How to Buy A Bus

What to ask if you’re considering buying a used school bus

If you’re in the market for a used school bus, you likely have a lot of questions. Are used school buses safe? How do you shop for a bus? What size school bus do you need? Who can drive a school bus?

At Carolina Bus Sales and Service, our friendly owners are happy to answer all of your questions. Please contact us any time, or you can read below some common questions and answers about how to buy a used bus and what to look for in used buses.

Questions to ask to help you find the right used bus

How many people will you transport? Who will ride the bus?

Start your bus search by determining how many people you need to transport. Also, will these be students or adults? The number and type of passengers will greatly affect which bus you need.

Will you be transporting children?

If you are considering a smaller bus for your organization, another important factor is the use of a Multi-Function School Activity Bus (MFSAB), or school bus to transport children. Many people are under the misconception that any bus is safe for the transportation of children. However, many states have strict rules against the use of shuttle-type buses or vans in the transportation of children.

There are labels inside of the bus to state the bus’s intended use. There are also labels in most buses that state the original design composition of the bus and number of passengers allowed. Seats should never be removed to convert it into a 15 passenger. Always ask about the bus’s use and original design before purchasing.

Who will be driving the bus?

Any bus, no matter the size, will have certain requirements on its drivers, such as Federal DOT Inspections. The drivers are required to obtain and keep current a DOT Medical Card. Additionally, commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements for bus drivers are as follows:

  • Any bus 15-Passenger and smaller does not require a Federal Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
  • Any bus over 15 Passengers requires a driver with a CDL with passenger endorsement.
  • Any bus over 26,000lbs requires a driver with a CDL with weight requirement.
  • Any bus with Air Brakes requires a driver with a CDL with Air Brake Endorsement.

Before you buy a used bus, know what kind of drivers you have available (or will be able to hire) so that you know what kind of bus they can legally drive.

How big should the bus be? Do I need a single rear wheel or dual rear wheel bus?

Another decision when looking for a smaller bus is dual rear wheel vs. single rear wheel. They both have pros and cons. Single rear wheel buses are more readily available and are good for the transportation of younger children. Many drivers feel less intimidated driving single rear wheel buses because the buses are narrow with lower head room. Single rear wheel buses are often slightly cheaper. On the other hand, they may not feel as stable when driven as a dual rear wheel bus. Dual rear wheel MFSAB are the most desirable and hardest-to-find buses on the market today. Their versatility for most organizations tends to drive the price up considerably.

Smaller used buses have a few different powertrain options to choose from. The Chevrolet gas 6.0 liter is the most common in the area due to the durability and ease of repair. The 6.6-liter Chevrolet diesel and the 6.0-liter Ford diesel are also viable options. They are more costly to repair but tend to have a significantly long lifespan if well maintained.

Higher capacity used school buses and activity buses are very serious investments due to the higher maintenance cost of owning a larger vehicle. There are several engine configurations that have maintained a good reputation through the years in the used school bus market (e.g., the International DT466 and Cummins Series, to name a few).

What kind of brakes should a used bus have?

Buses come with air brakes or hydraulic brakes. In our opinion, while hydraulic brakes are sufficient for most buses, air brakes are the best option due to their stopping power and ease of maintenance.

Should I pay for air conditioning on a used school bus?

Air conditioning (A/C) systems have become more common in the used bus market for both MFSAB and large buses. Although A/C systems have obvious comfort advantages, they can be costly to maintain and must be kept in peak operation to perform well. So, you’ll need to weigh comfort and health (do you have young children riding in August?) vs. up-front and ongoing cost when making the final decision on A/C units.

What’s the best way to buy a used bus?

As a family-owned and family-run business, we always like to talk to our customers on the phone or in person. We’re happy to answer all of your questions!

There are several ways to purchase a bus here at Carolina Bus Sales and Service LLC. We are always humbled by our repeat customers. Many of them put their faith and trust in us to purchase our buses sight unseen, upon our evaluation and delivery. Of course, we always recommend the best option of checking the bus out on location (we are located in Chesnee, Spartanburg County, S.C.), where you can look them over and take a test drive.

In either situation, we always do our best to accommodate our customers’ needs. We are here to get you there!

Contact CBS Today


We are very satisfied with their work. They are timely and provide good service. We can count on them to keep our kids safe. It’s good to have someone we can trust. I have nothing negative to say about them and would recommend them to others. They haven’t left us on the roadside yet!!!

Daniel Godfrey, Pastor of Arrowwood Baptist Church, Chesnee, SC



Have a question or interested in purchasing a bus? Call us at 864-461-7088 or email us using the form below, or simply drop by our office. We’d be glad to talk with you and help you find the right used school bus for your needs.

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