Key Takeaways

  • All school buses have either 4 wheels or 6 wheels.
  • A larger school bus has 6 wheels on three axles.
  • Proper tire maintenance is very important for school buses, as they carry many people
  • Proper tire inflation is essential and has an impact on tire wear and fuel economy.

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School buses are a common sight on roadways as they transport adults and students. For safety, how many tires does a school bus have?

4 or 6 tires, depending on the length of the bus. Smaller buses that carry fewer passengers have four tires with two on each axle. A larger school bus will have three axles - one in front and two in back, that take a total of six tires.

We’ll discuss school buses and the reasons why they might have a different number of tires.

Table of Contents

How many wheels does a school bus have?

You’ve probably seen school buses of just a couple of sizes on the roads - the shorter kind that carries fewer students and a much longer, standard size that is synonymous with the image of a school bus.

The smaller kinds of buses often used to transport fewer students have 4 tires. The longer type of school buses that often carry more than 45 children have six tires on three axles, with a single front axle and two axles in the rear.

Why does a bigger school bus have more tires and axles?

Just like the tires on your car or truck, the school bus tires are the only piece of equipment (hopefully!) actually touching the ground and supporting all the weight of the school bus. A school bus that is carrying more than 45 students and a driver needs to distribute that weight into more places to allow the bus to drive on a stable platform and turn, so six wheels are necessary.

The larger school buses have a pair of axles on the rear that support the weight that is not supported in the front. The dual axles are located in the back to take turning as easy as possible. You also rarely if ever see vehicles with an axle in the middle.

If a larger bus used just four tires, it might not be capable of supporting the weight of at least four dozen kids and the driver, and it would have a very hard time turning with the amount of weight supported by a single set of tires on the rear.

How are school bus tires maintained?

Proper tire inflation and proper tire maintenance are essential, especially for a school bus. The school bus company or school district is liable for the safety of the students on the bus, so they need to ensure that each tire is measured with the tire pressure to ensure that the school bus can drive in a predictable way. Under inflated tires can cause problems for the driver, especially given the weight the school bus carries, so having the correct pressure is very important.

School bus tires are also frequently inspected for tire wear. A school bus tire needs to have good tread depth and good sidewalls in order to maintain traction given the precious cargo on board.

Much of the maintenance that goes into a school bus is to prevent a flat tire or loss of control that could lead to an accident.

Fuel efficiency

You probably could have predicted that school buses aren’t all that fuel efficient, especially since they make frequent stops and carry a significant amount of weight. Tire maintenance is essential to ensure that the school bus engine is not working harder than it has to while carrying students or adults around. Fuel consumption is a major concern for both school districts and bus companies - so you can be sure that they keep an eye on the tires, one thing they can control on their school buses.

What kinds of tires do school buses usually have?

School bus tires are often truck tires, given the size and weight needed to produce a stable platform aren’t unlike a large pickup truck. While the brand of the tire can vary greatly, you’ll often see Michelin Americas truck tires, Goodyear tires, and many others. The most important part of the tire brand is simply having the same brand and model of the tire all around. In other words, just like your truck or car, you don’t want to mix and match school bus tires!

You might be wondering about retreaded tires. Retreaded tires are tires that were once worn, but have the recycled sidewall and a new tread added on. These kinds of tires are not allowed on school buses because they present an additional safety hazard for a vehicle carrying significant weight.

Many tire manufacturers make a school bus ready tire, it’s just a matter of which tires the bus company picks out, in addition to what conditions the bus will travel in.

What happens when a school bus gets a flat tire?

School buses do get flat tires and have other problems on the road. Given the amount of weight a jack would need to lift, the school bus driver normally calls for a backup bus, then loads their passengers onto another bus while the bus is either fixed on the spot or towed away.

Much of the idea being prevention is keeping school buses safe and trying to avoid having flat tires. School bus companies check their tires and vehicles more than you do your own car!

How Many Tires Does A School Bus Have?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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