Why cleaning and maintenance are so important for van owners

Van maintenance

We’ve all followed that grubby van, once white, now grey, in whose covering of ingrained muck some wag has scrawled “Even dirtier than your mum”.

But keeping your van clean and in good condition isn’t just a way of making sure you’re not getting laughed at by your fellow travellers. It makes your van last longer, cost less to maintain and hold its value better.

Why should I look after my van?

First, there’s the question of image. A dirty, uncared-for van is a bad look. If customers can see that you don’t take pride in your van, why should they trust you to take pride in the work you do?

And if you don’t keep your van clean, the bird droppings, dust and salt that build up will actually start to damage the bodywork. Insurers Staveley Head explain: “Dirt acts like sandpaper, and over time will wear away your van’s protective coating.” You can end up with permanent marks on the bodywork, rust, scratches and dull paint. Plus dirty windscreens, windows and mirrors can reduce visibility – and your headlights and indicators need to be clean so other road users can see you.

Second, small maintenance issues which aren’t dealt with can become big issues, which cost more money, time (that’s lost working time) and labour to repair. They can also put a strain on your van, impacting things like fuel economy, and cause long-term damage. Journalist Dan Parton, writing for The Van Expert, said: “While regular maintenance may cost time and money, it should be viewed as an investment that saves more in the long run.” A van that’s in good condition will also fetch a better price when you sell it.

Van maintenance checklist

The government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency recommends checking the following each day:

  • Brakes and handbrake
  • Horn and steering
  • Lights and indicators
  • Mirrors and windows
  • Seats and seatbelts
  • Windscreen wipers
  • Battery
  • Fluids, fuel and oil: do you have enough brake fluid, engine coolant, oil, power steering fluid, windscreen washer fluid and water? Are there any leaks (look underneath the van)?
  • Bodywork and doors
  • Exhaust
  • Tyres and wheels: check all your tyres have the legally required minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, and are properly inflated and free from damage. You can get three points on your licence for an illegal tyre


You should have your van serviced regularly, in line with the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule, which you’ll find in your van’s manual. It’s usually every year or every two years.

It’s important to stick to the service schedule even if everything seems to be working – it allows you to spot any problems early, it may be a condition of your warranty, and being able to show a full service history will make your van easier to sell.

At used van dealer Vanwise, we sell a wide range of used vans of a variety of makes and models – and our in-house technicians carry out servicing and repairs too, so you have someone you can trust to keep your van in tip-top condition.

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.