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Used Bus Buying Guide

Know Your Purpose

Different buses perform different functions. To this end, you need to focus on the exact services you need to bus to perform now AND in the future. If the intention is to use the bus for church functions involving no more than 20 people, buying a coach or a Type D used school bus doesn't make much sense. Both are far too large for your needs. You will waste money on the purchase as well as on maintenance and repairs. Know what you need and stick to it when looking for your prize bus.

Develop A Budget

Budgets are the key to financesâ¦all finances. Americans are infamous for spending beyond their means. This can lead to utter disaster when buying a used bus. Not only do you spend more than you should, but most buyers overlook two key expenses tied into owning a bus â maintenance and repair.

Maintenance is key to keeping a bus in good shape. You will need to perform it regularly pursuant to the recommendations of the manufacturer. This will minimize, but not eliminate, the repairs the bus will need. Unlike your personal car, a bus moves a serious amount of weight. This necessarily increases the wear and tear on the vehicle, so make sure you budget for the cost of maintenance and repair.

Do Your Homework

As we both know, there are certain car models that are fantastic and others that are known to have significant problems. The same applies to buses. You need to do your homework before looking at buses for sale. Buying a bus is a significant financial move. You need to know if particular models have a positive or negative repair history.

You also need to ascertain how difficult it will be to get parts for the bus and find a repair shop that can handle the work. For instance, Wayne Company made some great buses. The company went bankrupt in 1992, however, so buying a Wayne bus is risky given the problem with finding repair parts. I'm not suggesting you don't buy one, just that you make sure parts are available before you do.


The power plant is the critical piece of the bus. There are a few things to look for when evaluating the engine. The first is power. You generally want to go with the biggest possible engine you can afford. The more power, the more flexibility the bus can provide you.

The second issue to consider is the age of the engine. Age refers to the number of miles on the engine, not the number of years. Unlike your car, it is normal for a bus engine to be rebuilt numerous times over its service life. This typically occurs every 75,000 to 125,000 miles depending on the bus. Used buses tend to have mileage in this range, so a bus that has already had the engine rebuilt can often be a far better deal than one that is going to need the work done soon.


Rust is the problem you need to look for on the frame. Rust on a bus frame is a very bad sign. It tends to spread quickly, so repairing an isolated area of rusting often does not fix the problem. Make sure to inspect the fenders, the underside of the bus, hood hinge mounts, engine mounts and the inner corners of the frame. This is typically where rust first appears.


Buses come with automatic and manual transmissions. Don't buy manual! They are difficult to drive if you are not used to them. Instead, go with an automatic. Not only are they easier to drive, but they also make the bus easier to resell.

Check Maintenance and Repair Logs

New buses are very expensive. Given this, most parties buying new buses are very diligent about maintenance and repair since they want to get the most out of the investment. Many owners keep very detailed maintenance and repair logs for the buses. These logs are a gold mine. They give you insight into the history of the bus and, more importantly, a timeline of what has been done and what has not. Look for logs with every bus you are considering purchasing.

Professional Inspection

A bus is both a simple and complex vehicle. If you have a history with them, performing inspections on your own is feasible. If you've never owned a bus before, having a professional mechanic inspect it is definitely a wise move.

In Closing

This bus buying guide is designed to give you a framework of the factors you need to keep in mind when considering a bus. Your first step should be to review our listings for a sampling of potential buses in your area. Once you have a list, make sure to follow this guide to maximize your potential for finding a great bus.

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We are here to help you out.