How-to guide for buying a used van with no remorse

Inside: Comprehensive budgeting, planning, and shopping guide for buying a used van with confidence, avoiding scams and regrettable surprises. Checklists and budgeting tools are included.

You’ve been dreaming forever (it seems) about buying a used van and outfitting it for your grand adventure. You’ve devoured endless YouTube videos, stalked van-lifers online, and KNOW the open road is for you. You imagine yourself sprawled across your comfy bohemian van bed, looking out the back windows at an expansive mountain view. Your hands are being warmed by a steaming cup of coffee, and you’re breathing its fresh-brewed aroma mixed with the light scent of dew on mountain meadow flowers. There’s even a rainbow arching across the snow-peaked range and rays of sunlight sparkling in the crisp autumn air. Maybe your best dog friend is cuddled up next to you, sighing with contentment.   Oh, the life.

Yep, you are READY.

But ARE you ready?

Before you uplift your van, you have to buy the van. And that may feel intimidating.

Buying a vehicle, any vehicle, is intimidating to most women. You save and save, and when you finally see that positive bank balance – it’s comforting. It feels incredible to see all that money sitting there in your account. And now you’re going to spend a big chunk of those savings – and the worry kicks in.

“What have I forgotten to plan for?”

“How do I know it’s priced right?” 

“I’m not mechanical; is there a way I can be sure there isn’t something wrong – something I can’t afford to fix?” 

“I’m afraid of getting scammed; what is the best way to protect myself?

“How do I do this?”

“Where do I start?”

Most women don’t feel confident buying a used vehicle, including me, and I’ve bought a few over my lifetime. I’m now 60 years old, 40 years down the road from my first – disastrous – car purchase, and I still hate the process – but I now know how to do it with confidence.

Learning by experience…

Oh my, that first car purchase four decades ago was a learning experience. It was the very definition of learning the hard way. I handed over what at the time was my entire $500.00 savings to a complete scumbag scammer. In return, I ended up with a (very cute indeed) red Couger with a bent frame. I poured hundreds of dollars I didn’t have into never-ending repairs during the year I owned that car – and I didn’t even have the title.

Nope, the sellers kept promising me the title but never delivered. It seems they had so many outstanding parking tickets (this was Chicago and street parking guaranteed tickets) it wasn’t worth clearing them so they could transfer the title of this loser car. Yes – this actually happened. Eventually, I got a new title, but it was a lot of work, especially pre-internet, to solve that fiasco.  

It all worked out — eventually — and now it’s a funny story about my year of driving a car nicknamed “The Crab” because it was red and so bent you could watch my side profile as I guzzled a drink – when you were following from BEHIND. Oh yeah, that car was so Caddywhompus it wore out new tires in under 3 months.  

The many adventures of The Crab are best told around a campfire. If we meet up in real life, be sure to ask me about them.  

The bottom line? During the year I owned The Crab, I spent way more than the $500.00 purchase price for tires and repairs before it finally bit the dust for good, and I had it towed away as the junk it was.

While my future car and van purchases didn’t hit this level of drama, each time, I continued to learn some painful/embarrassing/annoying lessons the hard way – including when I bought my RAM Promaster’s on Christmas Eve 2019. I’ll tell you more about that surprise lesson below.

I don’t want to waste all those hard-learned lessons.  

To help you avoid my many missteps, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions you can use when buying a used van. Read on to find easy tips and checklists to help you buy a used van with confidence. And close the deal with no buyer’s remorse.  

In this article, you will learn how to:

  • Budget for buying a used van
  • Do your prepurchase homework
  • Perform a self-inspection of the van
  • Close the deal with confidence

I wrote this article with an unexperienced shopper in mind, so I tried to cover everything you may encounter. If you are more experienced, skip around to what you need – and share any of your acquired wisdom in the comments.

If you have a question? Ask it! Either in the comments or by using the form at the bottom to email me.

