Every fleet experiences breakdowns at some point. These incredibly frustrating events eat up time, money, and good will with clients. So having a reliable service you can call on when the need arises is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. But make sure you ask questions.

Lots of providers will tell you they are there when you need them. You should ask them to prove it. There are going to be lots of questions you will probably want to ask when searching out the right breakdown service provider. Here are the top five:

1. What is the coverage area?

If your fleet only travels locally, then a smaller service might be okay; but if you’re an OTR fleet, the more options you have for service, the better. Look for a company that has coast-to-coast service and ask them for a list of those service locations.

2. What are the hours of coverage?

If the answer to this isn’t 24/7/365, just walk away. You can’t possibly know when your vehicle will break down. Maybe it’s the middle of the night or on a national holiday. Maybe it’s during a snowstorm or devastating summer heat. Whatever the situation, you can’t risk making a phone call that goes unanswered. And make sure the people answering the call are qualified. Talk to the provider and find out how many years of experience their people have.

3. What services are offered?

You may have specific services you’re interested in, so ask all of the questions vital to your business. But just for starters, make sure the services include truck roadside assistance, truck breakdown service and maintenance, truck and trailer towing, and trailer service and repair.

4. What are the charges?

Are they monthly, annual, etc.? There’s nothing worse than hidden fees. Look for a service that has no enrollment, annual, monthly, or one-time hidden fees; including miscellaneous vendor fees. Look for a company that charges on a pay-as-you-go basis.

5. How can you control cost and exposure with the program?

Larger companies have one important thing that smaller companies do not…leverage. If your truck problem can’t be handled on the road; you want to know that you’re getting good pricing on tires, labor and parts. Ask the provider to explain how their program can control these costs.

No one can promise to make breakdowns disappear; they can just promise to make them more manageable. The questions above aren’t the only things you need to know, but they are a good place to start.