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Old 01-09-2017, 01:04 PM   #1
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What To Take For an Inspection?

Hello Skoolies,

I will be going to inspect a bus down South in the next little while and before i purchase it I want to know what test gauges and tools i should have with me in order to make the best informed decision possible prior to putting down the cash? Are there certain types of equipment that would help me in making the right decision and what exactly should I be looking for? Besides the obvious signs of rust. Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-09-2017, 02:00 PM   #2
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It all sort of depends upon how old the bus is. Anything newer than model year 2000 and some models in the 1996-1999 model years will have an OPID port of some kind. Plugging into one might tell you a lot or you may not find out anything because you don't have the proper software.

Some easy checks that do not require tools:
  • Check fluid levels and condition of fluids. ATF needs to be cherry pink and not smell at all like caramel. Lube oil will be nasty black but should still be heavy and not smell of diesel fuel--if it smells of diesel fuel the lube oil will be very light. Coolant should be clear and be bright orange or green. Power steering fluid needs to be cherry pink or kind of yellow and not dark at all--if it is black it hasn't been changed in a loooooooong time and could be a potential problem area. Any fluid that looks murky or milky indicates expensive problems.
  • Check the brakes. If it has hydraulic brakes the brake fluid needs to be clear and almost no color. If it is not clear or has any color the fluid is old and is contaminated with water. There is potential for expensive brake repairs due to rust inside the cylinders or calipers. Also check the brake lines for rust, damage, and the rubber parts for weather checking and cracks. If it has air brakes you will need to familiarize yourself with air brake checks--how long to air up, when does the governor cut in and out, when do the alarms go off, when does the spring brake apply, how long are the throws on the brake cams, etc.
  • Check the tires and wheels for any missing lug nuts, cracks in the wheels between lug nuts or between the lug nuts and the center, bends or damage to the flange, any exposed cord or damage to the sidewalls, tread depth, and age of the tires.
  • Check the suspension for any missing or broken parts.
  • Check the steering for any excess play.
  • How easy was it to start the engine? Was the engine warm when you got there?
  • When you put it in gear is there any hesitation? Does it go immediately from forward to reverse and back again?
Understand you are not looking at a brand new or nearly new vehicle. From your checks you can determine whether or not you want to mess with that particular bus. If it still has potential for you, the items that are of concern can be negotiating points to work the asking price down.

When most Type 'C' buses cost new in excess of $70K and most Type 'D' buses cost new in excess of $95K, if the used bus has an asking price of $5K the seller most probably knows the bus is well used. How much of that price you can knock down is how well you can negotiate. Most dealers will give between $1,500.00 and $2,500.00 on trade in on new buses so you won't be able to go much lower. But if the bus is 15-years old, has in excess of 100K miles and the asking price is $10K there is most probably a lot of wiggle room on the asking price.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 01-12-2017, 05:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
It all sort of depends upon how old the bus is. Anything newer than model year 2000 and some models in the 1996-1999 model years will have an OPID port of some kind. Plugging into one might tell you a lot or you may not find out anything because you don't have the proper software.

Some easy checks that do not require tools:
  • Check fluid levels and condition of fluids. ATF needs to be cherry pink and not smell at all like caramel. Lube oil will be nasty black but should still be heavy and not smell of diesel fuel--if it smells of diesel fuel the lube oil will be very light. Coolant should be clear and be bright orange or green. Power steering fluid needs to be cherry pink or kind of yellow and not dark at all--if it is black it hasn't been changed in a loooooooong time and could be a potential problem area. Any fluid that looks murky or milky indicates expensive problems.
  • Check the brakes. If it has hydraulic brakes the brake fluid needs to be clear and almost no color. If it is not clear or has any color the fluid is old and is contaminated with water. There is potential for expensive brake repairs due to rust inside the cylinders or calipers. Also check the brake lines for rust, damage, and the rubber parts for weather checking and cracks. If it has air brakes you will need to familiarize yourself with air brake checks--how long to air up, when does the governor cut in and out, when do the alarms go off, when does the spring brake apply, how long are the throws on the brake cams, etc.
  • Check the tires and wheels for any missing lug nuts, cracks in the wheels between lug nuts or between the lug nuts and the center, bends or damage to the flange, any exposed cord or damage to the sidewalls, tread depth, and age of the tires.
  • Check the suspension for any missing or broken parts.
  • Check the steering for any excess play.
  • How easy was it to start the engine? Was the engine warm when you got there?
  • When you put it in gear is there any hesitation? Does it go immediately from forward to reverse and back again?
Understand you are not looking at a brand new or nearly new vehicle. From your checks you can determine whether or not you want to mess with that particular bus. If it still has potential for you, the items that are of concern can be negotiating points to work the asking price down.

When most Type 'C' buses cost new in excess of $70K and most Type 'D' buses cost new in excess of $95K, if the used bus has an asking price of $5K the seller most probably knows the bus is well used. How much of that price you can knock down is how well you can negotiate. Most dealers will give between $1,500.00 and $2,500.00 on trade in on new buses so you won't be able to go much lower. But if the bus is 15-years old, has in excess of 100K miles and the asking price is $10K there is most probably a lot of wiggle room on the asking price.

Good luck and happy trails to you!

Hey thanks a lot. I bet there will be many people who will appreciate what you just pointed out here. Thanks again.
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Old 02-03-2018, 10:06 PM   #4
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raising this from the dead, as ive seen a lot of people searching for buses lately, and ill be going to look at some next week and this exactly what i was looking for

any recommendations where to find a good air brake crash course?
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Old 02-03-2018, 11:58 PM   #5
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Youtube???????????????????
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjhwick119 View Post
raising this from the dead, as ive seen a lot of people searching for buses lately, and ill be going to look at some next week and this exactly what i was looking for

any recommendations where to find a good air brake crash course?
States like NV that require an endorsement on your license for heavy vehicles and/or air brakes may have free on line study guides which include a lot of info on air brakes. It would be better if I could LOOK at the bus periodically while reading the info, but it's better than nothing. NV has a free guide that you can download and/or print.

It also has a pre-trip inspection section. I'm hoping the mechanics will take pity on me and run thru one with me. I will video it while my son pays attention because I will NOT remember all that!

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Old 02-25-2018, 12:32 PM   #7
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Youtube is a good resource for learning about air brakes.
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