Tips for small businesses buying used vans online

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Buying a new vehicle for your business can be a stressful ordeal, making sure you get the best deal can take time and requires patience. The used vehicle market is often the best place for small businesses to purchase vans that fit within their budget and offer the specifications they require. However, finding the vehicle that matches your needs at the right price can feel like an impossible task, especially with the rising price of used vehicles and limited numbers on the market.

In this article we have some tips for small businesses looking to purchase their next used van online, we focus on how to get a good deal without compromising on your requirements.

Your requirements

Before conducting research into the vans on offer on the market you need to be clear on your requirements. Answering the questions below clearly and in detail will give you a requirements checklist you can use when conducting your research.

What do you require the van to do?

Are there minimum size or payload requirements?

Does the vehicle need to regularly travel into clean air zones?

What is the total vehicle budget?

Is fuel economy important?

Does the van need to be powerful?

What type of van do you want to consider?

How many passenger seats are required?

What fuel type should the van have?

List any must have technology or safety features

State the mileage range you are looking for

Conduct in-depth research

Now you have a detailed requirements list you can use this to narrow down the suitable used vans on the market through research. To get the best deal on your next used van you need to be armed with the right knowledge and information.

Model and make of vans

Use your requirements list to find the models and makes that fit most of these. You may need to revisit your requirements if budget is an issue once you start doing your research. At the end of the research, you should have a list of suitable van makes and models that fit the majority of your needs and fall within your budget.

Search for listings

Now you have a clear idea of the vehicle you are looking for it is time to search for listings and make appointments to view the vans that fit your criteria. Look at large listing sites such as auto trader but also consider private sellers that may sell on places such as Facebook marketplace or eBay. It is always recommended to go and view a van or car in person so you can note any issues, take it for a test drive, and negotiate the price.

Test drive

We recommend test driving a few different makes and models on your specification list. This is the best way to get a feel for the vans you prefer. After test driving you may find your list of suitable vans is narrowed down and some makes, or van models can be ruled out.

When test driving it can be useful to take a checklist so you can make sure you have tested the vehicle fully and avoid any surprises if you choose to purchase. Important things to test or review include:

  • Brakes
  • Tyres
  • Engine
  • Suspension
  • Lights
  • Air conditioning
  • Review bodywork for any bumps or scratches
  • Check the mileage
  • Steering
  • Interior
  • Check the paperwork is all in order – MOT certificate and service history are important documents to check
  • Check the vehicle has the right amount of keys
  • Check the cost of the tax

If any of these are not up to standard it can be a negotiation point for you to bargain with the dealer to get a better price. Keep note of these issue and if they are a deal breaker or something you can use to gain a discount.


Once you have found the vehicle that best suits your needs you can put an offer to the dealer. Many car dealers or private sellers will negotiate on the price, so it is always worth asking, especially if you have found minor issues with the van that need to be repaired.

During the purchase process you need to make sure the van is taxed and insured in your name and the V5 is correctly filled in and transferred. If buying from a professional dealer in most cases, they will help with this process. Enquire about any warranty periods or what to do if the vehicle has issues, it is always good to be prepared in case of any problems after you drive away.

Other buying options

In this article we have predominantly focused on small businesses buying used vans on the used car market. However, there are other options to consider for larger fleets or those without the capital to pay upfront. Businesses can benefit from leasing deals which can include one or more vehicles. Leasing contracts can include maintenance and vehicle management, this option removes the upfront cost of buying a vehicle or several vehicles. Businesses are charged a monthly fee to cover the leasing, maintenance and any other services agreed. It’s worth researching into the leasing market and the deals you can get as a business before deciding to buy outright.

Electric vehicles are becoming more popular, currently they can be very expensive if purchasing on the used car/van market. For those looking to invest in electric vehicles the leasing market has some good deals that are worth investigating.

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