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Old 10-31-2018, 10:22 AM   #1
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New Member Looking To Purchase Bus

Hello all. New member here from the Upstate, NY area.

I am looking to purchase a small bus to use as a dirtbike hauler for my son, myself, and some friends throughout the winter months.

I have looked at one that I am interested in and hoping to get some feedback on what to expect.

The bus is a 2005 Freightliner/Thomas unit. I'm not sure on the total passenger capacity as most of the benches were already removed. I'd say it probably had 7 rows of benches along with a wheelchair ramp on the right rear of the bus.
It currently has 101K miles with a Mercedes 4 cylinder diesel and Allison transmission. It has some rust. Underneath a little rusty but solid. Motor sounds good. Seems to shift fine. Tires are decent. It is throwing a code for an EGR valve which the current owner believes to be sticking due to lack of use. It loses a good amount of power when this happens. I'm thinking attempt to clean it and hope for the best.

I can get it for $2K but am wondering if I'm waling into a maintence/expense nightmare.

Looking for any/all feedback or guidance before I buy this thing.

Thanks

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Old 10-31-2018, 10:26 AM   #2
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
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EGR issues on a benz and he still wants 2K? id be inclined to run.. emissions issues without scan tools and troubleshooting info can be money pits at a shop...



-Christopher
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:33 AM   #3
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Personally, I would not consider anything post 2004. All the (useless) EPA/environmental electronic garbage added in '04 made them nightmares to maintain, repair and work on. So bad that many school districts now dump their fleets with very low miles and hours due to the insanely exorbitant costs of maintaining them. Cheaper to unload them and buy new. Sad.


Similarly..the MB engines a fine, but if anything goes south they can be crazy expensive to fix. Even little stuff. All proprietary hardware & software that has very limited availability.


An older rig (pre-'04) with a more common engine (Cummins, IH, even Cat) will be much easier to live with/deal with.
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Old 10-31-2018, 10:35 AM   #4
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Upstate NY so probably a rust bucket. And probs with emissions equipment?? Run away.
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:13 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
EGR issues on a benz and he still wants 2K? id be inclined to run.. emissions issues without scan tools and troubleshooting info can be money pits at a shop...



-Christopher
The seller is actually the head mechanic of a local school district, where he bought this bus from. He claims to have scanned it as an EGR code. Does this sound legit or BS, and if its is the EGR valve, would it cause a power loss and can it be possibly be cleaned?
Also, once the check engine light goes on, if you let off the gas for a sec it goes off and the power comes back, but the light sometimes comes back on.
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:15 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Personally, I would not consider anything post 2004. All the (useless) EPA/environmental electronic garbage added in '04 made them nightmares to maintain, repair and work on. So bad that many school districts now dump their fleets with very low miles and hours due to the insanely exorbitant costs of maintaining them. Cheaper to unload them and buy new. Sad.


Similarly..the MB engines a fine, but if anything goes south they can be crazy expensive to fix. Even little stuff. All proprietary hardware & software that has very limited availability.


An older rig (pre-'04) with a more common engine (Cummins, IH, even Cat) will be much easier to live with/deal with.
Great advice. Brings up two points I could use some guidance with:
1) Ive heard the smaller 1 ton based mini buses are a pain to work on because the motors are hard to access. Should I stay away from these?

2) Are the larger mini-buses, what I am looking at, built on a small truck platform better, or way more costly to fix due to the size of everything?

Thanks
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:16 AM   #7
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Upstate NY so probably a rust bucket. And probs with emissions equipment?? Run away.
It does have surface rust and one hole but the wonder has extra body panels he is giving me with it. The underside has a good amount of surface rust but is mainly solid.

Also, what emissions equipment does it have other than EGR? I didn't see any DPF equipment.

THanks
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merc1100sc View Post
Great advice. Brings up two points I could use some guidance with:
1) Ive heard the smaller 1 ton based mini buses are a pain to work on because the motors are hard to access. Should I stay away from these?

2) Are the larger mini-buses, what I am looking at, built on a small truck platform better, or way more costly to fix due to the size of everything?

Thanks
5/6 window conventional buses built on medium duty chassis are generally easier to work on than van based type "A" or "cutaway" buses.
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Old 10-31-2018, 11:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merc1100sc View Post
It does have surface rust and one hole but the wonder has extra body panels he is giving me with it. The underside has a good amount of surface rust but is mainly solid.

Also, what emissions equipment does it have other than EGR? I didn't see any DPF equipment.

THanks

DPF didnt come in till the next Tier of emissions regs in 07, and then most got outfitted with auto regen and DEF in i think around 2010..



the lught goes on and off because the light is triggered by an out-of-range indication by the EGR most likely.. at times wherever the EGR is "stuck" or its limited motion happens to be within acceptable limits for the computer.. just like a clock that is stopped at 1:00 is right twice a day...



