Any driver knows that maintaining their vehicle in good condition at all times is a prerequisite for the motor’s long life, its minimum need for (unexpected) repairs, as well as for safe driving.  

Cars, campervans, trucks and commercial man & van transits or lutons, all need regular attention, timely checks and lots of TLC to stay on the road minus the risk of frequent breakdowns or worse – the possibility of jeopardising the owner’s and other people’s safety.

So, check out the 10 neat and helpful tips from Engine Trust on how to keep your van roadworthy.

1. Show sympathy towards vital parts while driving

Or in other words, don’t let stress or lack of time influence your driving. Practise skilful and smooth control over your van to avoid straining crucial mechanical parts and fast-forwarding their wear and tear.

Your steering wheel, brakes, clutch and gearbox will suffer if you push them hard in often avoidable road situations. Collision technology is not yet available to the wide public, unfortunately. Erratic patterns in one’s driving show during annual servicing and have an effect on the driver’s wallet.

Yep, you can easily save on fuel consumption, new parts, engine replacement and repairs by acquiring the habit of smooth driving. So, in effect, the way you drive is closely related to keeping your motor fit to be used on the road for longer. Check the used engines and reconditioned engines we offer.

According to Kate Hart, a man and van professional, driving like a level-headed pro during your daily man & van relocation jobs will indirectly affect your pocket by minimising potential insurance claims from your clients, as the risk of damage to their stuff will be also reduced.

2. Filters and spark plugs

Oil and air filters need replacing on a regular basis, as they clog up. And this can cause damage to your engine, which will affect the overall performance of your van or car. Plenty of drivers attempt to renew their vehicle’s filters by themselves, so you can, too, have a go at it.

  • Replacing the air filter is usually a straightforward job and don’t forget that you can extend its life by simply washing it. For changing an oil filter, refer to the handbook for tips or leave the job to your mechanic.
  • Changing the spark plugs on a petrol-fueled vehicle, once they show wear and tear, is important, as they also affect how the engine works.
  • Remember that they can be an indicator for an underperforming engine if they are in poor condition but relatively new. Faulty spark plugs also drain your battery, so don’t delay replacing them.

3. Tyres – the vehicle for safe driving and more

Tyres keep you save on the road, so a vehicle with worn-out, over/underinflated or misaligned tyres will not be considered roadworthy. This means that you need to check regularly your van tyres and replace them as soon as the tread depth becomes less than 2mm across the centre (¾ of the tyre).

Another important point to consider is the pressure. Always check it when the tyres have cooled down. Beware that when your van is heavily loaded, the pressure of the tyres should be adjusted accordingly and to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Now and again, check for problems with your wheels’ alignment to ensure your safety on the road and the vehicle’s optimum fuel consumption. After all, commercial removals van, for instance, undergo plenty of manoeuvres over curbs and other obstacles, so a slight misalignment of the wheels can occur more often than it does with other vehicles.

Also, vans are more likely to pick up debris that can get stuck in the tread.

So, regularly check for stones and road grit on your tyres to avoid untimely wear and tear, or even an unexpected puncture.

To sum up, wrongly over- or under-inflated tyres, which have worn out treading, need be addressed in due time to avoid risks of accidents on the road, an uncalled-for increase of fuel consumption and the likelihood of needing other repairs in the long run.

4. Rust – a synonym for disaster

As soon as you notice any rust spots, act fast to prevent them from spreading.

  • Touch them up with paint and consider professional respraying.
  • If you live in a coastal area, make sure to rust-proof your van, as cars rust faster in seaside locations.

The salt in the air accelerates the process of corrosion, so it’s always worth taking some extra measures to extend the lifespan of your van or truck, especially if it’s your main means of making a living.

On that note, modern vehicles are generally very rust-resistant, but if your van is on the old side, inspect its chassis and individual metal parts on a regular basis and fix corrosion issues without delay.

5. The lights in the dark

Lights are a major safety feature of a vehicle, as they ensure visibility in the dark. A van owner should regularly check the condition of the lights as they gather dust and dirt somewhat quicker than a car, for instance.

Also, inspect all side and stop indicators as it’s illegal to drive with malfunctioning or broken lights, which can endanger other road users’ and pedestrians’ safety.

