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BUYING a used van might be a necessity, particularly if you are a start-up, but make sure you don’t get saddled with a wrong ‘un.

With around four million vans on British roads, there are plenty coming on to the second-hand market all the time via auctions or through dealers.

However, many of these will have had a pretty tough life on the road so what should you be looking for when buying used?

Most likely you will want a workhorse and what you use it for will dictate the type and size of van you need.

Owners’ forums are always useful if you need tips on what van will best suit your requirement. They will also help you decide which of the range is the most desirable, highlight any known issues with particular years

Once you know what you are looking for, try and find out the history of a vehicle. A high mileage example that has been serviced regularly and only used for transporting light goods, could be better than one with lower miles that has been carrying heavy loads.

Check out its MOT history to see if there have been any failures, this will also show up any defects and advisory notices that have been issued.


Have a good look around, particularly for signs of rust. Look under wheel arches and around the door frame. If you see any press down on it gently and if there are slight cracking sounds the problem may go deeper.

You’ll also need to look for any signs of accident damage/repairs. A mismatch of paint colours is often a giveaway.

Ensure the tyres are the correct ones for the van and that the wear is even across the front and rear treads. If not, there could be a problem with the suspension or wheel alignment.

The lights can give an idea of electrical health, check to see if they are dimming or flickering oddly.

Have a look around the cabin, it’s likely to look careworn but a lot of this can be cleaned up with a good valet. However, check all the seat belts lock properly, the windscreen wipers are in good order, and the controls all work

Take a test drive but make sure you’re properly insured – especially if it’s a private sale. If you’re not protected by the owner’s policy then you may need to take out some short-term cover with your insurance company.

Start the van from cold and look out for black or blue smoke from the exhaust and check there are no warning lights remaining on. Listen for rattles and knocking noises under acceleration.

The steering should feel responsive and if you find the van wandering around the road and a lot of play in the wheel then best avoided. Brakes have a solid feel and stop in a straight line. When testing the brakes, listen out for squealing or grinding noises.

Once happy, agree a price with the seller, and sort out a time for collection. Make sure that you fill in the V5 document to change the registration details. Also, don’t forget you’ll need to arrange tax and insurance before collecting it.

Go trusted

For real peace of mind there are some great companies around geared to providing top quality used vans along with warranties etc.

Since 1994, Van Monster has been selling quality, low-mileage, used commercial vehicles direct to businesses and individuals.

It is now the largest independent retailer of used vans in the UK.

It provides a full vehicle history and a comprehensive after sales service for added peace of mind.

This is because the majority of Van Monster’s vehicles are sourced from parent company Northgate Vehicle Hire – the UK’s largest commercial vehicle rental provider.

All vehicles are put through stringent checks, to make sure they are roadworthy and reliable.

It has around 1,000 commercial vehicles in stock at any one time, meaning that any van can typically be sourced within a few days. If it isn’t in stock, it can get it for you.

Being manufacturer independent also means that Van Monster has access to a wide range of makes and models, many of which are low mileage vehicles less than three years old.

It can also deliver vehicles to customers for just £99, anywhere in mainland UK.

Customers also benefit from Northgate’s UK-wide network of licensed mechanics and workshops which means that three quarters of the population is within 40 miles of one of its 18 branches.

Van Monster has built its success on reputation and repeat business, so customer care and support throughout the life of a vehicle is number one priority.

Its aftersales care package provides customers with the added reassurance that if something goes wrong, it will help keep them on the road.

This includes offering competitive service plans to suit different needs, extended warranty and free Van Monster breakdown cover.

Every vehicle purchased comes with six months – or up to 10,000 miles – free warranty including breakdown cover, and wear and tear serviced through its manufacturer-approved network of workshops.

Multi-level extended warranties are also available offering comprehensive vehicle protection for additional security and peace of mind.

Van Monster can also provide a same-day courtesy vehicle to ensure customers can continue ‘business as usual’, even if a vehicle is off the road.



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