Full disclosure This article contains NO affiliate or sponsored links. While many of my posts contain affiliate links to help me with the background costs of keeping this site running, there are no such links in this article.  The links provided are to websites I either personally use or recommend because they have helpful information to keep you (and your wallet) safe while buying a van. I am not earning anything from them.

Budgeting for buying a used van

How much will a van cost? It depends, of course, on the type of van, age, and condition.  Livable vans range from low-budget minivan setups to high-end custom builds. Whatever setup you are looking to build, you need to start with the base van. And the van needs to fit your budget while also being safe and reliable.

Getting there requires knowledge and planning – so read on and equip yourself with confidence.

Economic starter vans

If you have a small budget and want to test out vanlife, you may want to consider a simple DIY minivan conversion. An advantage of going this route is the huge inventory of high quality, used minivans for sale at reasonable prices. Additionally, they are generally reliable, easy to fix, fuel-efficient, and have decent resale value.

Most campervan conversions, though, start with a cargo van base. Within this category, your first decisions are deciding the desired height and wheelbase. If standing up is important to you, then you’ll look for high-top vans only. An extended-length or wheelbase supports more features allowing the incorporation of a self-contained bathroom and/or extra seating.   

Older, yet still reliable, cargo/passenger vans can be found for under $10,000.00, including the Ford E-Series and Chevy Express. Choosing the actual make and model is beyond the scope of this article, but once you zero in on the van you want, you’ll know how to find a good deal and snap it up.

Higher-end vans

Almost new cargo vans cost upwards of $25,000. The Ford Transit, Dodge RAM ProMaster, and Mercedes Sprinter are the most popular and widely available. I spent hours researching vans and conversion companies (I’m not a DIYer) and ultimately chose a ProMaster hightop with the short (136-inch wheel base). You can read more about how and why I chose my base van and the company that converted it here.

A complete discussion of this topic is for a future post, but if you are just starting to research vans and van living, you may find these articles helpful:

Economical minivan conversions

Used cargo van review

Another look at used cargo van options

Review of RAM Promaster sizes

Resale value of cargo vans

Review of cargo vans under $10,000

In short, vans can be outfitted for living and camping on everything from a bargain basement budget to a grand scale. You can equip them with inexpensive, removable furnishings and amenities; you can flex your DIY muscles and do your own conversion, or you can find a company to convert your van for you. I did the latter because I don’t have a DIY bone in my body, and I have saved for years to travel and camp in my retirement, but your situation may be completely different.

Free Planning Tools

This is a lot of information. Make your planning and buying adventure as easy as possible with some free, downloadable tools I created. These include a budget worksheet that does the math for you, a planning checklist, and an inspection checklist you can take along when you look at vans.

You need a budget

If you don’t want surprises, you need a van buying budget. There’s much more to buying a van than just its purchase price. Don’t get caught short when it’s time to buy.

Let’s go through all the things you have to pay for when you buy a vehicle:

The Van

At this point, you’ve narrowed your search down to a specific make and model. You know the approximate age and condition you seek.  But how do you know how much you should pay for it? What’s a fair price?

Determining a fair price

I’ve used multiple sources over the years to determine a fair selling/buying price for used vehicles, and the best and easiest to use is, in my opinion, The Kelley Blue Book.  

The Kelley Blue Book website is very user friendly, but I’ll show you a few screenshots of a fair price search to help you navigate. The final price range can change depending on a lot of factors, so play around with this a bit.

One thing that tripped me up (I’m baring all now, so laugh with me not at me) is that Dodge RAM ProMasters are not found under Dodge. Nope. Dodge spun the RAM series off in 2014, so their cargo vans are listed under RAM as the make, not Dodge (and yes, they officially spell RAM with all caps – I’m promise I’m not yelling at you). I must fess up – I spent an embarrassing amount of time confused about why I absolutely could not find ProMasters under Dodge. It took me a while to figure out I had to scroll almost to the menu’s bottom. Too bad “R” doesn’t come before “D” – it would have saved me some frustration.

