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If you want to trade in your car for a van but you’re worried about how much it’ll cost to run, we can help you weigh up your choices.
There’s some difference in cost between car and van insurance.
In January 2023, the average annual price paid for fully comprehensive van insurance for social use only through GoCompare was £367 and the average price paid for fully comprehensive car insurance was £338.
Van insurance is usually more expensive for commercial use. If you’re carrying goods for hire and reward, for example if you're a courier driver, the average cost is £1,137.
But if you just need cover for a daily commute and carriage of own goods, the average cost is £382, which is only a few pounds more than a social use only policy.
Your insurer calculates your premium based on your personal circumstances, your occupation and the risks associated with it, the crime rate where you live, where the van is parked overnight, plus a host of other factors.
If your van doesn’t fit in the garage you’ll have to park it on the street, or in a car park.
That can make your insurance more expensive because your van's at greater risk of being hit by another driver or stolen.
To reduce the cost of your premiums and keep your van safe:
Vans are usually more expensive to tax than cars, unless your car is a heavy polluter or it cost more than £40,000 new.
The road tax rate – or vehicle excise duty (VED) – is calculated based on when the van was first registered, rather than on a sliding scale of emissions.
The 2023/2024 van road tax rates for light commercial vehicles with a gross weight of less than 3,500kg are:
The prices above are for 12 months, but there is the option to pay bi-annually or split the cost into direct debit payments.
Car tax for cars registered after 1 April 2017 is based on emissions in the first year, then a set rate in subsequent years:
|CO2 emissions||Cost for diesel or petrol car in first year||Cost for diesel or petrol car in its second year onwards|
Electric cars have no emissions and have no road tax to pay.
For cars registered before this, tax is based on emissions and fuel type every year.
Benefit-in-kind (BIK) is a tax you’ll have to pay if you use a company van for private use.
For 2023/2024, it’s a flat rate of £3,600 multiplied by your income tax banding (either 20% or 40%). If multiple people share the van, first divide the £3,500 figure by the number of employees using it.
If you only use the van for business purposes, you won’t have to pay it.
You also won’t have to pay it if you instead pay your employer to use the van privately.
The flat van fuel benefit charge if you’re driving a company van is £688 in 2023/2024.
It doesn’t cost more to MOT a van than it does a car.
|Type of car||MOT cost||Type of van||MOT cost|
|Up to eight seats||£54.85||Goods vehicle (up to 3,000kg)||£54.85|
|Dual purpose vehicle||£54.85||Private hire vehicle||£54.85|
|Goods vehicle over 3,000kg||£58.60|
A van that spends most of its time being driven gently on the motorway at constant speeds will be less likely to have high maintenance costs than one that spends its days in inner-city and urban environments.
Keep maintenance costs as low as possible with these key tips:
There are 21 toll roads in the UK.
Each has its own pricing tariff for vans and cars, but toll roads usually cost van drivers more. For example:
|Time of day||Road||Toll for a van||Toll for a car|
|Weekends and weekdays||Clifton Suspension Bridge||£1||£1|
|Weekends and weekdays||Humber Bridge||£1.50/£4, depending on weight||£1.50|
|Weekends and weekdays||Tyne Tunnels||£2.20/£3.90, depending on weight||£2.20|
Vans tends to have larger and more powerful engines than most cars, with a greater capacity for fuel. They will cost more to refuel because you need more fuel to fill the tank.
You can check how much your fuel will cost with our fuel calculator.
New van technology has assisted fuel consumption for all vans (the inclusion of a sixth gear, for example) but there's a staggering difference between a small, car-derived van, such as a Ford Fiesta van, and a large or medium-sized van, such as a Ford Transit.
There’s an independent site which lists and compares vehicle fuel consumption – see the Commercial Fleet page on van running costs.
Van manufacturers must publish official miles per gallon (MPG) information about their models. It’s the figure that tells you most about a van’s fuel economy and affordability.
The MPG assessment conducted by manufacturers tests low, medium and high speeds for urban and non-urban driving. It’s a good guide, but if you have a heavy van, or drive quickly on motorways, that’ll affect the MPG in the real world.
New cars and vans are going to be very expensive, so shop around for the best cash, hire purchase or PCP deal you can find before signing up. Research GAP insurance if you’re taking out finance.
If you’re shopping second hand, you can pick up a bargain, but it depends on your budget, the size of van you want and if you’re prepared to do some research.
Always check the price of your insurance before buying a second-hand van. Although an older van will be cheaper to buy, if it’s difficult to repair or source the parts your insurance premium will be more expensive.
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Average median price paid for comprehensive van insurance policies purchased through Go.Compare in January 2023.