November 20, 2018 at 5:02 PM
Buying a van is likely to be one of the biggest investments for your business as well as being an essential tool that you need to make sure is fit for purpose.
Before you commit to buying anything, you should ask yourself the following questions to understand exactly what it is you're looking for in a van.
The main function of a van is to transport cargo and tools. They provide a reinforced space so that they can carry heavier and larger loads than a car.
You should work out the typical payload you transport day-to-day and how much space that takes up so you know what load area size you need to look for.
It's a good idea to give yourself an element of flexibility, but at the same time, you don't want to waste money by paying for a van that is too big.
If you occasionally need to transport a larger load, it might be worth hiring a larger van for those times rather than investing in a vehicle with too much space.
If you just need to transport yourself and one other person, this isn't a question you really need to ask yourself. Even if there is a third person, most vans come with three seats in the front as standard.
However, if the whole team travels to each job together, or your business revolves around transporting people, then you will need more than three seats.
There are specific van types for this purpose: crew cab, double cab and minibus.
If you need extra load space for some journeys and don't need to use the extra seats all the time, some van types will enable you to add and remove them.
Whether you're using the van for short trips around urban areas or long distance motorway trips will drastically change the van that's right for your business.
If most of your journeys are around town delivering to shops and restaurants or doing quick jobs close to each other in congested urban areas, you'll want something easy to drive and manoeuvrable.
In contrast, if you do longer journeys travelling to more out-of-town locations (e.g. industrial estates or retail parks), you'll prioritise greater carrying capacity and fuel efficiency over ease of movement.
The length and location of your daily trips can also have an effect on the best engine for your van. Diesel engines are best suited to long distance travelling; however, if you're driving in built-up urban areas - possibly even low-emssion zones - you might want to consider an electric van. Petrol versions would also be more suitable compared to a diesel engine in this scenario.
It's important to consider the process of loading and unloading your van. If you need to make frequent drop-offs in town, a sliding side door - or maybe even twin sliding doors - would be useful to make the process more efficient.
Similarly, if your van is transporting palletts, you either need a forklift to be able to access your load area, or be able to get a pallet truck up to the load area and back down again.
Typically, if you travel in urban areas you'll encounter narrower roads and congested city streets so you'll need a slimmer van. Also take note of the van's height in case you need to access an underground car part - the height limit tends to be 2.3 metres.
If you're transporting goods that are perishable (e.g. food or medical supplies), you may need a regulated temperature in your cab area. There are used versions on the market, or this is something you can specify if you buy from new.
For some people this might be their first consideration, but if it's for your business, your van should be fit for purpose and then you can find something that fits within your budget.
You have a number of choices once you've narrowed down what you need from a van: New or used? Cash purchase or finance?
Whatever you decide, you should always think about the running costs including fuel consumption, tax, insurance, servicing and any additional charges (e.g. Congestion Charge).
Finally, you should take into account the van's resale value when you come to sell it yourself and how much you're likely to recoup.
Understanding the different types of vans available can be quite confusing. We've made a helpful list of the most common types of vans available and what they are best used for.
As the name suggests, this van is built on the platform of a car but has the rear seats removed to create a loadspace similar to a traditional van. They are the same size as a car and drive in a similar way as well.
Car-derived vans are perfect for couriers making light deliveries and self-employed trades people who don't need to carry many heavy tools.
By far the most popular body type on the road. It's defined by its flat, enclosed load area and typically has blanked out 'window' sections on the sides of the load area which are the panels referred to in the name.
It strikes a good balance between load carrying and ease of driving. It's used by most trades because the height and length of the load area is configurable to the user's needs.
Carry more of your crew in this type of van which has an extra line of seats behind the front seats so that it can transport more people.
Normally it's a panel van that can carry up to 6 people but has a smaller load area. It's also known as a double cab.
Crew vans are often used by businesses like scaffolders or road gangs.
A chassis cab is bought for specialist conversions to fit a buyer's requirement. It is just a basic shell of the cab without the rear body, only a platform.
Businesses with a chassis cab will use the platform to create a Luton van, Tipper, Dropside or have a refrigerated body.
Once you've decided what body type suits your business, you might need to determine the wheelbase.
This is the distance between the front and rear axles which has a big impact on the length and capacity of a van.
There are three options: short wheelbase, medium wheelbase and long wheelbase.
The longer the wheelbase, the greater the capacity, but also the more difficult it is to manoeuvre.
Here at Big Van World, we have a range of used vans in stock that you can search by price, fuel type and body style.