Essential checks when buying a used van

Transport and logistics

28 September 2016

Here at AXA, we know that your business van is more than just a mode of transport. It's a mobile office and an invaluable asset for your business.

Buying a used van is an excellent way to save money, but you need to be confident that you're investing in the right vehicle for your business and that it performs as it should when you put it to work.

So before buying a used van, take a look at some of the essential checks you should be making before you purchase.

Narrow your search

Consider the required specifics of your new van, such as price, engine size, running costs, mileage, safety features and space needed for your passengers and equipment. This will help narrow your search and speed up the process.

Once you've made a shortlist of vans that fit your needs, conduct a background check on each. You can get basic information from the DVLA and review the MOT history of any van for free. Many third parties offer a full vehicle check that will alert you to any issues for a small fee. Get van insurance quotes for your top choices in advance – affordable van insurance could make all the difference to your budget.

Carry out checks

  • Bodywork: look for rust, particularly under the wheel arches and doors, for accident damage, and inconsistencies in the paint finish that could be hiding repairs.
  • Tyres: tread of less than 1.6mm is illegal, and uneven wear could be a sign of problems with the suspension or alignment.
  • Lights: check they're all in working order.
  • Interior: test the seatbelts, locks, windscreen wipers and all the electronic controls.
  • Dashboard: all warning lights should come on at first, then switch off.

Take a test drive

  • Engine: look for black or blue smoke from the exhaust, and listen out for rattles when accelerating.
  • Clutch: noise when you press the pedal or a high bite point can indicate wear.
  • Axles: pay attention to knocking or squeaking sounds, particularly on corners.
  • Ride conditions: try and be sensitive to the steering. Leaning or tugging can be a sign of uneven tracking.
  • Brakes: find a long, straight road and listen for squealing or grinding noises when you brake.

Review the paperwork

Ask to see the service history and receipts to get an idea of how the van's been treated. Satisfied? You'll need the owner to provide the V5C registration certificate, which must be updated with your details and sent to the DVLA. Make sure the VIN number on the certificate matches the one on the vehicle's windscreen or chassis, and you're ready to purchase.

Check out AXA insurance for vans to ensure you have the right cover in place to protect you when you drive away, and if you're looking for ways to guarantee your vehicle keeps on delivering value, try our tips on keeping fuel costs down.