October 26, 2016 at 11:16 AM
Unfortunately, it's often not enough to take a seller's word at face value and ride off into the sunset with your pristine and fully functioning vehicle faithfully carrying you home, there will sometimes be problems but there are some things you can do to keep potential mishaps to a minimum when buying a used van.
Take an Expert.
Vans are undoubtedly the workhorses of the nation, forming the spine of many logistics companies and serving as an invaluable asset to tradesmen around the country. They are put under immense pressure in their working lives and some endure better than others. Before you even think of spending your hard earned money on a used van you would be well advised to seek the counsel of an experienced and trustworthy mechanic. If you are an amateur enthusiast you may well have enough knowledge to determine whether a van is in good working nick or is on its last legs, but to be 100% certain having a mechanic with you when inspecting your potential purchase could be the difference between you motoring happily and breaking down on the side of the motorway.
What to look out for.
Under the Bonnet:
If for some reason it isn't possible to have a knowledgeable mechanic with you then there are some things you can look out for before you buy. Firstly, the engine. Insist on starting the engine yourself, from a cold start. This will allow you to see if there are any problems with the starting mechanisms, motors etc. If the engine is already warm then insist it be allowed to cool as a warm engine will start with much less trouble than a cold one. When the engine is running open up the bonnet and listen closely. Again, if you are not experienced in the trade you might not be able to hear something a mechanic would but if there are any loud or noticeable knocking noises take this as a sign that the engine might not be in prime condition. Any noticeable stains or leaks around the engine area could be a sign of a problem so inspect the area carefully.
Obviously, if the external bodywork shows a substantial amount of rust alarm bells should start ringing as this could be a sign that other, less visible areas are suffering similar degradation. Even if there are no visible signs of rust you should take care to look closer at the undercarriage and wheel arches. Another problem area can be under the matting in the back of the van so insist on taking up the mat and having a look there too.
The most important thing is to use common sense. If the deal seems to be too good to be true it usually is and if you can't find a reliable expert to help you navigate the sometimes murky waters of used van purchasing then be sure to poke about and inspect the van thoroughly.