Repair vs. Replace?

There are many pitfalls when it comes to repairing or replacing damaged vehicles – as well as considerations for alternative propulsion and midlife rehabs

Operators who attempt to conduct in-house repairs must consider the risks involved. In-house repairs drive up costs as staff are pulled away from their standard maintenance work. Extensive work requires highly-experienced and specialized technicians. A lack of expertise and improper equipment can cause buses to be inadvertently damaged during the repair. A loss of valuable bay space will also drive-up costs depending upon the amount of time the repair takes. Parts investment and procurement of items that are not normally housed in inventory, take a lot of administrative resources and could result in extended downtime.

Any work performed on a bus aside from standard routine maintenance is recommended to be outsourced, as in-house repairs can be disruptive to an agency’s core business operation. Outsourcing can help agencies achieve significant cost savings and reduce downtime. With streamlined processes, parts inventory immediately available, and physical capacity, manufacturers can accommodate multiple repairs in an efficient and timely fashion. Agencies can trust that their bus repairs or refurbishments entrusted to a certified manufacturer will be handled with the proper equipment and be assured that the buses are returned in a timely manner.

Operators should consider the extent of the damage and the age of the vehicle in determining whether to repair or replace a damaged vehicle. Operators also need to consider the estimated cost of repair vs. the cost of replacement and what the potential downtime would be between the two. In either case, financial considerations play a key role in this decision. 

Alternative Propulsion

When collision repair work is necessary, agencies must make several important decisions, especially when dealing with an alternative propulsion repair. The first step is to locate a collision repair expert to assess the severity of the damage and to provide a quote. The process of choosing a collision repair expert can be challenging as safety concerns are an important consideration, depending on what type of propulsion system the vehicle has. 

In the case of electric propulsion vehicles, it is vital to consider the electrical components involved in the repair. Damage to an electrical component can cause a vehicle’s system to experience intermittent failures and become inoperative. Conducting repairs can fix the damaged component temporarily, but it is not always ideal as lingering issues can arise. To avoid these issues altogether, we recommend for operators to replace the damaged components in order to have the vehicle functioning regularly.

Proper training on alternative propulsion vehicle technologies is essential to any repair. Certified manufacturers help eliminate safety concerns as they are trained specialists with proper tooling and equipment to effectively handle repairs.

Midlife Overhauls and Repowers

As vehicles reach their midlife point between six to eight years, a full mechanical, electrical, and cosmetic restoration is recommended to ensure optimal performance. At minimum, most midlife refurbishments involve complete major system overhauls and replacement of critical components. 

A midlife rehabilitation is an ideal way to extend the life of a bus, save money on maintenance and reduce downtime. Additional upgrades are often installed as well to enhance the operator and passenger experience. A midlife overhaul requires an extensive amount of work. It is recommended that agencies hire experienced remanufacturers with skilled craftsmen and certified technicians to ensure a high-quality refurbishment.

Operators should start to explore engine repower options when the performance of the vehicle begins to decline, and engine maintenance costs start increasing. Rather than spending an exorbitant amount of money on engine repairs or replacing the entire vehicle, repowering is the most cost-effective solution. Repowering provides operators the opportunity to take advantage of the latest engine technology that meets or exceeds current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resource Board (CARB) requirements.

The process of a repower involves replacing the existing engine with a new, rebuilt, or remanufactured engine. A repower significantly extends the service life the bus, increases fuel efficiency, and improves air quality.

Brad Carson is director of sales and marketing for Complete Coach Works (CCW): For over 30 years, CCW has dedicated its resources toward the retrofit, rehab, and remanufacture of buses. Among our services are collision and electrical component repair solutions. We offer a wide range of services including major structural, body repair, mechanical repair, interior/exterior repair, and paint/decal. We have the resources and technicians to ensure that repairs are performed correctly, quickly, and economically. Visit for more information.