Category Archives: Van hire faq

Van parking

How to stay safe when parking and reversing your hire van

Van parking

Van parking (image courtesy of Volkswagen)

If you’re hiring a van for the first time, there’s a good chance that one of your top driving worries will be reversing and parking the boxy beast.

Figures released by the Department for Transport suggest that you are probably right to be concerned. In 2016, there were 1,350 parking and reversing accidents involving vans that resulted in death or injuries to drivers, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians.

In addition to this, there were many more minor reversing shunts where damage was limited to property, not people.

The human cost of these accidents can be terrible. But even if no-one else is involved, costs can be high. Volkswagen estimates that having a van off the road costs companies an average of £550 per day. Average UK car repair bills — after a collision — clock in at a weighty £1,678.

How to reverse your hire van safely

There are a few things you can do to make reversing and parking much safer.

The first is to ensure that your mirrors are correctly adjusted to provide a clear view down each side of the van. Make sure you familiarise yourself with what’s visible and any blind spots.

Don’t be afraid to get out and have a look. I can’t emphasise this enough. Get out and look! Even the most experienced drivers do this sometimes. There’s no substitute for eyeballs.

If at all possible, make sure you have a friend or colleague to help when you’re reversing into an enclosed space.

Of course, if your hire van has a reversing camera, this will help reduce the risk of a collision. Unfortunately most rental vans don’t have this feature, which is usually an extra-cost option on new vans.

Whatever the situation, make sure you are moving dead slow when you reverse and park. That way, if you do hit something the potential damage to life or vehicle will be limited.

What if I damage the van when reversing?

Any damage to the van when reversing could leave you with a hefty repair bill. Our research suggests that the excess on hire vans is typically upwards of £1,000.

Unless you’ve purchased excess protection insurance to reduce this liability, you’ll be liable for all repair costs up to the full excess amount.

Our top tip

The vast majority of van reversing is completed successfully and without any damage. It’s not that difficult to do if you take care and go slow.

Get a reliable friend to help if possible.

If you’re on your own, take as much time as you need. Don’t hesitate to get out and look.

By following these tips, you should be able to enjoy a safe, damage-free van rental.

Driving in France

Taking a hire van to France? Don’t fall foul of these driving laws

Driving in France

Driving in France (courtesy of Shutterstock / Alfio Finocchiaro)

The French government is determined to reduce the number of accidents on France’s (excellent) road network and has introduced a number of new laws this year.

Most of these don’t apply in the UK, so you may want to read on if you’re planning a quick trip over the Channel in a rented van (or in your car).

Here are some of the main highlights:

  • Speed: The speed limit on secondary (‘D’) roads has been cut from 90kph to 80kph. This is equivalent to a reduction from 56mph to 50mph. According to the RAC, drivers could face fines of up to £670 if caught speeding. And EU speeding fines will now follow you back to the UK, so you can’t leave them behind in France.
  • Mobile phones: French rules ban the use of any kind of hands-free headset or headphones while driving. If you want to use a handheld mobile to make a call, you must park in a designated parking space and switch the engine off.
  • Emergency services: If you need to call the emergency services while in France (or anywhere in the EU) the number to call is 112.
  • High viz, warning triangle & breathalyser: When travelling in France you need to carry a high viz vest/jacket for each person in the vehicle. You are also required to carry a warning triangle and an alcohol breathalyser. This must be an approved ‘NF’ type.
  • Documents: If you’re in your own vehicle, you will need proof of ownership (V5C) plus current MOT and insurance certificates. If you’re in a hire or fleet vehicle, you’ll need a VE103B ‘vehicle on hire’ certificate to prove you have the owner’s permission to take it out of the UK. Your rental company should provide this if you’ve booked a van to take abroad. If not, ask. You may need to arrange this in advance.
  • Glasses: If you’re like me and require glasses for driving, make sure you carry a spare pair with you in the car.
  • Low emission zones: Finally, like Germany, France has set up low emissions zones in a number of cities. At the time of writing these include Paris, Lyon and Grenoble. Even if your vehicle is compliant, you’ll still need a Crit’Air vignette to prove it. Otherwise you could be fined. You can find full details of the Cirt’Air scheme here: https://www.crit-air.fr/en.html

These aren’t the only rules that apply to driving in France, but they are among those which might not be familiar to UK drivers. For more comprehensive guide, check out the AA Driving in Europe guide.

