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Iredell-Statesville Schools testing and replacing bus engines after May 2021 fire


No children were on board when an Iredell-Statesville School bus caught fire in May 2021, and the bus driver was able to exit safely. But the incident raised concerns in the school district about the safety of its school buses with engines that had known design problems.

The bus that caught fire had a Navistar International MaxxForce engine, which has been the subject of multiple lawsuits across the country that allege a pattern of testing for elevated levels of diesel fuel in their oil.

Those problems can cause engine failure, a need for frequent repairs, and occasionally, engine fire.

Almost 18 months after the incident with the Iredell-Statesville School bus, about 11 buses with MaxxForce engines are still in their fleet.

A spokesperson for the school district said that they’ve been keeping a closer eye on the engines, taking oil samples more often than required by the state and immediately pulling buses out of service if the levels of fuel seem to be increasing.

This year, four Iredell-Statesville school buses with high dilution levels in their MaxxForce engines have had their engines replaced.

And the district says that they currently have two more buses with MaxxForce engines out of service while they wait on funding to replace the engines. Their goal is to replace every MaxxForce engine in their fleet.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools say they have 19 buses in their fleet with MaxxForce engines — all of them activity buses used for things like field trips and sporting events.

A spokesperson said that all oil samples from the CMS buses recently returned within normal limits and that there are no plans to replace any at this time.

A report published by NC Watchdog Reporting Network last month found that there were about 1,300 school buses with MaxxForce engines assigned to public school districts across the state as of 2021.

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