What To Consider When Purchasing a Used Bus
A bus is a big purchase, in more ways than one. It can be intimidating: You’re responsible for an organization’s budget and passengers’ safety, and you don’t want to get it wrong. A reconditioned bus can mean massive savings—but it should also mean more than a new coat of paint and tires. Be leery of prices that sound too good to be true, or you’ll be drowning in repair costs. If you’re not sure what to consider when purchasing a used bus, you should start by finding a dealer with a reputation you can trust. Then ask these questions:
How Will You Be Using It?
You can narrow down your search with an overall picture of how you need the reconditioned bus to function. You might need your bus for:
- School activities
- Daily routes
- Athletic events
- Field trips
- Mobile learning centers
- Church transportation
- Promotional tours
Different needs require different buses, and there’s not much flexibility there. For instance, if you’re going to use it for longer trips, you’ll need a stronger chassis, not to mention amenities like bathrooms and comfort seating. Think about what kind of weather the bus will be traveling in, and how many years you’re hoping to get out of it. You should look for a bus that’s the whole package, or find out what’s involved if a second choice needs to be customized.
What Specifics Will Affect Your Choice?
With function in mind, you should have a wish list of features that you can reference while shopping. Some elements are strictly non-negotiable, while you find that others aren’t important as bringing down the price. Some determining factors include:
- Passenger capacity
- CDL or Non-CDL Licensing requirements
- Diesel or gas engine
- Fuel efficiency
- Hydraulic or air brakes
- Engine size
- Storage capacity
What Condition Is It In?
When it comes to choosing a preowned bus, your priorities are clear: You need a bus that has been well-maintained which will last as long as possible. The most important features of a reconditioned bus are easy to spot, once you know where to look. Start at the bottom of the bus and work your way up. Overall, you want a bus that is mechanically sound, and looks like new.
Check the dealer’s reviews if you feel they’re not being transparent with you. Take your time, until you’re confident in your assessment. The bus’s condition will make or break your decision, or give you some bargaining power over the final price. Be sure to look at these potential problem areas:
- Under carriage
- Interior wear and tear
- Body and paint
- Floor (beware of soft spots)
- Tire treads
Keep an eye out for rust, and seams on the body where water could leak. Ask how characteristic it all is for a bus with that mileage. If you were hoping for a used bus in better condition, working with the bus dealer to refurbish it could save you thousands of dollars. Check state and federal DOT guidelines to see if certain parts require updating. Just be sure you know how much time and money it will cost you.
What Is Its History?
You may or may not judge people by their pasts, but used buses do not get a free pass. Ask the dealer for information, such as:
Maintenance: Verify that the bus has been well-maintained and blacktop driven versus dirt roads.
Inspection: It’s good practice to send a reputable third party do an inspection of the bus prior to purchasing. It is also a good time to ask about what repairs the bus may still need to perform for your purposes.
What Maintenance Will It Require?
If you have regular mechanics who service your current buses, it can’t hurt to check that they are familiar with the type of bus you’re considering. You can ask the seller if they have a warranty available on the bus as well. Some buses may still be under factory warranty. Follow up by asking the seller if they keep an inventory of replacement parts for the bus.
Get an idea of the bus’s maintenance schedule, and if any parts are due to be replaced. If the reconditioned bus is still under warranty, find out what that means for your out-of-pocket expenses. When vehicles hit certain mileage points, a checkup can get pricey even when there’s nothing wrong.
Do You Want To Customize It?
If a preowned bus doesn’t already have it, you can get it. Just a few of the additional features available:
- Wheelchair lift or ramp
- Wheelchair mounting and locking system
- Interior racks and exterior storage boxes
- Air ride suspension
- Door safety system
- LED lighting packages
- Window tinting
- Antimicrobial vinyl surfaces and flooring
- Crash avoidance technology
- Speed governor
- New seat configuration
- A/V equipment
- Wifi and/or USB outlets
- Custom paint color matching
- Bus wraps and custom vinyl graphics
Does It Fit Your Budget?
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a used bus, but it really comes down to this: It’s a fraction of the cost of a newer model. After any custom work and repairs, you still need to put its price in the context of the total cost of ownership, including maintenance, repairs, and fuel. Keep an open mind about refurbishing a used bus, because with so many variables, you might not immediately recognize it’s the better choice. Once you’ve decided on the bus, consider your financing options; a credible dealership will have many options available.
For over 30 years, National Bus Sales, Inc. has been helping thousands of customers find the right transportation. Whether you’re looking for a coach, a shuttle, a van, or a used school bus for sale, National Bus has options to fit your needs. Contact us for more details; we can deliver anywhere in the country.