Top Tips to Follow When Buying a Used School Bus

When shopping for a used school bus there are several important aspects which a buyer should consider before making a decision. In this respect, itís possible to ensure that you make a well informed decision and have no regrets (literally) down the road.

Determine Budget

Those planning to buy a school bus in the used market should first determine their budget available to spend on the purchase. Consumers should consider the initial cost, as well as, insurance premiums and potential future repairs. Also, buses are not like most other vehicles when it comes to gas mileage. The cost of refilling the bus's gas tank can be higher than some people expect so try to choose a bus thatís economical.


Many times a great deal on a used school bus can be won at an auction. Although, each situation may vary, usually buses put up for auction are in good working condition. Many government agencies are required to sell their school buses due to decreased enrollment in classes or reduced government funding. Some agencies have a policy of selling a bus after it reaches over five years old or over 200,000 miles. Therefore, school buses found on the auctioning block may be a great opportunity to save money on a relatively new vehicle.

Maintenance History

When purchasing a school bus in the used market, it is wise to ask the seller for the vehicle's service record. Usually, if the school bus is part of a fleet, the company or agency selling the bus will have a service history record available. Make sure to find out when the last time the engine was repaired or rebuilt. This is important since bus engines usually only last about 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Also, once the maintenance history has been obtained, it is advisable to share the history with a trained mechanic who may be able to provide more insight into the vehicle's current condition and necessary future repairs.


Leaks of all types are common problems in school buses found in the used vehicle market. Before making the final decision to purchase, be sure to check the vehicle for any leaks. Automatic transmissions are especially prone to leaks. This is especially true when the transmission's temperature reaches higher levels. Replacing a leaky transmission can cost around $4,000 or more, depending upon the type of transmission. Leaks may also come from brakes or hydraulic systems, which can be costly to repair as well.

Engine Size

The required engine size of a school bus will vary, depending upon how the user plans to utilize the vehicle. A larger size engine may be required for heavier loads. If the bus will be converted into another type of vehicle, additional furniture and accessories may be added. This may require a bus's engine to be upgraded to a larger more powerful engine model. Some experts suggest buying the largest engine as possible to be prepared for any situation. If an upgrade is needed the cost of installing the new and larger engine should be calculated into the planned budget.

After purchasing a used school bus, be sure to continue regular maintenance to prolong the vehicle's lifespan. Maintaining regular oil changes will significantly help. Also, for safety purposes regularly inspect the brakes, especially if the previous owner was not able to provide a previous maintenance history. Additionally, when converting a school bus for another use, ensure the alterations comply with necessary safety regulations.