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Old 11-26-2021, 08:34 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 44
What I have learned about road side assistance

I am posting this in this forum as I was not sure where it was best placed. If the Admin feels it is best placed some where else please feel free to move it.

I apologize in advance for the length of this but I am hopeful sharing these experiences will help others in the group, especially newbies, not unlike our selves.

This has been a real interesting week with lots of learning for us. We have a 2005 Safari Cheetah 40DST DP that we have owned since 2018 and in that time have put about 11K miles on it. Most with only minor issues. Last Saturday afternoon, as we pulled out of a rest area on I-75N in northern Florida the engine sputtered and quit. It would not restart. I managed to get to the shoulder just before it stopped; about 20 yards from being on I-75. Now our 40ft rig, with a tow dolly and SUV, are on the side of Interstate 75.

Thank God in May I changed my road side assistance program from GS ( that only covered tire repair, dead battery or out of fuel) to a Coach-net program that also covered towing. GS also has a service that includes towing but I had the limited and cheaper version. I was not aware of the more inclusive option until I went to renew in May. LEARNING EXPERIENCE #1 - Always read the fine print. And always travel with a good road side assistance policy in force.

This was the second time I had to contact CN since buying the program in May. The first was in June when I had to be pulled from being stuck as the rear tires were stuck in a rut leaving a Harvest Host in Colorado. This time it was for emergency tow to a service center. LEARNING EXPERIENCE #2 - Road side assistance companies do not own tow services they only contact them and then pay (in part or in whole) for the tow. At this point I can say that Road Emergency services may seem expensive but in our case have more than paid for itself.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE #3 - Finding a tow in the middle of nowhere on a weekend (before a major holiday)can be difficult to impossible. First I have to give a shout out to Coach Net. They were diligent and kept in touch with us every hour or so until they were able to find a proper tow. When they did they continued to follow up to make sure the tow showed up on time and we were towed to the proper place and were happy with the service. This continued until after midnight. A great company. That said, it is important to know that while they are is the "messengers"; they have no control over the tow operators. In the recent experience, from the time of the initial contact it took them three hours to find a proper tow and arrange for service. Initially they advised the tow would arrive in 2 hours. In about 2.25 hours they called in follow up. When I told them the tow had not arrived they put me on hold to check with the service company and then cam back to say the truck was 15-20 min out. in 45 minutes they called again to check. Not there yet we went through the process again. Finally at 11:30 PM the tow truck arrived. The Tow service company (truck and driver) were unfortunately not prepared to deal with our rig. After working at it until after 1am the driver gave up and said he could not tow us because his rig was undersized and he did not have the correct axle cover (more on this later) and we would need to contact CN to get some one else. It was now 1:15 Sunday AM. I decided there was no reason to call for another tow as there was no place to go until daylight. I called CN and left a message asking for a call back in the AM. LEARNING EXPERIENCE #4 Know what is necessary to tow your rig in advance of calling for a tow service.

I learned subsequently that to tow our 40 ft DP you need either a lowboy truck with suitable length bed or a truck that can tow from the front axle in which case you need to first disconnect the drive shaft or remove one of the rear axles. If an axle is pulled it has to be capped with an axle cover and ours requires a small 12 bolt cover, which is apparently not common. Also, if towed on a lowboy you need to make sure the combined height will clear any overhead power lines or overpasses. I did not learn all this until Monday when tow truck #2 arrived. LEARNING EXPERIENCE #5 make sure your tow driver knows his stuff and is prepared to tow you before he is hooked up.

Although the first call for CN was at 8 am on Sunday, through the morning they had no luck finding someone with a driver willing to come out on a Sunday. We agreed to try again Monday morning. So we spent another day and another night on the side of I-75N.

At 7:30 Monday morning CN called and we began the search again for a tow. At 9 they called and said a tow had been arranged with a company about 60 miles away and It would be about 1.5 hours until they arrived. About 30 min. later I got a call from the tow driver. He wanted detail about the tow. After I told him he advised he had heard about our situation and that he too could not tow us and to call CN back, which I did and the search started again. In the meantime I did a google search and found out there was a certified CAT center (our rig has a CAT C7 engine) about 14 miles north of where we were stranded. I called them directly and asked for recommended tow companies in the area capable of towing us. They provided four. I called CN back and gave them the list. Within 15 minutes they called back and said a tow had been arranged. In 30 min the tow truck arrived with two technicians. Within 30 minutes of their arrival we were on the road. If you ever find you need a tow near Lake City FL Tim and Kevin of Daniel's Towing are hands down the best! EARNING EXPERIENCE #6 Road Side Assistance companies work from a list of tow companies under contract. It was not until that list was exhausted, and I found suitable tow companies closer to me than what was left on the list that they called Daniel's

First stop was not the CAT service center but an independent diesel service center CN had arranged to receive us. When we arrived we were told that since our rig was DOA if the tow truck dropped it in the yard they had no way to move it into the shop on the following Monday when they could get to it and we would need to arrange a second tow. We left and went to the CAT service center that could accommodate us but could not get to the service for 3 weeks.

Now we are semi-fulltime and lived about 600 miles from where we became disabled. We also had a toad in which we could separately travel. We opted to leave the rig and drive home in our car. We made arrangements with the service center to store our rig , once repaired, until our return after the holidays. The key LEARNING EXPERIENCE #7 is let your Road Side Assistance / tow operator know in advance what your requirements and flexibility is. In our case CN chose the ISP because they said they could get to us in 4-6 days as oppose to the CAT service center that said 3 weeks minimum. For us, in either case we would be driving home and back to pick up the rig so waiting longer was not an issue. Looking back, the more you can discuss with the "service provider" your details in advance the smoother potentially things will go.

