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Old 09-11-2016, 12:23 PM   #1
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What I've learned- Buying skoolie from dealer

Hey guys,

So I had a very eventful Saturday. I made a lot of mistakes in buying a new bus when I flew down to arizona to purchase from a dealer. Hopefully my experience will help those in a similar situation (buying first bus).

The bus was a 2001 International front engine flat nose. 34' long, with DT466 and Allison 643. Was very happy with this combination. Dealer started at $6900 but came down to 5900. That was still above our initial budget, but the length is perfect for us, and having done the previous research we definitely wanted the dt466 and Allison 643. I also felt more comfortable buying from a dealer because they would surely inspect it before sale... especially since this dealership also services.



After a short test drive and inspection, I made the buy and started the 13 hour drive home. The bus had a short wheel base so it was easier to drive. I clipped a couple curbs on right hand turns, but quickly got the hang of it.

Shortly after getting on the interstate to begin the 13 hour drive home, the bus fell from 55mph to 35mph at full throttle (over 2500rpm to maintain 35mph). I got the bus to limp off the interstate and parked it behind a Walgreens.

Frustrated, I called the dealer to ask what they thought was going on. No response. Bear in mind, I had only purchased the bus 90 minutes ago and already had issues...from a dealership-not some craigslist dice roll. After several texts and panicked VMs, still no response... I felt so defeated. 5900 for a bus that I couldn't even drive home, would have to tow ($200 then $5/mile), store until at least Monday, and then throw more money at to fix, and then eventually still have to get it to Colorado. A "perfect" $5900 had just turned into a $9k nightmare- or so I thought sitting on a bench in front of Walgreens.

Finally- I was able to get a hold of the dealer's roadside assistance. They were then able to get in contact with the saleswoman I was working with- turns out she didn't have her business cell phone with her and wasn't purposefully screening my calls.

The initial thought was to have a mobile mechanic come out and look at it, but one of the reasons I was ok with paying more for this bus was that it came from a dealer which, I imagined, would inspect the bus prior to sale- thus I would be buying a more reliable vehicle.

Clearly I was mistaken. I called the dealer and stated that I didn't have any confidence in driving the vehicle even if a mobile mechanic fixed it, and that I'd have to ask for my money back. To my surprise, she understood, sent a tow truck, and gave me my money back.



I was still out cab fair and flights, but I still count myself lucky.

So: In Bulleted form:

• Don't trust the bus to be completely mechanically sound- even if its from a dealership. If possible, have it inspected BEFORE driving home if its a long haul

• Test drive in as many situations as possible. Hills, city, highway, etc. Obviously some issues won't show themselves until the bus has been put in that situation. Just because the engine starts right up doesn't mean there aren't other issues.

• Being in Arizona in summer is like standing on the surface of the sun.

• Dog houses are LOUD, generate a LOT of heat and produce INTENSE vibration...

• Had to get commercial insurance to be legal. Not cheap, but wasn't too difficult either. Purchased from Progressive through a local dealer. Paid $178 for the first month. Purely liability. Of course will get diff. Ins. after conversion, but while its still titled as a school bus insurance can be tricky. Commercial seemed to be the way to go.

Learn from my mistakes!
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Old 09-11-2016, 12:58 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zndrson View Post
Hey guys,

So I had a very eventful Saturday. I made a lot of mistakes in buying a new bus when I flew down to arizona to purchase from a dealer. Hopefully my experience will help those in a similar situation (buying first bus).

The bus was a 2001 International front engine flat nose. 34' long, with DT466 and Allison 643. Was very happy with this combination. Dealer started at $6900 but came down to 5900. That was still above our initial budget, but the length is perfect for us, and having done the previous research we definitely wanted the dt466 and Allison 643. I also felt more comfortable buying from a dealer because they would surely inspect it before sale... especially since this dealership also services.



After a short test drive and inspection, I made the buy and started the 13 hour drive home. The bus had a short wheel base so it was easier to drive. I clipped a couple curbs on right hand turns, but quickly got the hang of it.

Shortly after getting on the interstate to begin the 13 hour drive home, the bus fell from 55mph to 35mph at full throttle (over 2500rpm to maintain 35mph). I got the bus to limp off the interstate and parked it behind a Walgreens.

Frustrated, I called the dealer to ask what they thought was going on. No response. Bear in mind, I had only purchased the bus 90 minutes ago and already had issues...from a dealership-not some craigslist dice roll. After several texts and panicked VMs, still no response... I felt so defeated. 5900 for a bus that I couldn't even drive home, would have to tow ($200 then $5/mile), store until at least Monday, and then throw more money at to fix, and then eventually still have to get it to Colorado. A "perfect" $5900 had just turned into a $9k nightmare- or so I thought sitting on a bench in front of Walgreens.

Finally- I was able to get a hold of the dealer's roadside assistance. They were then able to get in contact with the saleswoman I was working with- turns out she didn't have her business cell phone with her and wasn't purposefully screening my calls.

The initial thought was to have a mobile mechanic come out and look at it, but one of the reasons I was ok with paying more for this bus was that it came from a dealer which, I imagined, would inspect the bus prior to sale- thus I would be buying a more reliable vehicle.

