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Exclusive August discount code for Questor Insurance [EXPIRED]

Questor Insurance logo

It’s been a while, but we now have a brand-new, exclusive discount code for van hire excess protection from the good people at Questor Insurance.

As I’ve explained before, the excess liability when you hire a van can be surprisingly high. So we recommend some kind of additional protection to reduce your excess.

If you’re considering buying from Questor, then this discount code should help. Here are the details:




This post contains affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.

An online scammer

Buying a used van? Don’t fall for these common scams

An online scammer

Online used vehicle scams have “really ramped up” since May, according to CDL Vehicle Information Systems.

If you’re considering buying a used van, my first suggestion is that you should check whether it might be cheaper to rent! With used van prices at record highs, this isn’t as daft as it might sound.

However, my mission today is to flag up three ‘popular’ online scams being used to target used van buyers this summer.

According to Mike Bailey at CDL Vehicle Information Systems (who run, the number of online scams targeting used vehicle buyers is “off the chart this summer”.

A typical scam is designed to get you to pay out money without receiving a vehicle. It’s usually very hard to get any redress, so your cash is often lost forever. According to CDL, fraudsters will often setup fake dealer websites with stock that looks genuine and other convincing details.

However, the good news is that most of these scams fit three common patterns. They’re quite easy to spot if you know what to look for. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. It’s too cheap. If a van (or any other vehicle) is being sold much more cheaply than similar models elsewhere, you need to ask why. Clue: it’s probably because the seller has something to hide. They hope that your greed for a bargain will overrule any suspicions you have. Don’t be that person.
  2. Your calls always go to voicemail: Calling up the seller is often a good test. If your calls always go to voicemail. be suspicious. A reputable dealer is usually quite happy to talk on the phone. If the voicemail tells you to email the seller, then you should be even more suspicious. Any legitimate dealer should be available by phone.
  3. You’re offered a van that’s abroad, but can be shipped to you. This is a classic scam. You’ll probably be asked for some money upfront. Although there are some legitimate vehicle importers in the UK, most of them import stock on their own account and then sell it to you when it’s in the UK. If you’re buying a used van, then there’s no reason to buy an import unless you want something very unusual. Our advice is stick to UK vans.

Using information from police, insurers and the DVLA, CDL performs more than one million vehicle history look-ups every day. In addition to its website, the company provides used car checks for customers including CompareTheMarket, Go-Compare and Moneysupermarket.

CDL’s Mike Bailey says that since May this year, the number of fraudulent online adverts has “really ramped up”.

Mr Bailey says that if you spot one or more of the three telltale signs of scam we’ve listed above, “you are probably being lined up” for a scam. If in doubt, it’s best to walk away.

There are plenty of legitimate used vans on the market, including many thousands of ex-rental vans sold through reputable dealers each year.

X-Class 350d V6 4MATIC

Pricing announced for Mercedes-Benz V6 X-Class

X-Class 350d V6 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz V6 X 350d 4MATIC

Prices for the keenly-awaited V6 version of the Mercedes X-Class pickup will start from £38,350 +VAT.

The German firm says that UK dealers are now taking orders for the new model, with first deliveries expected from November 2018.

As you’d expect, this flagship luxury pickup comes with a very high specification as standard. All UK models will be double cab with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The range-topping POWER equipment line will be fitted as standard. In fact, the POWER trim level will now only be available paired with the V6 engine. Buyers of the 200d and 250d models will have to make do with the more affordable PURE and PROGRESSIVE trim level.

Highlights of the POWER specification LED headlights, electric mirrors and keyless entry and ignition will be standard. Buyers will also get include a painted front bumper and chrome rear bumper with built-in step.

Drivers and front seat passengers will enjoy the comforting embrace of an eight-way electrically adjustable seat, that’s wrapped in leather and microfiber upholstery. The dashboard and steering wheel both get leather coverings, which should give the V6 X-Class a genuine luxury feel.

What about the engine?

