When deciding how to equip an emergency roadside service vehicle, start with the most common reasons as to why a service vehicle is called out in the first place: tires, brakes, fuel, coolants, batteries, and aftertreatment systems.
“Our trucks are equipped with an all-in-one unit that includes a compressor, jumpstart unit, and generator, all powered by a gas engine that pulls fuel from the same tank that fuels the truck,” said Daniel Mustafa, director of technical service at TravelCenters of America. “We also have a 30- to 40-gallon fuel tank with a pump.”
TA’s mobile service trucks are especially geared toward tire-related service. That’s why they’re also equipped with a mobile tire cage, as well as common tire-servicing tools such as 1” impacts, tire sockets, valve stems, and plugs.
Blaine Brothers follows the same general rules, with starting units, air compressors, and fluids on each mobile maintenance truck or van.
“For radiator hoses or belts, we will figure out the part numbers and bring the correct, or as-close-to-correct, parts as we can,” said Mike Lamphier, a tow dispatcher at Blaine Brothers. “Sometimes we bring multiple parts just in case, so we can get them back on the road as fast as possible.”
For issues related to aftertreatment systems, Blaine will likely tow the truck to one of its shops, but the service tech will grab appropriate diagnostic tools to verify the fault codes.
Because they offer trailer repairs as well, such as to liftgates, the vans will be equipped with welding equipment, too.
But there are other types of repairs a roadside service vehicle may also be called upon to do. In those more specialized instances, it may make more sense to simply grab any unique tools, parts, or supplies at the time the service call comes in.
Matt Copot, VP of maintenance at Transervice, believes that a reliable emergency service truck should be equipped with the following core equipment:
- Air compressor
- Starting device
- Air lines
- Jacks and jack stands
- Impact guns and sockets
TA Truck Service has begun testing more cordless, lithium-ion battery-powered hand tools. Untethered tools are ideal in a mobile application like roadside.
“We’ve used some cordless one-inch impacts that you can take truck tires off with,” Mustafa said. Due to the solid performance of a lot of these tools, TA Truck Service is likely to begin purchasing more of them throughout 2023. “That will help take some of the load off of the compressor while also making the technician a bit faster and more efficient by eliminating the need to wheel out all of that airline.”
Aside from tools, Copot said emergency service trucks should be stocked with the same essential shop supplies as a service facility:
- Starting fluids
- Penetrating fluid
- Motor oils
- Shop rags
- Spill containment kits
- Scan tools and/or laptops
Finally, an emergency service truck could be stocked with commonly needed parts, including:
- Headlights, stoplights, turn lamps, mid turn lamps, and clearance lights
- Seven-way ABS cords
- Various air valves
- Brake shoes and drums
- Leaf springs
- Air bags
- Overhead door rollers/hinges, roller door cables, and swing door hinges
- Diamond plate patches for floor holes
- Sheet metal for roof and sidewall patches
How a mobile service truck is stocked is ultimately up to the service provider. The objective is to get to the scene of the breakdown as quickly as possible and to have the items necessary to resolve the issue.