School Bus Preventive Maintenance May Significantly Decrease Breakdowns

School Bus Preventive Maintenance May Significantly Decrease Breakdowns

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Transportation Services guidebook to school bus preventive maintenance opens by stating one truth. That is that North Carolina’s school children deserve the safest possible transportation.

Whether you are a Winston-Salem school child’s parent or someone who works in school transportation, you surely agree. At Cloverdale Auto at 2020 Cloverdale Avenue, we do too! Some of us are parents and have children riding on those buses every morning. So what do we do to help maintain school buses, church buses, tour buses and other bus transportation? Below, we explore some of the basics of school bus preventive maintenance performed by our expert auto mechanics.

Now School Bus Preventive Maintenance Is More Important than Ever

Whether you have a school bus fleet as part of the local school system or operate a second-hand bus for your church, organization or business, maintenance is very important. This is always true. But it is more important now than ever before. Why?

Throughout 2020 and much of 2021, school buses and other buses have largely remained unused. The Covid-19 pandemic, at-home learning and group gathering restrictions have made buses less necessary. Many sat still in parking lots and garages, gathering dust inside and out. If you open the hood of many of these buses, you are likely to find cobwebs, rust and leaves, something they never had time to accumulate before.

Sitting still for so long does not mean these buses will run better this year. Instead, they are in dire need of school bus preventive maintenance to ensure they run as they should. For this maintenance, your bus needs a skilled Winston-Salem auto mechanic at Cloverdale Auto.

NC Requirements for School Bus Preventive Maintenance

Even if your school bus is not used for Winston-Salem area schools you can use the North Carolina state guidelines for school bus preventive maintenance. The DPI Transportation Services manual is handy as a guide to important aspects of routine bus maintenance. For example, if you own only one second-hand bus for your organization, group or personal use, this manual provides good perspective on the checks and services your Cloverdale Auto mechanic will perform. Of course, each vehicle is unique and can require other preventive care or repairs.

The NC checklist for school bus preventive maintenance specifies three factors involved in determining when a bus needs to go into the auto mechanic’s shop. Those are age, fuel consumption and time since the last maintenance. The state requires this service every 6,000 miles, at most.

The schools also must self-inspect their transportation fleet every month. This is a good policy for any school bus owner or operator. Get to know your bus, have it serviced on a regular schedule and perform your own safety checks each month.

The state’s required 30-day school bus inspections include checklists for all vehicle areas and operation including:

  • Inside body
  • Outside body
  • Chassis
  • Fuel system
  • Electrical system
  • Road tests

You can find the full checklist for 30-day self-inspection of a NC school bus on page 21 of the DPI transportation service manual. Use it for your church bus, tour bus or other group transportation of this type to ensure your passengers stay safe when traveling from one place to the next.

Bus Maintenance Performed by Your Auto Repair Shop

While under an expert bus mechanic‘s care at Cloverdale Auto Service, your school bus goes through many system checks and services. These vary according to the bus model, age, mileage, condition and individual needs. Service can include:

  • Mounting bolts and bolt lock pins/nuts
  • Wheel bearings
  • Engine accessory drive belts
  • Lubrication, filter and oil change
  • Road test
  • Travel angle
  • Steering gear operation
  • Load test
  • Brake checks and service
  • Acceleration
  • Rear axle and drive line
  • Transmission check
  • Tune up
  • Tire service
  • Battery check
  • Electrical system test
  • Alternator test
  • Cooling and heating test and service

Schedule Winston-Salem School Bus Maintenance Today

There are many more aspects to school bus preventive maintenance than we can list here. What your privately-owned, commercially-owned or state-owned school bus requires will differ according to each individual vehicle. Each manufacturer also provides its own recommendations for routine scheduled maintenance. But the skilled auto mechanics of Cloverdale Auto in Winston-Salem are experienced in school bus service and know which service your vehicle needs.

