A Guide to Buying the Best New or Used Cargo Van

So you’ve read our guide on how to choose a business vehicle that best suits your need. You’ve seen all the advantages of the pickup truck, you’ve carefully scanned all the benefits of cargo vans, and you’ve made your decision – a cargo van is the vehicle befitting your needs.

But now, we come to the next obstacle to surmount – you’re unsure what cargo van to buy. Is it going to be a full size cargo van, is it going to be a small cargo van, what brand should you go for, what should you pay attention to… Yeah, we get it, it’s overwhelming just thinking about it.

We know, we understand, and we want to help. The first decision is the easiest one – new cargo van, or a used cargo van? Although many advocate that if you want quality, you have to buy new. Used is off limits, as you can never be sure of what you’re going to get. And this opinion does have its merits, that much we can agree on.

However, there are also many advantages to buying one of the used cargo vans for sale. The market is overflowing with them, and, although it does require a bit of searching, inquiring, testing, and inspecting, you can be sure you can find one in pristine condition at a fraction of the cost of a new one. You just need to find a reliable dealer, take a look at the stock, and do all the necessary inspections. Don’t shy away from a used cargo van as it can prove an invaluable companion.

So, now that you know better than to limit yourself to expensive, brand new machines, you have more options, and can, therefore, make your decision a sound one. It is now time to give you tips on how to find the best cargo van on the market for you, be it a new one or a used one, and be quick on the road to professional success.

Know Your Cargo

We’ve said it a bunch of times, we’re going to say it again – think about what you’re going to use a cargo van for, think about what you’re going to be transporting, and think about what it is you need it for. No commercial van can be considered perfect unless they’re perfect for your business.

So, the first step in deciding which cargo van to buy is to think about what it is you’ll be transporting. Although they all seem quite similar in appearance, they are actually quite different. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they are meant to serve different purposes.

You can go for a shorter van if you plan on driving in cities a lot. They are more maneuverable, easier to drive, and are quite nimble in narrow streets. If you regularly haul long objects, consider a long-wheelbase model, as they are longer and offer more cargo space. And, depending on the actual size and height of the objects you transport, there are various models with tall roofs, low roofs, and roofs of a regular, normal size. You really can make your pick.

Mind the Doors

Doors are a matter often overlooked when you’re looking to buy a cargo van, and it is a travesty let us tell you. Much of the accessibility to the cargo area and the overall ease of use of a cargo van rests upon the weary shoulders of the doors. They are an underappreciated part, and we’re here to fix that mistake.

There are many different door types installed on cargo vans, and they are all equally different in terms of how they function. Some vans come with dual-side doors, meaning there is a single door on every side. Others have doors only on the one side. There are also Dutch doors for the back, that open on one side, allowing you complete access to the area where you store your cargo. Finally, there is the complicated mechanism of a lift gate for the rear that is quite similar to a tailgate of a minivan or an SUV. Again, it’s up to you to find the door type that you want.

Choose the Powertrain

As we’ve already said, to the untrained eye all cargo vans for sale look pretty much the same, meaning they’re all basically the same underneath as well. There are, however, many differences underneath the hood, and the one you should really pay close attention to is the powertrain.

The biggest distinction in this regard can be made between small cargo vans and full size cargo vans. Small cargo vans usually come equipped with a small powertrain. It means better gas mileage, but the downside is that these rascals can haul nearly as much when compared to their big brothers. On the other hand, full size cargo vans offer a lot more power and a lot more towing capabilities due to the bigger powertrain. The downside is poorer fuel economy. So, depending on what you plan on hauling, and how economical you would like to be, you are going to go for either a less powerful powertrain offering better mpg, or a larger one for all your towing purposes.

Just the Right Size

Yes, we’ve come to one of the most important aspects every person interested in purchasing a cargo van could consider, and that’s the size of it. Some people need bigger cargo vans, since they haul objects of great size and weight, while others will find the smaller commercial vans for sale quite sufficient for their business intentions.

We have divided our size category into two subcategories – interior size and exterior size. One affects the other, and the question you should ask yourself is are you willing to sacrifice maneuverability and nimbleness for that couple of cubic feet of interior space?
Cargo vans that offer most interior space are, by far, the largest ones in the market. That makes the job of a driver all the more difficult, as it is a demanding task to get such a behemoth through the narrow maze that are streets in most cities.

