Be it for personal or business use, transportation vehicles play an important role in our daily transactions. From collecting large items, delivering packages or buying supplies from the cash & carry, vans provide convenience and comfort like any other.

However, choosing the right vehicle for you is not an easy task. There are several factors that need to be considered and conditions which you need to look out for. Below is a detailed guideline of the things you need to remember and our opinion on the top brands for the used/secondhand market in the UK

Are you buying new or used?

First, you need to decide whether you need a brand-new van for your business or whether a used van is best for you.

The pros of buying a new van include higher mechanical reliability, the latest technology, and a longer warranty in the event of problems. However, new vans are likely to cost considerably more than used ones and have a rapid depreciation in value, so if you're looking to sell your van after a few years - you’re likely to lose money.

If a used van is more for you, you need to ensure that you're getting a healthy, fully functional vehicle and buying from a reputable dealer, with great reviews, is a good place to start. Dealers will likely offer a vehicle health check, have experience of the right van for you dependent on your use, and can offer peace of mind in after-sales service.

Be wary of buying a second-hand van with high mileage; many of them can wind up costing you more in maintenance and downtime and ALWAYS test drive a used van before you buy it.

Whether new or used is for you, always make sure to get the right business insurance and breakdown cover for your van.

Where should I buy it?

Buying a new van can be done directly through the manufacturer, from a showroom, or through a local dealer; buying a used van can be done online, from a private seller, or from a dealer.

Make sure you are careful when buying a used van from private sellers on online classifieds. Never exchange money until you have inspected the vehicle for yourself and done your own checks.

Assess your needs

When you are choosing a van for your business, it is important to consider exactly what it will be used for, how long you plan on keeping the van and how much usage the van will likely have during that time.

It is crucial that you know what type and size of van you need. If you're a self-employed tradesperson, you might not need the biggest van to transport small tools and/or parts from job to job.

If, however, you run a courier service, your most efficient way of working is to make many deliveries without travelling back to the depot to reload - a smaller vehicle won't be enough.

You also need to consider whether your requirements today will change in the foreseeable future. Think too short-term when purchasing a van for your business, and you will likely incur additional upgrade costs in the future.

What to watch for if buying a Used Van?

You should carry out several checks before agreeing to buy a used van, just as you would for any other vehicle.

Small commercial vehicles endure more pressure than conventional vehicles, so you need to make sure that there is reasonable wear and tear. The following checks are recommended when looking at purchasing a used van

Bodywork and tyres

Verify that any dents or scratches in the body of the van are not deep damage. Rust on the van's body should always be monitored. Corrosion may lead to further issues later on in the van's lifespan if not properly treated. For tyres, ascertain there is at least the minimum legal requirement of 1.6mm tread depth in a continuous band throughout the middle quarter of the tyre.

Van mechanics

Check the vehicle for signs of mechanical problems before buying the van. When test driving the van, test the brakes thoroughly and listen for any unusual sounds as the vehicle moves. Inspect the engine for overheating and the brakes for any signs of a faulty vehicle. Consider consulting a professional if you have any questions.

Electrics and interior

It is a good idea to check that the wipers, electric windows and dashboard lights work and that the interior of the van, such as the seats and load space, are tidy and in good working order.

Vehicle history

If you're thinking of buying a van, make sure you have access to all of the van's service and MOT histories. We would also recommend making sure you have any proof of checks/work that has been performed on the van.

Our Most Recommended Vans

Ford Transit

This full-size family used van has entered the modern age by adopting the global van platform for classical transit. It is available in three body lengths, three roof heights and two wheelbases.

The Ford Transit is used as a cargo haulier or a people mover with up to 15 seats. The features include: LED interior lighting, a 270-degree rear-door opening, a 3.2-litre turbo diesel inline-five, a 3.5 litre twin-turbo V-6 and a 3.7 litre V-6. Each model has a six-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive.

Ford Transit Connect

Ford Transit Connect is mainly focused on economy and utility. These used vans are available in two wheelbases with at least seven seats in three rows.

