5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Used Bus

photo credit: 1955 Bus via photopin (license)

photo credit: 1955 Bus via photopin (license)

If you’re in the market for a used bus, you shouldn’t make a purchase decision without first doing your homework.

While a pre-owned bus may offer a lower price point than a new one, it doesn’t necessarily signal a better deal. When you calculate the total cost of ownership, which includes maintenance and repairs, a used bus may turn out to be more expensive than a new one. If, for example, your bus breaks down during a run, you’ll end up with unhappy clients who may not return to your business. But if you pick the right used bus, it could turn out to be a profitable choice. To help you get started, we’ve identified 5 vital factors to consider when looking at a used shuttle bus for sale.

1.) Condition

Of course, the most important thing to consider is the bus’s condition. Look at the frame, the drivetrain, and the interior. Is the frame in good condition? Has the drivetrain been maintained properly over time? What about the interior? Check the seats for wear and tear and inspect any other interior features, such as the audio equipment, the HVAC systems, and the floor structure.

2.) Service Considerations

A lower sticker price may not be worth the trouble if there are no nearby service providers that can help maintain your bus. Your regular maintenance professionals may only have experience with a certain type of engine and transmission. If you buy a bus they don’t know how to fix, the time and expense spent on finding the right service can be a huge burden. Is that something you’d be willing to take a chance on? Also, if the bus is beyond warranty, like most used buses are, you’ll have to pay for replacement parts, not to mention deal with the headache of finding them.

3.) Intended Use

The bus’s intended use should be a big factor in your decision. Will you be using it for luxury cross-country trips? Will you use it for airport transfers? Or will you use it for tours around town?  If you plan to use it for longer trips, for example, you’ll want it to have certain amenities, like luggage space, possibly a bathroom, and a strong chassis and engine to handle the trips. If the bus doesn’t have these extras, you’ll have to spend more money to install them.

4.) The Bus’s Specifics

Several other features of the bus should be taken into consideration. Does the bus use diesel or gas for fuel? If it’s the former, that may be a hidden cost that you should account for, especially if you want to use the bus for trips across state lines and will be paying International Fuel Tax Association fees. Another question to keep in mind: Does the vehicle contain disc brakes or air brakes? A bus with air brakes may require a steeper learning curve for your drivers if they’re not used to working with this type of system.

5.) History

It’s also important to know about the vehicle’s past history. Ask the seller to share the bus’s maintenance records so that you know how well it’s been looked after. Maintenance can actually matter more than mileage, in some cases. A bus with few miles but a rough history will be less valuable to you than a bus with higher miles and a great maintenance record.

Furthermore, was the vehicle was ever involved in an accident? If it was, ask whether its condition matched the manufacturer’s specifications once the vehicle was repaired. You should also see documentation of the bus’s repair history.

It’s true that investigating a used bus is time-intensive. But if you invest enough time and effort, you may find that a pre-owned shuttle bus for sale is just what you need. Look at the bus’s condition, specifications, and history. Also think about your needs—what will you use the bus for? Do you have easy access to the right maintenance service for your bus? If that used shuttle doesn’t meet your criteria for these points, it may be better to hold out for something that better fits your needs. Don’t let a lower price fool you into a bad decision.

If you’re unsure about whether to buy a new or used bus, we wrote an article to help you out -- The Benefits of Buying a New Bus vs. a Used Bus.

Grech Motors is a high-end coachbuilder founded by Ed Grech, who currently serves as President and CEO.