Fluids, tires, A/C, oh my!
When it comes to getting your church bus road-trip ready, these are just a few items among a large list of things you’ll want to make sure are in good working condition before you and your church family hit the road.
Check out our six tips for getting your church bus ready for its next road trip.
Tip 1: Use a Bus Maintenance Binder
Most likely, you have more than one driver who will be driving your church bus. Because the entire church community uses the bus at different times, there sometimes isn’t one collector of information when it comes to taking note of things like a burned out taillight, improper functioning of a window, or low tire pressure.
Keeping a binder in the bus at all times and having your driver report on any issues or needs after each trip taken is a good way to keep everyone who uses the bus on the same page, and to ensure things are taken care of ahead of time, on a nonemergency basis.
Tip 2: Get an Annual Inspection
Don’t wait until you need your bus for a trip to get an inspection. Plan ahead by scheduling an appointment in the off-season so you have time to address any major concerns before the bus needs to be driven again.
For example, we schedule many buses through our detailed 113-point, used-bus inspection, treating it as if it were our own bus. If this is done routinely and kept in the bus’s binder, you can catch things before they become a problem and prevent major issues.
Tip 3: Routinely Check Rubber Components
Church buses traditionally sit outside in the direct sun and other harmful elements, which can be hard on equipment. All the rubber components bake in the hot sun and freeze in the cold weather and then are expected to rise up and carry us to our next trip at a moment’s notice.
Are all of the tires properly inflated? Are the tires wearing evenly? Is there any evidence of a rainwater leak from a dried window seal? What is the condition of the hoses inside the engine compartment and when is the last time they were changed? These answers should be listed in your bus’s binder.
Buses stranded on the side of the road in the 100-degree heat have commonly had the tires and/or engine hoses neglected. All of this can be taken care of and monitored in the annual used bus inspection. Note: The tires should be checked to ensure they are fully inflated before every trip.
Tip 4: Maintain Engine Fluid Levels
Engine fluids are extremely important. They are there for a specific reason and serve a special purpose, much like your church! These fluids are invisible to you, just like many things in our faith, but even so, they have to be maintained and nurtured.
Imagine it is 100 degrees outside and then the engine is several hundred degrees as it works to carry you on your mission. All of the fluids carry away the heat to keep you on the road.
Tip 5: Don’t Forget About the Air Conditioning
Air conditioning is critical in today’s warm-weather environments. Each bus’s air conditioning system is very specific and encompasses certain components which all need to be functioning properly to effectively cool your bus.
Sometimes, after hoses, lines, and fluids have remained stationary for long periods of time in the heat and cold, they may have trouble bouncing right back into action.
Simple checks of the pressures as part of your annual inspection can avoid the uncomfortableness of your church members having to take a trip with all the windows open because the AC isn’t working.
Tip 6: Keep the Driver’s Compartment Pristine
When it comes to the safety and respect of all passengers aboard your church bus, the driver is their go-to person.
In order to ensure the driver can easily see and access all he or she may need while in the driver’s seat, it’s imperative that you work to keep the driver’s compartment clean and uncluttered.
Drivers need to address these questions before ever leaving the parking lot:
* Do all my controls work properly?
* Am I familiar with where all controls are located so I don’t have to take my eyes off the road to search for them?
* Are my mirrors correctly adjusted and locked to give me the best possible visibility?
* Have I walked around the bus and inspected each light and tire to make sure everything is in good working condition?
This information is courtesy of Carolina Thomas, a premier full-service bus dealer, offering a complete line of new and used bus sales, service, parts and body shop services to meet all of group transportation needs, www.carolinathomas.com.