That is it for this post. There were other learning experiences in this adventure, such as the importance of a good way to monitor your new Lithium Ion batteries, but I will save that for a separate post. Hope someone reading finds this helpful,; or entertaining; or maybe both. Cheers
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Old 11-26-2021, 10:49 PM   #2
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Good write-up - thanks for sharing your experiences and insights.
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Old 11-26-2021, 11:03 PM   #3
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Excellent analysis and write up. I hope and pray I never have to be towed. You are exactly right - CoachNet is only ARRANGING the tow from a list of providers. I was glad to see that CoachNet did a good job of following up with you and continuing to work towards a resolution. Thanks for you insights.
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Old 11-26-2021, 11:24 PM   #4
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reminds me to stop procrastinating and get those axle caps!
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Old 11-27-2021, 12:02 AM   #5
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That is a hard way to learn, thanks for passing it on.
On land:2019 Dutch Star 4326 Spartan K2 Chassis Cummins ISL9 Onan10 KW On sea:08 Meridian 490 Pilothouse 2X Cummins QSB5-9 Onan13.5KW
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Old 11-27-2021, 05:27 AM   #6
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It wasn't because they driver didn't want to go out on a Sunday, it was because all roadside providers don't pay squat. Triple A is a prime example.
Google "heavy tow companies near me" and they'll be there in 30 minutes with the right equipment and a smile.
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Old 11-27-2021, 09:59 AM   #7
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WOW! What a nightmare!

Did you have any out-of-pocket expenses?
Joe & Annette
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Old 11-27-2021, 11:02 AM   #8
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Thank you for posting.

It is surprising to me that Highway Patrol or some law enforcement agency didn't get involved and just let you sit on the side of the highway. I am assuming you still don't know what the issue is with your motor and hope you will follow up with the results. Was there no shot of getting a mobile mechanic out to diagnose and repair on sight?
Mark & Jen Rayor, Baja Ca Sur, Mexico
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Old 11-28-2021, 07:01 AM   #9
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As I was reading the OP's experience I was also thinking what Mark above wrote. Where was law enforcement and was it possible to get the rig going again without a tow.

Getting a mobile mechanic can be difficult. Last week I had a similar experience. I was parking at Suncoast Designers an RV window repair and defogging service in Hudson Florida when I got a "Low Coolant" warning. I completed the parking and upon investigation I saw and smelled coolant all over the back portion of the engine. I was very lucky in that the coach was safe and off the road and was in fact parked in an RV lot with electrical hookup.

I called my wife which was in the area with our tow car but headed home. She redirected to my location. I then called several diesel repair shops in the area and asked if they could send someone out. No joy. I asked the shop where I was located if they knew any mobile diesel mechanics. I called 2 suggested and neither was available.

In the meantime I could not see what had caused the leaked so I called Coach Net our roadside assistance provider and explained to them what happened and asked what they suggested. After a short time I was put in contact with a tech and after some discussion they agreed a tow was necessary. I told them before they sent a tow truck that I wanted to refill the coolant tank and see if any obvious leak was noted. For that I had to wait for my wife with our car to get the additional coolant. I carried about a half gallon of coolant and put that into the coolant tank but that was not enough to fill it nor was it enough to see a leak.

Coach Net called me back and said they had arranged a tow and a repair shop that could service our rig and was waiting for me to give them the go ahead. I told them I would call them back within the hour and let them know the situation.

In the mean time my wife arrived with our tow car and I was able to get 5 gallons of coolant. Upon filling up the tank the leak became obvious. The coolant return hose from the engine block to the coolant tank had chaffed against the AC compressor causing the leak.

A quick trip to a NAPA store for a new hose had it fixed with no leaks. I then called Spartan and asked them if I needed to burp the engine in the event air had entered the engine cooling system. They said to just keep checking the coolant level for the next 100 miles or so and refill if necessary. It was not necessary.

I called Coach Net and told them a tow was not necessary and thanked them for arranging the tow.

I went to the Spartan Academy back in '17 and I remember Spartan telling me that if I ever needed a tow to call them and have the tow truck driver talk to them before setting up the tow. That fortunately was not necessary but I was prepared to do that if it had become necessary.
Leesburg, FL
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Old 11-28-2021, 02:01 PM   #10
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Tim's experience is a perfect example of how simple a solution can be to a situation that seemed hopeless.

For me, it would have to be a catastrophic failure that obviously could not be repaired on sight before allowing my rig to be towed. As difficult as it might be to find a mobile mechanic I still believe money talks and would be happy to make it a wonderful Christmas for someone willing to help me.
Mark & Jen Rayor, Baja Ca Sur, Mexico
04 Phaeton 38, 3126E Cat 330 AKA "Big Pooper"
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Old 11-29-2021, 07:17 AM   #11
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Axle caps......yes! Put those on the list. When I worked at the local Freightliner dealer, piggybacked trucks came in daily with “caps” made from a square piece of plywoou 1/4 - 3/8 thick, Im not sure they even had a gasket.
Questios, questions, questions. Yeah, I’m that guy. But, I’m learnin!
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Old 11-29-2021, 06:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by vseasport View Post
Tim's experience is a perfect example of how simple a solution can be to a situation that seemed hopeless.

For me, it would have to be a catastrophic failure that obviously could not be repaired on sight before allowing my rig to be towed. As difficult as it might be to find a mobile mechanic I still believe money talks and would be happy to make it a wonderful Christmas for someone willing to help me.
Absolutely. I wouldn’t own a rig without having access to a deep emergency fund that I couldn’t tap into. If perhaps an hour or two didn’t produce good results on a tow, I think my wife would put enough pressure on me to get this thing rolling one way or another.
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