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Tips for buying a second hand van

If you're considering a second-hand van, you need to do your research to make sure you get the best value for your money. With the right questions about the vehicle's history as well as carrying out a thorough inspection of your own, you have the best possible chance of purchasing a van that best suits your needs and doesn't end up costing hundreds in repair bills.

What type of van do you need?

The first thing to consider before you start your search is what type of van's most appropriate for you. What will you use the vehicle for? It's important to get the size right to make sure you're not wasting money on unnecessary extra fuel, insurance and tax.

It's also important to consider the engine size. Larger engines will be the most fuel efficient option if you intend on driving your vehicle on a motorway, for hours at a time. Alternatively, if you just need your van for zipping around the city, a smaller engine might save you some money.

Did you know?

  • Three times more goods are moved by road than by water and rail combined in the UK.
  • Van traffic is growing faster than car traffic at the moment.
  • Van traffic accounted for 9% in 1984 by 2014 it accounted for 14% on British roads.
  • Vans accounted for 10% of all licensed vehicles in 2014.

Source: Largest ever number of vans recorded… — smmt.co.uk

Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016 — gov.uk

How to begin your search

Take your time to locate the right van. The internet is a good place to start, websites like Auto Trader, Gumtree or even local Facebook buy and sell pages will start to give you a good idea about what you can get for your budget. Your area may even play host to a specialist outlet, do some research to check your options.

If you don't know much about vans, it's a good idea to bring someone with you that has a bit of experience. They might spot something of concern when inspecting the vehicle that you have missed.

A few things to check for:

  1. First impressions count

    Check your first impressions of the van match the information you have been given by the seller. Inspect the bodywork for any indication of repair work and to establish if the colour and texture of the paintwork is the same all over.

    Check the mileage to see if it seems a good fit with the appearance of the van, this could help rule out any tampering with the milometer. If there's any service history or past MOT certificates, check the mileage increases in logical amounts each year. Additionally, if the seats, interior and pedals are badly worn, this might point to extra mileage.

    Give the tyres an inspection for tread depth and any damage, and get underneath the van to take a good look at the exhaust to check for holes or rust.

  2. Give the mechanics the once over

    Although it could be worth getting a professional inspection, there are a few mechanical checks you can do with a little basic knowledge.

    Lift the bonnet and take a look in the boot for any sign of untidy welding or anything that might give the impression of a botched repair job that could prove dangerous in the future.

    Check around the main engine bay for any signs of oil leaks and take a look at the radiator water before the van is warmed up, a low level could signify a leak.

    Additionally, check for any damaged hoses or frayed drive belts, this sort of damage might be inexpensive to repair but the condition of the engine can help you build a picture of how well the van has been maintained.

  3. Take it for a test run

    Taking a van for a test drive is one of the best ways to check everything is in working order. Listen out for any odd clunking noises that could indicate there is a hidden problem.

    Be sure to test the brakes thoroughly, perhaps trying out an emergency stop somewhere safe, away from any traffic. Additionally, check the wipers, heater, central locking, windows and the dashboard warning lights to be sure they are all operating efficiently.

  4. Trust your instincts

    If you have any concerns about the seller or something doesn't seem to add up while you're asking questions or inspecting the van, walk away. There'll always be other vans out there and if a seller seems untrustworthy, there's every chance there could be something very wrong with the van you're about to buy. Don't take the risk.

Another area you shouldn't take any risks with is your van insurance. Buying the right van insurance is simple and straightforward with Hastings Direct. You can get a quote online or call us on 0333 321 9675.

All information is correct at time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.

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