www/us/en/continental/transport/themes/pr...

CUMMINS QUICKSERVE

Who it's for: All Cummins customers

Cost: Call is free; repair charges depend on the nature of the engine problem and warranty coverage

Features: Cummins customers call the (800) DIESELS number to locate the nearest distributor or dealer to obtain emergency service. With Cummins QuickServe, customers get same-day turnaround on in-shop service jobs with a repair time of four hours or less. For on-site service, a factory-certified technician and QuickServe truck will be dispatched within four hours of the call. Do not need to sign up in advance.

More info: (800) DIESELS, www.cummins.com

DETROIT DIESEL

Who it's for: Owners of Detroit Diesel On-Highway Products (Series 60, MBE 4000, MBE 900)

Cost: Free

Features: Detroit Diesel has been providing an 800 number on the rocker cover of its engines in case of breakdown since the late '80s. Technicians at DDC call center will try to talk customer through an issue to get truck running again. If that's not possible, will coordinate the support to get the truck in for repairs.

FLEETNET AMERICA

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, www.fleetnetamerica.com

FREIGHTLINER CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE CENTER

Who it's for: Owners of Freightliner, Sterling or Western Star trucks, from owner-operators to fleets. If a customer also owns other brands, they can handle them as well.

Cost: Free to determine problem and dispatch a mobile unit or tow truck. $35 charge to track the breakdown through the repair process if you've signed up for the company's fleet support programs (FleetPack, Pinnacle or Compass)

Features: CAC staff averages 18 years of experience in trucking industry. First choice of dispatch is Freightliner, Sterling or Western Star dealer in area; also can route to TravelCenters of America for some repairs. If necessary, will route to competing dealer in order to get truck back on road quickly. Fleet support program customers are kept apprised of status via phone or e-mail. Improved fleet support programs to be announced later this year will provide offerings beyond breakdown service, such as tire discounts.

More info: (800) FTL-HELP, (800) STL-HELP, (866) 850-STAR.

GE COMMERCIAL FINANCE FLEET SERVICES' EMERGENCY BREAKDOWN SERVICE

Who it's for: Operators of commercial vehicles rated at 10,0001-plus GVW

Cost: As part of the TruckVantage program, roadside assistance is included in the monthly fee. As a stand-alone, charged on a per-usage transaction fee.

Features: ASE-certified truck technical advisers average 19 years truck expertise. One of the largest vendor networks in the industry. GE's dealer relationships enable leveraging parts discounts. Web access allows real-time repair and status tracking. Provides assistance with rental vehicles in event of major repair. Must enroll in service in advance.

More info: (800) 256-0053, www.gefleet.com

GE TRAILER FLEET SERVICES MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT

Who it's for: Available to anyone, but fits best with fleets, both local and national

Cost: Charges are based on defined regional labor rates, combined with defined standard hours and defined parts pricing. Customer knows in advance what the charge is for any specific repair.

Features: Trailer Fleet Services' mechanics, from more than 100 branches nationwide, use one of more than 400 maintenance vans to perform maintenance and repairs on customer trailers (both leased from GE and customer-owned.) Must sign up in advance. Can handle regular maintenance as well as emergency repairs.

More info: (800) 333-2030, www.trailerservices.com (click on "Maintenance Management")

GOODYEAR 4-TIRES-NOW

Who it's for: Any truck operator, regardless of brand of tire they're currently running or number of trucks owned. Membership is automatic for Goodyear national account customers.

Cost: Per-call charge of $35.

Features: Breakdowns handled by InterStar North America (see separate listing). Service from approximately 2,000 Goodyear dealers or other providers if necessary. Non-national accounts can sign up through local dealer to be a preferred fleet to enjoy similar benefits, such as guaranteed pricing. If you're not a national account or preferred fleet, you can use the service as a cash account.

