How to buy a used van

Buying a used van can sometimes work out better than buying a brand-new vehicle. Even after only a couple of years the value of the van will already be cheaper, saving the buyer money, but there’s also the opportunity to haggle to decrease the cost even more. One thing to take into consideration is what vans are used for. They are designed to carry large loads and are often driven up and down motorways transporting the load. Therefore, they often see more rough handling than cars. Also, vans are often used for business and in 2014 it was found that 44% of them in the UK visited London each year, so don’t be surprised if the mileage is fairly high. This is something to take into account when buying a second-hand van. It is unlikely you will find a used van that is in pristine condition, but as long as it has been treated well you can find yourself a great deal. There are a few steps to follow when buying a second-hand vehicle to make sure you can get the best possible deal. So, if you're wondering, "What's the best way to buy a second-hand vehicle?" then this guide will help you out.


30 second car valuation

  • Do your research

    When buying a used vehicle, the first thing that should be done is research. Knowing about the market value, the van itself and the seller will put you in a good position to make a deal. Shop around and do research online to find out what type of van you are looking for; the make, size, engine size and any other details that you are hoping for in your next vehicle. When looking at what second-hand vans are for sale, once you have chosen the model you are looking for, research the price they tend to be on sale for, taking into consideration the condition of each van to find out the average market value of the van you are wanting to buy. This will give you a good indication of what you should be willing to pay. That way you can prevent being overcharged and undercharged. If a vehicle is being sold way below the market price, ask yourself why. What’s wrong with the van?

  • Second-hand van dealer or private sale

    The decision between buying from a private sale or a second-hand van dealer can depend on how much variety you want to choose from, and how much you want to be able to haggle. A dealership will have more choice, but a private sale can often be easier to haggle for a lower price as it is more likely that the seller will want a quick sale. However, there is more protection from a dealership in case anything goes wrong, so you need to weigh up your options of what kind of deal you would prefer.

  • Test drive the van

    Before making a bid, test driving the vehicle not only helps the buyer get a feel for the vehicle to make sure it is what they want but also allows further checks to be made. Any issues with the engine, the brakes, the gearbox and the lights should arise on a test drive. As well as any interior faults, whether this is something as simple as the seats starting to look worn, or if it’s a computer glitch on the dashboard. All of which are difficult to notice without completing a test drive.

  • Check all documentation

    All paperwork should be checked to ensure the legitimacy of the deal, especially in a private sale. The documents that should be available to you before making a deal are the log book, also known as the V5, the MOT certificate, and its service history. The V5 is very important as this document provides the van’s history, including when it was manufactured and its previous owners, which can be compared against the mileage and the condition of the van. This document also provides proof of who owns the vehicle and that the seller has the rights to sell the van.

  • Ask plenty of questions

    When buying a second-hand van, it is important to find out as much as possible about the vehicle. It’s not just the visible condition and the mileage that should influence your decision, but also how the van has been driven and what journeys it has taken. This is much easier to find out from a private sale. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller how often the van was driven and what type of journeys it typically took to give you an indication of its driving experience. This information can also be compared to the mileage and visible condition to ensure they both reflect one another.

  • Haggle the price

    When buying a used van, you’ve got the privilege of being able to haggle, which you don’t have with a brand-new model. Thoroughly check the van for any scratches or dents, or any internal issues that you can use to knock some money off the value. When making a bid start low. Don’t reveal the limit you’re willing to pay, otherwise, you will have no way of haggling for a lower price. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away. If the seller gets the impression that you aren’t leaving without a deal they may become more stubborn with the price, but if they think they could lose the deal they may become more lenient.


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