School Bus Mechanic Daily Routines & Troubleshooting

Mechanics Hub - March 6, 2014

Another Day In The School Bus Garage

You never know from one day to the next what kind of repairs are going to develop in our shop. It could be an air leak, oil leak, coolant leak, brake vibration, front end shimmy, engine complaint you name it. That's why this job is never boring with all the unexpected work that pops up.

The video is just a part of the daily routine of servicing and inspecting the fleet. I prefer to record raw video footage without too much editing so you see what I see. Some of the shots of the garage floor can be interesting at times :)

The content below is all about the troubleshooting part of the mechanic trade that I have learned over the years ...sometimes the hard way. In my opinion perfection is impossible and dealing with imperfection (meaning a mistake) teaches you how to be humble, take responsibility and learn from it.

Troubleshooting Comes Naturally Over Time

It's a learning experience every time a vehicle in the fleet breaks down. Talking to the operator is the usual first step to get the full story. There is one very simple step that I take before anything else. It's probably the most common step of all among the hundreds of thousands of Techs out there who have been around the trade for awhile.

Always Check The Source First

This step is dead simple and may sound elementary to most people but you would be very surprised how many people have skipped the basics and have gone for the meat and potatoes before the appetizer. For instance, if you have any kind of electrical problem when dealing with a 12 Volt system always check the battery voltage first. The voltage pushes all those electrons through the wiring system to various destinations. If it's low you need to rectify that problem first. (Just a quick example)

My techniques are not new and the “be all that ends all” but they have helped me get through the rough spots every time. Common sense is one of the best tools to have. Think logically and don't be afraid to stick to the simple checks when troubleshooting anything mechanical. “Check the simple things first”

Being A Mechanic Requires Humility

I have been there where I have said to myself “why did I do that” realizing another easier route to find the mechanical problem was staring me in the face. There is not one mechanic in any trade who has not been in a situation like that where a decision was made that wasn't the right one. Another saying you have probably heard before is “Chalk it up to experience”.

Case In Point - Missed Diagnosis

I heard lots of stories of mechanics getting burned because they skipped a step. There was one instance where a mechanic (I worked with in the past) was working on a diesel engine with low oil pressure. He jumped in and pulled the oil pan and changed the bottom end bearings thinking the bearing clearances were excessive. (This will cause low oil pressure)

The real problem was a faulty oil pressure sender. That check would have taken him 15 minutes and another 15 to replace the sender. It's baffling sometimes to get on a job and realize you've missed a step during the troubleshooting process wasting a lot of time. This mechanic did not check the simple things first.

I have done this before putting the cart before the horse and jumping in to a job feet first. Experience works with your memory and there will come a time when you get a similar repair and you will remember times from the past related to a current problem that will help in a big way.

Case In Point # 2

Another instance I heard about from a reliable source was a construction mechanic replaced the fuel injection pump then realized the fuel tank was empty. Imagine explaining that one? I think that is one of the reasons I like to think hard about a problem and go through all the angles gathering as much information as I can. It's very rewarding to get it right and see a job pull out of the shop all fixed up.

That's all I have to rant about for today. I hope you can comment with one of your own stories. Thanks for reading this post. Join the and I'll see you on the inside.