Keeping a midwestern bus fleet in working order is no easy task. It can often feel like a million things are going wrong at once, and sometimes that may even be true! There are tons of moving parts, from the buses, to the drivers, to the students. When one thing goes wrong, you can almost guarantee other issues will follow. When a bus breaks down, midwest bus parts can be hard to come by. Having a streamlined maintenance plan in place ensures that your buses are serviced promptly and your fleet is back up to speed ASAP.
To help with some of your bus maintenance needs, we’ve developed a handy list of our top maintenance tips, along with our best bus parts buying practices!
Streamlining your maintenance
Optimizing your bus maintenance and spare parts purchasing process truly begins with the buses you decide to add to your fleet. Standardizing your fleet will make things much smoother when it comes to purchasing midwest bus parts.
It can be easy to look at the parts first, but its much more advantageous to look at your fleet. When it comes time to purchase new bus and truck parts, or perform maintenance, its much easier and cheaper to buy in bulk for three different types of Blue Bird buses rather than six.
Sticking to one brand, like Bluebird, and a few different types of models will free you of a lot of headaches. Districts often go for the lowest bids when selecting new buses for their fleet, which does indeed save money upfront. But when it comes time to service these buses in the future, having to buy a million different parts for a million different brands makes those initial savings look silly.
Track pricing daily
Working closely with a midwest bus parts vendor is a surefire way to get good deals when it’s time for maintenance. Track the pricing of all the purchases for your fleet, both past and present. This will give you a great set of data to analyze points where savings could be made. If parts and service were cheaper last month from the same vendor it gives you a chance to inquire about the added costs. It could indicate a glitch in your suppliers system, or it could be a sign that its time to look for a more cost-effective vendor.
Working with a local vendor is also a great way to conserve space for other aspects of your fleet. Many truck and bus parts suppliers will keep a back stock of replacement parts so you don’t have to. When it comes time to install a new part, it can be as easy as calling up your local vendor and installing it.
Preventative maintenance – Gives mechanics a helpful guide on the times to coordinate with their dispatch and bus drivers about buses going out of service. It also allows mechanics to monitor the frequency of breakdowns and their causes.
Driver defect report – Drivers fill out a report noting any defects with their school bus. Any out-of-order midwest bus parts are listed and can subsequently be taken care of.
Facility safety inspection – Maintain and check the shop and its equipment. Ensure all stored midwest bus parts, tools and other equipment are in working order.
Maintaining an entire fleet of buses is a full-time job. Having an on-site maintenance team and manager is an enormous necessity! An experienced manager will help your team stay on top of maintenance and keep everything running and within your budget.
Midwest bus parts to inspect regularly
Inspect vehicle bodies
Taking a brief stroll around your bus is a great way to catch any dents, scratches or bumps present on the bus, as well as any other visible issues in the:
Engines are just about the most important part of your bus, so it makes sense that it’s the most complicated. It’s crucial that all of its components are operating seamlessly in order to provide safe and reliable transport. To ensure your fleet’s engines stay running, always check the engine bay for:
- Leaking oil
- Any broken seals or visibly blocked vents
- Sounds/vibrations coming from the engine bay
- Any tubes, filters, valves, wires or plugs that appear to be faulty
Lights & horns
Your bus’s lights, horns and other safety features must be in constant working order! There are few midwestern bus parts more important than:
- Horn capacity/Strength
Gear and pedal functionality
A sticky pedal can be all it takes to causes a serious accident. Prevention is everything! Make sure your fleet can reliably accelerate and decelerate by regularly inspecting the:
In the event of an emergency, ensure all safeguards and items are in place and working properly. Keep an eye on your:
- First aid kits
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency exits
- Spare parts
Purchasing midwest bus parts
Bus repair and sales
It’s crucial when selecting a vendor for midwest bus parts to verify that the business also offers repair services. Having a dependable source of truck and bus parts is one thing, but it’s only half the battle. You still need a professional mechanic to install the parts.
While some repairs could easily be done by your drivers or others on-site, certain repairs take time and skill that you may not have on your team. Having a skilled mechanic at the same place you buy your replacement parts from can be a huge benefit. It’ll be faster, cheaper and all around easier.
Buy genuine parts
Verify that the spare midwest bus parts you are purchasing are genuine products. It’s easy to fall into the habit of going with the cheapest price you can find when shopping for truck and bus parts, but some prices are too good to be true. Counterfeit bus parts are a very real concern in this industry. It’s important to use verified, genuine midwest bus parts in your fleet to ensure long-term durability and safety for the students you transport.
In order to dodge the many perils that come with counterfeit bus and truck parts, you need to find a parts dealer you can rely on. Making relationships with a trustworthy parts supplier will relieve you of any counterfeit parts headaches for years to come.
Do your research
If you’re looking for specific midwest bus parts, it’s a good idea to shop around a bit. Go online and search for that specific part using its brand and model number. Compare different prices, reviews and any other information you can find about it. Researching truck and bus parts before buying them lets you find the best price, vendor and quality before making a purchase decision.
The midwest experiences all four seasons, and so do midwest bus parts. The severe weather that comes along with operating in the area can absolutely take a toll on your bus. We recommend scheduling a thorough inspection of your fleet before the start of winter and summer. These seasons are when vehicles are at the mercy of the most extreme temperatures and conditions they’ll have to face.
Before the winter season, make sure all the batteries in your vehicles are holding enough charge to start in temperatures well below zero. When summertime rolls around, be sure your buses have enough coolant and filters are letting in enough air, as overheating is an extremely common problem when temperatures rise.
Provide your drivers with a maintenance checklist for them to run through at the beginning of every shift. These inspections should be fairly basic in nature, looking for any obvious maintenance issues to reduce any chance of incidents while carrying students. This list may include checking things like fluid levels, tires, light/signal function, brakes, door function and overall cleanliness.
Regular, thorough inspections with professionals
In addition to the daily maintenance checks, be sure to schedule regular inspections with professional mechanics. You can’t expect your drivers to catch every little thing, so it’s important to have trusted experts available to determine if any of your midwest bus parts need replacing.
Take care of issues as soon as they appear
More often than not, your most expensive and time-consuming repairs begin as relatively simple and quick fixes. Addressing any maintenance issues the moment they present themselves is the only way to keep your fleet running smoothly and your passengers safe. It can be tempting to put off fixing minor problems to save on immediate costs and having a bus pulled off the road, but that decision often comes back to bite you!
Properly maintaining a school bus fleet is a huge undertaking, but a worthy one! Finding a great midwest bus parts supplier is a challenge in and of itself, but its an important start. Regular maintenance checks are crucial and infinitely valuable to your bus fleet’s health, and finding dependable mechanics is just as important.
Luckily for you, Central States Bus Sales, Inc. provides all these services and more! Central States has five service locations around the midwest more than capable of keeping your fleet in great condition. Central States also has an incredibly knowledgeable midwest bus parts sales team that stocks just about anything your district will ever need! If you’re looking for assistance in maintaining your buses, need new parts or are interested in purchasing new vehicles, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!