Re: Narrowed Down my Bus Choice - Need advice
Professional oil analysis!
I don't claim to be an expert, but my father was a fleet mechanic and i've heard other mechanics tell me an oil analysis of engine oil and transmission oil will pretty much tell you anything hidden like impending failure or someone putting in some "trick additive" to cover up some problem or whatever. I couldn't tell you where to go or what it would cost but definately less than a replacement engine, transmission, or a tow charge from nowhere. To avoid someone snatching it you might put money down on the bus (with a signed agreement) just awaiting the results of the oil test to verify it's in good shape.
That plus a trained mechanic looking for obvious problems like seriously damaged brake lines or a differential leak, I mean a $2000 bus that becomes a nightmare costing even more to haul somewhere to get rid of isn't a deal at all. Not to be negative, just cautious. There's no true guarantee on the $4k bus either afterall, even if they fixed something would they reimburse a tow? An untrained eye probably would even miss broken springs if not pointed out. :P
At the most basic if you dont get professional oil analysis you can also look for obvious leaks under the bus. Normal road dirt and such should be present - if it looks "clean" it was probably cleaned, to hide an oil leak. Same with the engine oil - it should be used, a fresh oil change might indicate someone HIDING something from potential oil analysis and such. Sniff the transmission fluid in an automatic - if it has a burned smell or looks between dark red and brown that means a dying tranny, instead it should look pink or light red.
There should be online, internet, library and other guides about "how to buy a car" which still applies at least as much to a bus, some of the examples are given above.
Service histories are a plus - i'd spend more on a bus with full verifyable service histories and alot more miles than a "low mile" special where the previous 4 owners did who knows what to it, they could have run it low on oil or not changed oil or tried to pull stumps with it.
The above is what i'm planning to do when I narrow things down myself.