Of course, the big attraction here is the engine. Merc’s V6 is a 3-litre common rail diesel unit with 258 hp and maximum torque of 550Nm. A modern single-stage turbo with variable turbine geometry is said to provide “particularly agile engine response”.

The V6 engine will be paired with Mercedes’ 7G Tronic automatic gear box and Dynamic Select controller. This will provide no fewer than five different driving modes, including Eco, Comfort, Sport and Off-road.

For more information about the new X-Class, head on over to or swing by your nearest Mercedes-Benz Van dealer.

Ford Transit Skeletal chassis cab

Ford adds low-floor chassis option for bigger removal vans

Ford Transit Skeletal chassis cab

Ford Transit Skeletal chassis cab is based on the front-wheel drive model and provides a lightweight low-floor base for conversions. It should be a popular choice for removal vans.

Anyone planning to move house with a rented van may want to check if their local rental company offers a low-floor jumbo luton, sometimes known as a dropwell van.

As their name suggests, their built like a standard luton van but with a low floor that boosts the available load space for large-but-light items. Such as furniture.

Ford already dominates most sectors of the UK van market. But the company has now decided to target this niche sector of the market with a new lightweight chassis cab model that’s aimed specifically at conversions requiring a low load floor.

The big numbers

The new Transit skeletal chassis cab offers a 100mm lower chassis height than a standard front-wheel drive Transit and weighs 200kg less than a standard chassis cab. That’s a big difference in weight.

This big weight saving means that the payload of the converted van should remain competitive, even with the added weight of a large box body. Finished models will normally be built to have a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes, so anyone with a standard car licence should be able to drive them.

Customers will be able to choose three wheelbase lengths and the model will be powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel in 130PS or 170PS power output. A choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes will be available.

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. 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.

BCA van auction

Used van prices near record highs: it may be cheaper to rent

BCA van auction

BCA van auction in June (source: BCA)

Used van prices remain close to record highs, according to the latest figures from auction group BCA.

The average price of LCVs sold by BCA during June was £7,463, the fourth highest on record at the group. Average used van prices are now more than £1,000 — or 15% — higher than one year ago.

A used van probably still makes sense for van operators such as tradesmen, who need their van day in day out, but may not cover much mileage. But for van users who only need their van some of the time, I think these figures from BCA suggest a strong case for renting rather than owning.

Let’s look at some example costs to see whether renting might be cheaper.

Renting a van vs buying used

If you’re buying a van from a used van dealer, you’ll be paying the auction price plus extra to cover the dealer’s costs and profit margin. But even if you’re a savvy buyer who knows vans and buys directly from auction. our average priced van will still cost around £8,000 by the time you’ve paid your buyers fees.

On top of that, you’ll need to tax and insure the van. You might need to have it delivered, too. And it might need servicing or minor repairs.

I think it’s fair to assume that the all-in cost of getting our average used van on the road will be around £8,500. That’s quite a lot of money. How many weeks’ rental might this pay for?

I’ve got some sample results from the price comparison engine. A week’s hire of a medium-sized van (e.g. Ford Transit Custom) seems to be available for around £160. For a long wheelbase van you might have to pay a bit more: price comparison example

An example set of results from our independent price comparison system.

Lets assume the average rate per week for a hire van is about £175. Remember that long-term hire rates are available if you need a van for a month or more, so it may be possible to improve on this.

At £175, your £8,500 budget would allow you to rent a van for about 48 weeks, or around 11 months. If you only need a van for two weeks each month, that’s almost two years’ usage.

And if you only need a van for a few days each month — perhaps you go to trade shows or markets — then hiring a van will mean that your average used van buying budget would stretch for years.

During this time, you’d get to keep most of the cash, on paying out on a ‘pay as you go’ basis. You should also get to drive a nearly-new van all the time, rather than an ageing secondhand model.

Another overlooked benefit of renting is that you aren’t responsible for any of the van’s running costs, except fuel. You won’t have to pay for servicing, repairs (except damage), replacement tyres, MOT tests or road tax.

