Time for a Trade-in? Tips on Buying and Selling in Today's School Bus Market

So you’re ready to buy a bus? The first decision that you must make is whether you want to buy new or used. This decision is primarily a financial one based upon what you can afford. Generally speaking, buying a new bus with a warranty and reselling it while it still has value is a good option. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some good deals to be had on lightly used buses, though, particularly clean diesel buses since they have such a strong resale market.

If the funds are there for a new bus, it is important to remember a few key things to get the most for your money when it comes time to resell:

  1. Buy what’s selling in the resale market. Clean diesel buses are dominating the resale space and for good reason. They are durable, and they fit the infrastructures already in place for many schools and organizations. If your end goal is to resell the bus, then buying a clean diesel bus is the way to go to get the most back for your dollar in the resale market.

  2. Remember not all buses are created equal. Just as it is with anything else, quality can vary widely depending upon the manufacturer of a bus. If you are purchasing new, you want to ensure that you are purchasing a vehicle that will stand the test of time so that you can get the highest resale value possible at the end of the road. Quality bus manufacturers like Thomas Built Buses invest in state-of-the-art features that will ensure that you have a quality bus that will last not just for your own use, but for the use of your next potential buyer as well.

  3. Buy the bus that buyers will want. Some features may not be all that important to you, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be important to potential buyers when it comes time to resell. Don’t skimp on getting any standard features, and consider getting value-added features that might set your bus apart in the resale market. Buyers are particularly interested in unique safety features or technology that will keep the bus current with the times, so those are good areas to invest a little extra if you can.

4. Keep detailed maintenance records. Caring for your bus is critical to obtaining a high resale value. Buyers want to know that the bus they’re getting has been well maintained. The easiest way to convey this is thru detailed shop records and proper maintenance. An older bus that has well-documented maintenance is actually more valuable than a newer bus with little to no documentation, so make the extra effort to keep good records on your fleet.

If you decide instead that buying a gently used bus is more within budget for your school or organization, proceed with caution. Buying a used bus can be a great decision, but there are some critical factors that must be considered:

  1. Start with the engine. The engine is where you will have the greatest cost impact if something goes wrong. Take into account how old the engine is and if it has been replaced or worked on. If it has been replaced, make sure you know whether the replacement was new or used. The best thing that you can do is have a trained bus technician thoroughly inspect the engine prior to giving the green light for purchase.

  2. Look at the history. While looking at the engine’s maintenance history, it’s important to also look at the maintenance documentation for the bus as a whole. This documentation will give you a clearer idea of how the bus has been cared for and consequently how much use it probably has remaining.

  3. Inspect, inspect, inspect. You really can’t be too thorough when it comes to reviewing a used bus that you are considering for purchase. Having a trained bus technician do a DOT-type inspection on the vehicle will help you to catch minor issues that otherwise may have been overlooked. The technician will also be able to alert you to potential service costs that might be in the near future for a particular bus, so that you can factor that into your purchasing decision.

  4. Don’t ignore first impressions. While the key components of a bus may be less visible, the body of the bus itself is also important. A bus that has been cleaned, waxed, and maintained will look visibly better than a poorly cared for bus, so this can provide important clues as to the true condition of the bus.

  5. Check state requirements. Bus specifications vary by state. Make sure that you have full knowledge of all of the specifications required for the state that the bus will be operating in, especially if that state is different from your own. Slight variations in state requirements could add up to a costly mistake if you fail to consider them when making your bus purchase.

  6. Consider the availability of parts. Some older buses may require parts with limited availability due to their age or manufacturer. Do your research to make sure that you will be able to get the basic parts that you might need for the bus at a reasonable price. This way you won’t have any big surprises down the road.

Now that you have the knowledge, put these tips to the test by visiting with the representatives at Kerlin Bus Sales. A new bus from Kerlin will offer the highest quality materials along with the state-of-the-art technology that future buyers will be looking for, and our used buses have been thoroughly inspected to ensure durability for years to come. Either way you can’t go wrong with Kerlin, so give us a call at (260) 352-2722.