/ Van-buying advice

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EmmaAtkinson on 09:04 Sun

Hi there,

I am in the process of trying to replace my Citroen Dispatch, which has been a nice little van to spent lots of time in over the past four years. It's been great but with higher mileage now I'm after a replacement before I need to spend more money on it!

I'd like something I can convert and keep running for as long as possible, so reliability is really important. I've been considering the VW transporter, it's reliability seems the main selling point but they are expensive, surely a low mileage (practically new) Peugeot Boxer would be more reliable than a 60000 mile VW transporter...? They are the same price and the Peugeot returns much better fuel economy. The Peugeot is also a big bigger (can stand in and sleep width ways!). But I want something that isn't going to need lots of work before say 130 000 miles....


Decisions....any advice, positive or negative reviews onyour van would be really helpful!


Thanks very much x

Hooo - on 09:35 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

As the owner of two VWs, a car and a van, I can say that VW reliability is a bit of a myth. They are not really any more reliable than the alternatives, and parts are not the cheapest.

With a VW you get a badge, good resale value and an undefinable "something" that makes them addictive. You don't actually need any of these things, so if you're happy with a Peugeot, you're better off with one of them.

Jim Lancs on 09:44 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Ford Transits and Vauxhall Vivaros (plus their Nissan/Renault clones) outsell VW Transporters to those who only care about running costs rather than making a cliquish 'lifestyle choice'.

But if you want to prioritise reliability above all else, then you might want to look at the Toyota LiteAce vans, but you'll have a very much more limited choice.

Ciro - on 09:51 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

I have the pre 2006 model of the sevel (boxer/relay/ducato) van, and after 4 years and many miles the only problems I've had were one breakdown when water got in the electrics and some rust (which won't happen on the newer model with a galvanised chassis).

The problem I had with the immobiliser is not uncommon, and seems to be related to the location of a wiring loom, which water runs off into if the windscreen scuttle gets blocked (not sure if they changed this in the x250) and there were reliability issues with the injectors for a while but I believe that was resolved some time ago. Otherwise they are very reliable, and much more practical than a transporter.

The square shape is great for converting - maximises storage space and headroom - and if you're using it a lot, a fixed transverse bed is awesome.

When this one dies, another sevel will be top of my consideration list... There's a reason why the big European pro converters all use them

Post edited at 09:52
jezb1 - on 10:08 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

I have a LWB Vivaro, which is great for the size, cheap to buy, but not without their issues.

The only plus of a VW would be the resale value, the fascination with VW goes way over my head.

if I wanted a bigger van I’d definitely go Ducato / Relay / Boxer.

Cheese Monkey - on 10:21 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

I'd keep the van you've got and maintain it Dispatches are alright 

Alasdair Fulton - on 10:22 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

The Boxer bodyshape is the base for most "coachbuilt" campervans (you know, the big posh ones that those with more money than sense of adventure own...)

At least a low mileage one will:

Not have been trashed for years,

Have many more years worth of paint to go through before rusting.

We have a T4 (1998) and seem to spend as much time fixing it as driving it. We avoided paying what they call "scene tax" (i.e. because they're trendy, they cost more) by buying it in the Netherlands. ) but it was still €3500 and we probably could have got a newer/lower mileage boxer etc. for the same money. T4s in the UK are overpriced for what you get. T5s are newer, but seem to have more reliability issues.

That said, they drive well, have good engines, look nice and it's easy to get spares/advice etc.

The guy at my local (trusted) garage was saying a japanese import Granvia is one of the best buys you can get for reliability and value for money.


Dax H - on 12:53 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Lwb high roof traffic here, 150k on the clock and only had 2 real problems and a few minor ones. . 

First was a loom fault that required the loom replacing, it was about 2 weeks old at the time.  Second was 6th gear was whining at around 100k, I got the box refurbished and it's been fine since.