I dont know the repair procedure or costs on a Merc engine.. I know that my friends and acquaintnences who are in the school bus business. . (their busses are in service transporting kids).. cringe whenever they run into EGR issues.. often causing their busses to be taken out of service to chase down an issue.. or on the newer stuff it sometimes gets "limped" and Must make a trip to the dealer.. again I dont know if its as simple as pulling the valve and stuffing a new one in or not.. and what the cost / labor is..



if you have the model number of the engine you can google EGR replacement for it and see if anyone on sites like schoolbusfleet has posted.. (old posts on there are often from pros running busses in real service when they were newer)..



the other part of this is that if the repair is so "easy" why isnt the owner of the bus fixing it and keeping it..

-Christopher
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Old 10-31-2018, 12:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
DPF didnt come in till the next Tier of emissions regs in 07, and then most got outfitted with auto regen and DEF in i think around 2010..



the lught goes on and off because the light is triggered by an out-of-range indication by the EGR most likely.. at times wherever the EGR is "stuck" or its limited motion happens to be within acceptable limits for the computer.. just like a clock that is stopped at 1:00 is right twice a day...



I dont know the repair procedure or costs on a Merc engine.. I know that my friends and acquaintnences who are in the school bus business. . (their busses are in service transporting kids).. cringe whenever they run into EGR issues.. often causing their busses to be taken out of service to chase down an issue.. or on the newer stuff it sometimes gets "limped" and Must make a trip to the dealer.. again I dont know if its as simple as pulling the valve and stuffing a new one in or not.. and what the cost / labor is..



if you have the model number of the engine you can google EGR replacement for it and see if anyone on sites like schoolbusfleet has posted.. (old posts on there are often from pros running busses in real service when they were newer)..



the other part of this is that if the repair is so "easy" why isnt the owner of the bus fixing it and keeping it..

-Christopher
I can swap it myself. Its pretty accessible. Assuming that's all that's wrong.
The current owner is just done with it. he bought it for the wheelchair ramp for an elderly family member.

I think I'm going to look for something a couple years older with an IH or Cat motor. Any particular motors to stay away from?
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Old 10-31-2018, 12:43 PM   #11
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Engine: DT466E (195hp, 520tq)
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Personal preference is to go with a straight 6 (DT466, Cummings, CAT) instead of a V8 (DT444, VT365). Smoother running and the V8's just seem to have more issues.
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Old 10-31-2018, 12:55 PM   #12
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motors to generally stay away from.. CAT C7, Maxxforce 7, VT-365.


the inline 6's like the DT466 tend to hasve better low end torque.. however be aware that some ofthese engines were made withy very lethergic computer programs.. ie 175 HP DT-466E and 175 HP CAT-3126, Cummins 5.9's were similar.. I know some have years to stay away from on the 5.9s, they can chime in. but as noted most all the inline 6's are good.



for V-8 diesels. the T-444E isnt bad esp in a short bus, but I wouldnt want it in a full size bus unless it is the High torque 230 or 250 HP variant.. the standard ones are not going to pull hard in big busses. parts are everywhere for the T-444E as it is the close cousin of the ford PowerStroke 7.3


-Christopher
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Old 10-31-2018, 02:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merc1100sc View Post
I can swap it myself. Its pretty accessible. Assuming that's all that's wrong.
The current owner is just done with it. he bought it for the wheelchair ramp for an elderly family member.

I think I'm going to look for something a couple years older with an IH or Cat motor. Any particular motors to stay away from?
Avoid the Maxxforce and the VT365 from IC. Avoid the C7 from Cat.
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Old 11-01-2018, 03:02 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info guys. My search continues.
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:04 PM   #15
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http://www.roxburyautowreckers.com

Bought my shortie from these guys in 2009 in northern New Jersey. They have a huge selection and pulled 4 buses out for me to test drive. Got the 1999 7.3 turbo power stroke for $2,000 with 75,000 miles they were asking for 3,000. Still rocking after multiple cross country trips. I was living in Saratoga Springs at the time and they were the best place I could find up there, lots of buses to choose from. Take your time, find the right one, and good luck!!
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Old 11-07-2018, 04:56 PM   #16
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Cleaning the egr valve is pretty simple.
just google it.
Are you sure it is the 4 cylinder? that would be the MBE904

I own a mbe906 and so far I have not seen parts expensive.
When the valve sticks open their will be reduced power.

Depending on what allison , 5 or 6 speed $2000 does not seem to be bad. Parting the motor and transmission out would likely bring you more then you invested.
You can also do an EGR delete,

https://truckecmtunes.com/mercedes-b...cr-delete.html.


Good luck


Later J
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