You might also want to check out our driving tips for Europe.

Thief stealing a van

How much will I have to pay if my hire van is stolen?

Thief stealing a van

If your rental van is stolen, you might assume that as long as it was locked and secured correctly, the hire company’s insurance would cover the loss. Unfortunately you’d be wrong.

Theft protection is included in most rental insurance in the UK. But unless you’ve purchased additional protection, you will normally  be liable for the maximum excess payment on your rental policy. This is typically £1,000 – £2,000.

This very sad recent news story highlights how distressing this situation can be. 84-year old widower Johnny Feaver hired a van to move from West London to Preston, Lancashire. After loading the van it was left parked overnight outside his home, from where it was stolen.

Leaving aside the devastating loss of all his possessions, Mr Feaver has also reportedly been told that he’s liable for a £2,000 excess payment to the rental company for the theft of the van.

How theft protection works

Most rental insurance in the UK does include theft protection. But even if the van is properly secured, you’ll still be liable for an excess payment if the van is stolen.

For rental vans, the standard excess is usually pretty high. The £2,000 figure quoted in the article I’ve linked to above isn’t unusual, as these examples show:

  • Europcar: Standard excess for loss or damage is £1,500. Renters can buy extra cover to reduce this figure to £250.
  • Hertz: Standard excess on most vans is £1,000 (some models have a higher excess). Excess protection is available to reduce this figure.
  • Enterprise: Standard excess on vans is £1,150 (£1,400 in Northern Ireland)
  • Easirent: Standard excess is £1,250. Renters can buy extra cover to reduce this amount.

All figures believed to be correct as of 25 July 2018. vanrental.co.uk accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions. Please check before you buy.

This isn’t an exhaustive guide, but I hope it’s clear that if you don’t have excess protection, you can face a hefty bill if your rented van is stolen, even if it isn’t your fault. Note that if you are found to have contributed to the theft, for example by leaving the van unlocked with the keys in, you may be liable for a higher amount.

How to reduce your excess

Almost all van hire companies will sell additional insurance cover that reduces your excess, in some cases down to £100 or even zero. These aren’t bad products, but they’re often charged by the day and can work out quite expensive for longer hires.

One alternative that I’ve used is to buy excess protection insurance from specialists offering this service. This insurance will refund any excess payment you make to your hire company, subject to certain terms and conditions.

These products generally have a good reputation, from what I’ve heard. If you hire a vehicle regularly you can buy annual policies at quite reasonable prices. And cover is also available for overseas use.

To find out more (and collect the latest discount code) check out our Van Hire Excess Insurance page.

Medium van

What size van should you hire?

Perhaps the most common question we get asked is “what size van do I need to hire?”

The answer isn’t always obvious but there are some simple rules of thumb that should help you choose the right-sized van.

Here’s a summary of the most popular sizes of hire van. (You can find a much more detailed size guide here).

Compact vans

Compact van

Compact vans such as the Citroen Nemo are the smallest vans you’re likely to be able to hire.

These tiny vans are good for small boxes, delivering documents or small items and for nipping around town.

With a typical payload of 500kg and a loadspace around 1.5m long and 1.2m high, they’re surprisingly flexible and can hold a lot of stuff, as long as it’s not too bulky.

Just don’t try moving house with one.

Small vans

Small van

Small vans like this Ford Transit Connect are bigger than they look.

One of the most popular sizes of vans is what we call the small van.

They’re not really that small anymore, as they typically have a maximum load length of about 1.7m. Payload (load weight) is normally between 600kg to 1,000kg, depending on the model.

Small vans aren’t much bigger than an estate car and are easy to drive and park.

If you’re living in a shared house or student room and don’t have any furniture, a small van like a Citroen Berlingo or Ford Transit Connect might be big enough to hold all of your stuff.

Medium vans

Medium van

Medium vans such as the VW Transporter (pictured) and Ford Transit Custom are big enough for most jobs.

If a small van isn’t quite big enough, a medium van probably will be. These are the smallest vans we’d recommend if you’ve got furniture to shift, rather than just boxes and other small stuff.

