What do you need to know?
This post is adapted from a skoolie.net post. Skoolie is great, but there's SO. MUCH. INFO. there so here's something at a glance. Link at the bottom, there's a lot more info there.
Something to note: If this is your primary living space, you can get a mortgage. Check with your lender.
Edits and additions by me, CascadesDad. I am not an expert, just an enthusiast with one bus (and one ambulance) under my belt.
Rules in bus buying:
- Understand that you are buying a school bus/van/ambo, not a $400,000 MCI motor coach.
- Many of the buses are at the end of their useful life. There is most likely something wrong with them in one way or another. That doesn't mean they are unworthy, they just need service. After so many years or operational miles, it's easier and safer for school districts to get new buses.
- Know your budget and what it costs to pick up a bus from 2000 miles away. If you find a bus 20 miles away and it is $500 more than a bus 1500 miles away and 149 miles from the closest airport, it is a steal. Factor in travel and ease of bringing it back to home base.
- Tires are very expensive. Understand that a bus with good rubber costing $500 more than the same bus with bad rubber is a steal.
- Rust. IT NEVER SLEEPS!!! Every bus has rust. From the salted lands of the snowy states, to the dry arid south, your bus has rust. Plan to deal with it. Try not buying a bus with lots of rust. GET UNDER THE BUS with a bright light.
- Speed. You are not going to go fast. Even in van front short skoolies, they are designed to haul butts in seats, not haul butts.
- Front or rear engine. Your preference. Are you going to haul bikes, canoes, motorcycles, etc? You might want a front engine bus but they are noisier and hotter for the driver. Rear engine is much more quiet.
- Gas or Diesel? Short or long? Short buses have extra costs to repairing them if they are van front - many mechanics will, "No thank you," or charge an arm or a leg for repairs. See: https://www.reddit.com/r/SkoolieMarketplace/comments/816de2/discussionopinionwhy_you_should_think_carefully/
- Find out beforehand how fussy your state/provincial Motor Vehicle Agency is going to be to flip the title and registration. This is, of course, for non converted purchases.
- Check to see if your state has a one-way-trip temporary tag.
- Once Bus is selected, but before plopping down the cash, have the VIN ready for the insurance company to pre-plan insurance. Insurance can be a massive pain, but RV or Commercial can help! If your bus is already converted, just say it is an RV (as long as it hits the RV requirements such as bath/kitchen/water/bed). If your bus is not converted yet, you may have to jump through some hoops. My underwriter needed pictures of my conversion. Some don't require that.
- Check the underbody!
- JaberJaw1978 says about Front or rear (pusher) buses in bad weather or mud: In snow and mud front engines busses steer better and rear engines push better. They all do horrible in heavy mud. If you going to do alot of snow and dirt, get a bus with the auto chain system. You will find this on northern or mountain busses. The front engine bus is the easiest to repair but the rear engine busses do best in the mountains.
- What's the difference in an e-350 and an e-450? If you want to haul more gear, e450. Gonna keep it light? E350. It's the ratio, how many revolutions the axle makes. "The 4.10 axle means that for each 4.1 revolutions of the drive shaft the wheels will rotate once. On the 4.56 axle, it means that the drive shaft will rotate 4.56 time for each rotation of the wheels. So with the 4.56, there are more engine revolutions per mile and it will use more gas. BUT if you are in hills or towing something, the 4.56 will be the one you want. It lets the engine rev up and develop power in it's power range. If you will be in flat lands all of the time and want slightly better fuel economy...the 4.10 is the way to go. The 4.56 will turn the engine about 11% faster for a given speed. If you are running in hills or heavily loaded, you can get better fuel economy with the 4.56 than with the 4.10"
- SEAT BELTS SEAT BELTS SEAT BELTS. https://rvshare.com/blog/things-need-know-rv-seat-belt-laws/ KNow them laws for your state, country, or planet.
Taken and adapted from crazycal's awesome post:
And adapted from /u/CascadesDad here:
And from readers like you!