It's often said that vans are the backbone of the UK economy which is perfectly true, they're a mobile advert, workshop or office for the companies running them.

They have your logo emblazoned on the side and carry the goods you need to deliver to the customer or take the materials you need to carry out a job.

Without a van many companies simply could not continue but as well as their absolute necessity they are also a considerable investment and here we help you to get the most of that by highlighting some of the steps you can easily take to look after it.

Key Considerations When Buying a Van

We spoke to Matthew Davock, head of LCV at Manheim, the national auction chain which sells tens of thousands of second hand vans a year and many of them to dealers who then put them on

their forecourt. Matthew is a man who definitely knows what he is talking about and we asked him a few key questions.

How does depreciation affect the value of my van?



The bad news is that with the number of vans being registered rocketing in line with the resurgent economy over the past few years simple laws of supply and demand suggest that depreciation will be a bigger problem for you now.

The good news is that demand in the second hand van sector is strong too and with a few simple steps and sensible choices you can maximise the chances of yours being the one which sticks out from the crowd and gets a buyer prepared to pay the best price.

Matthew said:

The average age of vans we sell is six years old, with around 84,000 miles on the clock. Car derived vans and small panel vans make up over 60 per cent of the volume sold. An average three-year old large panel van can be expected to sell for around 30 - 40 per cent of its original value.

What are the features I should choose when buying my van?

Let’s start with ply lining. This makes a lot of sense, protecting the sides and floor from knocks and scrapes, or 'inside-out damage’ as the trade calls it, caused by loose cargo or tools moving around. It is a simple, quick, easy and very cost-effective measure.

The resale advantage of ply lining is not so much the extra value in pounds, shillings and pence but the fact it gives the next buyer confidence that yours is a cared for van.

Matthew said:

The average cost of ply lining starts at around £150 and can be higher for larger vans or more complex installations. Where a trader thinks that the potential usage of a van dictates a new ply lining would positively impact a retail buyer’s perception, they will typically factor this into any overall cost of refurbishment.

For the same reason that buyers look for clean sides and floor, it also makes sense to have a bulkhead in your van. If nothing else, it protects the occupants from anything loose flying forward!

Making a van look tidy & cared for is important, but what else should I be choosing?

Above all vans have to be practical vehicles, so any with side-loading doors will be a lot more popular than one where the hapless driver has to pull out everything from the back.

Vans are made with a sliding side door on just one side or on both and on just about any size of van, from the car-derived ones to the big 3.5 tonnes category.

As with the ply-lining, side doors do not add much cost to the specification but can easily be the difference between you selling or having it left waiting for a buyer.

Having twin side doors on larger vans adds upwards of £400 to the average value depending on age. Nearside sliding doors on smaller vans are seen by buyers as essential. If they are not fitted, the van is typically worth around £400 less.

If you doubt their usefulness or appeal, just imagine being an urban delivery driver squeezing into a tight parking space on a side road and then only being able to unload from the back doors instead of from the side...

What about graphics and which is the best way to apply them?

These days few businesses actually paint their logo or contact details onto the van. You want to advertise your goods and services but how to do that without either incurring a big bill to remove painted logos at resale time or having to accept a much lower price?

The answer is the readily available vinyl stickers that are durable, can be made to your exact design, are easy to apply and stick on and just as important, easy to peel off afterwards ready for the next owner.

From the perspective of ultimately having to remove it, vinyl is definitely the best choice. Paint is thankfully now not seen in the used market due to quality of today’s vinyl and designs.

Body wraps can cost upwards of £200 to remove professionally, as they can become brittle with age and heat. Glue must be removed, but sharp blades should not be used to remove them as paint can be damaged!


What are the Most Popular Features?

Let’s turn to comfort features and driver aids. If you hop into the driver’s cabin in a modern van you may be surprised at the level of sophistication. Utilitarian they may be but many vans today let the driver keep in touch with base through Bluetooth® hands-free mobile phone preparation and let them get to their destination with sat nav.

Did you know that some vans even have electronic devices that will automatically compensate if the van is swayed in a strong side wind to keep it on the straight and narrow?

Popular features such as rear parking sensors and air conditioning get a big tick.

Matthew said:

Air conditioning is now seen by van buyers as a must-have item technical wizardry is sometimes overlooked in favour of metallic paint and car-like specification such as sat nav. Buyers will be looking for the best they can get with the money they have and if one van offers more of what they would need or like, such as two side loading doors and a nicer cabin, that will be their choice over ones without them.

Just as with cars, the better the spec the more sellable they become and that means the business can get more for their asset and put it towards a new one. The big thing is knowing what features will return you a better resale price or attract a buyer.

Getting Your Van Serviced

Ply lining, side doors, vinyl stickers and so on will make a difference but the single biggest consideration a potential buyer has is looking for a van they can buy with confidence; and this starts with a full service history.

Sadly this is something this sector has a bad track record in; down time instead of having it on the road earning, lack of cash in the business - whatever the reason, the truth is that many older vans are not properly serviced. Government figures show that between 2013 and 2014 a shocking 50 per cent of Class 7 vans, that’s those between 3,000 and 3,500 kgs, failed their MoT at the first time attempt.

Given how businesses depend on their van it must make sense to choose one from a reputable dealer who can prove its track record.

In terms of wear and tear, the cost of putting it right before getting it up to a standard where it can go on a forecourt for sale usually costs several hundred pounds.

The average damage we record on vans is circa £600, consisting of dents, scratches and missing or broken components.

See What the Van Experts Say

Assuming that the van you are interested in meets all your criteria, that it’s smart, equipped with all you need and so on, how do you pick one from another?

Well, one answer is to look at what the experts say. Just like the car world, there are industry awards for the best performers and to give just one example, the new Volkswagen Crafter has just been voted as the International Van of the Year 2017.

An international panel of experienced commercial vehicle journalists from 24 countries named the VW Crafter as the best van on the market after being impressed by its fuel economy, practicality, driver aids and safety and the width of choice available in terms of different versions.

We hope these few simple tips help you protect the value in your van and make it more sellable when the time comes to trade it in for a newer one.

For more information about choosing your next commercial vehicle, please contact your local Swansway Volkswagen Van Centre.


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