Top 5 used van maintenance bills

Used vans look like a steal when you check out the price but add up all the predictable maintenance costs and suddenly that big bargain van turns into a big money pit. Vanarama's Tim Cattlin reveals the top 5 used van parts that can break the bank.

Buying Used Means Buying Repair Bills

Buy a 3-year-old used van with 40,000 miles on the clock and you could be heading for some BIG bills. Did I put BIG in capitals? Yes, I did and for good reason. I've been looking at some estimates for routine maintenance and repairs that become more likely as time and mileage mount up.

No matter where you buy the vehicle from, these are mostly things that would not be covered by any dealer warranty. Here's the top 5 scary ones:

  1. Cam (timing) belt replacement – This part is usually due to be changed at around 5 years or 60,000 miles and is essential to avoid breakage and catastrophic engine failure. Strap yourself in – for a VW Caddy it's a whopping £527!
  2. Clutch – When the clutch starts failing on a Ford Transit Custom you're on the slippery slope to a bill of £858!
  3. Tyres – A set of 4 for a Mercedes Vito will blow a hole in your wallet to the tune of £640!
  4. Brake discs and pads – At 40,000 miles old it won't be long before the brakes on your Ford Transit need attention. Get ready to break out the credit card because heading your way is a bill for new discs and pads of £581.
  5. Engine Management Light – This ALWAYS pops on when you least expect it. No, you can't just ignore it or take the bulb out, that'll get you an instant MOT fail. The light indicates all sorts of faults… but a typical one is an EGR valve replacement, and on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that will set you back around £900.

Did You Know?

In 2016/17 only 45% of vans over 3.0t submitted for MOT tests passed first time!

You might think that's not so bad because it includes older vans BUT only 55% of Ford Transits that went for their first MOT at three years old passed first time. Even the most reliable of vans have bad days…

How To Avoid These Huge Bills

Well, you can certainly (subject to contract length and mileage) eliminate the vast majority by leasing a new van or pickup truck from Vanarama. Apart from all the other benefits of operating a brand-new vehicle, you'll also have:

  • No MOTs for three years,
  • Road tax included in your monthly payments,
  • And, a full manufacturer's warranty (usually for 3 years, sometimes longer).

Not to mention a brand-new van packing all the latest tech and comforts with NO rubbish, stains and scratches caused by the previous owner, and NO bank-breaking maintenance bills.

Some FAQ's!

Q: What happens when a clutch fails?

A: If it completely fails – not much. No drive will reach the wheels from the engine and you're going nowhere.

Q: My van is proving really expensive to maintain. Is it OK to buy part worn tyres?

A: You've no idea if they've been involved in an accident. They could have been kerbed, damaged or had a poor previous repair. This could make a high speed blow out far more likely, leading to loss of control and an accident.

Q: How often do brake discs need changing? Why can't I just change the pads, it's much cheaper.

A: Brake discs wear through use. Manufacturers state a thickness that the metal should never go below. The material helps heat generated through braking dissipate. Discs that get too hot don't offer as much braking efficiency so it's really important to change them when required. It's impossible to estimate a mileage, some drivers cover long distances on motorways which don't require as much use of brakes as a vehicle that is only ever driven in heavy stop, start traffic.

Q: Can you drive a van with the engine management light on?

Usually yes, although it may enter 'limp' mode, where engine power is drastically reduced until the fault is cleared. Any vehicle which has the warning light on should be taken to a garage as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.

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