skoolie maintenance

5 Best Reasons Why Skoolie Maintenance Is So Important?

How Important Is Skoolie Maintenance?

Skoolie maintenance is the single most important aspect of Skoolie life.  Unfortunately, it is also the single most neglected aspect of Skoolie life as well.  

Skoolie maintenance is not neglected because Skoolie owners do not care or understand that Skoolie maintenance is vital to the health of their bus. Skoolie maintenance is neglected primarily due to the expense and lack of knowledge to maintain the bus themselves.

Everything in a skoolie is much more expensive, and many of the skoolie maintenance procedures require special tools.

For instance, in order to change the oil on our 2004 Thomas HDX, we had to go and purchase a size 35 Hex nut socket.  In addition to the special-sized hex socket, we had to buy a torc wrench to remove and re-tighten the oil pan nut.

It is so much better, in the long run, to spend a few hundred dollars on skoolie maintenance today than to have to spend a few thousand dollars for a repair tomorrow.  

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Skoolie?

As we have mentioned, a skoolie maintenance budget can get pretty high.  Especially considering most people are not going to do the maintenance themselves.  Add the cost of labor and your budget really increases.  

Oil Change

If you were to change your oil yourself, plan on spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 to $300 for the oil and filters.  

Never mind that you may have to pay a fee somewhere to dispose of the old oil.  You can’t just let that seep into the ground.  

skoolie maintenance

Now, if you take your bus to a diesel mechanic shop, plan on spending $400-$600 for an oil change with labor included.  Diesel mechanics are not cheap.

You can’t take your bus to the 15-minute Lube Shop around the corner.  You can’t even take your bus to Walmart to get the oil changed.  Do yourself a favor and take care of this skoolie maintenance job yourself.

Air Filter

Air filter(s) is the same scenario with a skoolie oil change.  You will have an engine air filter and possibly a cabin air filter.  Both are very easy to replace but are much more expensive than your auto air filters.  

Plan on spending $75 to $150 for your skoolie air filter.  Depending on the year, make, and model of your skoolie engine, that price could vary significantly.  Do this skoolie maintenance job yourself as well.


The tires for your skoolie are as important as the type of shoes a professional athlete wears.  Without good, healthy tires, you run a big risk of a blowout on the highway.

If you do not know what a tow or roadside assistance to change a tire is, you do not ever want to experience it firsthand.

Skoolie maintenance tires

Make sure your skoolie tires are no older than 5 years old and show no sign of dry rotting, cracking, or splitting.

A skoolie tire will cost you in the range of $250 to $700 per tire, depending on the brand, sizing, and where you purchase the tire from.

If you need roadside assistance, plan on adding another $500 labor and emergency roadside call fee to that as well.  

If your skoolie needs to be towed to the garage that will replace your tire, plan on a minimum of $750 for a short tow.  

As you can see, a blown tire can easily cost you upwards of $2,000. This is 2,000 reasons why skoolie maintenance is so important!


Brakes may seem like a general maintenance item until you are coming down the other side of a mountain with a 7% grade and it is over two miles to the bottom.  

Having your brakes regularly inspected and maintained is not just a smart financial decision, it is also good for your safety and anyone in or around your skoolie.  

Having your brakes maintained will cost you somewhere around $1,500 to $2,000.  If just your brake pads need replacing, you may be able to do this yourself for around $250.

It is always going to cost you 2 to 3 times more to pay a diesel mechanic to do the job for you. Save yourself thousands of dollars and learn the simple skoolie maintenance jobs that you can do yourself!

How To Find A Skoolie Mechanic

The best way to find a skoolie mechanic is to Google one in the town or area you are located.  

Now, the best way to find a good skoolie mechanic is through word of mouth within the skoolie community.

The skoolie community is rapidly growing.  Through forums and social media channels, it is not hard to find someone in your area that can assist you.

By asking for advice about a reputable skoolie mechanic, chances are, someone knows one near or relatively close to where you are at the time.  

Are Skoolies Cheaper To Maintain Than RVs?

In our opinion, Yes, Skoolies are cheaper to maintain than an RV.  The one constant complaint we consistently hear from friends of ours who own an RV is the amount of money they spend to keep it operational.

It doesn’t matter if it is something mechanically with the engine or transmission or something to do with electrical or plumbing on the inside of the RV.

You're going to have your share of skoolie maintenance costs and issues, but nothing compared to an RV.  Oh, it doesn’t matter how old the RV is either.  They hemorrhage money.

There is a joke in both the boating and RV communities.  

What is the happiest day for an RV owner?
The day they purchase the RV and the day they sell the RV.

How long will a Skoolie last?

How long with your skoolie last?  We have heard so many people say that a skoolie engine should last well over a million miles.  

While that is theoretically correct, in order for that to happen, it is going to require consistent and sound skoolie maintenance on a regular basis.

Just like there are homeowners’ maintenance costs, you should approach your skoolie maintenance budget the same way.  

Know that you are going to have to spend money to upkeep and maintain your tiny house on wheels just like you would for a house.  

What size Skoolie do I need?

The size skoolie you purchase isn’t going to have a huge impact on your skoolie maintenance costs.  Unless you get a shorty skoolie on a van chassis.  

We wrote an article on this subject alone,  Choosing The Right Skoolie.

school bus sizes

It really doesn’t matter what size skoolie you end up with, just take care of it and treat it as if it were your home because, in most circumstances, it is your home.

Spend it now or spend more later, it is up to you.

Do you need a CDL for a Skoolie?

We hear this question all of the time.  Do I need a CDL license to drive my skoolie?

Just as we always do, we refer you to your state’s DMV website for a thorough and positive answer to your questions.

Some states require a CDL if your vehicle has a certain GVRW or air brakes, or a combination of both.

Florida, for example, does not require a CDL to operate a privately owned school bus.  If your skoolie is registered as an RV or Motorhome, you are not required to hold a CDL license.

There are seven states that require a Class A or B CDL license for vehicles over 26,000 pounds or 45 feet.  Is your state one of them?

Here are the seven states that require a CDL for any vehicle over 26,000 pounds or 45 feet in length:

North Carolina


If your skoolie is not registered in one of those states, then it is a fair bet you do not require a CDL to drive your privately owned RV or bus.  

Wrap Up Are Skoolies Expensive To Maintain?

Are skoolies expensive to maintain?  Yes, but that question is so subjective depending on your personal financial footprint.

Are skoolies more expensive to maintain than a car or pick-up truck?  Yes, but less expensive than an RV of equal size and engine.  

We all have the ability to reduce those maintenance costs as long as we are both aware and willing to spend the preventative costs to maintain our skoolie.

Skoolie life should be laid-back, easy, and enjoyable.  Having to pay thousands of dollars for emergency repairs is not our idea of easy or enjoyable.

Do yourself and your bank account a favor.  Spend the money and time on keeping your skoolie fit and healthy now, and you will be making lots of lifetime memories for years to come.

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