What are schools missing to keep minibuses roadworthy?



As well as supplying minibuses to schools, one of the services EVA Minibus provides to schools is an audit of how schools are running minibuses and managing drivers and other risks. Whilst primary schools derive extraordinary benefit from using minibuses, we fully appreciate that they don’t always have the resource and expertise in the school to manage the minibus effectively

Having carried out analysis on findings from all of our audit meetings a pattern is emerging of some things that are commonly missed when trying to keep a minibus in a road worthy condition.  The following are the most common along with some recommendations that I hope will help

Remember a minibus has an MOT from year one and not year three like a car. I have been to a number of schools who think they are not due an MOT until the minibus is three years old.  A Class 5 MOT for a minibus is due from the vehicles first anniversary.

For those schools running a nine seat option, this requires an MOT at year three however we would recommend a safety check, at least annually for the first three years until the MOT is required.

Very typical for schools is that the minibus is operated by multiple drivers. This means that it’s not uncommon that daily and weekly checks can be missed.

We would recommend putting in a robust system of daily, and weekly checks (Oil and fluid levels , seatbelts , lights etc )  but  equally important is ensuring you have a system for each driver signing the vehicle in and out and reporting any damage of faults immediately so they can be rectified .

Because you can have a number of different drivers, it follows that they all have their own driving style. Some are heavier on brakes and clutches than others for example. This can often lead to a higher rate of “attritional“ wear due to varied driving styles. A simple solution would be to employ the services of a qualified driving assessor. trainer who can help iron out any major differences and educate the drivers in thinking about driving in a smooth, safe and economical way this reducing vehicle wear.

Where it’s commonly believed that high mileage use can lead to more problems, conversely low and infrequent use can lead to some issues that can be managed with some regular intervention

For example

Make sure the vehicle is started at least weekly and given a good run to get the engine up to a good working temperature.  This will keep the battery in good condition but also help keep the exhaust and emission management systems clean and free from blockage.

Do also ensure that door and window operation is given consideration, regular use and cleaning and appropriate lubrication will ensure they do not seize up and cause problems during school trips

Where retractable side steps are fitted, please make sure these are kept clean and follow the manufacturer’s advice for how to clean and lubricate. I have seen so many that get covered in grit and mud and then seize

There are more obvious areas to keep an eye on too

Tyre condition and pressure – Keep a note of the pressures and buy a depth gauge to ensure the tread is well within legal limits. Keep a look out for cracks in side walls too, especially if you do a low mileage and do not wear a tyre out normally.

Keep an eye on any AD Blue (if required on your minibus – euro 6 emissions onwards)

Sound obvious but keep your fuel levels high. This will avoid breakdown but also stop any undue risk of sediment getting into the fuel system.


I hope I have given you a flavour and can always be contacted to help further. The key thing is that someone owns the responsibility in the school even if you have to use external help.

You are carrying a very precious cargo after all


Posted by:

John Couppleditch