What to look for when buying a used Transit van

What you need to be aware of when buying a second hand Transit van

New Ford Transits sell like hotcakes, which is great news for those looking for a used Transit as it means they come into the market often. Today’s business owners and fleet managers are likely to be looking for a Mark 6 or Mark 7, both of which are offered in front and rear wheel drive.

The other bonus about the Transit is that it comes in just about every body style you can think of, which makes it very versatile. But what should you look for in a used Ford Transit van, and are there any common faults to be aware of?


The first thing to check is the paperwork – as with any used vehicle it’s important to ensure the HPI check comes back clear and the VIN on the vehicle matches that on the V5 log book. If the van is old enough to need an MOT, look at the certificate to see when the next one is due.

Some dealers such as Vanwise Group offer certified pre-owned vehicles, which means all the above is checked for you and the van undergoes a multipoint inspection to ensure it’s of the standard you would expect.

Potential issues

TDCi Transit models from the earlier 2000s may have issues caused by fuel contamination. In such cases a system flush is necessary, and new injectors, pump and pipes may be on the cards. All that will land you with a bill of around £1,700, so take care to check the vehicle’s history if buying one from that period.

Used Ford Transit vans from 56 plate to 2012 models often need a replacement vapour valve. You’ll know that’s due if the engine starts cutting out when idling or it takes extra effort to get the revs up. While it’s a fairly easy job, changing the vapour valve means the engine will need recoding, which takes the cost to around £200.

If there’s a knocking sound occurring when you take a rear wheel drive model for a test drive, it could mean the propshaft bearings need looking at. Alternatively, the universal joint may need a check. Either way, take it up with the dealer before parting with any money.

Rattling when idling means the timing chain is due for a change, while ratting during acceleration indicates that the flywheel or clutch could go. Dual mass flywheels can be changes to solid units for peace of mind; this will set you back £500 on the six-speed manual model. On models with five-speed transmission it’s about £560.

Other things to look out for

There are other, straightforward things to check as you are inspecting and test driving a used Ford Transit van. Take time to:

  • Inspect tyres for splits, bulges or uneven wear on the treads. This could indicate the wheels are misaligned.
  • Check the load area. Ply lined vans don’t suffer so much denting and scraping on their sides as they’re loaded and unloaded.
  • Ensure basics such as the door handles and radio work. In addition, there should not be any rust around wheel arches, door sliders and sills.
  • Get a feel for the brakes to rule out any squeaking or grinding noises. You’ll also need to know they have a solid feel.
  • Seatbelts all need to be working for the van to be road legal. Check they’re all present and correct.
  • Flickering or dimming lights could indicate a bigger problem with the electrics. Test the brake, front and fog lights as well as indicators.

Purchasing a used Ford Transit

Mark 7 models, being newer, are the better bet and start at around £2,500. Later Mark 6s with higher mileage can start from £1,500. Where you get the van from will affect the price – at auction you will find cheaper deals, but the peace of mind that comes with buying from a dealer is worth the extra money.

Many reputable dealers such as Vanwise Group offer pre-owned commercial vehicles. These have undergone a thorough inspection and HPI checks before reaching the forecourt, so many of the potential issues identified above may already have been rectified. There’s also a level of security involved – your van may come with a warranty and even if it doesn’t, it’s easier to obtain redress from a dealer than if you’ve bought at auction. There may be certain finance options available too that make affording a newer model or higher spec more affordable.

Alternatives to a used Ford Transit van

Perhaps the main competitors for the Transit in terms of availability and price are the Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic. Both rival the shorter wheelbase version of the Transit and have some good discounts.

For the larger transits, the Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are the strongest competition. These both have all-wheel drive options, which makes them a solid choice for those doing business in places that suffer from poor weather conditions.

Used Ford Transit vans for sale

At our used van dealership in Harlow, Vanwise Group offers a wide range of used Ford Transits, as well as selection of other makes and models. Contact your local dealer today to arrange a test drive or find out more about the used commercial vehicles we have in stock.