How to Properly Maintain a Used School Bus 

how to maintain a used school bus

Maintaining a used school bus is essential, especially a used school bus if you want to make the most out of its life. Proper used school bus maintenance will not only extend the school bus’s life but it will also make its operation less painful, less of the breakdowns, less mechanical headaches. If you properly maintain your bus you will also protect the lives of your riders. The first thing to know is that proper maintenance is regular maintenance. You have to regularly check for any issues in your school bus.

Here are some guides on how to properly maintain a used school bus after every trip.

1. Proper refueling

Refueling your school bus can seem like a no-brainer, but did you know there is a preferable way, more specifically, time to refuel your school bus. This is important if you want to properly maintain your used school bus. If possible, always try to refill your school bus in the evenings or nights rather than in the mornings before trips. We do this so that overnight condensation caused by water vapor in an empty fuel tank will not occur. The presence of water in the fuel will eventually cause harm to the engines in the long run. 

2. How to park the bus properly

At the end of the day, it is advised that after you set the parking brake and set the transmission to neutral, instead of quickly turning off the engines, you should let it slowly idle for some time, as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions. Letting the engine of your school bus slowly idle will lubricate all the parts, which is especially important for diesel vehicles, which most school buses are. 

3. Inspecting the interior

It is always a good habit to check your interior after every trip. The most convenient time to do this is while your engines idle after the trip. Use that tie to check for any interior damage to the seats and windows. If possible, fix the damages before the next trip. Also, check the seats for sleeping students, any lost books or items and properly secure them. 

4. Maintain Proper Hygiene With Your Used School Bus

Maintaining proper bus hygiene is always a good thing. Sweep the floors and steps. This will encourage a clean bus policy. And also, wash the interior of the school bus periodically, including seats, windows, fabrics, floor rugs etc. 

5. Inspecting the exterior

Always inspect the exterior for any possible damages. Check for burned-out bulbs, deformed body panels, even the school bus’s underbody if possible, or any other issues that may need to be repaired. If the repairs are quick and easy, you can do them right away or get a professional mechanic for more intricate repairs.

By the time all the inspection is done, the engine should have idled long enough, get in the bus, turn off all the electrical components, shut off the engines, remove the keys and properly secure the bus until your next trip.

Regular inspection will help you catch any little problems before they grow into more complicated problems.

Following these steps regularly should ensure that your bus remains healthy and you experience a hitch-free time while it is alive.

Tips on Preparing Your Used School Bus for Sale

preparing your school bus for sale

 Have a used school bus you want to sell? Here are some things you need to know.

Selling a used school bus or going into the school bus resell business is not so straightforward. Here are some things you need to know to provide the best quality product to your buyers.

  1.     Buy the Used School Bus That People Want to Buy

It is essential that you buy a bus that is selling on the resale market, a bus that buyers ant. Find out what a buyer might want in their school buses, some features may not be necessary for you, but they are to your buyers. So consider that. Buyers are always interested in the unique safety features and technologies that will protect their passengers and keep the bus current with the times.

Going in for a clean, non-polluting bus option will also be of great help when reselling. Buyers want something that is as clean as possible to the environment, and you cannot go wrong with that.

  1.      Prepare Your Bus by Keeping Detailed Records

If you have a school bus you are planning to sell or buying a school bus to sell, keeping a detailed record of that bus’s maintenance is very much advised. Caring for that bus is critical if you are looking to get a high resale value. Buyers want to know what has been changed, altered, the bus’s condition, and how long the bus is expected to live. They want the confidence that you are selling something useful and of quality.

   Clean and Sanitize Your School Bus

When selling a used school bus, first impressions matter a lot. It is essential that when you are selling a bus, you are selling a clean school bus. You want to ensure the safety of the children that would ride on your bus.

When cleaning, pay close attention to the places that children are most likely to hold onto, The stability bars that run through the middle of the bus, the handlebars on the back of the seat, windows, window ledges, and the seats, etc.

Clean Your School Bus First

Before sanitizing the bus, you first of all have to clean it. Clean the bus’s floors and windows thoroughly, preferable with the use of a handheld vacuum cleaner that will suck out the dust rather than a broom that could spread the bus in the air. Investing in cleaning equipment for your school bus would be good. You could even install a HEPA filter in the vacuum cleaner to remove microbes and allergens from the surfaces.

You can also use soap and water for the floors, making sure to dry it off completely.

The next thing to look out for is the fabrics, carpets or rugs, window drapes, and seat covers. These fabrics have to be removed and cleaned separately in detergent and hot water and with a disinfectant. Always make sure the materials are completely dry before you put them back.

Also, clean the air conditioners and vents, wipe with a damp cloth and spray with a disinfectant.