If you own a school bus and need school bus preventive maintenance, call the pros of Cloverdale Auto today at 336-331-3448.

School Bus Brake Repair

School Bus Brake Repair to Minimize the Risk of Traffic Accidents


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, school bus accidents in the United States are increasingly rare. More than 25 million school children safely ride to and from school each day on the more than 480,000 school buses in operation today. However, when school bus accidents do occur, it’s most often because of faulty brakes. As experienced bus mechanics, we work together with school district fleet managers and bus drivers to significantly lower the risk of school bus accidents. We do this by performing routine inspections and school bus brake system repair.


Frequent School Bus Brake Inspection

School buses need to be inspected as often as possible to ensure that their brakes work properly. When fleet directors bring their buses to us, our skilled mechanics inspect many components in the brakes like:

– School Bus Brake linings

– Thickness of the rotor plate

– Flexibility of the brake hoses

– School Bus Brake fluid level

We adhere to the safety and maintenance recommendations established by the buses’ manufacturers for maintaining and servicing the brakes. Our careful inspection ensures that the brakes on every school bus that is we inspect to us for servicing work correctly and safely.

Signs of School Bus Brake Damage

During our inspections, we also look closely for any signs of damages to the brakes. For example, one of the most important things that we look for is uneven wear on the brake pads and rotors. This uneven wear and tear will eventually lead to the brakes squealing and grinding whenever the driver steps on the brake pedal.

Our knowledgeable bus mechanics likewise make sure that all of the bus brakes are adjusted and not out of alignment. If the brakes are out of adjustment, we do what is necessary to get them back into their proper position so that the bus’s driver can stop safely and effectively.

Other components that we check during our inspection are the calipers and shoes. These parts are also critical to being able to stop quickly to avoid being in accidents. We can replace them on the spot if they are worn out.

Listening to Drivers’ Input

Many times, school bus drivers will be the first ones to notice issues with their school bus brakes. Our mechanics want to know right away if school bus drivers who bring their buses to us experience brake issues like:

Different feel when stepping on the brake pedal
Grinding or squealing when braking
Increased stopping distances when applying the brakes
Warning lights indicating issues with the brakes
Brake fluid leaks on any of the brake components

Our team of school bus mechanics can determine what kind of brake issues could be at issue based on the input of school bus drivers. We take to heart what they have to say and then immediately begin the process of finding out what is wrong with the bus’s braking system.


Preventative Maintenance

Many of the most common brake issues can be prevented with routine maintenance. As experienced bus mechanics, our team can provide a variety of maintenance services designed to keep every school bus in the fleet on the road.

Our mechanics will balance the brake system to ensure even and effective braking, for example. All of the brakes on every wheel will work in conjunction with each other. This coordination increases the safety and reliability of your buses.

They will also measure the stopping distance of the buses that they are about to repair. We make sure that buses that come to us for repairs can stop on a dime after we finish servicing it.

After replacing faulty brake components, our bus mechanics will also test drive the buses to ensure that they drive safely. The buses will not return to a school district until the brakes work as they should.


School buses are some of the most reliable and safest vehicles on the road. However, their reliability depends significantly on the safety and usefulness of their brakes. Lastly, let our experienced school bus mechanics perform routine inspections and repairs. When you need to keep all of your buses on the road safely this school year.

Contact Cloverdale Auto Service today for more information or to schedule an appointment for your school bus brake repair.

school bus

Factors to Include on Your Annual School Bus Checklist

As the school year approaches in Winston Salem, you as the district’s fleet manager have the responsibility of inspecting and repairing all of the school buses. They must be in good working order on the first day of school.

You can make sure each bus is in the best condition possible by compiling an effective safety and mechanical checklist. You can also quickly and conveniently handle any damages to your buses by taking them to a skilled bus repair mechanic.

Testing the Brakes On A School Bus

The first to-do item that you can include on your bus repair checklist is to inspect the brakes. The brakes on the bus are critical to the safety of each student who rides on it. They must work correctly and reliably to prevent accidents and injuries.

