Boost your building business with these brilliant used vans. Dan Powell, editor of Honest John Vans, names his top five buys for £15,000.
The used commercial vehicle market is filled with hidden gems and a budget of £15,000 will get you behind the wheel of an extremely capable builder’s van in 2022.
The medium size panel van has been the most popular new commercial vehicle in the UK for a number of years, which means the used market is overflowing with excellent vans that are designed to carry your tools and materials at a price you can afford.
This list features our favourite used vans from Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Peugeot and Vauxhall for under £15,000. We think all of these vans deliver class-leading comfort, fuel economy and load moving potential.
The Volkswagen Transporter is one of the most desirable vans on the used market. Easy to drive, practical and well built, it’s the go-to van for millions of builders. A budget of £15,000 will get you a T6 Transporter with above average mileage from 2015 or 2016. All T6s from this era are powered by Volkswagen’s impressive 2.0 TDI diesel engine, and most will carry three Euro pallets weighing up to 1331kg (1274kg in the long-wheelbase model) while providing a maximum load length of three metres.
Ford Transit Custom
The builder’s favourite, the Ford Transit Custom has been the UK’s best-selling van for a number of years now and it’s easy to see why tradespeople hold it in such high regard. Stylish, affordable and comfortable, the Transit Custom pairs big load moving potential with car-like comfort. It also has lots of smart features, which includes a bulkhead hatch that allows the space under the front seats to be used. Aim for a 2017 and 2018 van for £15,000, as these are powered by Ford’s powerful and efficient 2.0 EcoBlue diesel engine.
Vauxhall launched an all-new version of the Vivaro in 2019, but we think the old shape van (built from 2014 to 2019) is a smart buy for £15,000. Admittedly, the Vivaro isn’t the biggest van in its class, but even the short wheelbase model will accommodate three Euro pallets. You also get a 1.2-metre width between the wheelarches, which allow 8×4 foot panels to fit in with ease.
The Toyota Proace is the only van on this list that can be bought with a manufacturer warranty. That’s because Toyota covers its vans for up to 10 years if owners choose to have their vans serviced at the Toyota dealer network. Cheap to run, good to drive and capable of carrying a maximum payload of 1400kg, the Toyota Proace is a compact van that delivers excellent value.
The Peugeot Expert is built at the same factory as the Toyota Proace in France. However, because the Peugeot isn’t backed by the same type of warranty as the Toyota, the Expert tends to be cheaper and more plentiful on the used market than the Proace. Under the bonnet, the Expert is offered with the choice of 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesel engines, with the standout performer the 115PS 1.6 HDi which officially returns 54mpg.
Van buying checklist
Do not buy a van with less than four months left on the MoT. Most sellers will give their van a new certificate before selling it. Only those with something to hide will attempt to sell a vehicle with just a few months left on the MoT
- Beware of DIY racking
It’s common for vans to be sold with custom racking, but some DIY jobs will cause long term problems. At best, poorly fitted racking will let water in and create water traps that make the van vulnerable to rust. At worst, a bodged racking system may compromise the structural integrity of the van.
- Service history
Unless it is cheap or comes from a trusted friend, you should always buy a van with a service history. In a perfect world, this will be a fully-stamped service book from a main dealer.
- Pay for a history check
Most history check firms will provide details for light vans (up to 3.5 tonnes). Prices generally start in the region of £10 and will confirm the vehicle’s identity, as well as flagging up any warnings for outstanding finance or if the vehicle has been stolen or written-off.
- Beware of dodgy traders
A dishonest van trader may pretend to be a private seller to avoid their legal obligations. Tell-tale signs of this activity is the seller having multiple vans for sale. Always start the phone conversation with a friendly “I’m interested in the van for sale”. If they reply with “which one?” they’re probably not who they claim to be.
For more van and pick-up buying advice, visit: www.honestjohn.co.uk/vans