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Jul 20, 2020


Schools aren’t the only things that need to be ready as we begin to think about re-opening in the fall.  The buses that take your kids to and from need a good once over, too!  Here are some tips from Thomas Built Buses to help you ease your fleet back into service when the time comes.

FIRST: Change oil after an extended shutdown

An engine in storage for an extended period of time (during a pandemic, for example) may accumulate water in the oil pan. Oil diluted by water cannot provide adequate bearing protection at start-up. For this reason, change the engine oil and filters after extended storage.

Perform the following steps after an oil change or after the engine has been shut down for more than three days:

  1. Make sure the transmission is filled with the correct type of fluid, as recommended by the transmission manufacturer.

  2. Make sure the fuel tank is full. If air has entered the fuel system, prime the fuel system, using the engine manufacturer’s instructions.

  3. If the engine is equipped with a fuel/water separator, drain off any accumulated water.

  4. Check the drive belts to make sure they are in good condition and properly adjusted. Replace any drive belts that are cracked, worn, or glazed.

  5. Check the turbocharger for signs of oil or ex­haust leaks. Correct any problems before starting the engine.

  6. Check the engine mounting bolts for tightness. Retighten them if necessary.

  7. Make sure the battery cable connections are clean and tight. Check that the batteries are charged.

Once an engine is placed in service, the responsibility for meeting both state and local regulations is with the owner/operator. Good operating practices, regular maintenance, and correct adjustments are factors that will help to stay within the regulations.

Adequate maintenance of the engine, which is the responsibility of the owner/operator, is also essential to keep the emission levels low.

The driver should be familiar with the vehicle warning system in order to bring the vehicle to a safe stop if the engine malfunctions. If the driver doesn’t understand how the warning system works, an engine shutdown could occur, causing a safety hazard. Refer to your owner’s manual for information on the control panel for your engines.

Stop the engine at the first sign of malfunction. Almost all malfunctions give some warning to the operator before significant damage occurs. Many engines are saved because alert operators heed the warning signs (sudden drop in oil pressure, unusual noises, etc.) and immediately shut down the engine.

Tips for drivers

Now that you’ve got the bus ready for the road, here are some useful tips for ensuring a long life and smooth operation for your bus.

  • Diesel engines are designed to operate successfully at full throttle under transient conditions down to rated rpm. This is consistent with recommended operating practices.

  • Depending on the vehicle gearing, the posted speed limit can sometimes allow operation in either of the top two gears; however, for improved operating efficiency (fuel economy and engine life), operate in the top gear at reduced rpm rather than in the next lower gear at the maximum rpm.

  • Cruise at partial throttle whenever road conditions and speed requirements permit. This driving technique permits operating within the most economical power range of the engine.

  • When approaching a hill, open the throttle smoothly to start the upgrade at full power, then shift down as desired to maintain the optimum vehicle speed. The high torque of diesel engines may permit topping some grades without shifting.



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