Used School Bus Buying Tips

Mechanics Hub - January 28, 2014
It's buyer beware when you're shopping for anything online. You haven't met the seller face to face and sometimes advertisements for products for sale can have a little embellishment added in. Used school buses however are (most times) a good buy simply because of the regulations that a school district fleet has to follow.

I highly Recommend =====>>> Buying a retired fleet school bus before anything else.

Photos of the bus is a determining factor when you're in the market because it indicates the seller is serious and has nothing to hide. The price point will indicate low or high mileage and depending on your spending budget you will need to carry out due diligence. A “high miler” will most likely need some going over for rust on the body and frame.

Ebay is a good place to start since all sellers have a rating displayed on their sales page. A description and photos are also included. Contact information is always available. If a seller had something to hide (in my opinion) they would not sell on this site. Once you get a negative rating from a buyer it's displayed with comments so sellers with a 100% rating are honest and want to be up front with buyers.

Below are my recommendations when you decide on a school and physically go to the sellers location to have a look at it. It's a good call to buy from a School District. I will give you more reasons why.

What To Look For On A Used School Bus

There are many basic checks you can make as a buyer that does not require a Mechanic. Here are a few checks to think about when you are inspecting a used school bus.

What's the mileage reading? Wear happens...consider when looking at a bus with high mileage the drive train longevity and frame / body rust condition. This area I recommend asking a mechanic to help you out when you want to check out the bus further.

Check out the service records. This is the most important piece of information you can come across. School district fleets always keep records of maintenance and repairs. You will be able to look back and see what repairs were made and if regular service schedules were carried out. It's a government regulation to keep records on everything that's done on school buses.

Body Visual Inspection. Do a walk around and check for new paint. This indicates a possible accident happened in the past. The seller should be up front with the history on the bus and share it with you. If the seller is a private business ask which school district the bus came from. They will be happy to share details with you.

Interior Inspection. Check for a soft floor (wood). Check all the glass and seats. Are the instruments on the dash operating properly? When sold to the public school bus loading lights and stop signs are disabled. Make sure this has been done. Look for cosmetic flaws with the dash and seats and cracks in the windshield and anything else that may cost you money to repair.

Drive Train Inspection. Again I recommend getting a mechanic to have a look at the drive train. If you can find a shop to lift the bus up on a hoist that would be a huge bonus to really check it out in detail. Most likely you will be in another city but there are lots of good shops around that could do this for you.

I wouldn't pay more than an hour shop rate for this check over. Look for leaks and rust on the under side of the bus. You will also be able to check the brake condition, suspension, steering, driveline and accessories. A heavy duty shop can do a brake application so you can check out the brake system operation as well.

Road Test. Of course you will want to go for a road test to feel the ride and listen for any unusual noises. Make sure the air system builds up (unless you have hydraulic brakes ..check for leaks and spongy brakes). Check the Steering...going around corners, shakes and shimmy on the highway, everything related to the drive train needs to be checked out.

Buying A Used School Bus – Conclusion

This is a detailed inspection that I would carry out if it was me looking for a school bus. If you are not able to do all these checks at least stick with a retired school district fleet bus and you will walk away with a great deal. We will be selling several Thomas pusher buses with Cummins engines and Allison transmissions in the government auction this summer. They are sold “as is” but these buses have been with us since new and they have had a lot of TLC.

If you're curious click the link to check out used school buses for sale on Ebay.

Thank For Reading this post and as always I welcome your comments!