They have more than 1200-Ib payload and 100 cubic feet of cargo room. The base engine is a 169-bhp 2.5-litre four and optional turbocharged 178-bhp 1.6-litre four. In fact, they are a comfy used van with several available techs and have an appealing look.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

With a wide range of body styles to haul either people or cargo and seating up to 12, the used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van is a true jack-of-all-trades.

They have two powertrain options: a 188-HBP 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V-6 with a five-speed automatic and four-wheel drive or a 161-bhp 2.1-litre turbo-diesel and a seven-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive. The van also features lots of high-tech safety gear, including line departure warning, crosswind stabilisation and collision prevention.

Volkswagen Transporter

Volkswagen Transporter is an excellent mid-weight used reliable van with choices of three roof heights and two body lengths.

There is only one engine to pick from: a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel. However, it is offered with five power outputs. The lower-powered 112bhp, 100bhp and 83bhp versions drive the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 176bhp and 138bhp models get a six-speed manual box as standard twin-clutch automatic set up as an option.

Volkswagen Caddy

Volkswagen Caddy is one of the most popular used compact vans in the British market. They have a new range of engines and it comes in two variants, Candy Maxi and Candy.

These used vans have 4MOTION four-wheel drive, a six- and seven-speed DSG gearbox, adaptive cornering lights, Bluetooth connectivity and roof rails, and can carry a load of 750kg. They are available with 2.0-litre or 1.6-litre diesel engine choices of outputs. The 2.0-litre engine comes with 140bhp and 110bhp, while 1.6-litre comes with 102bhp or 75bhp.

Mercedes-Benz Vito

Mercedes-Benz Vito is a completely transformed vehicle in the van industry. Although the load variant is relatively small, the Vito has a 1.6-litre CDI diesel engine and some trim levels. They are the most economical panel vans on the British market.

The two power ratings on 2.1-litre supplies 189bhp, 162bhp and 135bhp, while 1.6-litre supplies 113bhp, 109bhp and 87bhp. Mercedes-Benz Vito is pleasant to drive, with more powerful engines.

Vauxhall Vivaro

Vauxhall Vivaro is practical and a tough van with plenty of well-designed features and surprisingly good fuel economy. They are available in two height variants and two wheelbase forms. Vivaro can be configured as a combi version or platform cab, which adds seating for up to eight passengers.

Featuring a six-speed manual gearbox, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors and near sliding access to load space. Vauxhall Vivaro comes with one of four 1.6 litre CDTi diesel engines with a power ranging from 90bhp to 120bhp.

Citroen Berlingo

The Citroen Berlingo is a light commercial vehicle that comprises L1 and L2 models with different body lengths, but an identical wheelbase. You can choose between 97bhp 1.6-litre petrol engines and 90bhp or 75bhp 1.6-litre HDi common-rail diesel.

They come well-equipped with Trafficmaster, Trackerstar vehicle tracking, Smartnav navigation as well as safety camera alerts. Citroen Berlingo provides seating up to five passengers and can allow you to add bodywork that suits your needs.

Vauxhall Movano

The award-winning used Vauxhall Movano is a heavy-duty van with more load capacity, more comfort and a choice of either rear- or front-wheel drive. They are available in various load lengths, heights and drivetrains, you will never have an issue with the choice.

You can select from chassis cab, double cab models, platform cab and crew cab to dropsides, trippers and box van with excellent passenger carriers.

Renault Trafic

With proven technology and an innovative range of highly economical engines, the used Renault Trafic continues to set the standards in the van category.

They are big on performance, big on style and big on the type of features that take hard graft out of everyday working life. Those vans are versatile and appealing, a sure way to enhance your business. You can choose high-roof or standard panel van models with up to nine seatings. Renault Trafic is a brand that continues to build on a remarkable track record.

Final Thoughts!

There are a plethora of options to choose from. Depending on your preference and budget, you can purchase a vehicle of your liking. The most important thing is you do not compromise function and convenience. After all, you will be using this vehicle for a long time on various occasions. You need to make sure that you have the right vehicle on the road especially in situations and circumstances that really matter to you.