Now You Can Disinfect The Bus

Once the cleaning is done, the next thing is to disinfect the bus. All surfaces have to be sanitized, paying close attention to the high contamination areas. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer for the disinfection. Wipe all surfaces with a clean cloth dipped in the sanitizer, then spray the disinfectant inside the bus.

Here are some sanitizing tips.

  •         While cleaning, always go from least soiled to the most soiled surface
  •         Sanitize before and after every trip
  •         Wear gloves while sanitizing
  •         Ensure COVID-19 safety measures are put into place

Following these basic guidelines should ensure you provide a safe product to the people that buy your bus.


If you are always fixing things that are broken, you are not doing enough to prevent them from breaking. It is true that components will eventually break, but the reason behind preventive  maintenance (PM) is to do all we can to extend a school bus’s life cycle and try to calculate a reasonable replacement time before they fail.

It’s important to realize that your present corrective mode of operation has taken years to get to, and that to turn it around is going to take a while as well. However, once achieved, you could end up spending the majority of time performing PM and just a little time fixing broken buses.

When servicing buses that are 3 years old or newer, repair every defect and potential problem you find. This will keep these buses in premium condition. Now, keep doing so for the life of these buses. They will require the least amount of work on an ongoing basis and continue to be the most reliable buses in your fleet.

Buses 4 years old and older will require more work to bring back to optimal condition. When performing service on these, make a list of every defect and potential problem found during the service, as well as all issues previously known to exist on the bus. Review the list before making any repairs to these items. Sort these items into three categories: 1. Repairs that can be completed in less than 10 minutes. 2. Safety-related repairs. 3. Non-safety related repairs.

The oldest buses will require the most work. These will receive only enough repairs and maintenance to keep them operating safely. If major repairs are required, you might want to refrain from making these repairs and take them out of service if possible and replace them with newer buses. The money needed to replace major components would be better spent towards a replacement bus. It is really hard to justify putting a lot of money into a bus that is scheduled to be replaced soon.

Keep a positive attitude about improving. It takes work and time. Nothing good ever comes easy.


The season’s dropping temperatures, snow, and ice are already impacting large parts of North America, so it’s time to make sure fleets are prepared.

This installment of the Bendix Tech Tips Series provides 12 pieces of air system, electronics, and wheel-end advice to help keep your vehicle in good operating condition as things get frosty.

Air Systems

1. Keep it dry — moisture in the air system can condense and freeze, increasing the odds of brake and valve malfunctions.

2. Check the dryer’s purge valve for corrosion or grit accumulation and replace it if necessary.

3. Manually drain the air tanks to start the season — Draining every three months is generally sufficient for typical line haul trucks, but more often—monthly or even weekly—is recommended for vehicles with high air demand.

4. Unless it’s an emergency, avoid using de-icing solutions on an air system — they can corrode O-rings and valve seals.

Electronics and Controls

5. Remember that driver assistance technologies – like stability and collision mitigation – rely on maintenance of lower level systems like tires, and the brakes to ensure performance in the field — maintaining these systems is especially critical in winter. Check tires for adequate tread depth and proper wear, and wheel-ends for tight bolts and cracks.

6. Run a diagnostic check to make sure tire pressure monitoring systems are operating properly — temperature swings, along with slick road conditions, make running on the right tire pressure exceedingly important in the winter.

7. Keep external cameras and radar sensors clear of snow and ice — check them immediately prior to getting on the road.

8. Check all connections to ensure they are secure and water tight.


9. Check air brake chamber housings for corrosion — or damage that could allow corrosive materials to take hold, and ensure that dust plugs are properly installed.

10. On drum-braked wheel-ends — lubricate the automatic slack adjusters, clevis pin connections, cam tubes, shafts and bushings.

11. On wheel-ends with air disc brakes — check the guide pins and inspect the boots for tears or punctures that could permit corrosion of the caliper within.

12. Ensure free movement of air disc brake pads in the carrier — remove them and clean the carrier surface with a wire brush, if necessary—and make sure that the brake moves freely on its guidance system.

Winter hazards can ruin a driver’s day—and they don’t always take the form of things like blizzards or icy roads. But maintenance and upkeep efforts in the shop and on the road can keep vehicles running smoothly and safely.  Carolina Bus Sales, Inc., can help get your bus ready for winter conditions by checking off each of these tips!


Winter may seem like a long time away right now but Fall is here.This is the time to begin preparing your vehicles for colder temperatures to ensure that they’re ready for what winter has in store. Below is a checklist of items for which bus fleet operators need to be proactive to prepare for extreme conditions, whether you are running diesel or natural gas engines. These procedures, ranging from cooling system maintenance to fuel choice, to selecting the right engine oil, will help fleets keep their buses running safely and reliably in cooler ambient temperatures.

