The School Bus Mechanic Life

imported_John Whelan - February 15, 2016
The video shows one of our mechanics grinding away at a rear suspension. This is one of the jobs you may be faced with when you become a commercial transport / school bus fleet mechanic. If you want an interesting job with lots of variety getting into this trade is the way to go. I still learn something every day and it's humbling to realize after many years at a job like this there is a new challenge around the corner.

That's a great situation to be in with any job in this industry. The brain between your ears gets rattled at least once a day and it's healthy to problem solve on a daily basis. I'm focusing on the challenge part because working at a repetitious job would really suck the mojo out of anybody. There is some routine involved especially with a fleet. Preventive maintenance is the most important part of the job in a fleet and these tasks need to be shared by all of the techs so no one thinks about the word 'routine'.

Besides oil changes and motor vehicle inspections there is a lot of diagnosis using diesel engine software for Cummins, Mercedes and Navistar engines. The emissions in diesel engines are monitored very closely to keep the exhaust clean so if the set parameters do not meet the program an engine code develops. Today's diesel engines have a closed crankcase ventilation system so the soot and ash has to circulate through the exhaust and intake system controlled by an EGR valve and EGR cooler to reduce the NOx oxides of nitrogen.

All these by-products of combustion is a sticky mess clogging up manifolds, sensors, turbochargers, exhaust systems and anything else in it's path. This is the main reason emission codes happen with poor circulation of gases and false readings from sensors. The mechanic has to approach these faults with laptop in hand hooking up to the datalink connector on the vehicle. Knowing the code is the first step as there is a troubleshooting procedure to follow.

Other jobs include electrical faults which involves multiplexing. The video already shows the physical side of the job. Suspensions, brake jobs, exhaust and engine repairs are tasks you will be expected to complete...of course with the guidance and resources you would expect working in a reputable repair facility. I always like to give advice so here it is: Think before you act with good old common sense and a steady pair of hands.

School Bus