Danni the Vanni is healthy! She passed her service from the very competent Lee at I.D.C Wigan.
HOWEVER. First off I tried to arrange it through a company called ServicingStop who at first quoted me £188 for a full service and oil change. All seemed about right and most importantly they would send someone out to do it on the driveway (the van is insured as SORN so can’t be taken anywhere until taxed and insured). They then rang me back and said that they had forgotten to include the price of the oil and that because it takes 11ltrs of oil it would cost an additional £160!!
I questioned it, but basically only because I didn’t have that money lying around. The mechanic rang me direct (the aforementioned and highly recommended I.D.C) and said that price was insane and that servicing stop take a 25% cut, so he would do it direct for £200 including the oil change.
So my first mistake was not shopping around enough. SHOP AROUND PEOPLE. While people are 99% good, companies are 99% mean and greedy and will take big cuts. The person on the phone freely admitted they had just googled the price of oil and that they knew nothing about cars or vans. Go local and independent where possible, pick someone knowledgeable and take the time to get to know the people servicing your vehicle.
Lee gave me some excellent advice when we were talking about the price of windows for the van. I was going to be paying about £100 per window without installation and this is a huge chunk of my budget, but Lee suggested a sunroof! You can get them at scrap yards for buttons, they don’t have to be tinted to keep away the pervs, and you are less likely to get someone smashing them and robbing all of your socks.
Nice fella, job well done, good advice for the future and a good contact for further information!
I came up against a lot of obstacles when buying the van. What van do I get? Where do I get it? How do I know if they are ripping me off? Etc. etc.
Just to give you some background, I have never owned a car. I got my licence and shared my mum’s car for about a year and only used it to occasionally go to work or to go buy chicken nuggets (and to scrape half the bumper off and backend someone in the KFC car park…). This means that every little thing that seems obvious to long term drivers seemed alien to me.
I started by asking friends who had vans, or friends who had friends who had vans, a family member who was a mechanic, and finally the internet. I say finally the internet because in my opinion it can be an endless trap of conflicting accounts which ultimately leave you exasperated and confused, so my best advice is ask someone you trust, one-on-one.
I was settled on a Toyota Hiace but struggled to find one in my price range, I was searching locally online through Gumtree, ebay and various dealerships but they were all around £3000. I kept second guessing every van I saw, thinking of potential things that could go wrong and wondering what bits of it might fall off on the motorway. But my uncle told me the best piece of advice;
“Every van will always have some sort of problem at some point, just check what you can as thoroughly as you can, you can’t predict the future”.
So on one fateful day I came across a bright yellow sprinter van for £1400, it seemed too good to be true (and might still be…) but after checking the MOT, mileage, service history and taking it for a test drive I decided to just fucking go for it.
So I guess my advice to people buying a van is do the research and know what you are looking for, but also be a bit brave. But, I might be telling you shortly that Danni the Vanni is only ready for the scrapyard, so don’t take my advice just yet.
I have started, stopped, and rewrote this post (and several others) more times that I can count, so here I go with the final effort.
I bought a van! It’s an old DHL delivery van, a 2004 Mercedes Sprinter and I have named it Danni. I have about 2 months to fit windows, insulate it, build and install some sort of bed thing… and whatever else I figure out before heading down south.
Oh and I just got fired so money is a little tight.
I had saved £2500 before buying the van which set me back £1400, so I have the remaining £1100 and whatever I can earn from temping to tax it, insure it, and do the work needed to make it comfortable enough to live in.
As previously mentioned my ability to not stay on track with things, for example this blog, means this might be a journey full of small breaks and big hiatus’. But please stick around if you want to; if you are a budding van person it might help, and if you are a seasoned van person you might be able to help me.