I know you would never make that mistake, but I promised to share-all.  

Screen shot of Kelley Blue Book price search page.
Car prices will vary by region so check the zip code of the search, in my case San Diego.
Screenshot of Kelley Blue Book explained
Use the yellow button to go to the page where you choose all the options like high-top, wheelbase, color, and features.
Screenshot Kelley Blue Book  with a sample price range result.
The arrow points to the target price range you should expect. You should NOT pay above this range.

How to use the “fair price” information

The fair market range is where your final price should fall. Walk away from any seller trying to convince you the price should be higher and don’t expect to negotiate down below this range (but sometimes you can). Once you have a specific vehicle in mind make sure you input all the specific details for that van. For example, does it have a tow package? Does it have cruise control? Is it in good or excellent condition? Some of these things can change the price considerably.

If the range you come up with is way off from the seller’s listprice it could be because they believe it’s worth a lot more than it is (so walk away), or because you are missing a feature. Don’t be bamboozled by “it’s in excellent shape” though – it’s hopefully in good shape, but let your mechanic tell you if it’s excellent. Just nod your head and wait to agree to a final price until AFTER it’s inspected.

In recent years I’ve found dealers to usually price vehicles a little over the fair market range, but it’s usually easy to get them down to a fair price. They know most consumers do their homework these days. Private sellers run the gambit of reasonableness, so buyer beware.

I don’t really enjoy negotiating, and focus more on getting a fair and appropriate price than the lowest price ever on something. But some people love to negotiate. You get to be you on this one, just don’t go over that fair market value. For more on negotiating a final price, read this article by NerdWallet. 

The prepurchase inspection

All used vehicles should get a prepurchase inspection by a qualified mechanic. Of course, you need to perform your own assessment and test drive the van if it’s local. Stay tuned. I’ll provide you instructions and an inspection checklist for that below.  

Make sure your budget includes funds for a professional inspection. In my experience, these rarely cost more than $100.00, but sometimes can reach up to 200.00. A prepurchase inspection should detect things like a bent frame, previous bodywork, water damage, and other deal-breaking issues. Even if you are mechanically savvy, get this done by a pro.  

The older the van, the more critical the prepurchase inspection becomes. Make arrangements before you finish negotiating and have the inspection completed before you agree to a final price. Contact them, find out their price and get instructions for arranging an inspection. Ensure they know the make and model of van you are looking at – especially if it is a cargo van, as their expertise and price may differ.  

Inspections may be conducted at a local mechanic’s garage or can be arranged remotely. Always use your chosen mechanic. Never go to a mechanic suggested by the seller – and always have the report sent directly to you, not the seller.  

Get a AAA membership

The year you are buying a van is a good time to invest in a AAA membership, if you don’t already have one. Why? Below I list just a few of the reasons. Benefits do vary by region, but it’s worth looking into. A premier RV membership in Southern California is $154.00/year. AAA is a nonprofit organization with regional clubs all over the USA. Clubs have regional differences so use your home zip code to look up your area’s specific membership benefits. Some benefits of my club include:

  • Referrals to qualified mechanics
  • Free/discounted prepurchase inspection (varies by membership level)
  • Free/discounted CARfax report (varies by membership level)
  • Process DMV registration and changes
  • 200 mile tow option

Honestly, IMO no van-lifer should hit the road without a AAA membership. I’ve had a membership for 20+ years, and it has saved me and my family members over and over and over. The cost of membership is about the same as an inspection, so well worth it.  

Also, in California, where I live, most vehicle registrations and changes can be handled by AAA. I’d prefer to go to my AAA office over the DMV anytime. AAA clubs vary by state and region, so check out your local AAA to see what they cover.

I promise – I am not a AAA affiliate, or in any way associated with AAA other than appreciating my membership.

Finding a remote inspector.