Most companies include insurance too, so that’s another cost off your books. Over several years, these savings can be considerable.

And while it’s true that renting often carries extra costs over and above the headline rental fee, many of these costs are optional and can be reduced. For example, instead of buying extra insurance from you hire company, you can buy an annual excess protection policy from a specialist insurer. If you’re hiring a van regularly, this is likely to be much cheaper.

If you’re in the market for a used van that will only be used for two weeks of each month or less, I think there’s a strong case for renting instead.

I urge you to run the numbers yourself before making a final decision. By renting, you could save yourself money and avoid the headaches of used vehicle ownership! Why not give it a try?

Swansea Council electric vans

Why van hire companies may soon need electric van fleets

Swansea Council electric vans

Swansea Council Fleet Manager Mark Barrow taking delivery of 40 Peugeot Partner electric vans from Day’s Fleet’s Neil Vaughan.

Car purchasing decisions are personal and not always entirely rational.

But businesses buying vans can’t afford to be swayed by emotional considerations or the latest fashion. Reliability, cost and fitness for purpose are the top requirements. And an increasing number of organisations are finding that these boxes are ticked by electric vans.

Swansea Council recently added no fewer than 40 Peugeot Partner Electric vans to its fleet. This is one of the largest local authority orders for electric vans so far and suggests a high level of confidence in this type of vehicle.

Swansea Council Fleet Manager Mark Barrow says that the organisation had already gained experience of electric vehicles by running 10 pool cars:

“An analysis of journeys and mileages clearly demonstrated their potential viability, whilst the preferred five-year lease equated to a budget neutral position that enabled us to achieve a much greener fleet.”

It’s now well understood by commercial operators that the diesel particulate filters in modern diesel engines are not well-suited to use on short, local journeys. Clogged DPFs are expensive and inconvenient.

To prevent any risk of flat batteries, Swansea Council has been able to install charging points at various municipal facilities around the city. But this isn’t always necessary as the range available from electric vans is enough to cover a full day’s operation for many business.

Town centre businesses with urban delivery routes are unlikely to do more than 50-80 miles in a day, a range that can be comfortably covered by most electric vans without needing a charge.

Another application where electric vans are well suited is for use on large industrial or transport sites, where mileages are very low and stop-start use is typical.

Looking further ahead, manufacturers such as Ford are developing plugin hybrid electric vans offering electric operation plus longer-range use via a conventional engine. These could help reduce urban emissions while still being practical for longer-range operation.

Tax incentives are fine, but charging is essential

The government’s Road to Zero report suggests that politicians want to encourage the uptake of electric and hybrid vans and will continue to offer incentives to buyers.

Pure electric vans already enjoy a £0 VED rate and often benefit from the plug-in van grant. But charging infrastructure is still limited. Improving this — so drivers can be confident of getting a battery boost wherever they stop — could trigger a big lift in electric van sales.

Rental demand could explode

I believe the future is very bright for electric vans. As organisations gain confidence in the cost and performance of these vehicles, order sizes are likely to multiply. And as companies become accustomed to electric power, they’ll expect to be able to source replacement and surge capacity electric vehicles from their rental suppliers.

Despite this, electric vans aren’t yet widely available in the van hire market. In my view, now could be a good time for van rental firms to start taking more interest in this growing market.

UK van registrations June 2012 to date

Van sales fall 5.8% in June despite pickup boost


New van registrations fell by 5.8% to 35,182 in June, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Although the number of new pickups hitting the road climbed 4.1% to 5,019, demand for vans of all sizes was lower.

LCV registrations June 2018

LCV registrations June 2018 (source: SMMT)

Registrations so far this year are 2.3% lower than for the same period in 2017. But despite this fall demand remains close to historic highs, as this chart shows:

UK van registrations June 2012 to date

UK van registrations June 2012 to date (source: SMMT)

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, is concerned that the economic uncertainty resulting from Brexit may be contributing to lower levels of demand:

“UK van registrations have fluctuated throughout the first half of this year, reflecting variable buying cycles which are a natural feature of the market. Despite this […] the overall trend is downwards, with Brexit uncertainty and its negative effect on business confidence threatening long-term growth.”

