For tradespeople, your work van is your office on the road. It’s your portable warehouse, your lunch room on wheels, and one of your business’s most important pieces of equipment. Whether you’re a plumber, an HVAC specialist or a general contractor, your customers rely on the expert service you provide. And you rely on your work van to get you, your crew and your material where you need to go to get the job done. Because your work van is such a critical part of your everyday operations, purchasing a new work van is a decision that should be made with care. The features you look for in a work van can be broken into three main categories: storage capacity, performance capabilities and safety. Read the top nine features that fall into these three categories to help you find the best work van for your business.
Maximized storage capacity
Making sure your work van has enough storage space is a key part of ensuring you have what you need on the job. Trade professionals know that time is money. Investing in a work van with maximum storage capacity will prevent time being wasted on making multiple trips to the jobsite for equipment that wouldn’t fit, and will help to ensure you have the right parts on hand for every project. Bring your measuring tape with you to check the following areas of the van:
Check to see how wide the openings are on the side and rear doors of a van. A good rule of thumb is to compare the door measurements to a standard pallet width, which is about 48 inches. If the doors are wider than a standard pallet, then it will be easier to move large equipment in and out of the van.
Interior cargo height
Measure the vertical height of the van’s interior from the floor to the ceiling. Look for a work van with an interior height of at least 80 inches or more to provide optimal head clearance when working in the back of your van.
Finding a van with a low step-in height will help you protect your knees and minimize the risk of injury. Any step-in height less than 24 inches will make it easier to move material in and out of the van, but a 21-inch step in height will provide better comfort.
Pro tip: Pay attention to the angle of the roof. If the roof is not curved and the interior walls are square to the ceiling, it will be easier to build a customized storage system in the back of your van.
High performance capabilities
Paying attention to what’s under the hood is just as important as considering a work van’s storage features. When you’ve got a full day’s worth of heavy-duty equipment to haul, you want to make sure your work van will be tough enough to stand up to the task. Here’s what to look for to help you find a van that works as hard as you do:
When you’re at the dealership, check the vehicle’s listed payload to see the maximum amount of weight that it can carry. Look for a work van with a payload capacity of at least 4,000 lbs or more to ensure you’ll be able to haul all of your material and your crew from job to job.
Because sometimes you need to haul equipment that’s too large to be loaded inside your work van, towing capacity is another performance feature to consider. A high-performing work van should be able to tow at least 5,000 lbs of maximum weight.
Jobsites are virtual obstacle courses for work vehicles, with tight parking spaces and pallets of equipment that must be skillfully navigated around. Find a work van that has a turn diameter of at least 40 to 36 feet to help you safely maneuver around the jobsite.
Pro tip: Technological advancements have been made to vehicle engines that allow oil changes to be performed at 10,000 mile intervals instead of the average 3,000 miles. Opt for a work van that offers this type of engine technology to minimize your operating expenses.
Optimal safety features
With vehicle accidents being the leading cause of worker fatalities in the United States, it’s important to pay close attention to a vehicle’s standard safety features when buying a new work van. Look for these three main safety features to protect your crew and yourself on the way to and from jobs.
In the event of an accident, airbags can save your life. Choose a work van that has a complete airbag safety system in the passenger area of the van’s cab to protect everyone in your crew who's riding with you.
Being able to see everything on the road is a critical part of preventing accidents. When going for a test drive, take note of the driver’s seat height. Higher seats will allow you to see the road more clearly and help to eliminate blind spots.
Even if you follow defensive driving best practices, sometimes it’s necessary to brake suddenly or swerve to avoid an obstacle in the road. Buy a van with a stability control system that features anti-lock brakes, traction control and hill-start assist to help you safely respond to whatever the road throws your way.
Pro tip: Just as you should always buckle up when you hit the road, you should also buckle up your cargo. Look for a work van that offers built-in cargo tie downs to help you secure your equipment and prevent injuries caused by unrestrained objects in the event of an accident.
Ferguson supports trade professionals through our offering of quality products and informational resources. Explore tips to help you stay safe on the job, and find innovative ways to you grow your business.