If you find the perfect van, but it’s too far away to see in person, and you don’t have a AAA membership, you can find reliable inspectors by searching YELP for mobile mechanics. In addition, Alliance Inspection Management and Automobile Inspections are two companies that arrange reliable inspections anywhere in the US. 

You can find more information on prepurchase inspections in this article.

Sales Tax & Registration Fees

People often forget about sales taxes and registration fees before these are suddenly added to the sales receipt for your new vehicle. If you’re buying from a private seller, you’ll feel this sticker shock when you go to register the van.  

Cargo vans are classified as commercial vehicles – why this matters.

Note if you are buying a cargo van, they are classified as commercial vehicles. Registration fees are generally higher for commercial classed vehicles, so budget accurately. Click here to go to a website that provides state-by-state links to sites where you can get accurate costs for taxes and registration fees.

While we are on the subject of commercial vehicles, it’s essential to know early in your purchasing journey that insurance and financing are different for commercial versus non-commercial vehicles.

Many traditional banks and credit unions will not finance commercial vehicles. Other banks may only do so for registered businesses. Loan terms and interest rates may substantially differ compared to car loans. Do your homework and set up your financing in advance.  

CARedge.com has tools to estimate your payments and show how your van’s value or resale may compare to the outstanding loan amount. It’s wise to review this before deciding to finance your vehicle purchase, even if you plan to add substantial improvements.  

Insurance

The same goes for insurance. Commercial vehicles are more expensive to insure. Get a quote for your van ahead of buying it, and make sure you have enough money set aside to pay for at least the first month and preferably 6 months or a year.  

Insurance cost varies considerably. The vehicle is one component of the price, but the driver’s age and record and the state and community also factors. It is best to get a specific quote, but you can find ballpark estimates also at CARedge

Reclassifying your van from a commercial vehicle to an RV 

Before your conversion is complete, you’ll insure (and register) it as a commercial cargo van. After you make improvements, you may be able to reclassify it as an RV. That will likely bring down the costs for both insurance and registration fees.   

Changing from a commercial to RV classification usually requires proof that your vehicle includes the following:

  • Kitchen facilities, including a refrigerator and cooking implements (induction burner, propane stove, etc.)
  • A non-engine power source (110v).
  • Potable water.
  • Toilet (including porta potties)
  • Shower (an outdoor shower may work)

Reclassifying is state-by-state, so search for your state’s DMV and then look for instructions on reclassifying a vehicle as an RV. It’s probably worth doing this if you can. You can use your registration and insurance savings on gas to go more places. Here’s a resources to help you research this option:

Registering a converted vehicle as an RV in California

Don’t get scammed – Use a personal Escrow service

Scammers are everywhere, and I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories from women who lost all their savings after sending payment for a van – and then never receiving it or getting something very different from what they thought they bought.  

Do NOT let this happen to you.

If you’re considering a remote purchase from a private seller, the only safe way to pay for it is with an escrow service. In short, escrow companies are private companies that safely hold your money until the transaction is complete. In this case, that can be after you receive and inspect the vehicle.  

You won’t need to use an escrow service if you’re buying locally from a licensed dealership – this advice pertains to sales from private sellers.

The price for using an escrow service is a lot less than you might think. For a vehicle under $10,000, the fee should be under $200.00. The cost will vary based on the amount of money changing hands. There is usually a minimum fee plus a small percentage of the purchase amount. Research and arrange a plan for this before you contact a seller.  

If a seller balks at using an escrow service – walk away. They have nothing to lose by working with one. Make sure YOU pick the escrow service, though, because, unfortunately, another common scam is for sellers to “pick” a fake service and then steal your money.

Escrow.com is one company providing this service. They also have more information on buying vehicles online.

Shipping fees

If you buy your van remotely, you have to either have it shipped or travel to the van’s location and drive it home. The latter may be more economical for a used vehicle, and it allows you to personally inspect the van before closing the deal, but if you can’t travel, shipping is another option.

