If you are looking to purchase a second-hand van in order to lower costs and avoid immediate depreciation, then you need to follow a few basic rules to avoid buying a 'lemon'.
Do your research
Before you even go to see a potential van, make sure you do some research on which kind of vehicle will suit your needs best.
Some models may retain their value or may have particular problems that you will need to check before parting with your cash. Try and find out how low or high mileage can impact on the price, or if one make is more economical than another and which commercial van insurance group it will be classed in.
It is also important to set a budget, otherwise you could be talked into paying more for a van than you really want to.
Feel comfortable with the seller
Many people opt to buy vans directly from a dealer as they feel they will have better comeback if the vehicle develops problems. There is also the opportunity to apply for a finance deal via a showroom.
However, there could be savings to be made if purchasing a van directly from a private seller, but you do really need to ensure you are happy the vehicle is theirs to sell and has not got a dodgy history.
Check it over
Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty when purchasing a van and make sure you double check all the potential problem areas. This is when that initial research becomes invaluable as you will be well-equipped to look for any possible weak points.
Get on your knees and have a good look at the chassis and floor for rust and dodgy repairs. You also need to check the exhaust does not have any holes or kinks in it.
Remember to carefully examine the outside of the van for possible re-spray evidence or paint touch-ups as this could indicate the vehicle has been involved in a crash at some point.
Have a really good look at the tyre tread and assess whether there is an uneven wear pattern as this could indicate other mechanical problems. Worn tyres can be expensive to replace so make sure you factor that into the cost.
Check the mileage and make sure there is no suggestion the van's clock has been tampered with in order to hide excessive use.
Any decent seller will allow you to take the van for a test drive, which will give you a chance to make sure the brakes and gears are all in good working order. Any crunching or grinding problems means that it isn't in the best condition and it may be sensible to walk away from the deal.
If you have a friend who is a mechanic then it may be worth asking them to give it the once over to check it is in good condition. There are also a number of companies that offer the services of experts to help ensure a vehicle is roadworthy.
Before parting with your cash make sure you have double-checked the van's history and paperwork. Running a vehicle check can help identify if it is a stolen van or if there is outstanding Hire Purchase Information on it.
Finally, make sure you have your commercial van insurance cover before you drive off in your new purchase.