Vanarama's Van Expert Tim Cattlin shines a light on the realities of 'making do' with a used van when you could lease a brand new one from Vanarama.
You can almost hear the sceptical tradesman chatting to his mates at the pub… 'I don't need a brand new van. Only a fool buys new, everyone knows you lose a fortune as soon as you drive it away from the dealership. Used ones are much cheaper, and, they're much more reliable these days'.
A perfectly understandable assumption. Yes – a new van does lose lots of value as soon as it hits the road. So, consequently, to buy outright, the 'screen price' of a used one is lower. And, yes, vans are more reliable these days. Dig a little deeper though, and all is not what it initially seems. I've put together a little bit of food for thought, highlighting some pitfalls when it comes to buying used that are easy to overlook, and, as a result how I genuinely think that leasing a new van makes total sense. I might work for Vanarama, but I've spent a lifetime in the van industry and wouldn't put my name to something that I didn't believe in.
The warranty on a used van can vary enormously. At best , it can have the remainder of the manufacturer's warranty – but, and it's a big but – if the van hasn't been serviced on time and to manufacturer's recommendations, it could be worthless.
Somewhere in the middle is a dealer's used warranty (often what used to be called 'Mechanical Breakdown Insurance'). These are usually optional, expensive and customers can be scared into submission by a commission eager salesman. They can end up paying large sums of money in addition to the price of the van, only to find that when they come to claim, the cover wasn't quite as extensive as they thought. The true level of protection can hide deep within acres of small print…
The worst option – buy privately and you'll have no protection whatsoever, no warranty, no legal comeback, nothing. How do you know if the seller is only getting rid of the van because there is a major fault that a quick road test won't uncover?
According to HPI, one in three used vehicles has a hidden history. It could have been involved in a serious accident (possibly even being declared a write off), the mileage could have been 'corrected' (in other words, ' clocked'), it may be subject to an existing finance agreement, which a new owner would be liable for, or it could have been stolen. Now, in fairness most dealers will have carried out a check before buying the van but, some are less than reputable and, if you buy privately, forget to carry out one of these checks yourself at your peril.
Someone else's filth and damage
OK – your used van checks out and there are no nasties lurking. Or, are there? You've actually no idea how it has been operated. It could have been regularly overloaded, had multiple drivers who don't seem to know where the kerb is, or maybe had some accident damage which has had a repair of dubious quality – look for those subtle changes in colour between panels. See that nice new plylining? Looks and smells great, but, just how bad was the old wood? Cement, chemical spillages, scuffs, gouges and splinters from heavy loads being moved around – or even worse? New lining is a cheap and easy way to disguise just how hard a van has been worked.
Move to the cab which has more than likely had a very good valet and, on the surface might look OK. You're completely unaware what it was like prior to this – grime, oil, stains, spillages, not to mention food debris that could have been lurking down the back of the seats for months or years. Once the fragrances from the cleaning chemicals and air freshener have faded you may well be left inheriting some pretty unpleasant second-hand aromas.
Technology and emissions
Want to work in central London? Want to avoid paying a hefty charge to enter the Ultra Low Emission Zone? You'll need a van that conforms to Euro 6 regulations and 80% of all vans on the road don't. And, don't get too smug if you never go near the nation's capital, these zones could be coming to a city near you before too long.
A new van will benefit from the very latest advances in technology, including state of the art safety features. It will have the latest software (usually updated at routine services) and for those fitted with satellite navigation, the maps will be up to date.
Overall, used is RARELY cheaper than leasing a brand new van
In fact, used prices are at an all time high and have skyrocketed in the past four years. Demand is outstripping supply for some vehicles and, to quote trade sources 'the market is superheated'.