To check the brakes, you should make sure the air pressure in them is at the maximum level. The pressure should remain constant even when the engine is switched off.

If the pressure decreases, this could indicate that there is an air leak in the brakes. A leak can also be indicated by a buzzing sound from the low-pressure indicator on the bus.

If you suspect that the brakes have an air leak, it is crucial that you take the school bus to a licensed bus repair mechanic. The mechanic can retest the brake lines and replace or repair them if necessary.

Check the School Bus Steering

The steering on each school bus should function freely from lock to lock on the steering wheel. You must ensure that the power steering reservoir is completely full before each bus is taken out on its route.

You also can check for stone damages and leaks that occur within the power steering pipes. The undercarriage should get a thorough inspection to detect any fluid leaks that occur there. The steering wheel itself should also be free from any cracks or breaks.

Power steering issues can be complex to repair on your own. Rather than take the chance of the steering not working on one of your buses, you can take it to an experienced bus mechanic to have it repaired quickly and effectively.

Windshield, Wiper Blades, and Mirrors Inspection

In addition to checking each school bus for mechanical issues, you also should inspect each one to ensure its outer components are working correctly. To start, you can examine the windshield for repair issues like cracks, chips, and breaks. The windshield should also be free of any clouding that can impede the view of the bus driver.

Additionally, you need to look at the mirrors on each side of the bus. The mirrors provide the driver with a clear view of any cars or pedestrians that are passing on either of the bus’s side. Like the windshield, the mirrors should be free of damages like dents, cracks, and holes that can block the driver’s view.

Finally, both windshield wipers ideally should be as operational as possible. However, the one on the driver’s side of the windshield has to work well enough to clear water and debris from the driver’s line of sight. If any of these components need to be repaired, you can rely on a trained bus repair mechanic to fix them for you.

Testing the Lights

Another exterior component that has to be tested before a bus can be taken out on its route is its lights. During your summertime review of your fleet’s buses, you should test lights like the:

  • Headlights
  • Front, rear, and park lamps
  • Tail and stop lamps
  • Hazard lights
  • Reverse lamps

If any of these lights fail to illuminate when tested or if they do not come on when you test the switches for them, they need to be replaced or repaired. A skilled bus mechanic can replace the bulbs, repair or replace switches, and fix the wiring within these fixtures on the outside of the bus.

These factors should be included on your annual school bus mechanical checklist. These tasks ensure that all of the most important parts of your buses are working correctly. You can have vital repairs done quickly and easily by taking your buses to a licensed bus repair mechanic.


maintenance bus repair

Preventative Maintenance Keep Your Buses in Good Working Order

The closing of the school year does not mean you can take a break as the district’s fleet manager. In fact, the summertime maybe your busiest season with getting the school buses back in working order for next year. You can make sure every bus in your fleet is ready for the first day of school by entrusting these preventative maintenance and repair tasks to a skilled bus mechanic.

Tire Rotation and Replacement

The buses in your fleet rack up thousands of miles each school year. All of this travel takes its toll on the buses’ tires, however. By May or June, their tread may be wearing thin.

You cannot send out the buses next year with tires that are worn out and ready to blow. Instead, you may need to have several if not all of the tires on the buses changed out with brand new ones.

A skilled bus repair mechanic can inspect each tire closely for wear and tear. If possible, better tires can be rotated to help them wear better. If needed, the worn-out tires can be taken off and replaced immediately.

Having brand new tires on your buses for the school year can give you the peace of mind you need as a fleet manager. You also avoid having to do this extensive work yourself by taking your buses to an experienced bus mechanic for servicing.

Brake Pad and Shoe Inspection and Replacement

The brakes on your buses also take a beating during the school year. Buses often make repeated stops and starts during the course of a regular route. All of this stopping and going inevitably will take its toll on the brake pads and shoes.