Be aware though, that shipping may take considerable time and cost upwards of $1000.00. Travel, likewise, may cost a few hundred dollars to get to the vehicle, and then you have the gas and other expenses of driving it home. So be careful buying used vans very far from your home base. You don’t want to pay more for transporting it than the vehicle is even worth.

For more information on shipping a vehicle, check out this article

Future maintenance & repairs

Now, before we leave the budget and planning steps for buying a used van, let’s discuss how your vehicle will change in value over time and how to plan for future maintenance and repairs.

Depreciation

Depreciation describes, in short, how your van will change in value over its lifespan. Fortunately, some excellent online tools and calculators are available to demonstrate how your vehicle’s approximate resale value goes down over time.

Note, this is for your base vehicle without any modifications, but it can help you understand what you are investing in and give you an idea of how van models compare.

Below are screenshots of depreciation curves I ran at CARedge.com for a RAM 2500 Promaster and a Mercedes Sprinter. They show how a Sprinter depreciates about 63% of it’s original value over 5 years, compared to a ProMaster that depreciates about 45% over 5 years. You can run curves specific to your van’s make and model.

Screenshot of RAM ProMaster depreciation - help for buying a used van

Screenshot of Sprinter depreciation -help for buying a used van

How to anticipate future repairs

In addition, it’s good to research and understand what typical repairs and maintenance will cost over time for your specific van. Of course, no one has a crystal ball to predict exactly what will break down and when but there is information available describing what you can expect for a specific make and model.  

You can use these numbers to set up a savings plan to assure you will have money for repairs and keep up with routine maintenance. The amount you need to have on hand will increase as your van ages – and with this tool, you can stay one step ahead of the next repair (hopefully).

Comparing ProMaster and Sprinter repair costs

Below I show maintenance and repair cost averages for both a RAM 2500 ProMaster and a Mercedes Sprinter. You can research any vehicle at CARedge.com. From the main menu, go to research, and from there choose maintenance. Enter your make and model, and you will get graphs like these screenshots. If you scroll down the CARedge page, you’ll also find a schedule of recommended maintenance.

Then it’s up to you to make sure the routine maintenance is kept up.

Do note that these are just estimates based on extensive databases, and your actual experience could (will) differ – but it gives you an idea of what to expect and plan for. 

As you would anticipate, repair costs for both vehicles increase with age. You will have some time, hopefully, to build up your emergency repair fund if you are buying a newer vehicle. But if you buy a van 5 or more years old you should be prepared to spend $2000-$5000/year on repairs for either a ProMaster or Sprinter.

Screenshot of average ProMaster repair costs over time
Screenshot of average Sprinter repair costs over time

Some older (10+ years) vans, like the Ford E-series, aren’t included in the CARedge database, but you can find out a lot about relatively newer vans.

Budgeting for the conversion

A detailed “how-to” of van conversions is beyond this article’s scope, but you do need to decide on a budget for your modifications before investing in a van.

While you plan this, balance the cost of the modifications with the value of the van. In other words, if you are buying an older van with a low resale value (and now you know how to determine this), you don’t want to invest in high-end built-in upgrades. Consider, instead, removable and flexible alterations that provide a habitable space so, when you have to retire the base van, you can sell or repurpose those materials.

My ballpark recommendation is, for the build, to invest no more than 2-times the vehicle purchase price for a newer (<5 years old) van and under 1/2 the purchase price for a van 10 or more years old.  

Budgeting for a high-end conversion

For example, a $60,000 build from a custom builder, including hot water plumbing, solar panels, lithium batteries, a built-in heater, etc., is a reasonable investment for a newer $30,000+ van. You’ll end up with a habitable, even luxurious, Instagramable campervan that should last for a decade or longer.  That still keeps the final cost far below the new commercial campervans on the market. These often top $200,000.00. Ouch.

A DIY build, even top of the line, will run far less than that $60,000.00 custom-build figure, so if you have the desire, skills, and tools go for it. I love watching women build out their vans, and now with so many YOUTUBE videos and online resources it’s possible (but not for me).