The minor problems have been lots of suspension and roll bar bushes but it is fully loaded all the time and spends lots of time accessing sites down Farm tracks. 

tallsteve - on 17:21 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

I've had my VW and self coverted before they became insanely popular. Probably wouldn't buy one now though.

One advantage is that there is loads of stuff available for the converter, and plenty of price competition.  If you're looking at a particular van checkout what you can get online. eg. say you wanted to convert the front seats to swivelling seats - are they available?

Thankfully there seems to be plenty of stuff coming online for other makes.  Checkout the website seating section for example.  This may help guide you as to which vans are popular and have stuff easily available for you to buy.  The Renault Trafic or a Vivaro for example seems to feature regularly.  Type Trafic into the Kiravans search for example and see what pops up.

I am not recommended Kiravans just using them as an example of a quick search

planetmarshall on 17:37 Sun
In reply to Jim Lancs:

> Ford Transits and Vauxhall Vivaros (plus their Nissan/Renault clones) outsell VW Transporters to those who only care about running costs rather than making a cliquish 'lifestyle choice'.

I have bad news for you. If you own a camper van, be it T5, Transit, Merc, Renault or whatever, you've already made a cliquey lifestyle choice. #vanlife


coldwill - on 18:02 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

The Boxer is considerably bigger than the VW or the Citroen you have.  I have a Ford Transit and find the width quite tiresome to deal with in town when my car was off the road recently.  Worth considering this when you get a new van. Tempting to go for the biggest you can but it's not always what you want.

Alasdair Fulton - on 18:18 Sun
In reply to planetmarshall:

I'll bite....


  1. a small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.
    "his flat became a haven for a clique of young men of similar tastes"

If you have a van for practical reasons (one vehicle to get you to the crag, allow you to kip overnight, go on long climbing holidays cheaply), have no instagram account, don't go to "shows" or even really chat to others who have is that a clique?  Any one can get a van...don't see anyone trying to exclude others!


Sounds like a hint on envy there....

snoop6060 - on 18:40 Sun
In reply to tallsteve:

How old is your VW then? They've been insanely popular for quite some time 

planetmarshall on 19:48 Sun
In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

It was a joke.

Alasdair Fulton - on 21:04 Sun
In reply to planetmarshall:

Oh aye!

Tamati - on 21:09 Sun
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Have you considered a Toyota Hiace?

Same size as a Transporter, but with utterly bombproof reliability. (unlike the Transporter)


tallsteve - on 17:35 Mon
In reply to snoop6060:

I got it in 2007.  They were popular, just not insanely so.  Now its just silly.  Every other vehicle is a VeeDub.

In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Surely the only answer is - what your trusted mechanic is most happy to fix? All vans need work, but if your mechanic is a Ford specialist with loads of cheap Ford parts and you buy a Peugeot... 

peebles boy - on 22:10 Mon
In reply to EmmaAtkinson:

Mid roof medium wheel base front wheel drive Transit for the win. I'm 5ft 9inch and can *just about* stand up straight in them, and *just about* sleep happily across the way in them. Make sure it's FWD though, the RWD ones lose about 6inches in height on the inside due to the drive shaft etc. 

It might help if you can say what your van buying budget is though, as £4k - £5k will get you a 2010 Transit with well under 100,000 miles, but you'll be lucky to find anything newer than a 2007 transporter for that, and even then it'll likely have upwards of 150,000 miles on it. 

Things to look for on Transits - rust under the driver cab carpet/flooring. Rust on the engine mounts in the engine bay. Sills and wheel arches likely to have surface rust, but give them a good prodding to make sure it's not full depth. If it's getting towards 100,000 and none of the steering/suspension bushings and linkages have been replaced, they're probably well on the way to needing done. Check the roof - if it's been a work van and had a roof rack, worth checking no-one has been walking about up top and weakened the roof panel joints (speaking from experience here...they leak!!)

Use the DVLA MOT checker for any van to see its history and give you an idea of work done/recurring problems - 

Good luck, happy van shopping!!


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