More info: (877) 4-TIRES-NOW, www.goodyear.com/truck

HD AMERICA ROADSIDE SERVICE

Who it's for: Anyone in need of parts and service

Cost: Free

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, www.hdamerica.com

IDEALNET

Who it's for: Idealease customers

Cost: Free to all Idealease full-service lease, contract maintenance, and rental customers

Features: All calls are digitally recorded and can be sent electronically to customers. Breakdowns are detailed in real time over the Internet, so Idealease locations are constantly aware of the status of their customers' breakdowns.

More info: (800) 435-3273, www.idealease.com/services/Idealnet.asp

INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY BREAKDOWN SERVICE

Who it's for: Customers of International Truck & Engine

Cost: Free for owners of a Heavy Diamond Spec two-year/200,000-mile limited warranty vehicle. $35 per call for customers in the Fleet Charge or Diamond Advantage purchase card programs

Features: EBS handles all makes of vehicles, including trailers, through a nationwide network of more than 30,000 locations. Service coordinators are trained to quickly determine whether a situation merits towing, or whether road service can solve the problem. Can provide repair information on customers' International trucks to the repair facility. With Fleet Charge/Diamond Advantage, published International parts pricing is consistent at participating dealers. Optional Heavy Diamond Spec support package offers priority repair service, guaranteed parts availability and replacement vehicles. Must sign up in advance.

More info: Diamond Support EBS, (888) 342-7600,www.internationaldelivers.com/site_layout/heavy/hvydiamondspec.asp; Fleet Charge/Diamond Advantage EBS, (800) 327-4364,www.internationaldelivers.com/site_layout/customersupport/ebs.asp

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.

More info: (800) 888-1001, www.interstarna.com

KENWORTH PREMIERCARE CUSTOMER CENTER

Who it's for: Any brand vehicle can be enrolled by a fleet or owner-operator

Cost: Free

Features: If you register in advance (by calling, visiting your Kenworth dealer, or on the website), Customer Center personnel will have instant access to complete vehicle profile and customer's preferred payment options. The center uses mapping software to pinpoint customer's location and nearest help, whether that's a Kenworth dealer or one of thousands of independent service providers in Kenworth's database. Fleet managers can use the Internet to track real-time activity on the job status. Fleets can also sign up for web-based Kenworth PremierCare Maintenance Manager service and track additional information.

More info: (800) KW-ASSIST (800-592-7747), www.kenworth.com (Click on "parts and services")

MACK ONECALL COMPLETE CARE CENTER

Who it's for: Any driver or owner of a Mack truck

Cost: Free

Features: Staffed by trained technicians with an average of 20 years of industry experience, who can help the dealer with parts procurement or technical help if needed. Mack promises that it will identify the problem, troubleshoot, and arrange for roadside repairs or towing within an hour. If a live person is not immediately available, it's faster to leave a message than to remain on hold. No need to register in advance.

More info: (800) 866-1177, www.macktrucks.com

MICHELIN ONCALL

Who it's for: Anyone with a need for roadside service – tire or mechanical

Cost: $35 per call; free for national account customers

Features: Customers call the toll-free line. If they are Michelin national accounts, their account will be charged. Others will be charged by credit card. Michelin or other network service providers are dispatched depending on service requirements. Standardized pricing for tires and tire-related services nationwide. Service available for intermodal equipment. English, Spanish or French available. Registration in advance is strongly encouraged, but not necessary. On-line incident tracking and reporting services available.

More info: (800) TIRE-911 for national accounts, (877) 966-3911 for X One customers, (888) 377-1911 for all other customers,www.michelintruck.com/michelintruck/service_solutions/OnCall.jsp

NORTH AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY CORP.

Who it's for: Any size fleet

Cost: Monthly subscription charge, varies by size of fleet

Features: In addition to service locator software you can run on your own computers, NATC sells an Internet version of its extensive vendor database, which allows you to add your own vendors and helpful notes visible only to your own company's authorized users. Link to favorite vendors, favorite searches. Search by city/state, latitude & longitude, phone number & exchange, or by vendor name. Mapping. Not a complete breakdown management service. Must set up account in advance.

