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How To Choose The Right Van

If it’s time to get a new van, then we can say with all certainty that there really is a van out there designed specifically for you. Our must-read guide will ensure you get completely clued-up about your options so that you make exactly the right choice.

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We take you through everything you need to think about when deciding on the perfect van - body type, payload, dimensions, engine type, location, door choice and even tax implications by body-type. Once you've read this, you'll be well on your way to finding that truly fit-for-purpose van, so read on!

Understanding Different Van Bodytypes

Looking for a nippy run around? Then maybe consider the 'Car Derived' Van.  Got more to carry, but don't want it too big? Then perhaps look at a Compact Van. Want something larger but nothing too jazzy? Then perhaps it's the classic 'every-man' that you need - the Panel Van.  Or maybe you should go for a Chassis Cab, Tipper, Pick-Up, Dropside, Luton or even a Box Van!  

Today's van drivers are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to van bodytypes available - with a myriad of options ranging from very small to very large and just about everything in-between, there are just so many to choose from that it can be a confusing area. But don't worry, because right here we'll take you through all you need to know and set you in the right direction.

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Choose Your Payload & Passengers

In this section we help you understand exactly what payload is and why you should be thinking about it.

We provide clear information around the rules and penalties involved if you overload your van, plus we give you an invaluable step-by-step process to follow to help you calculate what payload you truly need. Understanding your payload needs is a critical step in the process of finding the best van for you, it'll also help with ensuring you optimise your fuel economy, have ease of parking, avoid the risks of overloading, have good driving safety and much more.

And what about passengers? Don't forget about them, because how many passengers you carry affects your payload, the type of van you need and the specific configurations inside.  Read on and get up to speed with everything to know to help you make the right decision about your next van.

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Decide on Van Size & Dimensions

When it comes to van size, bigger isn't always better, but then again neither is a van that's too small. In fact, both scenarios can cause you serious headaches! 

In this guide we explain size, including wheelbase, height, width and why getting the right van size is so important. We'll also help you avoid making size-related mistakes by taking you through what you need to think about.

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Everything You Need To Know About Van Doors

Surely a door is just a door, no? Not when we're talking vans! 

To choose not only the right door-type for your van but also the right location for the door, you'll need to consider several factors such as the type of cargo you'll be carrying, how to best load/unload, where you'll be when you need access to your cargo, plus whether you need your door to provide shelter against the elements should you need to work beside your van. 

In this guide we take you through the profile, advantages and disadvantages of the 4 key door types - barn, tailgate, sliding and curtain. We also take you through your options for loading assistance - rollers and tail-lifts - which, like making the right door choice, can really make your life easier!

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And What About Engine Types and Journeys?

To find your ideal van, you'll need to consider which engine type - Electric, Hybrid, Petrol or Diesel - will best serve you, and of course, the environment. 

In order to work out which engine you'll need, you'll have to take into location - specifically, where you'll be driving and how far your journeys will be. 

In this part of the guide, well take you through the most suitable engine types for city, town, regional, rural and motorway driving, to make sure you get the best-fit engine and great fuel economy.

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Special Requirements - Racking And Security

Before you settle on your ideal make and model and place your order, make sure you don't overlook any additional special tailoring your van may need, such as internal/external racking, bespoke features, security measures and devices.

Internal and External Racking

Internal racking can either be organised and fitted in advance as part of your lease, or added afterwards. Either way, while needing thought, internal racking shouldn’t really affect your choice of van too much, as internal shelving is usually not too heavy (so won't significantly increase the load being carried).

External racking however is important to consider before you make your van choice, because firstly, not all vans can accommodate it and secondly (depending on the type of metal racking you choose), it may contribute significantly to the weight carried.

External racking tends to be in the form of either roof racks (for carrying e.g. ladders) or side racking (for items such as large sheets of glass).

If you need external racking, make sure you choose the right type of metal for your load needs. The two main types are steel and aluminium. Steel racks tend to be more robust and won’t bend under a heavy load, however they are very heavy and will increase fuel consumption and impact payload. Aluminium racks on the other hand are much lighter, so add far less to your payload.

Bespoke Requirements

As well as racking systems, it’s important to consider whether you have any additional needs arising from the kind of goods and services you provide. For example, if you're transporting perishable items such as food or flowers, then do you need constant cooling or refrigeration (a feature that offers refrigeration beyond standard A/C, which only works when the engine is turned on)?


Just as important as having the right access to your cargo load, is getting the right level of security to keep it safe from opportunists. Some modern vans allow the driver to lock the cab and load areas separately, providing you with security and protection when you’re occupied in another part of the van. If this is something you need, double check with your leasing consultant whether any of the vans you’re considering offer this facility or alternatively, whether security devices can be fitted after getting your vehicle.

A whole host of security measures are available on the market and can usually be very easily fitted after you’ve got your van, so have a look at products such as deadlocks, alarms, immobilisers, security film, stop locks, disk locks, GPS tracking and vault boxes. Just make sure however, that your lease allows you to fit these kinds of devices. The great thing is that insurance companies often look favourably on vans that are fitted with extra security measures and will reduce your premium as a result.

Choosing Between Vans

Once you’ve identified all of your van needs and understood which van bodytypes will best meet them, it’s time to narrow your favourite models down to a top 3 and then to a final contender. In this final step, make sure you take into account any potential significant cost differences.

Things to consider

  • The cost of van insurance
  • Monthly leasing payments
  • The cost of servicing and maintenance
  • Fuel costs/consumption
  • Congestion charges
  • Tax payable

Where To Next?

Select Van Leasing are one of the UK's largest independent specialists for van and car leasing. Whether you are looking for more information on leasing, electric vehicles or looking for special offers - here's some links to help you get to the right place!

Van & Pickup Special Offers

Browse our special offers on vans, pickups and commercial vehicles

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Business & Fleet

Comprehensive fleet management solutions for your business

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New to Car Leasing?

Discover the many advantages of leasing a vehicle

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All About Electric Vehicles

Check out our dedicated EV zone for all things electric

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Information is provided as a guide only. Select Car Leasing cannot be held responsible for any personal or business decisions made as a result of information provided in the guides.

As with all aspects of taxation, it is the responsibility of individuals and businesses to understand the rules and regulations and act accordingly. As personal and business circumstances can vary, it is also advised that you take professional accounting advice before making a final decision.