When you buy a new van that has just come off the production line, there is an argument that because you are the first owner, you are not buying other people’s problems. You can feel secure that it is in pristine condition, and you can use the extensive warranty that you have been given for any problem.
There is, however, a lot to be said for buying second hand. For a start, it is cheaper, and you could pick up a bargain. To ensure that you don’t purchase a vehicle that will cause you problems, certain essential checks are useful to know.
Examine the bodywork for is rust. This may be easy to see if it is on the wings and sills, but also check underneath the wheel arches and don’t forget door frames. By pressing on a rusty spot, a sure sign of corrosion is if you hear a crunching sound. If not, it is just superficial.
A van’s suspension should allow the vehicle to bounce once, before returning to a stationary position. If it doesn’t do this, you may have problems with a shock absorber. Always take a test drive before committing yourself to a sale.
If these are not working or are flickering, it is an indication that the electrical system isn’t healthy.
The air conditioning system
If this is not functioning correctly, then it could cost a lot of money to fix. Check this and the van’s heating system.
On your test drive, find a piece of straight road and see how the vehicle stops. Listen particularly for any grinding or squealing noises. The van should also stop in a straight line and not pull to the left or right.
If there is wear on the tyres, this should be even. If not, then it a sign that maybe the tracking needs adjusting or there is a problem with the suspension. Check that there is a ‘proper’ spare tyre.
Look for smoke and listen for any strange sounds.
This should be responsive with no free play.
Make sure that there are no warning lights on the dash that are lit up, and also try out the seat belts.
After doing all of the above checks, take a long look at the service history.
Finally, make sure you buy your second-hand van through a reputable dealer.