How to Know if a Used School Bus Is Right for You
Even when you’re shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, a bus is an investment that requires a decent amount of due diligence. Whether you’re buying it for your school or organization, your inspection checklist will prove long. We have some thoughts on how to know if a used school bus is right for you. Read on to learn more.
Does It Fit Your Needs?
Don’t get distracted by a great deal. Think carefully ahead of time about what requirements your bus must have. You should come to these conclusions:
It Has Enough Room
In general, bigger is better when it comes to buses. It’s better to overestimate how much space you need than to be caught short. Schools and organizations have a way of expanding. Even if you estimate that you have plenty of seats, we’ve learned in the last year to err on the side of more space for growth. Give your passengers a little room to spread out, and everyone will reach their destination in a better mood.
If you’re looking for a used school bus, sometimes you can be flexible by having more seating capacity, with little to no additional expense. For example, the price difference between a 77 passenger model and a 72 passenger model, could prevent the need for an additional bus, or adding an additional route to the schedule.
You Like the Engine
Your bus’s engine type is important for several reasons. Do you want diesel or gas? This is one case where engine placement can have a big impact on usage. Your choices:
- Conventional or Dog Nose. If aesthetics are important to you, you might be looking for an old-school, dog-nose bus. Not only are they more common, but some say the engine is more accessible if you’re going to make repairs.
- Flat-Nose Front Engine. A front engine bus will open up some interior space. The only downside is that it can get loud inside.
- Flat-Nose Rear Engine. This model is the solution for the noise, but the trade-off is losing storage space in the back. Repairs can get pricier, too.
Your Dealer Knows Your Purpose
If you can find a reputable bus dealer with impeccable reviews, they can be a valuable resource as you browse. So many factors can affect your purchase. Let your dealer know exactly how you’ll use the bus so they can guide you in the right direction. Will you be traveling bumpy, country roads, or taking short trips around the city? Will you be using it as a traditional bus, or are you hoping to make a lot of changes to create a mobile classroom? With an established dealer, you can trust that they’ll have greater guarantees of legality than someone from a Craigslist transaction.
Does It Pass Your Personal Inspection?
We can give you advice all day, but only you know if a used school bus is right for you. Before you commit to buying, make sure that you can say that:
You’ve Seen the Service History
Mileage, of course, will tell you a lot about your future bus—but not everything. To estimate a school bus’s longevity, you need to know what parts have been replaced and when. If you can plan ahead for any inevitable major repairs, it’ll hurt less.
The Body Is in Good Shape
We have one word for you: chassis. A little rust is fine, and you can always request photos of the underbody to verify if it exists. A reputable dealer with a service center has the ability to sandblast the rust away and add an undercoating to prevent further damage. When the undercoating is applied, the under body can last longer than a brand new buses because of the protective layer. Your school bus must be structurally sound enough to withstand years of vigorous use. You can correct any cosmetic issues without too much trouble—and you might be adding some custom paint or vinyl wrapping, anyway. But you need a strong floor and steps for your passengers’ safety. Check everywhere for corrosion.
The Safety Features Are Decent
Bus features and technology are always advancing. You don’t have to invest in the latest unless you want to. If the safety features are up to the job, you’re good to go. But you can budget for any upgrades, especially if you plan to customize the bus to make it more accessible for disabled passengers.
Have You Budgeted for Everything?
Again, you’ll have a long list if you want to accurately account for the costs of owning a used bus. Warranty, insurance, fuel, future repairs… It’s easy to forget about these costs when you’re saving so many thousands to make the purchase. But if you’re getting an older model, it can be difficult to find parts.
Will you need to replace the tires soon? Depending on the model, new tires can run you a couple of thousand more. Before you even begin to compare models, you should check with state and federal guidelines. There may be new regulations that require improvements before you can hit the road.
Does Your Mechanic Agree?
If you’re lucky enough to have a mechanic in your bus barn, it’s time to ask for their review. If your bus passes your personal inspection, it should also get the approval of a professional. An experienced technician may know to look for things that you don’t, especially when it comes to the chassis. You don’t want to guess at the condition of the engine, transmission, or brakes.
National Bus Sales has expanded its selection of pre-owned school buses to match their growing popularity. With more than 30 years in the business, we know the difference between a well-maintained vehicle and one that’s not in the best condition. We operate with honesty and integrity, and will disclose any concerns. Although our pricing may not always be the lowest, you can trust that you get what you pay for.
And if you decide against a school bus, we have a variety of other buses that might meet your needs: coaches, shuttles, and vans, too. Contact us for more details, and we can deliver your bus anywhere in the country.
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