Whether you use your van for work or an everyday vehicle, staying on top of maintenance will significantly reduce the risk of breakdowns and costly repairs. A well-maintained van retains its value too if you should ever decide to sell it.
This is the ultimate maintenance checklist for van owners.
Is van maintenance the same as car maintenance?
Mechanically, van maintenance is the same as car maintenance and an MOT will cost the same. However, there are a couple of extra things to be mindful of.
Doors – The side and back doors of vans are used regularly, so ensuring that the locks and sliding mechanisms are fit for purpose is extremely important. Especially since vans are more likely to attract the attention of thieves who might think that expensive tools or equipment could be stored inside. Make sure that all points of entry to the vehicle are secure and in working order.
Tyres- Just like your car, it’s important to make regular tyre pressure checks. In the case of a van though, it becomes even more important when you factor in heavy loads or cargo that can wear tyres down quicker than on a standard vehicle. Monitor your tyres regularly for correct pressure and tread depth to increase durability and longevity.
This is the single best thing you can do to keep your van running optimally. In wet weather, the tread should clear the water so a minimum of 3mm is recommended. In the UK, 1.6mm is the legal minimum, so if you are stopped with less than this, you can expect a hefty fine.
One more thing to look out for when checking your tyres is bulges or sharp objects that may have become lodged in the tread, such as stones or nails, as these can cause unexpected failures and nasty accidents. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with a spare tyre and jack for fitting it. You won’t need this every day, but you will thank yourself if you get a flat tyre at night or away from civilisation.
It is worth conducting a thorough clean of your van more often than your car due to the larger surface area and potential build-ups of debris.
- Washing- empty the entire vehicle before a pressure wash. Pay special attention to the floor, ceiling, walls and door seals.
- Scraping- use a plastic scraper to remove more difficult stains.
- Airing- Airing out your vehicle will reduce the risk of mould spreading and developing into rust which can seriously affect the integrity of the vehicle, causing serious damage.
Also, if your van is a commercial vehicle it can make a huge difference to the image of your business if it is rust, dirt and mud-free. A clean work van is the reflection of a well-kept professional business.
Oil is the lifeblood of any vehicle. It not only lubricates the engine and keeps everything running smoothly but also acts as a cleaning agent, absorbing bits of dirt and debris that could cause damage. Be sure to check the dipstick at least once a month and always before setting out on longer journeys. A healthy oil level is indicated by the minimum and maximum markers on the stick itself. Consult the vehicle manual to find out how often the manufacturer recommends changing the oil and keep some in the van, just in case.
Oil isn’t the only fluid to check regularly:
- Power steering fluid
- Engine coolant
- Brake fluids
Monitoring these fluids will alert you to any sudden drops and avoid long-term damage to the vehicle.
Don’t forget your screenwash too. You’ll use this more in the winter months to wash away salt buildup, so make sure it is topped up to keep your windscreen nice and clear.
Having functioning lights is a legal requirement with non-operational ones being probably the most common reason for police stops. To check, put them on and physically walk around the van to make sure they are all working. Ask a friend or colleague to double-check for you and to assure you that your reverse and brake lights at the back are also working properly. This is especially important in the winter months with longer nights and shorter days.
Faulty lights can convey mixed signals and confuse other drivers which can become very dangerous very quickly.
Vans are much more likely to be left idle while a quick job or delivery is carried out, which can put significant strain on the battery over time. Investing in a trickle charger or keeping jump leads in the vehicle could prove to be a lifesaver, helping you avoid big delays or call-out costs.
All that rattling when sitting idle can sometimes dislodge a battery, so make sure it is securely in place, and there are no leaks. If you spot a leak, arrange to have the battery replaced immediately.
- Check locks and sliding mechanisms are secure and fit for purpose.
- Tyre maintenance is important. Check for pressure, tread depth, foreign objects and bulges. Tread depth should be a minimum of 1.6mm.
- Clean your van regularly by washing, scraping and airing.
- Check fluid levels: Oil/ brakes/ power steering/ engine coolant.
- Check front, back, brake and reversing lights regularly.
- Check the battery is fitted securely and not leaking. Replace immediately if you spot signs of leakage.
- Do not let chips in the windscreen become cracks.
- Replace worn or frayed seat belts.
- Make sure your horn is working and loud enough to be heard.
- Check your wing mirror to see if your van is emitting excessive exhaust fumes.
If you’re looking to acquire a quality van on finance, look no further than Used Van Finance Deals. We have a range of vehicles suited to your needs that are maintained to the highest standards, and we assess each application on an individual basis. Get in touch to discuss what we can do for you.