Can you modify your hire van?

From adding a tow bar so you can pull a trailer, to emblazoning your logo proudly on the side, there are all sorts of modifications you might want to make to your van.

But what if you don’t own it? If you lease your van or vans, you don’t have the same freedom to make changes as if they were yours. But you can nonetheless expect a certain amount of leeway – perhaps more than you realise.

What is a modification?

A modification is just another word for a change. You might want to add some of the following to your van:

  • a fixed or detachable tow bar so you can tow a trailer or caravan
  • beacons – for vehicles working on building sites or in hazardous areas
  • high-visibility chevrons (for road maintenance vehicles)
  • branding
  • security features
  • roof racks
  • shelves and rails
  • tail lifts

Get in early

Most leasing firms advise you to ask for accessories like tow bars or racking when you order the van. As points out: “It’s a far easier process for us to fit these extras, rather than the lessee.” The firm adds that technological features, upgraded headlights or cloth trims, alloy wheels and changes to the doors shouldn’t pose a problem if you ask for them at that stage.

If you want to modify the van after you’ve taken possession of it, you should contact the van hire company first, even for small changes, and it’ll be up to the hire company and the manufacturer what modifications you can make. Generally, policy is to allow small and reversible modifications, as long as you can return the van to its original condition when you give it back. For example, suggests using magnetic signs or removable vinyl graphics for branding. Nationwide Vehicle Contracts says tow bars, dash cams, removable branding, telematics boxes, roof racks and vehicle trackers (to help you trace your van if it’s stolen) are usually allowed.

However, most companies are keen to stress that any modifications you make are at your own risk – and that they may even invalidate the warranty, which is no small price to pay.


Your leasing company may ask you to get your branding done by a professional company – in which case you should do as they say.

As Complete Leasing puts it: “Leasing companies are not lacking understanding of the use their vehicles will be put to and are used to people wanting to sign-write the van they have leased.

“It may seem that the process of sticking a vinyl sheet onto the side of a van is simple, but there are many pitfalls that you will avoid by going to someone who has the experience needed to do a clean job. Removing the livery is also something you should get done professionally.”

You also need to tell your insurer about any modifications you make.

If you'd like to test drive one of the used vans for sale, have a look at our website to see what we have for you, and call us at our Essex dealership on 01279 216163. Ask us about our vans on finance and van contract hire offers too.