Purchasing Buses

By Dave Smith

I. Do Not Be In A Big Hurry; Do Not Buy Impulsively

II. Shop Around Before You Make The Purchase

III. Have The Owner Or Dealer Give You The List Price Before Looking

A. You can purchase buses from dealers, other churches, or from local school boards (probably the best price)

B. Some owners will donate a bus to your church to obtain a tax deduction

IV. Make A List Of Deficiencies As You Look Over The Bus

A. Body problems

1. Rust generally comes around the front fenders and rear wheel wells

2. Look for dents and bangs

3. Check floor condition (particularly the front step and around rear wheel wells)

B. Look over all the window glass

Front windshields are particularly expensive

C. Look at the condition of seats

Replacement foam and covers can be ordered from manufacturer

D. Check tread depth of tires and their condition

1. Tires are a great expense

2. New tires are required on the front

3. Retreads can be used on the rear

E. Check all gauges

F. Check if the heaters are connected and working

G. Check the oil on dip stick to see how well oil changes have been made

Dark gritty oil is a signal the owner has not made regular oil changes

H. Ask to see maintenance records

Lack of them may or may not be a good indication of the mechanical condition

I. As you start the engine, listen for any initial noises

See how quick oil pressure comes up and what it is

J. As you drive the bus, listen for engine, transmission or rear end noises

K. Make sure the clutch and transmission work properly as you go through the gears

Most buses today have automatic transmissions

L. Check the operation of the brakes and also listen for noise

M. Check the operation of the emergency brakes

N. Check the exhaust system for leaks from the manifold all the way to the tail pipe

O. Check the steering for any unnecessary motion, etc.

P. Turn the buss of, smell and look for oil, and/or water and transmission fluid leaks.

This could be an indicator of minor or major problems

V. Review The Decencies And Cost Of Repair With The Seller If You Are Interested In Making A Purchase

VI. The Asking Price And Cost Of Repair Estimates

A. Make the seller an offer if the problems are not serious

B. Make sure the offer is not too high on your part

C. He may make a counter offer

VII. You May Have To Bargain With The Seller Over The Price

VIII. Stay Away From Pushers, Pullers, City Buses, And Greyhounds

IX. Have A Pocket Full Of $100 Bills To Roll Out At The Appropriate Time

Many times this can help you to get a better price

X. Additional Thoughts On Purchasing Buses

A. Think about staying with one bus manufacturer if possible

They can interchange parts

B. Try and make the bus as attractive as you can

1. Hopefully it had a good paint job, so letter it attractively

2. You may decide to repaint it also

3. If so, make sure you do a good job preparing the surface

4. Some states require church buses be painted some other color than school bus yellow

C. Get sources of good used parts

1. This can save a lot of money

2. Lots of times buying good junkyard parts is a good way to go

D. Diesel engines get much better mileage than gasoline engines and run longer

1. The cost is higher

2. You can also run them for about 3 times the miles before an overhaul

3. The cost of the overhaul is much more expensive

4. Get the facts and make your decision

E. After you secure your bus, make sure you have a regular preventive maintenance program

1. This will save you money in the long run

2. It will prevent discouraging breakdowns while you are on your Sunday routes

3. Make sure you are particularly safety conscious on regular brake checks and adjustments

4. Have good tires on your bus

5. Make sure you keep written maintenance records for your own information and also as a proof of a regular maintenance program in case of an accident and potential law suit

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”