Buying a van

Whether you’re a sole trader looking to buy your first van, an established trader business looking to add to your company fleet, or you’re simply looking for a vehicle with more practicality and transporting capacity than a normal car, there are many options to consider when buying a van. Let us guide you through the various factors to consider, to ensure you get the right van to suit your needs.

What to consider when buying a van

Before you start the process of buying a van, there are a number of considerations to make and questions to ask yourself:

What to consider when buying a van

Van use

  • Why do you want or need a van? – are you buying a van for your business, the extra storage space, the fuel economy, or perhaps for the family?
  • What will your van be used for? – think about what your typical van load will be, and your estimated day-to-day mileage. Will any extra features be required (e.g. van racking)?
  • Will you get good value from this investment? – the upfront and running costs of a van can be expensive, so think carefully about the long-term value of your investment.

Budgeting for a van

  • What is your budget? – understanding what you can afford is essential, and will inform the type of van you choose and how it is financed.
  • How will you pay for the van? – are you comfortable paying for the van outright, or would taking out a personal loan help?
  • Can you afford the running costs? – tax, fuel, maintenance and insurance costs can be slightly higher for vans, so make sure you plan in advance.

Type of van

  • Should you buy a new or used van? – new and used vans each come with their own pros and cons, so these should be weighed carefully before making a decision.
  • What van type and brand should you get? – which van brand you choose depends entirely on how you plan to make use of your new van. Are you looking for a van to escort heavy goods, a van with space to escort extra passengers, or perhaps something more nimble like a car? Picking the right van from the outset will ensure you’re not wasting money later down the line.

Once you’re able to answer these questions, you should be in a great position to buy a van!

Buying a used van

Buying a used van is a popular option, but there are a few things to consider and red flags to look out for during the buying process.

If you intend to buy a used van from a dealer or garage, you should check to make sure they have a good reputation and whether they are part of any trade associations. Some associations, such as the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), can add a level of protection should anything go wrong with your purchase. Be sure to check that all the paperwork is accurate and legitimate, as well as the van’s history – discrepancies with the V5C, for example, can indicate that the vehicle may in fact be stolen.

If possible, you should test drive the used van as this will provide a good sense of its condition. Ensure the radio, lights and air conditioning work properly, as well as the steering and pedals. Make sure you conduct exterior checks as well – inspect the condition and tread depth of the tyres, and ensure no rust can be found on the bodywork. Any problems you find can be raised with the dealer and used as possible haggle points.

For details of further checks you should conduct when buying a used van, visit the GOV.UK website.

Buying a used van

Van buying options

It’s very important to consider the various buying options when buying a van.

Buying a van outright

Buying a van outright can be a good option if you have the capital to do so, as you’ll have no additional outgoing payments after the purchase. If you don’t have the funds available yourself, you could consider a personal loan to help. While this will accumulate interest over time, you can claim up to 100% VAT back on the monthly payments, provided the van is for business use only.

Leasing a van

Leasing a van is a popular option for many, though like with leasing a car, you won’t ever technically own the vehicle. You’ll simply be renting its use for an agreed period of time, for a fixed monthly fee. You are typically restricted to a mileage limit when leasing a van, so there are certain restrictions to consider.

Maintenance costs tend to be covered by the leasing company, and there can be certain tax advantages to leasing a van. If your business is VAT-registered and your van is only for business use, you claim back the cost of the rental payments as a tax-deductible expense. You should check carefully what is and is not covered as part of any van leasing deal, as unforeseen costs could arise.

Buying a van on finance

Finance agreements require fixed monthly loan repayments over an agreed time period, and in some cases a final payment before you become the owner of the van. Some finance deals require a deposit, which can be cash or from a part exchange of another vehicle you own. Finance providers may not finance all types of vans so make sure you check with them before applying.

For help and advice on van loans and financing a van, we can help today. We can help you with van finance for most of the popular van brands such as Ford vans and Vauxhall vans.

Tax advantages when buying a van

If you’re buying a van for business use, whether you buy outright, lease or financing the van, there are various implications on tax.

Tax relief when buying a van

When you buy a van outright, you can claim the cost of it against your income tax bill, but how you go about this will depend on how you pay tax.

By contrast, if you lease a van, you can claim up to 100% VAT back on the monthly payments if your business is VAT-registered. As with buying a van outright, you can also claim the cost of the van rental as an expense when filling out your tax return. These rental payments can be classed as a tax-deductible expense.

For more information on expenses and tax implications, visit the GOV.UK website.

Tax advantages when buying a van

Van types

There are a number of common van types to choose from, some of the most popular types and example models are:

City van (also known as a car-derived van)

City vans are small and nimble vans which have a base derived from cars, with the added practicality of decent storage space. Some of the most common city vans are:


Short wheel base van (also known as an SWB or panel van)

Perhaps the most common type of van in the UK, short wheel base vans (named as such due to the short distance between the front and rear wheels) offer substantial storage space whilst being practical to drive around towns and cities. Some of the most common short wheel base vans are:


Long wheel base van (also known as an LWB van or box van)

Favoured by large courier companies, long wheel base vans (named as such due to the long distance between the front and rear wheels) have a large, box-shaped load area which is ideal for transporting lots of packages safely and securely. Some of the most common long wheel base vans are:


Crew van

As the name suggests, crew vans are ideal for transporting both a load and additional passengers. They offer an additional row of seats, so are ideal for small workforces and commonly used by travelling groups and bands on tour. Some of the most common long wheel base vans are:


Luton van

Luton vans are commonly used by removal companies. The van has a boxed-shaped extension behind the main cab, usually with a tail lift to help get heavy goods into the storage space. Most common van manufacturers offer Luton vans as options on their popular models, such as the Ford Transit for example.

Flatbed van

Similar to a Luton van, a flatbed van has a traditional cab as the front of the vehicle, but instead of a box-shaped extension at the back, it has a large, exposed loading bed. Flatbed vans are common in the building industry as they carry large and awkward loads quite easily. As with Luton vans, many common van models can be built with a flatbed as an option.

Van weight restrictions

As well as the dimensions of a van being an important consideration, you should also think about weight restrictions. The term light commercial vehicle (LCV) is used to describe any commercial vehicle up to a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes. Any vehicle with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes is classed as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV). If an LCV is found to be overweight, you could find yourself with an expensive fine, or even face court summons and have your van seized. We can provide van finance for LCVs and you can apply online in minutes.

If you’re self-employed and looking for van finance, contact us today.