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Old 07-24-2018, 11:59 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Any buses from (2009-2014) you would buy?

I'm planning on getting a bus at some point. (a few years from now).

So lets say its now the year 2020, and these buses are the same mileage, wear, etc. as a 2003 is today (2018 )

Lots of people here say to stay away from anything past 2004, however I was wondering if there is one brand (engine/tranny) that stands out as at least acceptable?

thanks in advance.
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Old 07-25-2018, 05:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by jokerone View Post
I'm planning on getting a bus at some point. (a few years from now).

So lets say its now the year 2020, and these buses are the same mileage, wear, etc. as a 2003 is today (2018 )

Lots of people here say to stay away from anything past 2004, however I was wondering if there is one brand (engine/tranny) that stands out as at least acceptable?

thanks in advance.
Nope. Unless you're a tech who's also a masochist and wealthy.

The EPA basically killed the diesel engine. Nothing will be different in 2020, that's only a couple years.
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Old 07-25-2018, 06:25 AM   #3
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MCI J4500 for me please.

No, I'm not one that subscribes to the 'stay away from newer' thinking.
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Old 07-25-2018, 06:32 AM   #4
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There are people who make newer diesels work. Lots of truck drivers buying lots of DEF. it's a different game when your vehicle is your source of income. The maintenance costs can go up but if you drive a couple hundred thousand miles a year you might make it up in MPG.

Similarly, newer diesel powered RVs are still a thing. Of course, they're playing in a different financial realm than your typical Skoolie owner, but if you have more money than time/skills/sense there are ways to spend it.

More and more school districts are moving to gas engines.
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Old 07-25-2018, 07:31 AM   #5
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brokedown has it right, actually for a couple reasons..



1. the emission controls on diesels have proven themselves to not only be unreliable.. (cummins has it right on their 6.7 stuff.. but it will be a few years before we see those in the used bus market.. )..



2. many of the emission failures require the bus go to thew DEALER And not the diesel-shop on the corner.. this means $$.. the emission controls and parts themselves are often pricey..


3. not only do emission failures occur but catastrophic failures or malfunctions of certain emissions parts can destroy the engine... Botched regens, clogged DPF's causing everything from fires to melted Pistons..



4. Schools often dont run their busses (esp in cold weather states).. long enough or hard enough during their 10 years of route service to warm the engines up and properly clean the DPF filters.. these failures are what my local Navistar dealer sees often coming in on tow-rigs..



5. there were also some just plain BUMM engines.. the MaxxForce7 was by far the worst.. (you'll see them Cheap and late model IC CE-200 busses).. the Cat C7 probably the next worst.. and it wasnt near as bad as the M7.. (found on the thomas / freightliner busses.. esp the Safe-T-Liner C2).. and finally the Maxxforce DT.. its the least worrisome of the 3.. it is based on the tried and true DT-466.. but a true DT-466 it is Not.. it has many issues the predecessor did not... that said, i myself would buy a MaxxForce DT... t hen again im kinda like JD im not afraid of newer stuff..



6. schools these days are returning to gasoline, propane, and CNG busses for a couple reasons.. (you wont find these anytime soon on the used market.. they are 14-up pretty much).. the MPG's of modern gas-tech motors approaches that of diesel. the fuel usually costs less.. and while the gas engines have comouter controls, spark packs, and their own set of emissions.. its not the VooDoo that diesel emissions tech is... because most of the tech in the modern gasoline bus is the same stuff used in today's cars, the cost is less and the mechanic learning curve is much like the standard learning curve for a modern auto mechanic..



if you are dead-set on a "newer" bus.. and have pretty deep pockets you can seek out an off-lease cummins 6.7 powered bus.. these dont have near the issues the other modern diesels do.. the mercedes diesels (yes I know you all hate them).. also have a good reputation in the industry..{though they are pricey pricey to fix if they do break
} (the 2 i mentioned are deemed good by people who manage real school fleets and drive busses every-day)..



the Detroit diesel equipment used in the full-on Coaches is also come to be pretty reliable too, if you decide to go the route of a full-on coach like JD did..



locating an OLD (classic) gasoline bus is a posisbility.. but the old carbed gassers get bad mileage, lack in power, and often have rust issues to deal with depending on where you find them... I only mention it because for the $$ you would pay for a more modern bus you could Resto-Mod an old gas engine into a modern fuel injected one and probably double the mileage... Resto-Modding isnt for the faint of heart... Just ask Tango..
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Old 07-25-2018, 07:56 AM   #6
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I'd avoid anything from 2008 to about 2012. Those were the first years for the latest emissions standards that were applied by the epa. Lots of problems with those years (those years have had problems their entire lifetime). All of the busses from about 2013 onward seem to have way fewer issues. I'm not sure if the engineering changed, if the old ones had teething issues, or if they're just better made, but you can see the difference by what comes in for repairs.

As far as avoiding new busses like the plague, we're eventually going there. Parts will eventually be obsolete for the 90's-2000's busses much in the same fashion that they're starting to be obsolete for the 70's and 80's busses. Changing with the times is unavoidable.
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Old 07-25-2018, 08:10 AM   #7
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As far as avoiding new busses like the plague, we're eventually going there. Parts will eventually be obsolete for the 90's-2000's busses much in the same fashion that they're starting to be obsolete for the 70's and 80's busses. Changing with the times is unavoidable.
I think this will be remembered as the "golden age" of skoolies. It's still easy to find a "good" bus today, but it is a finite resource that eventually will dry up. They're cheap now, but only because they are plentiful. In a few years that won't be the case, and prices will climb.

Buses are a serious bargain, there's no other way to put it. You just can't get something with the same level of space, structure, reliability, etc for the money, or even close. When those dynamics change, I think we'll see it turn into more of a niche.

When annual maintenance starts to cost as much as we're paying for buses outright, the numbers just stop making sense. People will look at alternatives. Vans and box trucks are already really popular and the difference in weight often more than makes up for the difference between gas and diesel. Toy haulers are popular and you can park them and have a truck to drive instead of towing a separate vehicle... Etc.

I'm not sure what the landscape will be in 10 years but I know it won't be what we have now!
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Old 07-25-2018, 08:49 AM   #8
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There is an old tony soprano quote where he is lamenting to his shrink about how the mob use to rule the day, and now with the new RICO laws, etc. That he felt like he inherited something at the end of an era that use to be really good.

I'm hoping thats not the case. (with skoolies)

So it sounds like the repairs on the newer buses are more than just a new set of skills, it requires new tools (computers, software, etc), and perhaps proprietary software and tools that only the dealerships and certified shops have? UGH!
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Old 07-25-2018, 08:57 AM   #9
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I'm not sure how new they go but you can spend a couple hundred dollars on Ebay and get a diagnostics port reader and manufacturer software in a questionable state of license. The software itself can be quite expensive and not something I expect an individual bus owner would pony up for.

They also have limited ability to program the computers. You won't be able to do things like unlocking 6th gear in a transmission that has it locked out, or do any horsepower adjustments. You can do things like increase the speed and rpm limiter.
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Old 07-25-2018, 09:00 AM   #10
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Here's an example of that: https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEXIQ-12503...item1ede13c9f3
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