6. Fluids and the “fluidity” of driving

A fortnightly check of the oil, water and coolant are also recommended by expert mechanics, so don’t underestimate these car maintenance tasks.

Basically, your van may be able to keep going without topping up these fluids but this will be at the expense of its engine’s performance. If your vehicle uses petrol rather than diesel, consider replacing the oil if it’s gone murky and dark in colour.

Also, never top up the windscreen washer bottle with a dishwashing detergent as it contains salt and different additives, which may have a damaging effect on your car or van.

Remember that driving while important fluids are “on low” could have a devastating effect on your van’s engine, so get into the habit of topping those up on a regular basis.

7. Reading telematics – the PhD in driving

Both contemporary cars and commercial vehicles, nowadays, often come with an inbuilt telematic device, which could be compared to the black box of an aeroplane.

For insurance purposes, these are often used and read by specialised bodies and establishments. So, say, you are a business owner who runs a fleet of vans. Then, you should utilise their telematics data to ensure that the vehicles are driven to their maximum efficiency and performance abilities, which could also benefit for a business fleet insurance.

Note that a tracking device can be easily installed to a vehicle that hasn’t got one. It can record plenty of useful information as in the way a driver has controlled and operated the car or van over a period of time.

So, any speeding, hard-braking or dangerous driving over corners will be logged in accordingly for future reference. In other words, using a telematics device as part of the van’s maintenance can unlock helpful information and elucidate on what parts might need close attention or inspection, say, during the annual service of your vehicle.

8. The ins and outs of cleaning maintenance

Keeping your van clean inside and out will result in its loyal service for longer.

  • Wash the exterior regularly and polish the paintwork to avoid rust formation and the onset of corrosion damage. Acidic rainwater, dirt and salt deposits will eventually take their toll on the vehicle’s body without a doubt.
  • To prolong the cosy feel and sleek appearance of your van’s interior, keep it in pristine and clean condition, too.
  • Use purposefully made products only to avoid undesirable damage to interior features.
  • It’s a good idea to apply a protective spray over the dashboard to prevent discolouration and the appearance of cracks on the plastic.
  • Make sure to use a sunshade over the windscreen on hot days to protect the interior of your vehicle.

9. Cheap is often more expensive

You’ve guessed right. When buying a new car or van, better not go thrifty on new parts or basically, always replace faulty or broken elements with original new parts. Cheap, modified, second-hand or new parts of inferior quality will cost you more at the end as they will not last as long as an original replacement will.

Furthermore, ‘replica’ parts may well cause damage when an engine is rebuilt or to other vital mechanical elements of your vehicle. The same goes for software, electronics and fluids.

  • Don’t improvise when dealing with issues with those or when topping up oil, water, antifreeze, etc.
  • Use products, designed for your vehicle’s make and model to avoid underperformance, a shortened lifespan of your car or its individual parts, as well as costly repairs in the future.

10. Say ‘No’ to overloading  

A van is the best type of fleet vehicle for field services. However, each vehicle is built with its limitations as to how much weight and volume it should carry, be it materials, products, furniture or number of people.

If your business relies on an efficiently running fleet of vans or trucks, it’s important to always observe their maximum load capacity and never get tempted to exceed it. Otherwise, you will be speeding up the wear and tear on the tyres, brakes and suspension bushes, as well as you will increase unnecessarily the vehicle’s fuel consumption.

This also has an indirect detrimental effect on the environment, as CO2 emissions will also increase when your van’s fuel economy has been jeopardised by overloading the vehicle on a regular basis.

The art of knowing when to part

All the above car/van maintenance tips are the basics behind enjoying a long-serving vehicle that is safe on the road and performs to your expectations and within its design capabilities. Still, there’s always a point in a car’s life that it becomes far more expensive to repair and maintain its roadworthiness than to replace it with a new one. With the increase of a van’s/car’s operational costs, the time it spends in a garage also increases.

So, our advice is to know when your van is no longer worthwhile maintaining to keep on the road, in order to save yourself the headache of fixing it constantly and spending hard-earned cash on new parts. In other words, say goodbye to your van if the cost for repairs exceeds its resale value. For more inspiration and tips, check our blog.

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