How to Prevent Future Financial Problems When Buying a Van

When it comes to buying a commercial vehicle for your business, you might find that it is more cost-effective to buy a used van, rather than a brand new one. While a new van is fresh from the factory and is backed by an extensive warranty, a used van will come as better value as it won’t instantly depreciate as soon as it has been driven off the forecourt.

When it comes to buying a used van, or indeed a new one you need to check these ten basic things to increase your chance of getting great value for your money.

1. Suspension

Try to push down each corner of the van. If the van bounces once and then to its normal position, it is a good indicator that the shock absorbers are working well. You should be aware of the signs of bad suspension as if you buy a van that has problems, the cost of getting it properly fixed can be very high.

2. Lights

If the lights are oddly flickering or dimming, it is a hint that the van’s overall electrical health is not good. Before purchasing the van, check if the brake lights, headlights, indicators, fog lights, and interior lights are properly functioning. In some cases, it might be as simple as getting a bulb replaced, but it might also be an indicator of more serious issue.

3. Air-conditioning

If the van has air-conditioning, it is necessary to check if it works properly. Inspect the fans if they operate on all speeds. Check the compressor if it is functioning properly as well. Having properly working air conditioning can help you make a bit of money back on the overall value of the van.

4. Bodywork

Inspect the van’s bodywork for rust. Rust is most obvious on sills, below bumpers and wings. Rust can also be found around the door frame, under the wheel arches and corners of the windscreen. Press the rusty area gently, and when you hear cracking sounds, there may be corrosion below – definitely one to avoid.

5. Brakes

You can test drive the van to see if the brakes are properly functioning. Find a safe, straight road on which you can test the van. A brake test will help you see whether you stop in a straight line and the brakes have a solid feel. Watch out of the grinding and squealing noises as well.

6. Tyres

It is necessary to check the sidewalls and treads on each of the tyres, including the spare. A tread of less than 1.6mm is illegal in the UK. You may also check the tyres if they are the right ones for the van concerned. Checking the quality of the tyre is important because it is critical to your safety.

7. Engine

The bonnet of the van should be cold before the engine starts. A warm bonnet means a warm engine, which could be a sign of a problem. Make sure that there are no engine problems because they are expensive to fix.

8. Steering

The steering should be responsive, with no free play. Vague steering could be a sign of high or low tyre pressures. Watch out for other steering issues and make sure that they are not found in the van you want to purchase.

9. Interior

Make sure that the in-car electronics and the windows are functioning well. A dashboard should have no warning lights present for an illuminated engine management light can spell trouble. You might also want to check the seatbelts and locks if they are working properly.

10. Paperwork

Whether your shortlist of used vans includes brands like Mercedes, Ford, Vauxhall, or whoever else, you should check the details of each van against the DVLA’s online database. Ask to see the complete service history as well, with receipts for all the works carried out. It is vital to know the van has been cared for correctly, and ensure you have the right type of van insurance in place before you start using it as part of your business.


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