Buying a van or any light commercial vehicle can be a strenuous job. Purchasing a light commercial van is essential for a successful business, so you would want to put in as much deliberations and careful planning as you can. There are so many different models, manufacturers, diverse variety of engines existing in the market that makes buying a light commercial a challenging task. Therefore, we felt it incumbent upon us to provide you with some pointers to ease the process so that you end up buying the right vehicle.

Type and Size of Van

The most important thing before making an investment is for you to decide the type of light commercial vehicle that best fits your requirements. Therefore, choosing the right type of vehicle is a top priority. Light commercial vans are typically divided into the following four categories:

1.       Pickups or light duty trucks which have a cargo space and an enclosed cab

2.       Panel vans like the Mercedes Benz Sprinter

3.       Car derived vans like Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa. These are built upon the chassis of regular cars

4.       Micro vans which are passenger vehicles like the Mitsubishi Minicab


The size of the vans for sale also matters a lot when buying the vehicle. If you have to dive through narrow alleys and lanes then buying a large vehicle is unfeasible. Even though the fuel economy of smaller vans is better, larger vans are mostly less difficult to maintain.

Body Work

If you are buying an older vehicle, be sure to check if the body work of the van is rusty or not. Rust is commonly detected around the bumpers and spoilers of the vehicle. But check for rust in other places too like the windscreen, door hinges, arches of the wheels. If the rust produces a cackling sound when you rub it then there is high probability of corrosion beneath the surface. Apart from rust, also ensure that all the doors and the hinges are comfortably intact and closely examine all signs of repair work.

Test Drive

Always go for a test drive which will give you a better idea of the vehicle. When you are test driving, keep an eye on the following things:

1.       Brakes:  Ascertain that the brakes are in proper working condition so practice the emergency stop on an empty road. If it is an older van, listen to the sounds that are made when braking. A brake examination will help you determine the feel of the brakes and whether they make the van stop in a straight line or not.

2.       Gear box: Be sure to notice how smoothly and efficiently the gears change.

3.       Engine: Check for the oil and anti-freeze levels and make sure that the bonnet is not warm before running the engine. A warm bonnet will indicate that the engine is not in a superb condition which will be problematic. Listen to the the noises when starting the engine and ascertain that there are no abnormal sounds.

4.       Suspension: Press down the van exerting force on the corners and see if it comes back to the normal position. If it does so then this is an indication that the shock absorbers are in good condition. The test drive will also help you verify your findings.


5.       Tyres: Tyres are extremely important to check as they make the contact between the vehicle and the road. According to the tyre laws of the UK, across the centre three-quarter tread, the minimum depth of the tyres ought to be 1.6 mm and it should not exceed 3 mm for safety purposes.

6.       Mileage: Always look at the mileage meter. Observe the interior of the van closely and if you realize the interior is shabby and worn-out, then this could mean that the meter has been meddled with.

Purchasing Price

Always compare the prices of the vehicle regardless of the fact they are new or not with other models by a different manufacturer as well. Some vans are more costly because of the registration charges, delivery cost to the dealer so to be on the safe side, ascertain that you evaluate different offers from two different dealers before making a decision. Also, it is important to know that prices may vary because of different specifications so whenever you are measuring one vehicle up against the other, see that the specs of the two vehicles are absolutely identical.

Van Operating and Insurance Costs

The operating costs are not related to the fuel consumption cost. In fact, these costs include the cost of the spare parts and servicing as well. So be sure to call the local dealer to compare these costs between similar vans manufactured by different companies. It is possible that one make has spare parts that are not easily available locally and will have to be ordered from elsewhere.

You may also want to get in contact with various insurance companies and check up on the costs. The make and model of the van plays an important role in determining these costs. Typically, a van that survived crash safety tests by attaining a higher score has lesser insurance cost than a fancy model that did not do so well there.

Residual Costs

It is not just the purchase price and the operating costs that matter. You should always take into account the resale value of the light commercial vehicle before purchasing it. So check up on the prices of the makes and models of older vans to be able to make an educated guess regarding the residual cost of your own vehicle a few years down the road.


All the recent light commercial vehicles are equipped with two front airbags and three point safety belts. But you may have additional safety requirements so you may also check for head protection bags, proximity sensors, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), side and rear view cameras to prevent accidents, alert systems to warn you of obstructions when you are reversing.

Follow these guidelines before purchasing any light commercial vehicle. Make sure that it has all your desired features, and if you are not well-versed in the technicalities and the specifications of the models, then you must take help from a professional who will guide you better.

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