For contractors, plumbers, electricians, and other specialty trades, a work van is a mobile office. Not only does it carry all the necessary equipment and tools of the trade, it is often the first impression the customer sees of your business when you arrive on site. Investing in the right work van can set your business up for success. However, when it comes to cargo vans, not all vehicles are created equally. Before you choose your next work van, be sure to take these four factors into consideration.
1. Research the Best (And Steer Clear of the Worst)
Whether you’re buying for the first time or adding to an existing fleet, always take the time to research what’s the best van on the market. Even if you have a favorite van, new innovations and potential recalls may have changed what vehicle is currently the leading the pack. In April 2019, Autowise compiled a list of the 8 best cargo vans currently on the market. These are their top 3:
- Mercedes Sprinter – The Sprinter combines form and function for a stylish but powerful van that makes a lasting first impression. A large cargo hold, plus three configuration options offer lots of customization options.
- Nissan NV – The Nissan NV is a solid work van that comes in a variety of models and also allows for customization. However, its fuel economy isn’t as good as some of its competitors.
- Chevrolet Express – The Express is a great choice for businesses on a budget. This van is versatile and reliable but offers less space, lower fuel economy, and fewer innovations and safety features than its higher-end counterparts.
On the other end of the spectrum, Autowise suggests avoiding these vans:
- Ford Transit Connect – the compact Connect will leave most business owners wanting more space and customization.
- Used Ford E-Series – You may save a bit of money upfront buying a used E-Series, but a bevy of internal problems will soon have you spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace and repair parts.
- GMC Savana Cargo – While this is one of the largest work vans on the market, it is outdated and both the first- and second-generation models have been plagued with recalls.
2. What Are You Transporting?
Different businesses have different needs, so before choosing and customizing your van consider your cargo. Do you need an extended wheel-base for long objects? Do you transport large equipment that needs a tall roof? How many doors do you need and where – dual side or Dutch doors in the back? Autotrader suggests taking some of your larger equipment with you on a test drive to ensure it will fit and see how easy it is to load and unload.
3. Focus on Features
In addition to the storage needs, consider the performance and safety features you need from a vehicle. If you carry heavy equipment, make sure the van can carry the weight. Ferguson recommends a van with a payload capacity of at least 4,000 lbs. Do you need to tow trailers or other equipment? If so, make sure the van can tow at least 5,000 lbs. You should also take safety features into consideration. Look for airbags, built-in cargo tie-ins to stabilize equipment, stability control, and maneuverability.
4. Consider the Cost
A work van is an investment, and, as with any investment, you will get what you pay for. A cheaper van won’t have as many configuration options as a more expensive van, and you may end up paying more to customize and upfit it with the necessary accessories to hold your cargo. A used van may seem cost-effective upfront but consider the repair costs down the line. Additionally, think about fuel economy when you consider vehicle size and engine. Most importantly, figure out your budget before you head to the dealership, so you know your spending limit.
Buying a new vehicle can seem overwhelming and complicated. But if you do your research and carefully consider your needs, the process doesn’t have to be difficult.
Once you’ve picked a work truck, make sure to stock it with these 8 must-have safety items.