Clearly I was mistaken. I called the dealer and stated that I didn't have any confidence in driving the vehicle even if a mobile mechanic fixed it, and that I'd have to ask for my money back. To my surprise, she understood, sent a tow truck, and gave me my money back.



I was still out cab fair and flights, but I still count myself lucky.

So: In Bulleted form:

• Don't trust the bus to be completely mechanically sound- even if its from a dealership. If possible, have it inspected BEFORE driving home if its a long haul

• Test drive in as many situations as possible. Hills, city, highway, etc. Obviously some issues won't show themselves until the bus has been put in that situation. Just because the engine starts right up doesn't mean there aren't other issues.

• Being in Arizona in summer is like standing on the surface of the sun.

• Dog houses are LOUD, generate a LOT of heat and produce INTENSE vibration...

Learn from my mistakes!
THe word "dealer" should scare off most folks.
An auction bus is as safe a bet or safer, and much much cheaper. My $2150 bus got me home and still goes for joyrides.
Hell I'd sell ya my bus for 7 grand!
Glad you got it sorted out, mostly, and that you are safe.
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Old 09-11-2016, 01:26 PM   #3
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The truly amazing part of this story is that they gave you your money back. Most of these deals are on an "as is" basis and as soon as the money changes hands...you are on your own. Actually a pretty good endorsement for this particular dealer I'd say.
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Old 09-11-2016, 01:38 PM   #4
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Yes i second the motion that this is a stand up dealer.

Very likely they simply did not know of the issue but to give your money back?
I have NEVER heared of a dealer giving a refund.

Glad you are home safe, thanks for sharing your valuable lesson with others.

In the midst of the insane excitement; I too paid and then drove. In hind sight i cringe at what a disaster i risked, when a simple drive long enough to get up to temp and speed was surely in order for such a large cash transaction.



The beautiful thing about us Skoolies is that we do risk, we do learn, we get back up, and we do continue on.
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Old 09-11-2016, 01:47 PM   #5
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Indeed- throughout the entire process they were great to work with. Salesperson was responsive, understanding, and considerate. Keep in mind too this all happened on a Saturday and they were technically closed!

And yes, this was as-is. They were under no legal obligation to provide any refund- though it was certainly the decent thing to do. Again- I count myself very lucky.

Can't say they'll do that every time by any means- but they're good people.

The bus had just come off a route and had been inspected by the state in the same year with a clean stamp of approval. Dealer wasn't trying to take advantage, just didn't know about the issue.

Dealer was Canyon State Bus Sales. I would recommend them for someone looking to buy that's a little closer. I won't be taking such a gamble again (flights with intent to drive home), but they could be a really good resource for someone closer,
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Old 09-11-2016, 02:51 PM   #6
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One reason I paid about $500 more than my budget was because the bus was on the other side of town, not the other side of the continental divide.

Congrats on a fantastic outcome!
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:04 PM   #7
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Having been in the government surplus business for 17 years I've learned to do due diligence before going to auctions as well. There are several good places to find out the reputation of various school districts and if they cut corners or not. California has an excellent reputation for throwing away top notch buses at scrap prices at auction. Check them out next time. I found a small school district that has an outstanding reputation with keeping their buses in perfect order. They buy top-of-the-line buses and keep them that way. Well worth the plane fare and road trip in 115* summer heat with no A/C.

Try looking west young man, it seems to pay off for many people.

Just my two cents and almost two decades of surplus experience.......

M
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:13 PM   #8
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Roger that. And states that experience a total of 3-4" of precipitation annually (including snow) are going to be about as rust free as any metal you can find.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:28 PM   #9
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I was planning on driving up to Phoenix later this week to see that EXACT bus! Thanks for giving me some bargaining room!
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:41 PM   #10
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I got my bus from a dealer and had a breakdown on the way home... after all i had made it 450 miles into my ride when it occured... being it was the air brakes compressor that just conked i really didnt blame the dealer for selling me a defective bus... after all i also knew it had been driven 1000 miles before I got it..

they were indeed helpful in helping me find the parts and get back on the road.. albeit the mobile service company i chose.. (their preferred service was booked solid so I chose #2 on truckdown..) ended up beign a doofus..

I found something later on I thought was going to be fixed and wasnt.. and they said.. No issues we'll fix it for free..

the reality is we are dealing with used vehicles that the dealers pretty much buy from the autcion sites, wash, change the oil, and mark up.. they typically dont do a ton to them unless they have to....

I understand you feeling a bit un-trusting of the bus and the dealer.. but if you were to fix this bus and drvie it home now you WILL have a bus that has been completely gone through and ready to go.. so I say Fix the bus rather than get the money back, and enjoy it for years to come..

-Christopher

P.S. I'll add that after my breakdown repair I knew a heck of a lot more about my bus than I did previously... and ive put 8000 miles on it since then.. only issue being I tossed an A/C belt on my NYC trip.. but that was my fault for using the cheap-ass belt that came with my A/C kit instead of a good one...
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