More info: (866) 288-7111, www.service-locator.com

NTTS BREAKDOWN

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.

More info: (800) 288-0002, www.otrrepair.com

PENSKE TRUCK LEASING SOS EMERGENCY ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE CENTER

Who it's for: Penske Truck Leasing customers, both full-service lease and truck maintenance accounts

Cost: Included in leasing/maintenance agreements

Features: Computerized database contains history of every Penske vehicle, plus contact info for all 650 Penske-owned service facilities as well as more than 22,000 other roadside service providers. Most of Penske's OTR coordinators have previous mechanical experience, which often allows troubleshooting over the phone. English, Spanish or French available. Every phone conversation is recorded. Formal road call report provided for every call. Web access to monitor active road calls.

More info: (800) 526-0798, www.pensketruckleasing.com, www.gopenske.com

PETERBILT TRUCKCARE CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE

Who it's for: Owners of any make or model Class 6-8 vehicle, from owner-operators to large fleets

Cost: Free

Features:: Can arrange for emergency service at nearest participating Peterbilt dealership or a preferred service provider. In addition to phone contact during breakdown, customers can track real-time status of breakdown through password-protected we site, which also allows tracking of breakdown trends. Calls are answered by Paccar employees. Pre-registering allows for faster dispatch of roadside assistance but is not necessary.

More info: (800) 4-PETERBILT, www.peterbilt.com

PHH ARVAL VEHICLE MAINTENANCE ASSISTANCE CALL CENTER

Who it's for: PHH clients and their drivers

Cost: Per unit per month.

Features: PHH's Call Center is part of an overall maintenance consulting service. Drivers receive a PHH Service Card for all maintenance and repair charges. For emergency roadside assistance, ASE-certified service specialists with extensive experience and instant access to vehicle information will diagnose problems, negotiate repair work, and authorize all transactions according to the client's policy. All transactional and trends information is available online in real time. Using telematics to help clients lower maintenance costs and address problems before they turn into breakdowns.

More info: (800) ONLY-PHH, www.phharval.com

RYDER CUSTOMER RESPONSE CENTER

Who it's for: Ryder leasing, rental and logistics customers

Cost: Varies

Features: Can track repairs in real time via the web and create historical reports with items such as average assign time, breakdown time, breakdowns by type, by driver, etc. Extensive call detail, including voice recordings of each call. Enrollment automatic for Ryder customers, but can include special instructions for special needs. Guaranteed averages of 15 minutes for dispatch time, two hours to get truck back on road.

More info: (888) 715-7272 U.S., (877) 550-7272 Canada, www.ryder.com

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.

More info: (866) 562-4081, www.truckdown.com

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, www.helprig.com

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. Pre-established 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, www.ttsroadservice.com

VOLVO ACTION SERVICE

Who it's for: Anyone operating a Class 8 vehicle. Specializes in breakdown service for Volvo Trucks, but have the capability to service any make or model, as well as trailers.

Cost: No case fee for warranty-covered repairs for Volvo trucks. For non-warranted repairs, $40 for Volvos, $48 for non-Volvos. Also available are membership plans with flat fee per year.

Features: Identifies closest, most-qualified provider from network of 13,000 Volvo dealers and other providers in North America. Sign up in advance for more efficient service. Members can get consolidated billing, ability to track your case online, help with rental trucks, detailed reporting, etc. Custom-tailored call center services and after-hour services are also available.

More info: (800) 52VOLVO, www.myactionservice.com

YOKOHAMA EMERGENCY SERVICE (YES)

Who it's for: All Yokohama authorized national accounts in good standing

Cost: Free

Features: YES operator will do all of the work of locating the proper service, including assistance with issuing purchase orders and handling necessary paperwork. The nearest Yokohama dealer will be dispatched, or non-Yokohama dealer if there isn't one in the area.

More info: (800) 282-1570, www.yokohamatire.com/tbs_yesprog.asp

Credit article source : http://www.truckinginfo.com/article/story/2006/02/breakdown-solutions.aspx