Buying a new van might sound like a great idea. After all, you get that coveted manufacturer’s warranty, not to mention a vehicle without any miles on the clock. But new vans are notoriously expensive. And that means that the second-hand market is big business.
Whether you’ve seen a Mercedes Sprinter for sale or anything else, you can easily increase your chances of getting a good deal. All you need to do is carry out the following basic checks before you buy.
You might think that the most important consideration when purchasing a new van would be the engine. And to a degree, you’d be right. But the engine isn’t the only aspect of a van that’s worthy of consideration. Many vans tend to have an OK engine, but sub-par cockpits. And that can be a problem.
Often you’ll find evidence that previous owners have used the cabin itself to transport goods. Sometimes the damage is minor: for example, a broken cup holder. But sometimes the damage is far more extensive. In extreme cases, the windscreen may be cracked, and the gearstick completely shot.
Steering systems in vans tend to be quite simple. But they’re also very expensive to sort out of something goes wrong. Hop into the van and take it for a test drive. If the steering feels responsive and mechanically sound, you’re good to buy. If it feels vague or has any play, then either find out more or walk away from the sale.
Before you purchase a van, ask whether the van has any history of engine trouble. Ask for it’s MOT record and then have a good look at the comments made by the mechanics who have serviced the van in the past. Often they’ll leave a trail of information and concerns about the engine. For instance, it’s worth finding out whether things like the clutch or the cam belt have been recently replaced. If they have, then that’s good news. If they haven’t, and the van is approaching the 60,000-mile mark, it might be worth investigating further. The last thing that you want to is to buy a van and then be saddled with an enormous repair bill.
While you are test driving the van, listen carefully to the engine. Pay particular attention to the engine temperature and any unusual sounds while using the throttle. If you hear any problems, it’s probably best to walk away from the sale.
The tyres are a good gauge of the overall health of the van. If the wear on the tyres is even, it tells you that the suspension is well calibrated and that the wheels are properly aligned. If the wear on the tyres is uneven, it suggests that the van is veering over to one side, or that it has done at some point in the past.
Also, check that the tyres themselves have treads deeper than the legal limit (1.6mm in the UK). And make sure that there aren’t any visible signs of damage to either the tyres or the rims of the wheels.