What to Check When Buying a Used Van
Going second-hand is a great way to make your van purchase more affordable. If you’re buying several of them at once, the savings can be significant – and you needn’t compromise on quality, provided that you know what you’re looking for. We like to think that we know exactly what we’re looking for, and so what better way could there be to share our knowledge than via this blog? Let’s run through a few points.
Once steel has rusted, it’s impossible to replace. As well as looking unpleasant, rust also weakens the structure of the van, and shortens its lifespan. It’s easy to spot rust on the outer body of the van (particularly around wings and bumpers where water is more likely to settle). To detect underlying corrosion, however, you’ll need to press lightly on the metalwork. Internal rust will give itself away with a characteristic cracking sound: this is air being forced out of tiny pockets left by the rust.
When you start the van, the dashboard should be the first place you look for signs that something is amiss. Look for the battery indicator. Check the aircon while you’re at it.
If the headlights, brakelights or indicators are flickering or inactive, then it might not just be the bulbs that are to blame, but the underlying electrics. This might be an easy fix, or it might be a deal-breaker, so think twice before pulling the trigger.
Before you think about handing money over, take your prospective purchase on a long test-drive through a quiet neighbourhood. Does it handle well? If not, then any number of issues could be to blame, from underinflated tyres to faulty suspension. You should also test the brakes. Identify a dead-end street in an industrial estate nearby and attempt an emergency stop. If the vehicle swerves to one side, it’s a sure sign that there’s a problem.
Getting tyres with the proper tread-depth on them is crucial for both performance and safety. While this is a problem that can be corrected with a brand new set, it’s worth asking for a discount if you spot that the tyres are on the way out. Check for bulges, tears and uneven wear while you’re at it – as this might evidence a problem with the suspension.
Check the number plate against the DVLA’s database to get an idea of the vehicle’s history. You should also ask for receipts for any major work undertaken, and MOT certificates. Of course, some people are more organised than others. But if the seller starts reeling off excuses rather than presenting paperwork, it’s a sure sign that something is amiss.
While you might expect us to say so, buying from a reputable dealer is a safe way to avoid getting ripped off. We’re backed by the AA’s dealer promise, which is ensured by a yearly audit. As such, you can be sure that we’ll honour your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in a way that you might not expect from some dodgy chap that your girlfriend’s cousin’s nan knows.