7 great tips when buying your next van
Much like the used car buying process, there are many pitfalls that await you unless you are savvy about buying a used van.
This section of the van buying guide, will examine the things you should look out for and help you find not only a cheap used van, but the right used van for you.
Tips for buying used vans
As with buying a new van, if you are in the market for a used van the first point to consider should be your budget. Remember to think about all running costs and your long-term goals with the van – will you still want this van if your current work or family circumstances change? Before you approach any used van dealer, or a private seller, you should establish in your own mind an upper limit as to how much you are willing to pay. Stick to it and don’t be persuaded to pay out more than you can comfortably afford.
Here are some more tips for buying used vans:
- Type and specification – As with a new van you should have a firm idea of what make and model of used van you want and what specifications you want it to have. Look around online and there are so many online directories that you now have a much wider scope when searching for used vans, so there is no need to settle for something that doesn’t meet your expectations.
- Pricing – With used vans, you do not have suggested retail prices to follow. The cost of the van will vary based on its wear and tear, the number of miles it has on the clock, and its vehicle repair history. You should familiarise yourself with what similar models are selling for. If you are going to visit a dealer or a private owner, why not print off a quote for a van of the same make and model and use that to highlight that you could potentially find a cheaper deal elsewhere.
- Standard of the vehicle – What features does the used van include? Does it come with air conditioning for example, electric windows or power steering (which is particularly important on large vans)? Do you need all-wheel drive – which is particularly useful if you regularly encounter hazardous driving conditions? What are the van’s safety features and how many miles does it get to the gallon? You should inspect the vehicle thoroughly before you buy.
- Test drive the van – Test driving a used van is much more important than test driving a new van. Generally speaking, new vans should all be of a similar standard – but used vans can vary massively depending on how they have been driven in the past. There are many factors to look for on a test drive including:
- Mileage – How many miles has the van travelled in the past? You should ask to see a full service history and if you feel that the mileage clock has been tampered with, look at the interior of the van to see if it shows more signs of wear and tear than it should.
- Brakes – Test the brakes thoroughly by performing an ’emergency stop’ on a deserted patch of road. If the brakes grind, it usually means that the brake pads or shoes are worn. If the used van skids or swerves, the problem should be investigated.
- Engine – Examine the oil and anti-freeze levels to see how well the van has been maintained. Also drive the van when it is cold – this should indicate if there are any problems with the ignition.
- Gearbox – Do the gears move smoothly? Release the clutch pedal to see if there are any signs of a worn bearing.
- Tyres – Check that they are at legal levels!
If you don’t feel confident performing a check on a used van yourself, then why not take someone along who is? If you’re concentrating on driving and getting used to the van, it is a good idea to take along a friend who can listen out for any unusual noises.
- Paperwork – Study the used van’s paperwork extensively before completing a purchase and look out for anything that seems unusual or out of place. Does the vehicle identification number (VIN) match between the vehicle itself and the document? The more paperwork you can find on the van, the better. You should also ask to see its MoT certificates and evidence of its service history. Look for the number of previous owners and if you are with a used car dealer, find out when the dealer took delivery of the van. Chances are that if it has been up for sale for a lengthy period of time, the dealer is more likely to be interested in a quick sale and therefore might accept a lower price.
Remember that if you are unhappy with anything you see in the paperwork, you can always contact the AA to find out more about a vehicle’s history.
- Shop around online – Don’t assume that because you’re buying a used van, you won’t be catered for online. In fact, there are a host of online directories with used vans for sale from both dealers and private owners. Even if you feel uncomfortable about buying a used van online, you should still use web shopping to your advantage to discover fair prices for the van you are interested in.
- Think before you sign – Don’t sign for anything until you are 100% happy with the vehicle and you have examined the contract thoroughly. Also bear in mind that signing for a van “as is” means that you will have no legal right to complain if the vehicle does not meet your expectations.
Of course, there is an alternative to buying a new or used van outright, with van rental