Ten tips for buying a second-hand van

delivery van

Buying a second-hand van can be a daunting experience and the following tips are designed to help you spot the difference between a reliable runner and a tired old workhorse:

Know your rights It’s often said that knowledge is power and if you’re in the market for a second-hand van it’s a good idea to brush-up on your consumer rights. Buying through a dealer gives you better protection as they are bound by the Consumer Rights Act which means the van must be as described and fit for purpose, plus you can return a faulty van within 30 days. Buying privately affords less protection and it’s up-to-you to ask the right questions and rely on the powers of the Misrepresentation Act if the van isn’t as described. Be wary of dodgy dealers posing as private sellers in a bid to shift second-rate stock.

Size matters Vans come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to get the right one for the job. A recent report by a leading van manufacturer found that nearly 50% of drivers admitted to driving overloaded vans which can lead to a fixed penalty fine or a court summons. As well as carrying capacity you’ll need to consider comfort as you will be spending plenty of time behind the wheel.

Do your homework Use one of the ‘big name’ online valuation services to get a fair market figure for any van you are thinking about buying and remember that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Consider running costs Whether you’re buying a van for commercial or domestic use it’s essential to calculate running costs. We’ve outlined ten ways to get cheaper van insurance, but that’s not the only expense and you’ll also need to think about: fuel efficiency, road tax and servicing costs.

Don’t be rushed Van dealers are professional salespeople and they know every trick in the book. One of the easiest ways to close a sale is to put pressure on the customer, so if you’re feeling the heat of a salesperson breathing down your neck just walk away and let things cool down. Take everything you’re told with a pinch of salt and remember there are plenty more vans on the market.

Check the paperwork Ask to see the V5C (also known as the ‘log book’) and make sure that the Vehicle Identification Number on the certificate matches the number stamped on the van chassis. Next check the van’s MOT and service history and ask the vendor to explain any persistent problems. If they don’t have the paperwork you can check online via the government’s Check MOT History website where you can find out everything from ‘annual mileage’ to ‘advisory notices’ and ‘reasons for failure’.

Uncover hidden history The easiest way to dig into a van’s past is with a Vehicle Check from a leading online provider. You generally get what you pay for and it’s worth noting that the free services often don’t cover important ground. Reports vary but you can expect vital information on whether the van has been stolen, written-off or has any outstanding finance.

Get professional help Vans are designed to be tough, but some owners give them a particularly rough ride. Once you’ve found the right van it’s essential to spend time checking everything from bodywork to brakes. If you aren’t sure about the inner working of a van ask a local mechanic to give the vehicle a thorough check or get a full van inspection from one of the leading motoring organizations (expect to pay about £200 for a van weighing up-to 3,500kg).

Taking a test drive Set aside at least an hour for a test drive and start by making sure that everything’s working with the engine idling. Be meticulous and work your way around the van checking everything from lights and locks to windows and wipers. Plan a route the tests the van on different types of road as some problems will only come to light in certain driving situations (such as when putting your foot down on the motorway or labouring up a steep hill). Use your ears as well as your eyes and listen carefully for any untoward sounds.

Doing the deal Once you have found a van the fits the bill it’s time to test your haggling skills. When it comes to negotiating it pays to be patient, so take your time and don’t get steamrollered into a quick sale. Remember that while cash can be used to drive-down the price a credit card will provide better protection even if it’s only used for part of the purchase (such as paying the deposit).

Quoteline Direct is an independent insurance broker with an impressive track record. With nearly 50 years’ experience there isn’t much we don’t know about van insurance and we guarantee to beat your current renewal premium by at least 10% (with similar cover, based on the same details). To find out more visit our van insurance page or Tel: 0161 874 7710 to speak with a member of our team.



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