Driving Habits that Could be Damaging Your Van

Your van is arguably the most important asset to your courier business, enabling you to make deliveries as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Your van is arguably the most important asset to your courier business, enabling you to make deliveries as quickly and efficiently as possible. But no matter how carefully you are driving your vehicle, there could be times that you unintentionally lapse into some negative driving habits, causing unnecessary damage to your van.

A van that’s prone to breakdowns can have a negative impact on your van insurance or haulage insurance, so it’s worth trying to prevent those hard to break practices. Below are a few gentle reminders that can help increase the productivity of your business and longevity of your vehicle.

  1. Revving the Engine When Cold

    When starting out in the morning, it’s a good idea to sit with your van’s engine running for a couple of minutes before revving the engine. This will help give the oil time to warm up to the right temperature as it circulates around the engine. If you rev the engine from cold, the abrupt temperature change could cause stress between the engine components, leading to damage.

  2. Overloading Your Van

    It’s tempting to squeeze in extra items to help make your deliveries on time but overloading a vehicle can make a van dangerous to drive, increase fuel costs, lead to fines and be a health and safety risk when unloading. Added to that, it can cause damage to your van’s suspension, brakes, tyres and clutch. Your owner’s manual will give full details of your van’s maximum load weight.

  3. Riding the Clutch

    Make sure you take your foot completely off the clutch as soon as you have changed gears or have completed a hill start. If you need to perform a hill start, put the car in neutral with the handbrake on until you are ready to move your van.

    Practicing poor clutch control can lead to excessive wear and tear to the clutch plate and is unlikely to be covered under warranty.

  4. And Dragging the Brakes

    Dragging the brakes when driving downhill will lead to increased wear and tear on brake pads and discs.  Get into the practice of driving downhill in a low gear, apply light braking and allow brakes to cool in-between.

    Braking too harshly will also put pressure on your van’s braking system, quickly wearing out discs and pads. Sometimes, you have little to no choice, but keeping your distance from other vehicles and driving corners properly will help with longevity.

  5. Not Stopping Before Shifting Gears

    If you drive an automatic van, shifting from drive to reverse (and vice versa) without coming to a complete stop will cause damage to the transmission. For anyone who has had work done on their automatic transmission, they will know just how costly this is to fix. The same is also true if you crunch the gears in a manually driven van.

    Most modern vans no longer allow you to switch before stopping so this issue is prevented if you drive a newer vehicle.

  6. Relaxing a Hand on the Gearstick

    It is always tempting to rest one hand on the gearstick when you need to change gears regularly, but this can be bad for the transmission causing premature wear to the selector fork. Check your owner’s manual to see if it warns against resting your hands on the gearstick.

  7. Striking Speed Bumps and Potholes

    In 2019, RAC members reported 9,200 breakdowns caused by faults attributed to potholes including problems with suspension springs, distorted wheels and damaged shock absorbers. Sadly, potholes can often be difficult to spot, especially in poor conditions, but it pays to be as observant as possible. Speed bumps can also cause considerable damage if taken at speed including to the front, rear or underside of your van.

  8. Ignoring Warning Lights

    Warning lights should never be ignored or put off for another time. Something simple, such as washer fluid or low oil, can be addressed when you arrive back at the depot or home but there are some that require immediate attention. If you see any of the following, it’s time to stop and call breakdown or visit your nearest garage: engine/ECU,  braking system and ABS, power steering failure, airbag warning, oil pressure or cooling system. Get to know your dashboard from your manual and understand what the lights mean.

    With a little knowledge of your driving technique, your van should remain in good condition and have lower maintenance costs which in turn can be reflected in your long term van or haulage insurance premiums.

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