The most popular van in this class (indeed, the most popular van in the UK) is the Ford Transit Custom.

These models usually have headroom of about 1.4m in the rear, and a load length of around 2.4m. Width is usually about 1.7m, although it’s less between the rear wheel arches. These are popular with couriers and tradesmen and also a common choice for campervan conversions.

Large vans

Large van

Large vans such as this Ford Transit long wheelbase are pretty big inside.

Now we’re getting serious. Large vans like the Ford Transit long wheelbase (LWB to van geeks) have an internal length of 3m-4m.

They also tend to have higher roofs, providing more height for stacking large objects and — sometimes — making it possible transport wardrobes standing upright.

For a one-bed flat move, a large van may be big enough, as long as you don’t have too much large furniture. However, if you’ve got sofas and beds to move, we think you’ll probably want something bigger.

Extra-long wheelbase vans

Extra-long wheelbase van

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter XLWB is the Daddy of extra-long vans.

An extra-long wheelbase van (XLWB) is the same as a long wheelbase van, but with an extra bit stuck on the back. The end result is a van with an internal length of between 4m and 5m. Width is usually around 1.7-1.8m, and internal height can vary from 1.7m to more than 2m.

These load luggers are favoured by couriers and tradesmen and are also good for small removals, as you can fit a lot in the back. The only downside is that the sides of the van aren’t vertical and aren’t completely flat. So an XLWB van still isn’t quite as good for removals as our final choice, the luton.

Luton

A luton van

Lutons are the best choice for removals as they are designed to fit lots of large, bulky objects.

Named after the Befordshire town of Luton where it was first invented, the Luton is a box van with an additional storage area over the driver’s cab.

These vans are the first choice for small removals firms, as the wide, square load space they provide is ideal for bulky household items like sofas, fridges and wardrobes.

Internal height and width is normally 2m. A typical internal length might be 4m, although this can vary.

If you’ve got any questions about hiring a van, drop us an email or give us a shout @vanrentaluk on Twitter. Remember, you can find more information about different types of van in our size guide.

Thief stealing a van

5 ways to prevent theft from hire vans

Thief stealing a van

We’ve put together some tips to help you protect your possessions being stolen from your hire van.

Theft from vans can have a devastating impact on the victims. Lost tools can be hard to replace and cause small businesses to rack up big losses. And if you’re moving house and your possessions are stolen from your hire van, the personal impact can be even greater.

The obvious advice is to make sure you don’t leave anything in your van when it’s unattended. But as we all know, that’s simply not possible sometimes. So here are some tips that should help you minimise the risk of theft from your van, whether it’s a rented van or your own vehicle.

Out of sight, out of mind

Never leave anything on display. That means keeping the cab area and dashboard clear. If your van has a full bulkhead and doesn’t have any rear windows, then that’s all that’s necessary. But if you do have rear windows consider covering the rear windows or the contents of your van with a blanket, so that would-be thieves can’t see in.

Remember, even if glass is dark-tinted, you can still see through it if you shine a torch directly on the glass.

When you’re unloading your van — perhaps if you’re moving house — remember to remove your valuables, sat nav and phone from the front. Close and lock the van every time you come and go. Don’t be tempted to leave it open and unlocked unless it’s always in your sight.

Is it really locked?

This may sound obvious, but the widespread use of remote fobs and keyless entry systems means that many drivers just walk off without checking whether their van has actually locked.

I recently wrote about the growing problem of relay attack theft on vans with keyless systems.

But another problem for drivers with normal remote key fobs is that thieves can lurk nearby with signal blockers that will stop your van from locking.

Whatever type of locking system you have, make sure the van is actually locked when you leave it — watch for the indicators to flash and/or listen for the noise of the locks engaging.

Parking tips

Parking carefully won’t always deter professional thieves. But there are a few things you can do to help. Park under street lights where possible, preferably within sight of your home.

If you’re parking in a car park or on a driveway, park against a wall or back right up to the garage door if possible, to reduce access to the van’s rear and side doors.

If you’re in a hotel car park, try and make sure your van is in clear sight of any CCTV and is in a well-lit area.

