How long can a Skoolie last? (9+ facts)

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: How long can a Skoolie last? We will explain what impacts the lifespan of a Skoolie. We will also share 10 well or less known facts about converting and owning a Skoolie. 

How long can a Skoolie last?

A properly kept Skoolie can last for a very long time but in truth, a Skoolie engine will not last more than 20 years or 250,000 miles (that if it is maintained and treated with care). You must take this timeline into consideration when buying and converting a school bus. 

In rare cases, the Skoolie engines will not even get to seven years, as the causes of wear and breakdowns are plenty. As the Skoolie engines were equipped with new components over the years, new failures related to these parts appeared. In rare cases, drivers have even witnessed the breakage of these parts. 

Frequent breakdowns in diesel school bus engines today include:

  • The injection pump,
  • The injectors,
  • The EGR valve,
  • The particulate filter, however essential to reduce the number of fine particles emitted in the exhaust.
  • The turbo, which tends to clog and is one of the common causes of engine failure.
  • The dual-mass flywheel, a transmission part commonly found on diesel models and known to break more often than rigid flywheels.

However, it must be admitted that manufacturers now master the design of these parts. While faults can still be observed on certain ranges, the fouling and breakage of engine parts are on the whole less numerous.

How can you increase the lifespan of a Skoolie?

To increase the lifespan of a Skoolie you must maintain it well. Special care must be accorded to the engine, especially if you plan on travelling many miles in your “brand new” Skoolie. 

  1. Refer to the maintenance book for your Skoolie. This mentions the frequency of the tasks (such as oil change, for example, which must be carried out every 15,000 miles on average).
  1. Replace the worn parts: Elements such as the oil filter or the timing belt influence a vehicle’s fuel consumption, but also its durability.
  1. For a used Skoolie, choose manufacturer parts, in particular for your engine parts. These are more expensive but are generally more enduring.
  1. Let your Skoolie warm up slowly. When warm, the engine oil will be more fluid and will do its job better.

10 truths to know before buying a Skoolie

  1. You must have a plan: Just looking for a bus to convert can be overwhelming for many, so you must have a plan in mind. What size/model/year of manufacture are you looking for? What budget do you have? Get prepared, learn how to adapt and recognize the signs of overwhelming. Converting a bus is not an easy task. 
  1. You’ll be needing more equipment than you may think: screws, nails, hardware, materials – just do yourself a favour and buy more from the start so you don’t end up running back and forth to the hardware store. 
  1. Blogs and Youtube are your allies: Articles like this and helpful youtube videos will be your friends in the process of converting a school bus, but also when you already own one. As discussed, it is perfectly normal to get overwhelmed, so feel free to check our blog for more tips on Skoolie life. 
  1. A Skoolie may now necessarily be the right choice for everybody: There is this belief that if you have enough time and money,  you can do pretty much anything, but this is not always the case, especially when it comes to converting a bus. We have written several articles on how long it takes to convert a Skoolie, how much it costs and all sorts of other details. Check them out. 
  1. You will need space for your Skoolie: You actually need some space to do the conversion, which is totally common sense but, at the same time, there are a lot of neighbourhoods, there are a lot of cities and municipalities that have HOAs or regulations or code enforcement that’s very strict on what kind of vehicle ( if you can park) in front of a house; how long they can be there, and so on. 
  1. You will have to deal with a lot of paperwork: Getting a school bus is a chore, and all components of it are also a chore. You have to think about how you will get the school bus home; how do you get a license plate for it; how do you change your tag type or your title type; how do you get insurance for it. All of these are separate problems and they take a while to figure out. 
  1. Maintenance is the key to a long Skoolie lifespan: Most second-hand school buses have been retired, and they’ve been retired for a reason. Usually, it is because they are old and it is difficult to find spare parts for them or it isn’t financially wise to keep repairing them. So keep this in mind when buying a second-hand school bus!
  1. Check the condition of the wheels and tires: If you have to change the tires, it’s a budget to plan, count at least $ 600 per tire … Or at least $ 3,600 to replace everything. 

Check the depth of the tread grooves, the tire sidewall, the condition of the valves, etc. If there is rust on the wheel bolts it is not a good sign, it is that they are loose. Also, check that the hub is not leaking and that the tire does not touch any fixed part of the vehicle.

  1. Choose carefully the engine of your Skoolie: You should also know that diesel engines are the norm, it is rarer to find gasoline engines. And LPG or GPL (propane) will cost you a fortune for a road trip and you can’t find it everywhere! The advantage of diesel is that it is always found ubiquitously. 
  1. Rust is the main enemy of school bus conversions: From the words of all the transport professionals we have consulted, rust is by far the biggest problem on buses. Rust attacks the chassis and this is the only part that cannot be replaced. It really is the backbone of the bus. If the chassis breaks, it’s the end of your bus! So put on your overalls and really take a look under the bus for the inspection.

In school buses 12 years and older, it’s going to be difficult to find a completely rust-free model. Our task will be to determine whether this is surface rust, benign and catch-up, or rust that has already started to eat away at the structure.

Conclusions

How long your Skoolie will last will mainly depend on you as a driver. As we have already established in this article, how well you maintain and store your bus will greatly affect its durability. 

When checking if a bus is still good to drive, you can go over the nine tests mentioned above to make sure that you are safe on the road. 

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please feel free to share them with our other readers!

FAQ on How long can a Skoolie last?

How many miles is too much for a used bus?

250,000 miles are considered too much for a used bus. Of course, there are buses that have less than 12 years on the market, many more miles on the meter and still go well. It all depends on the condition of the vehicle, so make sure regular maintenance is on your calendar. 

​​What is the lifespan of a bus?

The lifespan of a school bus is 425,300 miles, an amount that, when divided by the average of 41, 7000 miles of travel per year, a bus yields a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. This is an estimate, however, as the real lifespan of a bus will depend on several factors.

What is the oldest bus?

The oldest bus would be horse-drawn buses that were popular in the 1820s. The first buses as we know them today (almost), meaning internal combustion engine buses, or motor buses, made their appearance in 1895.

Are Skoolies a good investment?

Skoolies are a good investment as long as you are willing to commit to the conversion process and are ready financially speaking. A Skoolie can become a great RV or even a more permanent home. 

How much is a Skoolie worth?

A Skoolie is worth $20,000 to $30,000 for the initial build-out. Depending on the number of amenities and modifications that you are going to make, the worth of your Skoolie will increase significantly. 

References