Buying A VW Transporter
Daunting is the best word to describe how buying a new van can feel. Thankfully there is plenty of info on the world wide web to help you make an informed decision. We have outlined the main things to look out for when buying a new Transporter, take a read before you purchase one!
Firstly, it is vital that you go and test drive the Transporter and check it for any problems. Never just buy a vehicle based on photos and a description.
Transporters are renowned for their long-lasting engines. Many can easily clock up 250,000 miles, with that being said, the majority of people will look for a used Transporter with less than 100k miles. This is a safe bet as long as the previous owner has taken care of it when required. We recommend going for a van that has just over 100k miles. Something like 105,000, the reason being that anything over that threshold tends to start getting cheaper and it’s not worth paying the premium for lower mileage.
Consider a Transporter with 150,000 – 200,000 miles to be average and anything over 200,000 starting to lean towards high mileage.
Rust – When viewing the Transporter, check underneath the chassis and around the doors for patches of rust. Although a small patch may not look menacing, it spreads easily and is the start of an uphill battle. Rust is a common problem for T4’s & T5’s so be especially careful on these models.
Scratches – No one wants a van that’s covered top to bottom in swirl marks and scratches. Deeper scratches are the ones to worry about. Fortunately, they can be easily spotted on dry days, make sure it’s not been raining as the water can mask defects. You can spot a deep scratch by looking for paint primer in its centre. If the scratch has penetrated the clear coat, coloured paint & primer then this isn’t going to be cheap to get fixed. Capitalise on any small marks by pointing them out to the seller and requesting a discount.
Dents – Get close to the panels and look along the length of the vehicle. Check each side for dents, they can often be found in areas where car doors have been opened onto the panels while it was parked.
Lights – Have the lights fogged over? Do they all work? Two questions to respect when doing your once over. Light clusters are expensive to replace so it is beneficial, not essential, to have lights in good condition.
Inspect the tyres and check their tread depth, use a Tire Depth Gauge for this, a relatively inexpensive tool that will last you a lifetime. Aim for above 5mm on each tire, anything below 3mm will have to be replaced. Also, check the tyre walls for cracks and scuffs. This can be an indication of age and how much they’ve been abused by previous owners. We would also say that it is preferable to have matching tyres on each corner, this improves the ride and means you won’t get uneven wear.
Has the interior of the van been kept in good nick? This can be a reflection of past owners and give you a good idea of whether or not care and attention have been shown towards other areas of the van.
Stains, tears & smells are all tricky to eradicate from the interior without the right gear. A thorough detail should help once purchased. Remember that the interior is where you and your eyes will spend the majority of your time.
While giving the van a test drive check if the electrics work; windows, mirrors and the radio can all be expensive so take your time to go through every knob and button you can see!
The Test Drive
Here are some common problems that Transporters face: slipping clutch, rattling from the engine, steering column clunk, suspension clunking (caused by bushes most of the time). Make sure you check for these when out and about!
Service & MOT History
A true deal-breaker, it’s so important to check the full history of the vehicle. Has the van been cleared of any finance? Has it had regular services? Are there records of any repairs and maintenance that have been made? A helpful tool to give you an understanding of the Transporter’s health is the GOV MOT checker. Take the number plate of the van and enter it into this website, you’ll be shown all previous MOT’s, whether they have passed or failed and simultaneously the reasons why.
If the oil hasn’t been changed every 10,000 miles this could start to cause problems. A year missing in the service book means at some point in the Transporters life it hasn’t been looked after properly. This is a red flag.
Tax Category & Insurance Costs
Tax is calculated based on the emissions of a vehicle. If you know the number plate of the vehicle you’re looking to buy then enter it into this helpful tool. It’s by far the easiest way to find out a whole host of information, including an estimated tax cost.
Transporter insurance can be expected to cost more than your standard car. This is due to the engine size and their large storage spaces (potentially a lot of expensive cargo). The best way to figure out the insurance cost is to get quotes from a price comparison website before you purchase the vehicle.
What is the most reliable Transporter?
Although the T6/T6.1 are the most recent addition to the Transporter line they are yet to show how long they can last. The T5 on the other hand has proven itself time & time again, often reaching well over 300,000 miles they earn their reliability badge! To be more precise the T5 1.9TDI get a lot of praise, ~35mpg compared to the larger 2.5’s ~28mpg means you’ll be saving on fuel too.
If you need help identifying what Transporter you’re looking for then check out our ‘Transporter Trims and Variants Explained’ page. We break down how Transporters are named and discuss all the different options you have.
Although it seems as though the list is never-ending, you’ll know when you’ve found the right Transporter. The Vee Dub Team wish you the best of luck on your journey and don’t forget, if you want to make your Transporter into something special, our upgrades are the way to do it!