Budgeting for a low-cost conversion

For the budget-constrained, and that fits many of the people out there looking to build out a base van more than 10 years old and valued under $10,000.00, keep your build expenses to less than the van’s purchase price, preferably under $5000.00. You can still end up with a wonderful, habitable, Instagramable van you can call home.

In short, the older the van, the more frugal and temporary the build should be.  

Budget summary checklist

  • Prepurchase inspection
  • Sales tax
  • Registration fees
  • Escrow service (for private party purchases)
  • Shipping fees if needed
  • Conversion budget
  • Insurance (minimum one month)
  • Repair and maintenance for the first year
  • Other (amount needed for safety supplies, bedding, kitchen, etc.)

I created a Google Sheets budgeting tool to make it easy to research and create a budget. This and other tools are available to my email subscribers – just click the button to receive access. If you are already a subscriber you should have received the entire planning kit in an email. If you cannot find it, contact me and I’ll resend it.

Now it’s time to buy your used van:

Yay – you have a budget, you’ve saved up, you’ve found some prospects – now what?

Research the van’s history.

Before you buy, you want to make sure your van’s title is good, and there are no hidden issues. You need to do a background check using the van’s VIN or Vehicle Identification Number.  

Free VIN check

You can get a free VIN check through the NICB VIN database. This is a pretty brief report, but it will tell you the basics, for example, if the van has been reported as stolen or if it has a salvage title. A salvage title means the van was reported as “totaled,” and you will not likely find insurance for it.   

CARfax reports

You can access a more detailed (and not free) report with accident data, some service reports, ownership history, and more through CarFax. A single inquiry costs $39.99. Many car dealerships will provide CarFax reports, but I suggest running your own to make sure it is accurate. CarFax’s database covers vehicles going back to 1981. Remember you may be able to get a free or discounted report with a AAA Membership.

Check for any recalls.

This is an excellent time to check for any recalls issued on the vehicle you are considering. Hopefully, the current owner has dealt with these, but it’s always good to check.  There’s a national database available to find any recalls your vehicle may need. Access it by clicking here.

How to perform a self-inspection of the van

If the van you are considering is available for you to inspect and drive in person, do this before you have it professionally inspected. Unfortunately, many vans will not get past this step, so no need to pay for someone else to show you an obvious deal-breaker.

Note: when you go to inspect a van, wear sturdy clothes and shoes so you can get down on the ground and handle/touch parts under the hood. You’ll want to look at the roof and undercarriage.  Take a small stepladder with you, if you can, to view the roof.

Cargo vans are often used for hard work or may have been part of a rental fleet. They may have experienced scrapes to the top or bottom that leave the body susceptible to rust.  

Why am I emphasizing this? Well, I forgot to look underneath when I bought my almost new ProMaster. After I bought it, I took it to a body shop to repair some surface dings before they could rust (planned this upfront), and they discovered a massive scrape underneath one side – a $1000.00 repair right out of the gate.  Oops.

Take an inspection checklist with you.  

