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Whether you are a Plumber, Plasterer, Builder, Electrical, Butcher, Baker or Candlestick Maker and whether you are are looking to purchase or lease a van choosing the right vehicle is crucial to do the job you want it to do. Have a look at our guide to vans to see what is right for you and your business.

We get many customers who call us and want a van. When we ask what van they want you sometimes get the reply a big one or medium sized or small run around. When it comes to getting the right van it is not as simple as that. If we get a medium sized van for a plasterer who then wants to try and put 8x4 sheets of plasterboard in it and they don't fit we will know about it pretty quickly. 

Getting the right van is essential so you can do the job you need it to do. You need to consider the load length, height, load you want to carry and weight (payload). Below are the factors to consider and what they all mean.


Size matters when looking for a van. Seems obvious but checking the right dimensions of load length, height and width really makes a difference. Imagine being a plasterer wanting to carry 2.4m x 1.2m sheets of plasterboard and your van load length is 2.3m.

However you need to look at load length at both floor level and all the way up the van to make sure it has the length you need where you need it. The same goes for height and take into account door opening for bulky items. Don't also forget width and width between wheel arches.

Measured in millimetres in all directions and load space in cubic metres.

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Gross Vehicle Mass (GMV)

This is the maximum permissible weight of a commercial vehicle fully loaded and fuelled. This includes the weight of the vehicle, the driver and crew (using an industry standard of 75Kg per person). All fluids, fuel tank full to 90%, and optional or retro fitted equipment such as roof rack etc and finally the cargo. 

The maximum GVM for most vehicles in the UK with a normal Full UK driving is 3500Kg although there are exceptions. 

The GMV of vans will vary depending on the size of van, the engine and transmission. Most manufacturers will designate the GVM within the model name i.e. a Ford Transit 300 has a GMV of 3000Kg.

It is important that the maximum GVM is not exceeded as this can result in a fine and points on a licence if you are caught exceeding the limits.

Kerb Mass

The Kerb mass is the weight of a standard specification vehicle including fluids and fuel tank full to 90% without the driver any crew and the cargo.


This is weight that the vehicle can carry. 
The payload is the GVM less the Kerb Mass. 
This can vary greatly from model to model and can vary from about 500KG to 1500Kg.

It is important to think about the types of cargo you will carry and how this will affect your choice of vehicle. A florist carrying flower will need a low payload whereas a builder carrying bricks will need a high payload.

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The payload will be based on the type and size of van, the drivetrain (front or rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive), engine and transmission (auto or manual). These will all have an effect on how much you can carry.


Most vans will have access to the load space via the rear. Usually by means of barn doors opening outwards from the centre. Many manufacturers allow you to have doors which can open wider to allow for greater accessible load width. Some manufacturers allow you to replace the rear barn doors with a tail lift type door which also allows greater accessible load width.

Many vans also have access via side doors usually sliding doors. Some may have doors on both sides.

Depending on where you are working and the loads you are carrying and how many times you may stop (multi drop) you may need access to the load space from both sides as well as the rear.

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This is the wall between the driver's seat and the load space. Most vans come with a bulkhead of some form and can be solid metal non movable all the way from floor to roof. You may also get a mesh bulkhead all the way from top to bottom or half height or split down the centre. 

The types of bulkhead available will depend on the van and manufacturer. Many give you the option to choose which type you want depending on the usage of the van. Some will have a flap under the drivers seat so that a plumber for example can store pipes via the load space under the seat so being able to fit long pipes longer than the load length of the load space.

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Carrying People

Many vans only carry the driver but there are times when there may be a requirement to carry more than one person. 

Many vans allow you to have one or two passenger seats in the front. However for those time when more than three people need to be moved many vans come with the crew cab (or double cab) option. This is when you have another row of seats (typically three) in the load compartment. Some are fixed and may fold down and some may be able to be removed. Both allowing the load space to be used when not carrying people.

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Ply Lining

No matter how you fund your van you want to keep it in the best condition and to help in doing that the majority of customers will opt for ply lining their van. This will normally cover side panels, doors, wheel arches and may include the floor. This can be arranged pre delivery so that your van turn up ready to go to work.

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Depending on what the van is being used for you may require a number of accessories to be fitted. These can include such things as roof and ladder racks, tow bars, interior racking & mud flaps to name a few. These can be fitted pre delivery and included in any finance deal on the van.

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Specialist Vehicles

Whilst panel vans make up the majority of commercial vehicles there are many specialist options you can have based on a standard van. These will generally be based on a chassis cab with a body built on to it. These can include flatbeds, Tippers (1 or 3 way), Luton Box vans and refrigerated vans. Some of these you can buy off the shelf from manufacturers and some will require a specialist bodybuilder.

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This is a complex area and there are many factors to consider such as all the above but in the case of the refrigerated van for instance if you want chilled or frozen, single compartment or duel compartment one chilled and one cold. Also extras like tail lifts and if so what weight capacity of the tail lift. Also to consider is the weight of the conversion which will have an effect on the maximum payload you can carry.

 To discuss your exact requirements please call us on 01233 754800.

Measured in milimetres in all directions and loadspace in cubic metres.