Basics of School Bus Preventative Maintenance

Basics of School Bus Preventative Maintenance

When it comes to keeping school buses running safely and efficiently, preventative maintenance is key. In addition to daily inspections of the buses for any malfunctions or damage, schools should also be scheduling more thorough inspections on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. This ensures that any small issues are identified and fixed before they become bigger problems down the line. Regular inspections also ensure that buses are less likely to break down and have to be taken out of service, which can cause delays in students’ arrival times or even require them to be transported by other means. 

Additionally, preventative maintenance helps reduce the cost of repair bills due to unexpected breakdowns. Ultimately, regular maintenance helps keep school buses running safely and efficiently, while also reducing the the impact on school budgets. By staying proactive and performing regular inspections of their buses, schools can ensure that their transportation services are reliable and cost-effective. Keep reading for a full list of what should be inspected periodically.

1. Check the lights and the horns.

While all lights can be tested visually every time a bus takes a trip, it is important to inspect them more closely on a regular basis as well. Lights and horns should be tested thoroughly at least twice per month to ensure that they are functioning properly. Additionally, it is important to check the lights for any signs of damage or malfunctioning bulbs, as bulbs that go out during a trip can be a hazard. Horns should also be tested monthly to make sure they are loud enough and in good working order.

2. Clean all air filters monthly.

Properly functioning air filters help keep the engine running smoothly, so make sure to clean or replace them on a regular basis. Also, check for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Cleaning air filters can improve the safety and efficiency of your school buses, and ultimately helps to reduce the cost of repair bills.

3. Check fluids and replace as needed.

Checking and replacing various fluids is essential for the safety of your school buses. Oil levels should be checked often and changed at least twice per year, or every 5,000 miles. Transmission fluid should also be inspected monthly, as well. Depending on the type of bus, it might need to be changed every 30,000 miles or once a year. Brake fluid, coolant, and power steering fluids should also be changed regularly. Refer to the owners manual for the exact change frequency and instructions. Finally, keep an eye on wiper fluid levels, as they tend to get used up quickly during rainy or cold weather. Filling up the reservoir regularly ensures that drivers will always have a clear view of their surroundings when driving children to and from school.

4. Check other engine parts and functionality.

Inspections of seals, valves, vents, tubes, filters and wires should be performed frequently to make sure that all bus's engines are running properly, as well. Additionally, it is essential to check electrical connections such as plugs and terminals on a regular basis. When inspecting these components and parts of your school buses' engines, keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear. If any of these engine parts are not working properly, this can cause engine failure and put passengers at risk.

For all inspections, it is essential to have a qualified mechanic perform the job correctly. A professional will be able to identify problems quickly and accurately, ensuring that your buses remain safe and efficient, especially when it comes to the engine. By staying proactive with engine inspections and maintenance, you can keep your school buses running like new for longer.

5. Check other miscellaneous mechanical components.

While checking the engine, it is also important to check on the performance of other mechanical components, which include gauges, pedals, meters, and gears. Each of these components should be checked monthly or bi-monthly, depending on the exact part. A qualified mechanic will understand your district's bus models and know when to inspect these important pieces. If any mechanical components are running abnormally or if there is a decrease in performance, it is best to have them repaired as soon as possible.

6. Test brakes.

This is one of the most important bus maintenance tasks that should be performed on a regular basis. Thorough brake inspections should be completed every month to make sure that brakes are functioning correctly, and that there is no wear or damage to any of these parts. Furthermore, check the rotors for signs of thinning or warping as this can be dangerous. Additionally, inspect brake pads and shoes for any signs of wear and tear or damage. If they need to be replaced, it should be done as soon as possible. Calipers and other brake components should be checked at least once per year, or as needed depending on the type of vehicle and its usage.

It is also important to remember that brakes are only effective when they are in good condition. Therefore, it’s essential to have regular brake checks done in order to keep your buses in safe condition and to prevent any accidents. Not only is it important for the safety of your passengers, but regular brake inspections can also help you save money in the long run.

7. Check the wheels and tires.

It is also important to check wheels and tires regularly. Tires should be inspected for wear and tear, as well as any abnormalities that could affect their performance. Check the tread depth of each tire with a deep gauge, and look for any signs of cracking or bulging that might indicate damage. Additionally, make sure that wheels are properly aligned and balanced. wheels should also be checked for signs of wear and tear, as well as any cracks or other abnormalities that could affect their performance.

If any wheels or tires appear to be damaged, they should be replaced immediately. This is especially important when dealing with school buses, as any defects in wheels or tires can put passengers at risk.

8. Check other miscellaneous exterior components.

It is also important to regularly check the exterior of your school buses. Make sure to inspect mirrors, wipers, and exterior paint for any signs of damage or wear. Replace any broken or worn-out parts as soon as possible to maintain the exterior condition in top shape. When it comes to exterior maintenance, keeping up with regular checks ensures that your buses remain in peak condition for as long as they can.

9. Check interior.

Cleaning and checking the interior of your buses is also a crucial part of preventative maintenance. Make sure to check around and under seats for any potential hazards, such as food wrappers or paper. Vacuuming out the floors and dusting off surfaces will also help keep the interior clean, which can improve air quality inside the bus. Additionally, use a disinfectant to clean surfaces regularly, particularly if there are children with allergies or respiratory issues on board. Finally, make sure to check interior components such as seatbelts, interior lighting and air conditioning for proper functioning. All of these interior maintenance tasks should be completed once every thirty days or more frequently depending on usage.

10. Check for emergency and safety equipment.

Lastly, it is important to check all of the emergency and safety equipment that is in each bus. These include fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and other safety devices. Make sure that all of these pieces are in working order and up to date with their expiration dates. Check for any signs of damage or wear and replace any items as needed. Additionally, make sure to check the emergency exits and other safety components. All of these items should be inspected at least once per month, or more frequently depending on usage.

Completing these ten tenets of preventative maintenance is essential for both optimal performance and safety and efficiency of your fleet. While it may feel overwhelming to track and ensure that all these maintenance tasks are being performed on the proper schedule, EZDistrict can help. By utilizing this comprehensive fleet and trip management software, you can easily stay on top of preventative maintenance and get alerts when items should be inspected or replaced for each bus. This helps to take the worry and guesswork out of bus maintenance, leaving transportation departments more time to focus on routing, hiring, and everything else that comes into play when transporting students.

By following a strict routine of preventative maintenance, you can ensure that your school buses are safe and in top condition. Regular inspections will help to identify any potential hazards before they become an issue and allow you to keep your fleet up-to-date and running smoothly. With EZDistrict, fleet management has never been easier. Contact us today for more information on how we can help simplify bus maintenance for your school district!