Insurance

If you’re moving house, check if your home insurance covers you while your possessions are in transit. If they aren’t covered, consider extending your cover to include this protection.

Protect your keys

It’s amazing how many people keep their keys and wallet by their front door. Yes, it’s convenient when you’re rushing out. But it’s also convenient for thieves.

Modern vehicle electronics makes it harder to hot-wire cars than it used to be. But if you have the keys, it’s very easy. Many thieves now target houses in order to steal their car or van keys.

Vans with keyless systems are also more vulnerable to being stolen by relay attacks when the keys are closer to the van, because the signal from them will be stronger.

Keep keys safe and make sure they’re not visible through windows or when you open your front door.

What should I do if my van is broken into?

The first thing to do is probably to notify the police and your hire company.

If the van has been damaged, the hire company will probably need a police incident number. They may also need to arrange for the van to be recovered to be repaired and for you to get a replacement van.

You’ll also need to contact your home or trade insurance company to see if you can claim for what’s been stolen. This won’t be covered by your hire company’s insurance. Don’t expect them to help with this.

What else can I do to prevent theft from vans?

If you own the van yourself, there are some other precautions you can take. But if you’re using a hire van I don’t think there’s much else you can do.

Tradesmen carrying tools are probably at the highest risk of theft. Such tools are expensive to replace, easy to carry and easy to sell quickly for cash. Household possessions aren’t so desirable.

So if you’re a tradesman using a rented van, remove as much as possible overnight and try not to make it too obvious what the van is being used for. Keep it clean, don’t leave work-related stuff all over the dashboard and make sure it’s locked every time you leave it unattended.

Thief stealing a van

How to protect your hire van from keyless ‘relay attack’ theft

 

Thief stealing a car

Keyless entry means that van thieves don’t have to know how to pick locks. A cheap electronic ‘relay’ gadget is all that’s required. To avoid keyless theft, consider keeping your key in a faraday wallet when you’re not using it.

In 2017, 82% of the vans recovered by vehicle security experts TRACKER were stolen without the owner’s keys. That’s a big increase from 2016, when just 44% were stolen without keys.

What’s happening here appears to be that thieves are taking advantage of the growing popularity of keyless entry systems on new vans. You may also have one of these in your car. The vehicle senses when you are nearby and automatically unlocks the doors. Quite often you can then start the engine with a push button without needing to take the key out of your pocket.

Unfortunately there seems to be a price for this convenience. It makes vans easier to steal.

“Relay attack”

The problem is that thieves don’t necessarily need to steal your keys to unlock your vehicle.

Using a cheap radio device known as a relay the faint signal from the key inside your house can be amplified. This can be enough to fool your vehicle into thinking that the key is close enough to unlock. The thieves can then hop in and drive away.

How to prevent keyless theft

Thieves still like to steal your keys if possible, because it makes it quicker and easier to drive away. The keys can then be kept with the vehicle for onward use.

If you own or rent a van with a keyless entry system, here’s what you should do to help protect yourself from keyless theft:

  1. Keep the keys out of sight in your house, preferably as far away from the vehicle as possible.
  2. Another weapon in thieves’ arsenal is the “blocker”, which stops the keyless system locking as you walk away. So check the vehicle is locked when you leave it. The indicator lights will usually flash.
  3. If you own a vehicle with a keyless system, consider getting a faraday wallet to keep your key in. These only cost a few pounds and will completely block the signal from the key when it’s inside the wallet, preventing relay attacks.
  4. If you own a car or van with a keyless system, consider getting an old-school Crook Lok or steering wheel lock. These may seem old fashioned, but they can provide a useful extra layer of security. Obviously this isn’t practical when you’re only hiring a van.

Finally, remember to obey all the usual rules. Don’t leave anything of value visible inside your van. If possible, don’t leave expensive tools in the van overnight — replacing these, even if they’re insured, is costly and time consuming.

Ford Transit hire van

Why van hire price comparison could save you money

Ford Transit hire van

If you want to save money on van hire, then you need to know that van hire prices change a lot.

Many of the companies listed on vanrental.co.uk change their rates on a daily basis! There’s often a surprising difference between companies as well. Factors such as the time of year and the level of demand from big corporate customers can have a big effect on prices.

