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Test Driving a Van – What To Look For

Jul 2, 2024

If you’re going to buy a new van, then it’s always a good idea to take it for a test drive first.

Learning about a van’s specifications will tell you if the van meets your practical needs in terms of storage or performance. But it’s only through getting behind the wheel of the van that you can learn if it’s truly the van for you.

In this post we’ll outline some of the key things to look out for when test driving a van.

Bear in mind that you may need insurance to cover you for the duration of the test drive. Our temporary van insurance can give you all the cover you need for as little as one hour, or as long as 28 days. For a free quote, call us on 020 8290 9099 or email us at cm@anthonyjones.com.

What To Look For When Buying a Van

You can spend weeks comparing photos and specifications of vans online. You might find a few models that seem to tick all of your boxes. But you might feel differently when you actually see these vans in person.

Exterior Size – Think about the van’s size. Is it bigger than you expected it to be, or smaller? When you see the van up close, do you still feel like it will meet all of your practical needs? Will you, for example, be able to park it where you need to?

Interior Size – Take a look inside too. There may be a lot more interior space than you really need – or at lot less. And there may be wheel arches or other features that would make the interior space more difficult to work with than you anticipated.

It’s particularly important to thoroughly inspect a van if you’re buying it second hand. Take a look for any signs of damage that the seller may have neglected to mention in their listing.

Test The Doors – Open and close the rear doors, and the side doors. Do they open easily, and close securely? Are the locks working like they should?

Sit in the Driver’s Seat – How do you feel about your view of the road, and your elevation? Is it comfortable? Is it easy for you to get in and out of the van?

Take a look at the dashboard. Can you see everything you need to see, and reach all the instruments you’ll need to use?

Starting The Engine – First, place your hands on the van’s bonnet, to make sure it’s cold. If it’s too warm, it may indicate that the seller’s been using the van recently, which might suggest that they’re trying to hide some starting problems.

Place the key in the ignition. Was it easy to do, or did it stick? Does the engine start easily, or did you need to give it a few goes?

How does the engine sound? If it’s excessively loud, or if there are any rattles or clunking sounds, then it might have some issues. Also look at the van’s exhaust emissions. If there are any signs of excessive smoke, then once again it can suggest an engine problem.

When To Pay Attention to When Test Driving a Van

When test driving a van, pay special attention to the following:

  • The steering should be smooth and responsive, with no pull and no vibration.
  • The brakes should be firm and not “spongy”, and they should stop the van in a straight line.
  • You should be able to change gears smoothly, with no crunching.
  • Pay attention to the biting point. If it’s too near the top of the clutch pedal, it could suggest that the clutch is worn.
  • Make sure you’re happy and comfortable with the way the van handles, and the way it feels to drive.
  • Try reversing into a space, to ensure you’re comfortable with the van’s rear view, and that you’re able to account for blind spots.
  • If possible, take the van on the motorway or a dual carriageway, to see how it handles at speed.
  • Remember that vans will feel and handle differently when they’re fully loaded. So, if you find the van difficult to drive during a test-drive, when it will presumably be empty, then you will really struggle to manage it with a load.

Get The Right Insurance For Your Van Test Drive

You will need insurance to cover your van test drive.

If you’re buying a van from an official dealer, then they may sort out the insurance for your test drive. Don’t assume that they will, though. Make sure you ask first.

If you’re buying a van second-hand from a private dealer, then you’ll certainly have to sort out your own cover.

Our temporary van insurance can give you all the cover you need for as little as one hour, or as long as 28 days. For a free quote, call us on 020 8290 9099 or email us at cm@anthonyjones.com.

Get a Quote

You can call us during normal office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Outside of office hours you can either email us or leave an answerphone message and we promise to get back to you the next working day.

General enquiries:
020 8290 4560

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