What are the costs of running a van?

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Whatever you use a van for, it’s important to make sure you know the full cost implications. The main financial considerations include:

• Van purchase price or leasing costs
• Van insurance
• Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, often called road tax)
• Fuel
• Service, MOTS, maintenance and repair
• Tyres
• Tolls

To get a fairly accurate cost estimate, you might want to work out the cost of driving over four years rather than one.

This means that any large, up-front expenditure, such as the van’s purchase price, is evened out.

If you’re a cash buyer, paying the purchase price in full, then this one-off cost will probably be the biggest chunk of your van costs. However, if you are buying your van on finance or leasing it, you’ll need to take into account the monthly costs over the period you plan on running the van to determine the cost overall.

Van insurance is another essential that can often be paid annually or monthly. It’s generally more cost effective to pay annually if you can.

As there are so many factors to the cost of van insurance, such as the driver’s age, location and the type of van usage, the best way to accurately assess this cost is to get a van insurance comparison quote for any vehicle you are thinking of buying before you commit.

How much is VED?

The VED payable by van drivers is far more straightforward than car tax. All light commercial vehicles (weighing up to 3,500kg) currently pay the same flat rate. From April 2017, this is rising slightly (exact details from the DVLA are yet to be confirmed) but it’s expected to be a cost of approximately £235 for 12 months of tax paid up front.

If you pay for six months up front, the overall cost will be slightly higher, as it will be if you choose to pay monthly via direct debit. There are a few exceptions to the flat rate rule, such as vans built before 2001 and vans that fall into some Euro 4 and Euro 5 emissions categories, which cost around £140 for 12 months VED.

How much are van fuel costs?

Fuel costs are a little difficult to budget for precisely, as prices fluctuate all of the time depending on a number of market factors.

However, by knowing approximately how many miles you are likely to do in your van per year, you can roughly estimate how much that will cost using today’s prices, using your van’s average MPG to work it out.

Bigger vans use more fuel than smaller ones, but driving style and the type of roads you’re on (motorways vs urban driving) also plays a big part in the fuel consumption of your vehicle.

Van MOTs

Van MOTs cost the same as with cars, but if your use of the van means you’re on the road in it a lot of the time, clocking up the miles, you’ll probably find that you will need more maintenance work more often than you might be used to.

Tyres need to be changed before the tread wears down below legal levels, and depending on the type and amount of driving you’re doing in your van, you might get through a couple of sets per year.

Van tyres do tend to be a bit more expensive than car tyres, but they are specifically designed for the extra rigours that these vehicles go through, such as carrying heavy loads.

Whilst the vast majority of the UK’s roads are toll-free, you might find that you need to use a toll road or tunnel regularly enough that it’s worth budgeting for.

Next page: How to get cheap van insurance for a young driver