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Common Van Problems and What Happens Next



Vans are an essential workhorse for many self-employed trades and small contractors. They are used to transport equipment, machinery, and materials to and from jobs. A work van can be a significant investment, but the older the van, the more likely it is to have problems. In addition, vans often work hard and suffer from more wear and tear than a typical family saloon.

Read on for a guide to the most common problems van owners experience.

Diesel Particulate Filter Blockage

Particulate filters in diesel engines are designed to reduce engine emissions. Engines are designed to burn off the soot in the filter, which is why you see black smoke spewing from the exhaust at intervals. This typically happens when the vehicle exceeds 50mph for 20+ minutes, i.e., on a faster road or motorway. Diesel particulate filters sometimes become clogged when vans do a lot of shorter, city journeys. A clogged filter can be cleared using specialist equipment in a garage, but this doesn’t always work, and it can cause problems.

Cam Belt Failure

Cam belts should be replaced between 50k and 80k miles. If the cam belt isn’t replaced in line with the manufacturer’s service guidelines, there is a risk it will fail. If this happens, it often causes significant damage to the valves, pistons, and cylinder head, which could mean a large repair bill.

Gearbox Faults

Gearbox faults can be expensive, as when a gearbox fails, it usually needs replacing. Faults may be caused by a lack of lubrication, which leads to abrasion damage. If your van has an automatic gearbox, expect a bigger repair bill, as these gearboxes are more complex.

Engine Management Unit Faults

Newer vans come with computerised engine management systems. There are various sensors throughout the vehicle that monitor different functions, such as the brakes, air-conditioning, transmission, suspension, and more. If a warning light appears on the dashboard, it will relate to a specific part of the car. Diagnostic devices are needed to determine the exact fault. Some faults may be serious enough to make driving the van a dangerous proposition.

Blocked Fuel Injectors

Diesel vans that do a lot of short journeys are susceptible to blocked fuel injectors. The main symptom is a misfiring engine and loss of power during acceleration. You may also spot the check engine warning light on the dashboard.


Rusty panels are a common problem in older vans. Rust typically appears on wheel arches, around door hinges, and along the sills. Small areas can be fixed but significant rust in key areas will cause the vehicle to fail its MOT.

Regular servicing and maintenance can help prevent some problems from turning into major issues. Your New Can provides van servicing Cheshire, but if the van is on a hire-purchase agreement, check whether you need to have a dealer service.

There will come a point where it is no longer economically viable to repair an older van. If you are facing a big repair bill, weigh up your options and decide whether it’s time to upgrade to a newer, more efficient vehicle.


I'm Nikos Alepidis, blogger at motivirus. I'm passioned for all things related to motivation & personal development. My goal is to help and inspire people to become better.

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