I have wanted to talk about bus maintenance for awhile now but because I’m not the one actually doing the maintenance I kept putting it off. This week a good friend of ours has had a lot of vehicle problems and it has reminded me of how important it is to find a potential problem before it happens. This advise can be applied to any vehicle you own but is especially important for the vehicle you live in. I know that in a worst case scenario there are always motels to stay in for a day or two while the bus gets fixed but who budgets for that! It’s easier for us to plan ahead and try to prevent problems. How do we do that you ask? We regularly inspect our bus and make lists. We check the air in our tires and the state of our treads. We look for signs of uneven wear (it’s a sign of front end problems). We check all of the fluids (oil,transmission,power steering, radiator and brake fluid) and do an oil change every 10000km. We check the serpentine belt for cracks, splits or wear. We look under the bus every once in awhile to make sure there are no leaks and that our brake lines aren’t rotting. We listen for new noises and/or new vibrations as these are a good sign of a coming problem. For instance, if you hear a clunking noise as you change gears from forward to reverse you likely have a universal joint that is worn and should soon be replaced. We clean our air filter every once in awhile to make sure everything is running smoothly and we are getting optimal gas mileage. You should clean your air filter even more regularly if you are in the desert or often drive on dusty backroads. We keep a list of things we want to fix or improve on the bus. These aren’t urgent jobs but things we know that we need to do sometime in the near future to prevent a potential problem. For example, recently Michael installed new rotors and brake pads before we had any brake problems. That reminds me, we carry all of the tools we might need to fix most problems that we might have. We also carry some spare parts. This has already come in handy when our serpentine belt started to split while we were heading to the east coast. We caught it before there was a problem and happened to have the spare belt to swap it out with at our convenience rather than on the side of the road. I will put a checklist together in an easy to read format and post it soon. When I asked Michael about maintenance one of the first thing he said was that if you haven’t bought a bus yet, be sure to choose a vehicle that you are familiar with (if you aren’t mechanically talented choose a common chassis that any mechanic anywhere will know how to fix and have access to it’s parts)as much as possible.