On the other hand, you cannot pick one that is too small for your needs just because you want it to be as quick scampering about as possible. Our advice is to just not go too big, thinking “Well someday I might need that extra space”. Pick the van that is just the right size with just enough space for your current desires. If, in the future, you do actually end up craving space, you can sell it buy a new one easily. The cargo van market is constantly expanding, and they are not a tough sell.

Money is Always a Consideration

We are going to keep it brief with this one, as we are all very aware of the monetary aspect that every purchase carries with it. We have only one thing to tell you – don’t break the bank. Nobody says you need to pay top dollar for a new cargo van that you think is suitable for you. If you’re a bit strapped for cash at the moment, or if you just don’t want to spend a large sum of money, try the used cargo van market. There are incredible bargains to be discovered. You will save money, but also end up with an excellent vehicle for your company.

Fuel Economy

Already mentioned during our “powertrain” paragraph, fuel economy is a vital aspect for anyone looking to buy a quality cargo van. Simply put, think about how many miles each day you plan on putting behind your vehicle. If the locations you frequently visit are not that far away from each other, and if you don’t have any specific towing requirements, is it really necessary to buy the most powerful model available? We don’t think so.

The trick is similar to the van size consideration, buy a van that is as economical as you can afford. Although buyers don’t look at it that way, they really should. Customers often think that the added fuel costs of a more powerful cargo van are not that steep in the long run. But they would be wrong. Fuel costs tend to add up, especially for business vehicles being driven every day. Why put yourself through monetary strain if you don’t need to? Take a hard think, do the math, and see what fuel economy you can live with.

Check the Payload

Another vital aspect… You might be thinking, at this point, is there any aspect to buying a new or used cargo van that is not vital? Well, we’re sorry to say that there isn’t. You have to take a long, hard look into everything if you plan on finding a cargo van that you are going to be happy with.

So, payload. Again, it all depends on your business and your everyday hauling requirements. The smaller cargo vans, like Transit Connect, can haul just 1,600 pounds. Not to say that it’s a bad cargo van, far from it. It makes up its low payload capacity in other areas. But, if you’re planning on hauling heavier loads, than you should definitely look in the direction of a full size cargo van. Their payload capacity can be as big as 5,500 pounds. So, there are options for everybody, the question is only how big your requirements are.

Can it Maneuver Like a Rampant Rabbit?

Maneuverability is essential in an urban environment. You can find out if the van you’re interested in is on the more maneuverable side by looking into the turning radius. A rule of thumb is that smaller vans have a smaller turning circle, making them easier to drive in an urban setting.

However, this doesn’t have to be true for every van. Some bigger vans also boast a small turning radius, making it, in theory at least, quite easy to turn tight corners with them. But, those are all just numbers. There is only one way of making sure that the van of your choice is agile enough for you, and that’s to take it for a test drive. Take a seat, put your seat belt on, and drive it about the streets you usually frequent. Or, if you’re a bit farther away from your regular stomping ground, try to find some similar streets to test the van on. Only then will you be able to tell if the cargo van is how you’d want it.

Is it Well Equipped?

We don’t refer on neon lights, rim spinners, full-on leather everywhere, or a sound system loud enough to blast people off the streets. We rather mean that there are some features that are essential to a great cargo van. They are big beasts, or at least most of them are, and there is some additional equipment that can make your van life a lot easier.

For example, if you’ve opted for a larger van that means that it is trickier to park. Why not buy the one with parking-assist then? Even a reversing camera would go great ways in easing the parking process. Or, if your works often takes you far from familiar territory, you might want to get one with a navigation system. With it, you are able to simply type in the location you are going to, and follow the instructions to it. No way will you lose your way.

Our point is that you should not spend your hard-earned money on unnecessary and expensive extras that you are probably never going to use. Spend your money where it counts. Choose the options you will use, or find a used cargo van with those options, and buy it. Anything more is a waste of money.

Cargo Van Rental is Also an Option Worth Considering

Finally, nobody says you have to buy a van as soon as your business demands it. You can never be sure of whether your current business is going to expand, or if you’re going to spend some time doing it, only to change it for a more fruitful one. The market can be fickle, and if you’re unsure about the future prospects of your company, maybe you should hold off the purchase for now.

Cargo van rental services exists for quite that reason. If you’re going to need a van for just a couple of quick jobs, nobody says you have to run off and buy one. Or, if you need it for a move, or to help a friend or family member, the best possible scenario for you is to rent one for the task that needs doing. Cargo van rental can save you a lot of money, so, think well on how much you will be using it, and if it’s less frequently than a couple of times a week, you should definitely consider renting one from a reliable dealer.