The compact but capable Ford Transit Connect is one of the best small vans. Dan Powell of Honest John Vans tells you how to find a bargain on the used market.
Easy to drive, cheap to run and well-equipped as standard, the compact but capable Connect is one of the best small vans for sale.
The latest model was launched in 2014 to replace the mk1 Transit Connect that had blown away the competition and set new standards for comfort, space and fuel economy. Ford boasted the mk2 would set new standards for load-carrying ability as well as cost of ownership and dependability. Load management and space was improved, too, Ford offering two wheelbases at launch, the short wheelbase (SWB/L1) having 2.9 cubic metres of load space, and the long wheelbase (LWB/L2) model featuring 3.7 cubic metres of cargo volume.
A load-through hatch in the bulkhead boosts load space volumes to 3.7 and 4.4 cubic metres respectively, which means the Connect offers the same load-length capacity as some of its larger Transit Custom relations, with either 3.0m with the L1 or 3.4m in the L2 model.
Various engine choices were offered with the Transit Connect over its life, the core being made up of the 1.6-litre TDCI turbodiesel which was offered with 75, 95 and 115PS outputs.
For builders wanting ultimate economy, Ford additionally offered its 100PS 1.5 TDCi turbodiesel in Econetic guise, it in its best specification (L1 Base trim) managing an advertised figure of 74.3mpg. For that, you’d have to accept a 62mph speed limiter, without it the figures increasing to 70.6mpg.
Latterly the 1.6 TDCi would be discontinued in 2016, replaced by the 1.5 ‘EcoBlue’ diesel across the range. Ford offered the Connect with petrol engines, a 1.6-litre EcoBoost mated to an automatic transmission which was only offered briefly up to 2015. There is also Ford’s familiar 1.0-litre 100PS EcoBoost petrol.
Servicing should be every year or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first). Pricing varies across the country, but most garages offer fixed price servicing. As an example, an interim service should cost in the region of £120, a full service costing around £200-£250.
A replacement battery fitted will be around £100, with an MoT around £40-£50. Should you need diagnostics running to check any fault code expect to pay around £45, a replacement clutch costing around £540 fitted, front brake pads under £100, rears under £70, replacement front discs in the region of £220.
The timing belt on the TDCi engines should be replaced every five years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first). Fitted, along with a new water pump that timing belt cost around £500. Miss that and if it goes you’ll need a new engine, so make sure you ask the seller to provide evidence that it’s been done (usually in the form of an invoice from the garage that completed the work).
What to watch
Check the load area for damage, and the interior for wear and tear, with so much choice there’s no reason to compromise on one that’s not perfect. Have a good look around the tyres for wear or sidewall damage. Any signs of uneven wear suggest the tracking has been knocked out, likewise damaged sidewalls or wheels signal abuse.
Check the clutch for slip or judder by rolling away in second with low revs, if there’s any evidence of it then negotiate a discount, or have a new one fitted before buying. Listen for any rumbling or drone from the wheel bearings when test driving. Be sure to run the van at everything from town speeds to dual carriageway speeds. A new wheel bearing, fitted, will cost around £150.
For more van buying advice, visit: www.honestjohn.co.uk/vans or type “Honest John Vans” into your online search engine.