To find the cheapest prices, you’ll need to compare prices across a range of suppliers. And you’d probably prefer to do this on a single website. That’s what we aim to do.

vanrental.co.uk logo

How we compare prices

To help you find the cheapest rates, we get live prices from as many companies as possible every time you search.

Our price comparison system has been developed by our developers in house. We’re not owned by any van hire company and are 100% independent.

We don’t add anything on to the prices you see, which should be the same as you’d get on the hire companies’ own websites.

All of our results are listed strictly in price order. No one can ‘buy’ the top spot

Van hire price comparison results on vanrental.co.uk

How you make a booking

We are strictly a comparison website. We don’t rent vans ourselves and we’re not a broker.

After you choose a van to hire, you’re transferred to the website of your chosen hire company. You’ll see a page like this when you leave our site:

vanrental.co.uk exit page

Your booking will be made directly with the hire company you choose. We don’t collect your personal details and we don’t handle any bookings or payments.

What if there’s a problem?

One advantage of booking direct is that if you have any questions or problems, you can contact the rental company as a direct customer. You don’t have to deal with a middleman who might try to fob you off.

Although there are lots of other websites which compare car hire, there are hardly any in the UK which offer genuine van hire comparison except us!

Thank you

We have been in business for nearly 11 years, thanks to the support of people like you. We believe our service is still the best and the most transparent you will find.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns about vanrental.co.uk, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help:

Finally – if you run a van hire company and you’d like to appear in our results (even if live pricing isn’t possible) then check out our advertising options here or get in touch.

Filling up a van - petrol or diesel?

Are hire vans petrol or diesel?

Filling up a van - petrol or diesel?

Should you be putting petrol or diesel in your hire van?

Diesel has got a lot of bad press over the last year. If you’ve been following the latest new car sales data, you’ll know that 220,000 fewer diesel cars were sold in 2017 than in 2016.

In fact, falling sales of diesel cars accounted for the entire reduction in new car sales last year.

So if you’re driving a new car — or even hiring one — it’s increasingly likely to be a petrol model.

Are hire vans petrol or diesel?

Although van manufacturers are now starting to offer more petrol models, the vast majority* of van hire fleets are still 100% diesel.

We may see van rental companies starting to offer more petrol models over the next few years, especially in the smaller models such as small and medium vans. However, petrol vans are still rare. For now, almost all rental vans use diesel.

Most rental vehicles have the fuel filler cap labelled with the correct type of fuel, so there should be no reason to get it wrong. But if you are unsure, make sure you ask when you pick up the van, and double-check each time you fill it up.

What if I fill up my van with the wrong fuel?

If you put the wrong fuel into any car or van, the golden rule is to stop instantly. Stop filling and stop driving if it’s safe to do so.

Don’t even put the key in the ignition if you can avoid it. Many modern vehicles prime their fuel pumps with fuel when you put the key in, before you start the engine. Driving a diesel van with petrol in the tank can cause a lot of damage, especially to the (expensive) fuel pump.

In a hire vehicle, you should phone the number provided for breakdown assistance. The breakdown provider will probably send someone out to pump the tank for you. Both the AA and RAC have special misfuelling patrol vans fitted with tanks and pumps to do this safely.

Unfortunately you should expect to pay for this service, as it’s your fault — it’s not a mechanical failure that might be covered by breakdown protection.

*There are a few exceptions, especially in London. Tighter emissions rules and problems with diesel particulate filters on vans used for short journeys are making diesel increasingly unattractive. Car-sharing firm Zipcar recently added 10 Volkswagen Transporter vans with petrol engines to its London fleet, but this is a drop in the ocean and is very much an exception to the rule.

MAN TGE dropside van conversion

Van hire size guide: should I hire a dropside or tipper van?

MAN TGE dropside van conversion

The new MAN TGE dropside van conversion, pictured at the Birmingham NEC at CV Show 2017

Choosing the right type of van to hire isn’t always easy. But if you need a dropside or tipper then your choice should be pretty clear, as these types of vans are designed for quite different jobs to standard panel vans.

In this series, we’re taking a look at the popular sizes of vans offered by the hire companies who supply the results for our price comparison system.

