Van selling advice: how to get the best price for your van

Do you need to sell your van? Dan Powell of Desperate Seller tells you how to get the best deal when it comes to selling your vehicle.

How to get the best price for your van - A-Plan Insurance

What’s the best way to sell a van? How do you get the best price? Should you sell it to a private buyer or trade it in as part of a new purchase? These are all questions you will need answers to if you are thinking of selling your van.

Whether you are looking to downsize your van for something that’s cheaper to run, or thinking of upsizing your business with a bigger and more practical vehicle, you will probably want to sell your existing van quickly and for the highest price. We’ve teamed up with Dan Powell from Desperate Seller to provide you with the best van selling tips and advice.

Get your van ready for sale

A clean and tidy van will always be more desirable than one that’s covered in dirt and has an interior that’s filled with rubbish. Start by giving the exterior a wash and use a clean chamois leather or microfibre cloth to dry off the bodywork and apply polish to give the bodywork some shine.

How to get the best price for your van - A-Plan Insurance

Don’t forget to clean the wheels and make a note of any damage to the bodywork, wheels or tyres (you will need to address these later).

Clear the cabin of litter and wipe it down with a damp cloth. Ensure the footwells are clear of rubbish and then vacuum the cabin. Next, empty the load area and sweep it clean with a dry broom and apply some water to the floor if it is particularly dusty.

Do not use a jet wash or soaking wet sponge to clean the load area, as this may allow moisture to reach the van’s wiring and electrical components. 

How much is your van worth?

It’s never been easier to work out your van’s market value. Simply look at online adverts for vehicles of a similar make, model and age to your van. Vans with a full service history and fresh MoT will command the highest prices while those with light damage and/or less than six months on the MoT will be at the cheaper end of the market. 

Fix any minor problems

Does your van have any bodywork damage? Are the alloy wheels chipped or is one of the tyres heavily worn? A buyer will not pay the full price if your van has any problems and it will pay to fix these issues before you put your van up for sale. 

Minor bodywork scratches and alloy wheel chips can be corrected with DIY products. Alternatively, you can visit a body shop and have any minor issues professionally corrected. If one of the tyres is worn or damaged, have it replaced. And consider having the MoT renewed if there is anything less than six months remaining on the certificate. 

Do the electric windows work? Are all of the exterior lights operating as they should? Do you still have the locking wheel nut for the alloy wheels? Check everything before putting your van up for sale, otherwise, any prospective buyer will be asking for a sizable discount to fix minor problems or replace missing accessories. 

Promote your van

Be sure to promote your van’s features. Does it have a sat nav, air conditioning or twin side loading doors? Be sure to include all of its features in the advert, but avoid technical jargon that may alienate or confuse potential buyers. 

If the van meets clean air zone regulations, like the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone, then be sure to include this in the advert. Likewise, if the engine is quiet or returns good fuel economy then make sure this is also mentioned. 

It’s a legal requirement to include the exact make and model, year of manufacture, body type, colour, type of gearbox, engine size and fuel type (many online selling platforms will do this for you). Make sure you mention your van’s service history (if it has one) and any recent work or servicing it has had. 

Don’t forget to show your van off with some photos. Take all of the pictures with the van parked against a clear background on a bright day. As a minimum, you want the advert to include a shot of the front three-quarters of the van, along with pictures of the front, side, rear and interior.

Include photos of any optional equipment that your van may have, such as sat nav, roof rack or load area racking.

Private sale or part exchange? 

If you are buying a new van then you may be tempted to trade in your vehicle. This will provide a quick and easy route to sell your van and can be completed in a matter of minutes with the dealer that’s selling you the new vehicle. 

If the van dealer is desperate for stock or has a buyer lined up for your van then you may get a strong price that will be equal or better than the value you would get by selling it privately. However, if your van is older or not required by the dealer then you may be better selling via the classifieds. 

Desperate Seller advises that you never lose sight of your van’s value. Selling it to a private buyer may require some extra time and effort, but the rewards could be great if you get the full asking price. Likewise, the discount you may get on your new van may be lower if the dealer decides to offer a generous part exchange value – that’s why it pays to take your time and work out which route is best for you.

Meeting private buyers

When you arrange a private viewing of your van, always ask the potential buyer for their name and contact number.

  • You should agree to meet at your home or business address (whichever matches the address on the vehicle’s V5C logbook).
  • Let the buyer look over the van for as long as they want, but keep possession of the keys and never leave them alone with the van.
  • Always take a note of the buyer’s vehicle details, including the registration number.

It’s also a good idea to have a friend or family member present for support, even if they don’t know anything about vans.

The test drive

As the van owner, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure any potential buyer is insured to drive your vehicle. Before the test drive, ask to see the buyer’s driving licence and insurance certificate. Sometimes your own insurance policy will allow another driver to use your vehicle with your permission – always check this before letting anyone get behind the wheel of your van. Call your local A-Plan business branch if you are not sure.

Prepare a short test drive route that gives the buyer a good idea of the van’s handling characteristics at urban and (if possible) dual carriageway speeds. Perform the driver swap at a public place (that preferably has CCTV) like a fuel forecourt or supermarket car park. Always keep hold of the keys until you are in the passenger seat with the belt on.

Haggling the sale of your van

Most van buyers will attempt some form of negotiation on the price. Don’t be offended if someone tries to haggle but never lose sight of the fact that you are under no obligation to sell it for anything below your asking price.

When you do come to an agreement, write the agreed price on the receipt and insist that you both sign it. It’s normal to take a non-refundable deposit of around £100 at this point, if the buyer is not paying in full right away.

If the buyer wants to pay in full in cash, ask them to meet you at your bank so you can pay the funds into your account and have the notes checked and counted. 

Dealing with road tax (VED)

You can’t sell a van with road tax anymore. This means you have to cancel it.

You can do this online or over the phone by calling the DVLA on 0300 123 4321. The DVLA will send a refund for any full months left on the van’s tax or cancel the Direct Debit if you pay monthly. The new owner will then need to tax the vehicle in their own name before driving it away.

Let your insurer know you’ve sold your van

Don’t forget that you will need to let your insurer know if you’re no longer the registered keeper of the van, to avoid being held liable if anything happens to it and to avoid invalidating the new owner’s insurance.

If you are selling your current van to purchase a new one, don’t forget that you will need insurance in place to collect it. If you need a hand, A-Plan is on hand to help guide you through the process.