Things to consider before buying a van


Are you thinking about swapping your car for a van, upgrading your current van or just purchasing a van for your hobby equipment? Whatever your situation it’s advisable that you do your research and understand what you’re purchasing as there’s lots of choice on the market and it’s important you make the right decision for you and your needs. To give you a helping hand we’ve compiled a list of some of the things you should be thinking about. So, let’s get started!

What should I check before buying a van?

A sensible place to start is from the beginning! Establishing whether you are looking to purchase a new van or a second hand one. If you would prefer a new one its best to pop into a van dealership as they are bound to have offers and deals. If it’s a second hand van you want then start by looking on the internet. If you know the make and model you want, it’s a good idea to do some price comparison research. Make sure you are comparing like for like models, so take into consideration the age of the vehicle, miles driven and condition the vehicle is in.

If you are buying a second hand van try to establish what work the van has done before as this will give you an idea of the condition it will be in. This is easier said than done, but leads me nicely onto another important point, purchasing from a reputable dealer. If you are purchasing a second hand van and want to establish what the van was used for before, a reputable dealer should be able to give you these details. Make sure you read some reviews on the company you are going to purchase from just for peace of mind or to highlight any warning signs. This is especially important if you chose to purchase from a private dealer as you will want to make sure they are legit before you hand over your money.

Try before you buy, this is a must! Ensure that you can take the vehicle out on a test drive to make sure it runs smoothly. Not only is this a good way to determine its reliability, you can ensure the van has all the features and benefits you require and that what you want to carry in it will fit! Here’s a list of the specific things you should ensure work when test driving a van:

  • Brakes – make sure they are responsive by conducting an emergency break in a safe place
  • Mileage – if you are buying a second hand van make sure the advertised mileage is the same as what the vehicle is showing
  • Interior – ensure the interior of the vehicle is in good condition or if there are any scratches, marks or nicks that it’s reflected in the price you pay
  • Tyres – ask when the tyres were last replaced and have a good look at them to make sure they are not bare
  • Engine – if you know what you’re looking at pop the hood of the van and make sure everything is present and correct and not rusting away. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, take someone who does!
  • Gears – make sure when you are test driving the vehicle you work the van up and down through the gears to ensure they are smooth and are in full working order
  • Lights – make sure your front, side and break lights are working properly. If not, make sure the current owner replaces them before you buy the van

So you have picked the van you want, but how are you going to pay for it? If you are in the fortunate position to buy the van outright, then you can skip this paragraph as it won’t be relevant. However, if you are going to purchase using a finance deal then you should do your research to see what’s available on the market.

If you are buying from a dealer they will most probably have offers and deals available on selected models such as 0% finance. Make sure you read the small print for any promotion or offer you engage with as you will probably need a hefty deposit and good credit score to qualify. What are the main finance options available on the market?

Hire purchase

With this option you will usually have to put a small deposit down and then pay the value of your van off over monthly instalments over a set period of time. Once you have paid the final instalment you own the van outright.

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)

PCP means you agree to pay a fixed sum each month on a set date and this essentially covers the amount the van will depreciate. When your set payments end you are required to either give the van back or pay a lump sum to own it outright.

Finance leasing

Another option is finance leasing which means the lender owns the van and you rent it on a long term basis or for an agreed period of time. Once this period has expired you hand the vehicle back.

You might find it tempting to just accept the first finance offer you receive but make sure you do your research and see what other options are available to you. If there’s one thing to look at on a finance deal it’s to check the total amount payable and compare it with a personal loan. By doing this it will give you a good idea of which option offers you the best value. Websites like are a great way to scan the market for the best deals, offers and market rates.

Our final piece of advice when talking price is don’t be afraid to haggle! There is always flexibility on price and don’t be scared to ask. Even if you don’t get much off the price of the vehicle you might get some extras thrown in for free. If you don’t ask you don’t get!

How can I keep my van safe?

Even if you don’t own a van you will have heard on the news the epidemic that is van theft. Whether its skeleton keys being created or just opportunists, van theft should be on everyone’s radar. Whether you use your van for business or pleasure the value of the contents within it will be high. If you do use your van for business and you’re self-employed, it’s your lively hood so it’s within your interest to step up your van security, but what can you do?

Always empty your van

As simple as this sounds it’s really important. No matter how long your day has been or how late you get home, you should never leave your tools or equipment in your van overnight. Always empty it and leave them in a secure place. Even things like your Sat Nav, work phone, basically anything of value should be left out of sight.

Always lock your van

Even if you are working on a job and constantly back and forth to your van, make sure its locked every time you leave it, there are opportunists out there that will take full advantage of an open van. Especially in summer months, make sure your windows are fully shut at all times, don’t give thieves an entry point.

Upgrade your security 

This doesn’t have to cost the earth, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure your van is as safe as possible. Have you got a heavy duty wheel lock? If not, these can be purchased easily from most good DIY and vehicle maintenance shops. Whilst you’re there why not look for some stickers advertising that nothing is kept in your van overnight, a cheap and simple way to deter possible thieves. You can also add lockable fuel filler caps and locking wheel nuts to increase your van security without breaking the bank.

Prioritise security features

Security should be at the forefront of your mind when purchasing a new van and most new vans do offer a range of security features, but make sure the one your purchasing is adequately kitted out. Does it have an alarm, immobiliser and do the doors have deadlocks on? If these don’t come as standard its worth pricing up how much it would cost to add them on. Does the van you’re looking to buy have clear windows at the rear? If so, this could potentially be a security risk as people can see what you’re carrying and what about the section between the cab and load area at the back of the van, is this a mesh grille or solid? If this is mesh again you are potentially advertising the items you are carrying in your van to potential thieves.  

There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a new van but we hope the above helps you prioritise the things you need to be mindful of and take into account in order to make the right decision.

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