Today I’ll explain what dropside and tipper vans are, and what they’re normally used for. But before I get started, here are links to the other types of van we’ve already covered in this series:

Dropside & Tipper vans

The defining feature of these vans is that they have an open load area that’s enclosed by folding sides which lock into place for transport and can be folded down for easy loading and unloading.

Tipper models look the same but have lifting gear which raises the load bed at the front, meaning that its contents are tipped off the back of the van.

Nissan NV400 tipper

A Nissan NV400 tipper van conversion.

The size of the load area can vary widely on tippers and dropsides, but a typical example might be 3m long by 2m wide. Dropsides are likely to be slightly larger than tippers, typically.

Tippers vs. dropside: You can use a tippers like a dropside. The only disadvantage to this is that the available payload (weight limit) will often be lower than it would be on a dropside, because of the extra weight of the tipper gear.

Load capacity: These vans are often used for transporting building materials, which tend to be pretty heavy. With a typical payload of 1,000-1,200kg, it’s easy to go overweight if you’re loading packs of bricks and bags of cement, for example.

Remember — items in the load area are exposed to the elements and may need securing to ensure they don’t move or fall out while being transported.

Crew cab or single cab: These vans are available with a single cab (driver + 2 passengers) or a crew cab (driver + 5 passengers). Crew cab models sometimes have a smaller load area, so if you hiring a tipper or a dropside, make sure you know what you’re getting.

Volkswagen Crafter Luton

Van size guide: should I hire a Luton van?

Volkswagen Crafter Luton

A Volkswagen Crafter-based Luton van, with tail lift.

If you’re not used to hiring a van, it isn’t always easy to know what size to choose. That’s why we’re running this blog series. We’re taking a look at the popular sizes of vans offered by the hire companies who supply the results for our price comparison system.

Today we’re looking at luton vans, which are top choices for small house removals, furniture and other bulky items. I’ll explain why in a minute, but first here’s a quick reminder of the van sizes we’ve already covered:

What’s a luton van?

Named after the Bedfordshire town of Luton in which they were invented, luton vans have box bodies on top of a van chassis. If this sounds too technical, then what you need to know is that they provide a wide square load area that’s ideal for furniture and household goods.

Luton vans also have vertical sides, making it easier to strap tall heavy objects like furniture into place securely.

The final characteristic of a luton is the storage area that sticks out over the driver’s cab. This isn’t suitable for heavy items but is ideal for large, bulky light items. For example, clothes, bedding and sofa cushions.

How big is a luton? The length of the body will vary, but a typical example designed for removals might be 4m long, 2m wide and 2m high. In a standard luton, this will be a completely square space — there are no wheel arches as the luton body sits above the wheels (like in the picture above).

What can you fit in a luton van? The large, square shape of these vans makes them ideally suited for furniture and other bulky object such as washing machines, fridge-freezers and so on. I’ve moved house from a one-bedroom flat with our furniture in a Luton without a problem.

Is there anything that won’t fit? One area where you might have problems is if you’re not able to use the space effectively. Removal men are expert at fitting huge amounts into these compact vans. The trick is to use the space inside the van as fully as possible.

So furniture might be stacked or perhaps stood on its end, and then strapped to the side of the van. Doing this requires a bit of thought if you want to avoid any damage. You’ll also need plenty of old blankets, suitable straps and at two pairs of strong arms!

The other area that might be a problem is weight. The payload of a standard 3.5t luton is typically around 1,000kg. Furniture and household goods probably won’t be a problem. But if you’re moving something heavy, such as packs of bricks or tiles, then you may use up your weight allowance before you run out of space. A panel van is often better for this kind of work.

Tail lifts: The load deck of a luton is quite high off the ground, as the luton body normally sits above the wheels. Many luton hire vans come with a tail lift. This allows you to lift raise heavy items from ground level up to the level of the load floor, from where you can lift them inside the van.

Tail lifts often have a load capacity of 500kg, although this can vary. The downside of a tail lift is that it’s quite heavy, so it reduces the amount of weight you can carry inside the van.

Not all luton hire vans have a tail lift, so if you need one, make sure it’s listed when you book — or ask.

Coming next: In the final instalment of this series we’ll take a look at 3.5t dropside and tipper vans.