Home The Long Haul Blog Recommended School Bus Maintenance To Get Your Fleet Ready For Next School Year

Recommended School Bus Maintenance to Get Your Fleet Ready for Next School Year

May 30, 2024 Service and Maintenance Author: Rush Truck Centers Read Time: 5 Min

Source: ICBus.com

As the school year comes to a close and summer break commences, school bus fleets will start to see more downtime and less use. While maintaining a bus fleet is a year-round job, the idle summer months make for the perfect time to get caught up on maintenance that may have been put off during the semester. Not only can focusing on maintenance for your buses reduce the risk of breakdowns later on, but it can also result in economic benefits for your school district by reducing downtime, lowering operating costs, increasing the lifespan of your fleet and improving fuel economy.

Below are our recommended maintenance services for school buses that should be performed now to get your fleet ready for next school year.

1. Check All Safety Equipment and Systems

Safety should be your No. 1 priority for your school bus fleet. Use the summer break to check all safety equipment and systems on your buses to keep drivers and students safe come August.

  • Safety Equipment – Check the emergency exits and alarms as well as the external extension arm and stop sign to ensure they’re operating correctly. If applicable, you should check all external and internal camera systems and verify they’re recording as expected.
  • Safety Supplies – Inspect the fire extinguisher on each bus and replace or recharge them if needed. Take stock of first aid kits by refilling missing supplies and discarding and replacing anything that has expired. Ensure each bus is equipped with warning triangles and safety flares and that they’re functioning properly.
  • Safety Systems – If your buses are equipped with collision mitigation systems and electronic stability control, ensure all software is up-to-date and the systems are working as they should to assist drivers in case of an accident or slick road conditions.
  • Seat Belts – If your buses have seat belts, make sure they’re in working order and are free of rips or fraying that could cause issues down the road.
  • Brake System – Make sure each bus in your fleet is driven at least monthly to exercise the brake system and keep seals and lubricated parts functioning. Inspect all brake pads, rotors, brake drums and brake lines, and replace parts as needed. Also, ensure brake air pressure is at peak levels and remains constant even when the engine is turned off.
  • Tires – Examine each tire to make sure they’re properly inflated, and measure the tread wear and depth to see if it’s time for worn tires to be replaced. Schedule tire rotations if needed.

2. Make Interior and Exterior Repairs as Needed

School buses see a lot of use during the school year, and wear and tear are unfortunately inevitable. Conduct a visual inspection of each bus in your fleet to look for dents, scratches or broken components, and make repairs as needed.

Ensure all windshields, windows and doors are free of cracks, and wiper blades are in good condition and not streaking. Repair any broken door handles or window latches. Check each seat for tears and make sure they’re securely bolted to the floor. Confirm all mirrors, indicators and headlights are in good working order.

3. Service the Powertrain and Chassis

When vehicles sit for long periods of time, diesel exhaust fluid and fuel can become stale, and hoses and seals can develop leaks. Your summer downtime is the perfect time to review your engine service records and verify you’re caught up on all engine maintenance. Thoroughly inspect for oil leaks and check engine harnesses for proper routing and clipping. Top off all fluid levels and have the oil changed if needed.

Inspect the fuel systems, checking the fuel lines, filters and tanks for signs of damage or leaking, and lubricate all chassis components that have lubrication points. You should also start each bus and warm the engine to operating temperature to keep the engine functioning at peak levels so your fleet is ready for action when the school year starts.

4. Inspect and Repair Electrical and Mechanical Systems

You don’t want your drivers starting up a bus for the first time in the fall only to discover the battery is dead or a headlight isn’t working. Take time now to conduct a thorough review of the electrical and mechanical systems listed below:

  • Batteries – Test voltage levels with a multimeter and inspect the battery terminal for corrosion, loose connections or cracks.
  • Lights – Check all lights, including headlights, brake lights, turn signals and interior lights, to make sure they’re working, and replace lights or bulbs as needed.
  • Wiring – Inspect all cables for cracks fraying or loose connections.
  • Wheelchair Lifts – Keep up with regular maintenance and run the wheelchair lift periodically to verify it’s working.
  • Heating and Cooling – Run the HVAC systems and ensure they’re heating and cooling as expected. Perform maintenance and make repairs as needed.
  • Horn – Make sure horns are in working order by listening for a loud, clear sound. If a horn is making a weak or muffled sound, it may be time for a replacement.
  • Steering – Check to make sure steering wheels are centered and not causing veering to the left or right when driving straight.

5. Deep Clean the Inside and Outside of Your Vehicles

Now that you have your buses running in peak condition, don’t forget about their appearance. It’s a good idea to conduct a round of deep cleaning before drivers come back to work and students head back to school. Not only will this create a welcoming environment but also help extend the longevity of your fleet.

On the exterior, remove any caked-on dirt or grime that has accumulated throughout the year to improve appearance and reduce the risk of rust or corrosion. Sweep the interior floors, clean all windows, wipe down each seat and clean high-touch areas, such as handles and buttons, with an antibacterial cleaner to remove germs. And don’t forget to remove any graffiti riders may have left behind.

Lubricate door hinges, door controls and window tracks to help them function smoothly. And deter pests from taking up residence while buses sit idly by cleaning out leftover food, sealing entry points and setting pest deterrents.

6. Catch Up on Preventive Maintenance

With buses out of commission for summer break, now is the ideal time to review your service records and make sure all buses in your fleet are caught up on manufacturer-recommended preventive maintenance services. Staying on top of routine maintenance can increase the lifespan of your fleet and lower the risk of unexpected breakdowns that could potentially cause delays in getting students where they need to go. A certified technician should inspect all of the major components of each vehicle and make repairs and replace or top off all fluids as needed.

Rush Truck Centers Xpress PM Service for Buses

Rush Truck Centers is ready to help get your fleet ready for next school year. Our Xpress PM service for buses includes a 90-point inspection of all critical vehicle components, an oil change and more. Our ASE-certified technicians are qualified to work on all commercial bus brands, and our close working relationship with manufacturers gives us the ability to service you quickly and efficiently.

Our bus service locations offer scheduled appointments, extended hours and weekend service, or we can dispatch a mobile service unit when and where you need us. Learn more about our bus service offerings or contact us today to schedule service for your fleet.

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