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How To Prepare Your Van For Sale

How To Prepare Your Van For Sale

Any new business will want to present a good image to potential customers and, although the van may have seen some mileage, a well-presented vehicle makes for a good impression. The vehicle may be needed to carry goods or equipment; it may even be the start of a thriving car detailing company. With many new motors now costing in excess of £40,000 there should be no shortage of customers. That said, it would not look good if the company branded van looked scruffy. Whatever the use the vehicle will be put to, there’s a case for a thorough cleaning from the outset, and here’s how.

Remove Traffic Film

Of necessity, a van will be working hard on the road and, over time, a traffic film builds up on the paintwork. Grime, tar and bird lime are all hard to shift but after an initial hose down*, a spray with a good, branded heavy dirt remover makes for a good start. Spray on and easily wipe away those avian attacks and insect strikes with a clean microfibre cloth. This will rid the surface of most of the grit, which in turn will help prevent scratching the van when it is washed with shampoo.

*Tip: If using a pressure washer, try to stay clear of any door seals and anything likely to be easily damaged.


The next stage would be to wash the vehicle down using a good shampoo and a clean wash mitt, having first removed any earlier branding or marks left by decals and the like.

  • Fill two buckets with warm water - one for cleaning, one for rinsing – and shampoo.
  • Sponges can retain small particles of grit that can make swirl marks or more significant damage on paintwork. Better to use a wash mitt.
  • Avoid getting the mitt gritty by using the rinse bucket before going back to the wash bucket for suds. If dropped, always rinse the mitt thoroughly before continuing.
  • Dry using a good microfibre towel. For the windows and mirrors use a proper glass cleaner again with two cloths; one on, one off.

Don’t forget the wheels either. Most vans today sport a nice set of alloys so scrub away that brake dust and road dirt using a wheel cleaner and brush.


A premium car polish will remove any oxidisation and also any marks left by signage.   Use sparingly, panel by panel, and buff up, again with a fresh cloth

Give it a layer of protection

Finally, give the freshly-cleaned and polished motor a good wax or ceramic coat, panel by panel. Apply in small areas with one microfibre cloth and remove with another. Wax on. Wax Off. It is probably best to do this on an overcast day or in shade because the hot sun will dry the product too quickly, making the task more laborious than it needs to be.

Interior Deep Cleaning

There may be no telling what the vehicle has been previously used for so the diligent detailer will strip out the interior, cleaning or replacing any rubber mats or carpeting. The load bay also requires special attention. It may, for example, be fitted out for a specific purpose that doesn’t suit. Or maybe a simple empty load bay is all that is required.

Pay extra attention to the crew cab. A good vacuuming* will get rid of accumulated muck and then it’s time to turn the attention to the upholstery and trim. There are some good vehicle interior maintenance kits available that will include an anti-static hard-surface cleaner.

Refresh upholstery with an appropriate cleaner, making sure not to make the material too wet. This will lift dirt from the surface for wipe-away removal, with another clean microfibre cloth.

*Tip: Use a small paintbrush to get any dust or dirt out of the cab’s nooks and crannies.

Clean The Metal Load Bag

The metal load bay floor is likely to have scrapes. Once washed, cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner and dried, paint over any scratches to seal them. Similarly, paint over any scratches in the ribs and panels. Consider the purpose to which the van will be put and possibly paint and insulate with suitable flooring. Some users like to add a plywood interior to protect the base coat or build shelving to serve a necessary function.

Follow the steps above and it will help you maximise the sale value of your van.

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