When you hear squealing and grinding as the bus comes to a halt, you know it is time to have the brake pads and possibly the shoes replaced. The bus mechanic can inspect both parts on all of the tires for wearing and thinning. If the pad or shoe is beyond repair, the mechanic can replace either with a brand new part guaranteed to last for hundreds of miles.

You cannot risk the safety of your buses by sending them out with worn-out brake pads and shoes. A thorough bus mechanic can quickly replace them to ensure they are safe on which to drive this school year.

Battery Check

As the fleet manager, you also are responsible for making sure each bus in your fleet has a good battery under its hood. Depending on the bus’s age, its battery may be close to dying. Most bus batteries are only designed to last for five to six years.

You cannot afford to have a single bus not working during the busy school year. You need each bus to be out on its route every day.

By taking your buses to a mechanic who can check each battery, you can ensure that nearly dead ones are replaced. You can also find out how much life is left in the ones that are checked and left in place.

Radiator Flushes

A good bus mechanic can also flush out the radiator on your fleet buses. If the radiator is not flushed out on a regular basis, you can face challenges ranging from overheating to stalling. These mechanical headaches can take a bus out of rotation leaving you shorthanded in picking up and dropping off students.

Rather than handle this complex task on your own, you can hand it off to someone who is trained and certified in bus maintenance and repairs. The bus mechanic can flush out all of the radiators in your fleet buses. Along with making sure they are in good working order, we’ll do this by the start of the school year.

Windows and Doors Repairs

The windows and doors on your buses can take a beating during the school year. The constant opening and closing of these fixtures can wear out springs and levers, rendering them unsafe and useless.

We will prioritize checking these fixtures out and making all necessary repairs to them. They will be ready to use for another school year by the end of summer.


Preventing School Bus Brake Mishaps with Regular Inspection, Maintenance, and Repairs 

The brakes on school buses withstand an unprecedented amount of wear and tear each year. These vehicles make repeated stops during their regular routes. They also encounter road conditions that are not conducive to maintaining good brakes.

Are the school buses in your fleet suffer repeated problems with their brakes? It may be time for you to have them serviced by a licensed and trained school bus mechanic. With our professional bus services, you can keep your buses on the road and avoid the biggest mishaps with brakes.

Crumbling Brake Pads

One of the most common problems that school buses encounter while on the road is crumbling brake pads. Brake pads often crumble after they are exposed to de-icing agents used to thaw and treat snowy and icy roads. De-icers like magnesium chloride and calcium chloride eat away at the brake pads until they crumble and wear away completely.

When school buses regularly travel over roads that are treated with these chemicals, it is important to keep an eye on the condition of their brake pads. If you see signs of crumbling, it is crucial for the sake of safety that you have a skilled school bus mechanic replace them immediately.

Uneven Brake Pad Wear

Another common issue with school bus brakes involves unequal or uneven wear and tear. This problem is often caused by calipers hanging up or pin sliders seizing. When it occurs, you lose the performance you need out of your school bus brakes.

However, this issue can be a relatively easy fix as long as you act quickly and get your school bus towed to one of our licensed and ready school bus mechanics. We can replace or repair the calipers or pin sliders and also change out brake pads that have uneven wear and tear on them.

Out-of-adjustment Brakes

When the brakes on your school buses are out of adjustment, they need to be serviced quickly. This problem is often caused by issues like slacks, broken brake components, problems with the actuators, or problems with the drums or hubs. Detecting these causes can be difficult unless you are trained to work on school bus brakes and know where to look to identify the underlying issues.

Our mechanics are trained to handle these problems with out-of-adjustment brakes. They can get them adjusted and replaced if necessary so you can get your school buses back on the road quickly.