-Verify that all coolant lines and connections are leak-free.
-Use the proper coolant/antifreeze mixture (ethylene glycol concentration) for route conditions/temperatures.
-Use winterized diesel, or blend #1 and #2 fuels.
-Add a fuel warmer to the fuel system.
-Double-check Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) warming lines before temperatures drop.
-Modify the air intake in extreme cold (-25°F and below) to a position adjacent to the exhaust manifold.
-Check the cold-cranking capacity of the battery. Add a battery warmer in extreme cold conditions.
-For diesel-powered engines fleets should switch to 5W-30 engine oil for normal winter conditions.
-Use a dipstick oil heater to help maintain oil lubricity and improve the engine’s cold-starting capability.

There are many other items on the checklist from draining water/fuel separator to adjusting the “fast idle: to insulating exposed water, fuel or oil lines.

Cold-weather preparation/operation procedures for Cummins Westport natural gas engines are similar to those for diesel engines (block heater, coolant heater, battery warmer, radiator shutters or winter fronts, etc.). CNG filling stations should include a dryer to remove moisture from the natural gas.

Natural gas fuel systems include a pressure regulator that is kept from freezing with a supply of warm engine coolant. In cold weather, allow the engine to warm to operating temperature before operating under load. The correct engine coolant, lubricating oil, and fuels must be used for the cold-weather range in which the engine is being operated.

Check with your local mechanic to help with winterizing your school buses.


When taking your school bus to a reputable repair shop, they will perform inspections of each item in a preventive maintenance (PM) checklist.  This is more than just looking at components. They will pay attention to the little things, the little problems, making repairs to the smallest of defects.

In doing so, the larger potential problems will be repaired and never develop into real problems. Some technicians focus on the problem at hand, fixing items that have failed, but they fail to repair the cause of the failure. This causes repeat problems.  Each problem has a cause. Finding and repairing the cause prevents future problems from occurring.

A PM checklist should be organized in a systematic method that is meant to be followed in order from top to bottom. In doing so, an organized routine will be developed and remembered, and the technician will get better and faster at it as time goes by.

The school bus drivers will appreciate a job well done even if it takes a little longer. They will appreciate not having to drive an old spare bus repeatedly.

Doing it right the first time increases reliability and — most importantly — safety.


School bus fleet maintenance managers face challenges in trying to control costs that continue to rise.

Costs are increasing very quickly for tires, emission systems, labor, and many other parts. The maintenance manager can no longer find ways to reduce actual cost or maintain the margin of the total budget relative to transportation operating costs.

Fleet maintenance managers must justify reality with a new generation of mangers who perceive value by measuring charts, graphs, predictions, and cost benchmarking – all in a way to reduce costs or fix the perceived problem on a short-term, cost-cutting basis, without any consideration for performance benchmarking.

The following scenario happens more and more frequently – A new transportation manager is told that his/her responsibility includes the maintenance department, yet maintenance is not his/her forte – So, the new manager’s style and approach is to measure cost – make charts and graphs. His boss is happy because now they both can look at the same reports and both conclude that the costs are too high. They are not meeting the budget so they plan to drive cost out without seeing in real life where the money is being spent, such as the performance upkeep for an aging fleet of school buses with only a sprinkling of new 2018 units within it.

What truly works though, are the basic simplified methods: A prescribed fleet replacement plan supported by a good maintenance policy, with a defined process and efficient practices. Then an administration add-on of non-burdening “micro-measurement” through charts and graphs is only required to understand the effectiveness of the maintenance process – not control it.

While you must measure, you must also understand each other’s thought process and work jointly – Board, Administration and Transportation. All must work towards the common goal of being the safest and most cost-effective school bus maintenance provider.


When it comes to purchasing a used school bus, you may already know a lot more than you think about making the right choice. Executives seasoned in both buying and selling in the used bus market say the experience bears a resemblance to a used car purchase.

One of the most important things to look for is a healthy engine with a lot of life left. The chassis is a big consideration – its where you have the biggest cost factor, according to Gavin Berwald, transportation supervisor for Beachwood (Ohio) City Schools. Uncover the past of the school bus if you can.

It is not uncommon for an older bus to have had an engine or transmission replaced, which changes the effective age as indicated by the mileage report. Documentation of these replacements is very important. You need to know if the replacement was new or used and how long ago the replacement was made to help determine the life of the vehicle.

An inspection by your mechanic can help in making a decision on which bus is good for your company, school or church. Buyers should also check state and federal guidelines before purchasing a used school bus, which includes whether or not your company will need a driver with a commercial driver’s license. Financing is another consideration. Most companies will have a financing plan in place for any potential buyers, with various options available through the dealer or other financial institutions.

Of course, I recommend buying your school bus from Carolina Bus Sales in Chesnee, SC !!!