Van user guide: How to choose the right van for you

Starting a new venture? Expanding your business? Whatever the situation, deciding on a new van is a huge decision and it’s important to carefully research the right vehicle for your needs. Throughout this short guide we’ll help you consider what’s important and what you should think about when buying a new van.

Written by Charlotte Harris
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Consider payload

A van’s payload is the maximum load that the vehicle can safely carry and is set by the manufacturer. An overloaded vehicle will land you a fine, so it’s vital to think about the size, weight, and types of items that you need to carry before choosing your new van.

Generally, your daily business needs will help you decide which size van will suit you best. For example, if you’ll be transporting supplies from a local merchant site, you would need to consider the size, weight, and volume of a typical load to choose the correct van size.

Think about load space

Now that you’ve figured out the weight of the goods you’ll be transporting; you now need to calculate how much load space you’ll require. Load space is the space inside the van that is designated to carry a load and is provided in litres or square metres.

Again, consider what you will be using the van for before deciding on load space. For example, if you’re carrying small tools then a medium or small van may work well for you, however if you know that you need to transport pallets, you might be looking for a much larger vehicle.

You may also need to think about how the load is accessed. Do you need side-access so you can on a busy road? Would your load require a fork-lift truck?

How many people will be travelling with you regularly?

Vans come with a variety of seating configurations, so it would be a good ideal to calculate the maximum number of passengers you will be carrying on a regular basis. Will you be using the van on weekends with your family? Some vans can have up to five seats at the front.

You should also consider driver comfort. Most modern vans are pretty comfy, but if you spend most of your time in a van driving, then it may be worth investing a higher trim level for some extra luxury.

Consider the height of the van

A van manufacturer will often offer three different roof heights on a van; low, medium and high. These are not always a standard size so always double check sizing when comparing different vans.

The height of a vans body will be denoted by a ‘H’ on van descriptions. For example, a L3H4 Ford Transit van will be the longest and tallest option available. Anything above H2 is considered a high-top van and should offer enough space for someone to stand up inside.

What are the different types of van?

Panel vans

A panel van is the most versatile type of van and probably the first thing that will spring to mind when you mention the industry vehicle. They are known for their wide range of body styles, and provide a good balance between load carrying ability and ease of driving.

Panel vans can come in all kinds of sizes and are used by several trades including electricians, plumbers, and delivery drivers.

Car-Derived or Compact Van

This type of vehicle is built on the platform of a car, with the rear seats removed to create a load space. These are often used for light deliveries or by self-employed tradesmen who don’t need many heavy tools.

Light Van

A light van can carry more than a car but is easier to manoeuvre than a panel van. These fuel-efficient alternatives are favoured by trades with low load requirements and are often used by the likes of photographers, plumbers, and florists.

Crew Van

A crew van does what it says on the tin, it is designed carry extra people or ‘crew’. These vans offer an extra row of seating behind the front seats for someone who needs a little bit of extra room. They are usually a modified panel van and are also known as a double cab. The additional capacity means that they are often used by scaffolders and road maintenance gangs. 

Charlotte Harris

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