How heavy is a school bus in tons? (examples included)

In this article, we will answer the following question: How heavy is a school bus in tons? We will give you some descriptive examples of how much a Skoolie can weigh, we will also discuss what are the best vehicles to tow a school bus. 

How heavy is a school bus in tons?

A school bus weighs on average 12,9 tons. How heavy a school bus is, depends on the class or type of school bus it is. As School Transportation News points out, buses range from Type A, the smallest that carries fewer passengers, to Type D, the largest bus, which carries the most passengers, as you will see in the table below. 

School buses weigh in tons

Class or type of school busWeight in tons
A1Less than 5 tons
A2Around 7 tons
BBetween 7 and 9 tons
CBetween 11 and 15 tons
DBetween 12.5 and 17.5 tons

School buses weight examples

School Bus ModelEstimated GVWR in tons
Chevrolet Collins6 tons
Chevrolet Thomas6.15 tons
2000-2002 GMC Bluebird11 tons
2002-2005 GMC Bluebird13.53 tons
Freightliner Thomas14.5 tons
Thomas Saf-T-Liner EF16.5 tons
Thomas HDX RE17.67 tons

On a daily basis, the driver uses a bulky and heavy vehicle on the road. Besides the weight of the Skoolie, it is important to know the size of the school bus, especially in difficult situations (crossing, overtaking, obstacles, starting on a hill, etc.

How long is a school bus?

  • Body length 23 ft (7 m). 
  • Overall with front 28 ft (8.5 m). 
  • Interior height 73 in (1.85 m). 
  • 8 rows of benches.

How wide is a bus?

Their length varies between 8 meters and 10 meters; their width is less than 2.55 m. It is designed to carry between 30 and 80 passengers, and therefore for urban lines with medium or low traffic or circulating in narrow streets (hyper-centre, historic city centre, etc.).

What vehicles can tow a school bus?

And now, to the most interesting question: what car is capable of towing over 12.9 tons? Here are a few good examples:

  • Ford F-350: with a towing capacity of 8 tons (when properly equipped), could tow small Skoolies like type A1, A2 and some B models.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500 6.0-litre V8 – 7,25 tons: better for A1 and A2 Skoolies.
  • Ram 2500 6.4-litre V8 – 8,77 tons:  A1, A2 and some B Skoolies.
  • 6.7-liter Ram 3500 I6 – 18.55 tons: can tow almost any type of Skoolie.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500 6.6-litre V8 – 8.6 tons: A1, A2 and some B Skoolies.
  • And our personal favourite, the 2019 GMC Sierra HD: A beast capable of pulling more than 13.6 tons. 

Best option: Heavy-duty trucks can easily tow a Skoolie

Heavy trucks are the ones you want to have for the tough jobs. These trucks have high-powered engines, as well as reinforced chassis. A heavy truck offers the maximum towing capacity and payload.

If you are looking to tow a large trailer or haul heavy cargo, you will want to get a heavy-duty pickup. Popular heavy duty models include:

  • Ford Super Duty
  • Chevrolet Silverado HD

These generally cost between $ 25,000 and up to $ 60,000. It all depends on the features you want to include.

Advice for towing a Skoolie

Towing a Skoolie requires a little knowledge of how to properly connect the school bus to the vehicle. A trailer of this size and weight changes the braking and handling characteristics of the tow vehicle. An experienced driver understands how to adjust his driving style to compensate for the reduction in vehicle performance. 

Someone new to tow should exercise in an empty parking lot or on a quiet country street before heading out on a long road trip. 

Towing Capacity and Skoolie Weight

Choosing a vehicle that is capable of towing the mass of the Skoolie is important for an accident-free trip. Each vehicle is rated by its manufacture for its maximum towing capacity. This information is in the owner’s manual. 

The weight of the school bus is usually printed on the nameplate affixed to its frame. The information appears under the gross trailer weight. To determine if your vehicle can tow the bus, you need to add the weight of the trailer to the mass of the load the trailer is carrying. The result must be less than the towing capacity of the vehicle.

Connecting the Skoolie

Properly connecting the Skoolie to the tow vehicle ensures that it will not be disconnected while driving. The coupler and the vehicle hitch must be the same size. For example, a coupler designed for a 2-inch hitch ball should be used with a ball of this exact size. 

If the two don’t match, the hitch ball can easily be replaced. Trailer chains must cross below the vehicle/trailer connection. This is intended to grasp the tongue of the trailer should they be separated, provided the driver’s enough time to get the vehicle safely to the side of the road.

Checking Skoolie lights

A basic trailer light system consisting of brake signal and position lights is required by law. These systems have a tendency to fail due to their exposure to the elements. It is good practice to check the trailer lights for proper operation before each trip.

Adjust your speed when towing a Skoolie

Drive much slower when towing a converted school bus. The weight of the Skoolie significantly reduces the braking performance of the towing vehicle. By reducing overall momentum, you mitigate the risks of having less stopping power. Provide additional braking space for the vehicle in front of you and pay special attention to the vehicles around you.

The extra length of a 40-foot camper adds to the towing vehicle requiring a different cornering technique. Corner at reduced speeds to prevent the vehicle and camper from tipping over. The bus also has a tendency to cut into the inside of the curve, possibly riding on the curb. 

To avoid this, approach the corner with the vehicle on the outside of the lane. Steer the widest vehicle around the corner and exit on the outside of the new lane. For the safety of other drivers, you must continue to maintain your lane when cornering wider than normal.

Driving and towing a Skoolie in windy conditions

Wind causes a Skoolie to sway your lane. The driver’s natural reaction is to compensate by turning the wheel into the wind. This can actually cause the vehicle to roll over due to the centrifugal force generated by the spin. 

The only safe way to drive in windy conditions is to slow down. In windy conditions, pull the vehicle into a rest stop and wait for time to pass.

Conclusions

Whether preparing a trip for a long or a short stay, your Skoolie must be subject to regular checks and optimal maintenance to avoid any technical problems on the roads. In this way, passengers and the driver can fully enjoy their journey in great comfort. 

In addition to the usual checks, follow our tips before going on an adventure and make sure you take all the necessary precautions!

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions on how to safely tow a Skoolie? Let us know!

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