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Five Ways to Maximize the Resale Value of Your School Buses

How do you maximize the resale value of your school buses? Here are five tips to consider.


One way to further reduce the total cost of ownership of your school bus fleet is to consider selling your school buses at the end of their term. The market for used school buses is growing, especially among churches, day care centers, exporters and even other school districts that cannot afford new school buses. But even with a growing market, a high resale value isn’t guaranteed. So how do you maximize the resale value of your school buses? Here are a few tips to consider:

  1. Consider top resale features when you are buying new school buses

  2. Carefully weigh your fuel options

  3. Buy a quality bus to begin with

  4. Maintain your school buses – both inside and out

  5. Consider the optimal age for resale


Consider top resale features when you are buying new school buses.

Ironically, the best time to think about the resale value of your school buses is when you are spec’ing your brand-new school buses. During this time, it’s important to think not only about what features you would like to see on your new school buses, but features that may be appealing to future buyers.

With safety and state-of-the-art features at the top of buyer’s wish lists, consider spec’ing features that will enhance a school bus’ safety and add just a little extra buyer interest. Consider features like onboard WiFi or safety features such as electronic stability control, collision avoidance warnings, fire-blocking seating materials or even seatbelts. New features that you are excited about introducing to your own school district will also be appealing to future buyers.

Carefully weigh your fuel options.

While there are a number of fuel choices to choose from, clean-diesel school buses are still the most sought-after in the new and resale markets.

Clean-diesel is much cleaner that is was in the past. In fact, clean-diesel is 90 percent cleaner at the tailpipe than it was in 2006 and comparable to or even cleaner than other fuels types, based on EPA regulated emissions standards. Plus, with advances in engine technology, aftertreatment issues are becoming a thing of the past.

Clean-diesel engines remain proven, efficient and provide the lowest total cost of ownership over the lifecycle of a bus when all factors are considered. Most important for the resale market, clean-diesel engines are durable and are built to run 15 to 20 years or more. That’s why there is such a large resale market and they have strong resale value. Buyers know they can trust and rely on diesel school buses.

Propane, gasoline and compressed natural gas school buses cannot be sold as easily because a large resale market just doesn’t exist for other fuel types. Buyers in the resale market don’t necessarily want to worry about new fueling infrastructure, additional technician and driver training, or running school buses that may need engine replacements in a few years. So, when considering the fuel option for your next school bus purchase, consider a fuel type with a large resale opportunity on the back-end.

Buy a quality bus to begin with.

Durability is what the resale market is looking for. Anyone buying a used school bus wants the peace of mind that their new purchase will last for years to come without large maintenance investments. They are looking for a reliable engine with many more miles left on it, and body and components that will still provide value for many more years to come.

All brand-new school buses may look like quality investments. But 10 to 15 years down the road, you may start to see variations in the fit, finish, durability and even structure among the various makes and models on your lot. And you may see huge holes in your maintenance budget, eaten away by extensive maintenance on one particular type of bus, while the rest of your fleet requires minimal maintenance.

All school buses are not alike. While all must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, not all school buses are built with the same quality, reliability and durability standards. That’s why when you buy a new school bus, it is important to partner with school bus manufacturers known for building quality, dependable and durable products.

Thomas Built’s Saf-T-Liner C2® school buses are built with revolutionary features such as Saf-T-Net construction with side skirt reinforcement, extended roof bows, welded header and rafter system, double-bolted body mounting clips, one-piece bonded windshield and Saf-T-Bond adhesive joints. Plus, added features like telematics, targeted corrosion protection and multiplex wiring that are all standard and factory-installed.

What does all of this mean?  It means that manufacturers like Thomas Built Buses invest in state-of-the-art features that will ensure that you have a quality bus that will last well beyond the years in your fleet.

Features like this ensure that your school bus will last and remain reliable and durable for second-owners. And that will only increase its value in the resale market.

Maintain your school buses – both inside and out.

As with buying a car, used school bus customers are looking for good-looking school buses that have been properly maintained. And maintenance of the interior and exterior of the bus is just as important as maintenance of the engine and transmission.

Keep the exterior of your buses cleaned and waxed to preserve the finish. Also consider proper corrosion protection to protect the body, underbody and components on your school buses if you are in an area that uses salt to deal with snow/ice. Keep the interior clean and maintained, especially the floor and seats.

Follow your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and tackle maintenance issues when they arise, before they become larger issues. By just following these basic maintenance protocols, you’ll be protecting your investment and ensuring a higher resale down the road.

Consider the optimal age for resale.

School buses with only one to five years of wear can more easily be sold to other schools at a higher price. While school buses 10 to 15 years old are more often sold to churches, day care centers, exporters or are sold for scrap at a lower price.

The optimal time to sell a used school bus varies for every school district. Consider your maintenance costs, need for new, state-of-the-art safety features, and the overall age of your fleet. For some districts, a short-term bus replacement schedule makes more sense. For others, the higher resale value may not be worth the value of keeping a school bus 10 to 15 years. Weigh the pros and cons, and consider the optimal replacement age for your school bus fleet.

If you are considering the resale of some of your older school buses, talk to your local dealer about your options. Many school bus dealers will assist with the sale of buses or even offer a buy-back program.

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