Van maintenance tips: how to keep your van roadworthy
A few simple steps can protect your van from expensive issues, and ensure you get maximum value when you resell it...
Keeping your van roadworthy shouldn't be hard work when you take proper care of it.
If you use your van on a daily basis - whether it’s for work or your own ends - you can ill afford to be hit with problems if stop it from working at its best.
While some mechanical issues are inevitable, the good news is that there are a bunch of little things you can do to keep your van roadworthy and performing at its peak.
By taking the time to follow these tips, you could save yourself a lot of hassle and money in the long run, as well as keeping yourself and others safe on the road.
Look after the tyres
The single best thing you can do to keep your van in optimum condition is to inspect its tyres regularly. This needs to be done more frequently than would be the case with a car, as vans tend to be heavier and so the demands put on the rubber are higher.
The tread is designed to clear water in wet conditions, so make sure the grooves are deep enough: a minimum depth of 3mm is recommended, while 1.6mm is the legal minimum requirement in the UK. If you’re stopped with less, you’ll be fined heavily.
When checking the tyres, you should also look out for cuts, sharp items such as nails or bulges in the sidewalls. Any of these could lead to a sudden failure and risk a nasty accident.
Keep the fluids topped up
It’s vital that the oil is replaced regularly in order to prolong the lifespan of your van’s engine. The oil is what lubricates the moving parts of an engine, reducing friction and therefore heat, all while acting as a cleaning agent that picks up bits of dirt over time.
Check your van’s handbook to see how often the manufacturer recommends changing the oil. It’s also a good idea to keep some spare oil in the van in case of an emergency.
The other fluids - including the engine coolant, power steering and brake fluids - shouldn’t be overlooked either. Checking these regularly will mean you pick up on any sudden drops in fluid level more quickly, giving you a better chance of avoiding long-term damage.
Keeping the screenwash topped up is good practice too, especially in the winter months when salt build-up can be more of a problem on the windscreen.
Check the lights regularly
You are legally obliged to make sure that the lights on your van are working properly. To inspect, turn them all on and walk around the van so you can see each light clearly, or get a friend or colleague to help you. Faulty bulbs should be replaced immediately. If you find an issue with the wiring, get your van to the garage as soon as you can.
Don’t underestimate the power of cleaning
It might sound pedantic, but washing your van regularly is very important. Not only does it help avoid the build-up of rust, but it will also help you identify any scuffs or dents that you might not have noticed.
You should get these fixed too: if you use your van for your business, you’ll want to give a good impression to customers when you’re out and about in the area.
Keep an eye on the battery
If your van is left stationary for a lengthy period of time the battery can become drained, especially in the colder winter months. This could stop your van from starting, leading to delays and expensive roadside assistance callouts.
A trickle charger is a good investment if you can park near the mains at your home. Failing that, a jump-starter pack is a handy and relatively cheap tool to have at your disposal in an emergency.
Don’t overlook small details
Looking after the main mechanical components is one thing, but smaller items are equally important. Replace the wipers if they start to become less effective when it rains, and deal with windscreen chips immediately. Keep the doors oiled to stop squeaks and creaks, and re-gas the air conditioning when you need to.
If you’re concerned about resale value, seat protectors can help guard against wear and tear of the upholstery. Don’t let rubbish build up either: over time it can get stuck in parts of the interior you didn’t even know were there, sometimes leading to unwelcome odours.
Keep a box of basic tools in your van if you can, although be careful to leave them out of site. You never know when you’ll need a jack to replace a wheel at the roadside.
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