Other Common School Bus Brake Issues

School buses can suffer from a variety of other brake issues that include:

  • Cracked or bent brake chambers or camshaft support brackets
  • Hoses with kinks, chafing, and cracks
  • Camshaft heads with flat or worn spots
  • Bearing journals with rust, pitted surfaces, and excessive wear
  • Automatic brake adjusters that are not working properly

Preventing these and other school bus brake issues can be as simple as bringing your school buses to us to inspect, maintain, and repair. Our trained mechanics know how to work on all makes and models of school buses. While your buses are here, our mechanics can:

  • Inspect the condition of the brake lining
  • Examine the rotor plate thickness
  • Check the brake hose flexibility
  • Check and refill brake fluid
  • Replace camshaft bushings and brake shoes
  • Install new brake drums
  • Perform air dryer maintenance at least once a year

These services are crucial to keeping your school buses in safe driving condition. They also help the brakes last longer and avoid some of the more common issues that can cause brakes to wear down and need to be replaced sooner.

The brakes on your school buses can undergo unheard of stress during a regular school year. Depending on the road conditions these vehicles face, they could need their brakes serviced, maintained, and replaced on a frequent basis.

If you want to get the most out of your brakes, it is critical that you entrust their upkeep and repair to mechanics who are trained and licensed to work on school buses. Our school bus brake services are designed to keep your buses as safe as possible throughout the school year.

Mechanical Issues

Common Mechanical Issues in School Buses

The children in your school district count on you to take them to and from school each day. However, fulfilling this obligation can be a challenge if your school buses continuously face mechanical issues. You can prepare for an uneventful school year now by knowing what common problems school buses tend to suffer from and how they can be addressed quickly.

Mechanical Issues: Brake Issues 

With all of the stops that school buses have to make, it is little wonder that their brakes are often the first components to wear out during a typical school year. The dozens of stops while in route to pick up and drop off school children puts a strain on the brake’s pads, bearings, and other parts.

Symptoms like squealing, scraping, or grinding indicate it is time to have the brakes on a bus replaced or repaired. You can head off brake problems with your school buses by having them inspected and serviced on a regular basis, and check this off your mechanical issues list.

Mechanical Issues: Engine Overheating

Buses have powerful engines. However, their size and power do not make them immune to challenges like overheating.

When the gauge needle on the bus’s dashboard creeps toward the red zone, it is time to have the engine inspected and repaired if needed. The fix might involve replacing a radiator hose or flushing out the radiator, for example. It also could involve more in-depth work like having the thermostat replaced.

You cannot afford to have a bus out of commission because of overheating issues. You can avoid this problem by having a skilled bus mechanic inspect and service your bus engine every two to three months.

Mechanical Issues: Dead Batteries 

Nothing is more frustrating for a dedicated bus driver than to find his or her bus with a dead battery. A dead battery takes that bus out of service for the day and also could mean the driver does not get to earn a day’s wages.

When the battery dies in one of your buses, you can get it replaced quickly by taking the bus to an experienced bus mechanic. You can also make sure batteries are viable and replaced in time by allowing the mechanic to regularly test them for you.

The school children in your district count on reliable buses to take them to and from school during the week. You can keep your routes on track and avoid expensive and difficult bus mechanical issues by having your fleet of school buses serviced by a professional bus mechanic.



Our commitment to you is to provide timely and consistent automotive services with integrity, quality, and value. We ensure that each and every client experiences the highest standard of customer assistance and satisfaction. Our experienced staff of highly skilled technicians and customer service representatives provides professional service in a relaxed, clean and friendly environment. We feel comfortable saying that once you try our service you won’t go anywhere else. (If you feel like your mechanic is practicing at your expense or you’re not quite sure that you trust them, it’s time to see us!)



Hi, my name is Karen Kratz and for many years now my staff and I have provided excellent maintenance and auto repair services for a variety of cars and trucks in Winston Salem. It’s our goal to be the very best at what we do. At Cloverdale Auto Service we are committed to taking care of our customers in the same manner we care for our families and friends. That means providing you with the highest quality of service that will ensure safe and reliable transportation.

Cloverdale Auto Service