  • External inspection. Walk all around the van, noting and photographing dings and scrapes. Look for any mismatched paint suggesting a repair has occurred. Bring a step ladder so you can look at the roof. Get down on the ground and look at the undercarriage. You are looking for scrapes and rust. Some may be acceptable, depending on the van’s age, but severe undercarriage rust is not likely fixable. You don’t want a hole in your floor.  
  • Wheel wells and tires:  Check the wheel wells for rust. Look at the tires for uneven wear and determine how much tread is left. If you need more information on how to do this, click here. Uneven wear may be a sign of a bent frame (remember my Cougar fiasco?). Check that the tires are all the same brand and approximate age. Find the spare and jack.
  • Fluid leaks: Move the vehicle and look at the ground where it was parked. Do you see wet spots or stains indicating fluid leaks?
  • Check lights:  Confirm that all the lights work (headlights, brake lights, turn signals, hazards). Have the seller turn them on and off while you watch the lights.
  • AC and Heat:  Turn on the van and run the AC and then the heat to confirm they work.  
  • Seats and windows: If there are automatic seats and windows, check that they work. Move/adjust the seats and inspect the upholstery for tears and wear. 
  • Sound system: Check the radio and sound system.
  • Check under the hood
    • Does the engine look dirty?  
    • Are there any wires and tubes that go nowhere?
    • Does the battery look old or new? Can the seller tell you its age?
    • Check all the fluids (oil, transmission, power steering, wiper, coolant, brake). If you need to learn how to do this, click here.
  • Dash lights: Turn on the van and watch the dash lights cycle on and off. If the check oil or engine lights never turn on (they should turn briefly on, then off), then they may have been disabled- not a good sign. Whatever the reason, this is a bad sign, and it’s best to walk away. 
  • Test drive the van by taking it out on local roads and highways. Assess it for:
    • Alignment. If you take your hands briefly off the steering wheel, does the van continue to move straight, or does it veer to one side?
    • Listen for sounds (clicks, whines, scraping sounds)- keep the radio off – and let your mechanic know.  
    • Check the brakes. Do they make noise? Are they responsive, or do they feel “soft?” A fully loaded van will weigh a lot more than an empty cargo van, so the brakes need to be in excellent shape. You don’t want to find out they aren’t when you are zooming down a mountain pass.  
    • Pay attention to any sounds and movements as the gears shift and tell your mechanic about anything you are concerned about.

Your mechanic’s prepurchase inspection can help you sort out what is reasonable to fix and what is best to walk away from, but you help them and yourself by letting them know of any potential concerns up front. Of course, if you find any glaring issues, you can save your money and time by walking away before you call in a mechanic.

Time to close the deal – almost

Once you’ve done all your homework and found a van that passes inspection, you are ready to negotiate and close the deal. For tips on negotiating, click here.

My philosophy (and there are many) is that you want to walk away with a van in good condition, with no surprises, and one you paid a fair price for. If you like negotiating, by all means, have at it. But for me, it isn’t about getting the lowest price ever; it’s about being comfortable that I paid a fair price and didn’t get cheated. If you follow the advice in this article, you should be well-armed with all the information you need. You never want to pay more than the van is worth; you don’t want to end up with an irreparably broken van, and you never, ever want to be scammed.    

One last armament to have is knowledge of your state’s lemon laws. In most cases, the protections you have as a used vehicle buyer are pretty inadequate. But all the same, know what your rights are before you need them. Click here for more information.

If you live in California you can check out this site as well.

Information is power

Take your time, do your research, and always be prepared to walk away from a potential purchase. That can be hard, especially when your heart is set on buying a van TODAY, or if a salesperson is telling you 10 other buyers are coming to see the van later in the day.  This will happen.

I get it – it’s hard to not skip a step and buy the van right then and there.  

I’ve done just that. 

More than once.  

And each time, I’ve ended up with an expensive surprise.  

But if you remain patient, believe the right van is out there waiting for you, you will succeed. You’ll get your van, and you’ll feel confident that you paid a fair price for a reliable vehicle.  

Sure, there will be something.   

There’s always something.  

Learn from it, and move on. Hopefully it wont be a bad as my first car purchase story, but likely some surprise will await you.

I call it the “wabi-sabi” of life. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term referring to the acceptance of imperfection (I apologize to anyone reading this if I have it wrong). That scrape you didn’t see becomes just that – part of the imperfection of life. In this case, because you are prepared, I am sure it will be minor.  

You’ve got this!  

One last thing

I am passionate about helping women feel more confident as they embark on life’s adventures. If you know someone who would benefit from this information please share this article.

Free Planning Tools

Remember to get your free, downloadable van buying tools, including a budget worksheet that does the math for you, a planning checklist, and an inspection checklist that’s you can take along when you look at a van.

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