Ford is still top dog

One thing that hasn’t changed is Ford’s popularity with UK van buyers. The company’s Transit Custom and Transit models remain top sellers the UK’s top-selling new vans by some margin, a position they’ve held throughout the year:

LCV bestsellers June 2018

LCV bestsellers June 2018 (source: SMMT)

With no sign of a Brexit deal anytime soon, the outlook could remain uncertain for some time yet. Reports suggest this is making it difficult for many businesses to plan for growth. I suspect we may see further pressure on van sales over the next 18 months.

Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton

Tracking + geofencing stops rental vans straying too far

Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton

What happens if you take your rental van abroad without getting permission from the hire company?

Firstly, you’ll be breaking the law by driving without valid documentation (a VE103 form). And you probably won’t have insurance. So you’ll be in line for a hefty fine if you’re stopped by foreign cops or involved in a collision.

But even if that doesn’t happen, you may find you have an unexpected problem. Your van may suddenly refuse to start.

Van hire companies are increasingly using tracking and telematics systems that allow them to see where their vans are at all times. These systems can also offer so-called geofencing, which means that the van’s owner can set limits on the where it can be operated and immobilise the van if it travels outside those permitted areas.

This might mean that channel ferry ports are added as restricted areas. So if you take a van into a ferry port without having arranged for European hire, you may get a call from your hire company.

If you manage to get out of the country without permission, your van may even be remotely immobilised until the rental company can contact you to find out what’s happening.

Vehicle exhaust

London ULEZ will expand to North & South Circular in 2021

Vehicle exhaust

The London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for motorcycles, cars and vans will be expanded up to the North and South Circular roads from 25 October 2021.

The same rules will apply as with the central London ULEZ, which comes into force on 8 April 2019.

Buses, lorries and coaches will face an expanded scheme from 26 October 2020.

What’s the penalty?

Non-compliant vehicles will have to pay a daily ULEZ charge of £12.50, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

What vans are affected?

Diesel vans will need to meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. Loosely speaking, this means that vans made from 2015 onwards should be compliant, although there are some exceptions.

Petrol vans will need to meet Euro 4 standards from 2021, According to the official guidance, this means that petrol vehicles made from 2006 onwards should be compliant.

There are exceptions for the owners of disabled tax class vehicles and adapted private hire vehicles, who will have until 2025 to replace their vehicles. Charities will be given until 2023 to replace their minibuses.

Why is this happening?

This is all about public health. But it could also save the taxpayer money in the long run. Recent research by the University of Oxford has found that the health damage from cars and vans costs the NHS £6bn each year. Health damage caused by London vehicles costs £650m a year.

The reality is that many people living and working inside the North/South Circular roads would probably still have been using pre-Euro 6 vans in 2021. It is estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries might be affected by the expanded zone and tighter standards every day.

These changes are intended to reduce the number of older vehicles on the road and improve London’s air quality.

According to the London Mayor’s office, the ULEZ scheme should result in emissions reductions across London and will mean that more than 100,000 residents no longer live in areas with illegal levels of air pollution.

By 2021, the number of schools in areas with illegal levels of air pollution should be reduced by two thirds.

Help, my van won’t be compliant!

If you live and work inside the North/South Circular roads, then your best option will be to replace your van with a newer, compliant model by 2021. Van owners who are unable to afford this will face an extra cost of £12.50 per day. If incurred daily, this is likely to be unaffordable for many.

If you use a non-compliant van but only visit London occasionally, you may find it more affordable to pay the charge or to hire a compliant van from a local rental company for your trips into London.

Hiring a van normally means that you’re guaranteed a modern vehicle that meets the latest emissions standards. An increasing number of hire companies are also offering electric vehicles, which might be worth considering for operations in the capital.

Unfortunately these changes will come at a short-term cost. But hopefully the longer-term benefits to public health — especially for children and older people — will make it worthwhile.