Your business slowed down – or even shut down – during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means your buses sat aimlessly for months. You might be worried about finances, your drivers, your staff. All these things are understandable. But now is not the time to neglect maintenance of your buses.
While it may mean spending more upfront than you’d like, you’ll most certainly save money in the long run.
Rodney Preusse, a diesel mechanic consultant with On Your Mark Transportation, said businesses who took their buses for short drives and checked all the systems during the shutdown are ahead of the curve.
Simply put, “when vehicles sit, they break down,” Preusse said.
Vehicles are designed to be on the road, he said. When they sit idly in different weather, they tend to shut down.
Bus maintenance begins with an inspection
If you weren’t able to run your buses during the shutdown, there are some things you can do now to ensure your equipment runs smoothly once back on the road.
“Now that we’re here and businesses are starting to get back into service, if they were my busses, I’d do a full PMI (preventive maintenance inspection) that would exceed what the DOT looks at,” Preusse said. “Send in an oil analysis. Inspect every bus like it’s due for an inspection.”
Not doing these things now will only mean bigger problems later, Preusse said.
“Freon leaks out when busses sit. Seals on air conditioning compressors dry out. Batteries die and electrical systems corrode. Nature will just tear down the bus. If you don’t inspect them now, there’s a good chance you’ll be driving a bus on a hot fall day and realize you don’t have air conditioning. Things like that.”
And one problem can quickly escalate to several more problems, Preusse explained.“A penny spent wisely in maintenance will save you money down the road,” he said.
What to inspect when buying a used bus
Another ripple effect of the pandemic is an influx of used buses on the market. And while purchasing a used vehicle may seem the most cost-effective idea given these times, be careful as you go through the purchasing process, Preusse said.
On Your Mark Transportation CEO Mark Szyperski said that while a business owner can buy a used bus sight unseen, it’s smart to have someone with a strong mechanical background inspect them first.
“They can send their own mechanic if they have one. But then they are taking a mechanic out of their own shop – when they are especially needed right now – to travel and see a bus possibly across the country,” Szyperski said. “Or they can hire a consultant with experience like Rodney. He can travel and inspect the bus and give a written report. That will allow the owner to keep their own mechanic at home, and still have trained eyes looking at the bus.”
Many smaller companies don’t have their own mechanic, Preusse explained. If they do, they might not have the experience or qualifications to know what to look out for when purchasing a used bus.
“There’s nothing worse than going out and listening to a slick salesman and coming back with a piece of junk,” he said.
Preusse compared shopping for a bus to purchasing a home. You wouldn’t buy a house without a proper inspection, right?
“You’d pay for an inspector to come through and warn you of any problems beforehand,” he said. “Then you’d talk to the owner and have things fixed or the price reduced.”
Setting up a bus maintenance program
On Your Mark Transportation, LLC can help you through the process. Preusse can be hired to travel and inspect the equipment for you. He’s also available to work with your mechanic to help train them on a new-to-you bus or help you set up a maintenance program for your buses.
“We can help get your mechanic comfortable with the bus, orientate them on the bus and who to talk to about different aspects of that particular bus’s maintenance. We want to help you cross the bridge to being successful,” Preusse said.
On Your Mark Transportation LLC is a consulting firm to the ground passenger transportation industry.
Rodney Preusse has an extensive background in diesel mechanics. He was a senior mechanic for FedEx, and spent years with St. Cloud Trailways and ABC Companies and Van Hool.
This article was written by Amy Nixon, who writes press releases and blog content for their clients. With experience in transit, school bus, luxury transportation and motorcoaches, OYMT can bring a full range of extra services to an organization. Contact them at OnYourMarkTransportation.com or 615.669.0107.