Best van for plumbers

Choosing your next van needn't be a draining experience as you don’t have to be flush with cash to afford the best vans for plumbers

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Jul 25, 2022

You don’t need to plumb the depths of the internet to find the best vans. At BuyaCar, we can help you to choose the right van for you and have thousands of vans for sale, with prices starting from as little as £6,650. We could say you don’t have to be flush with cash, but we wouldn’t sink that low.

Take a look at the car park at your nearest plumbing supplies store and you’ll notice that most plumbers drive medium panel vans. The big names are Ford Transit, Volkswagen Transporter, Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic.

A three-metre load length for copper pipes is almost essential, as are straight walls for the installation of racking and shelving, some floor space for carrying a boiler and decent locks. You also need something reliable to minimise downtime and something that’s cheap to run to keep your overheads low.

A van that delivers on all fronts, then? No pressure, as the customer said to the emergency plumber. Moving on, it’s time to pipe down, because here are eight of the best vans for plumbers.

Vans for plumbers

1. Ford Transit Custom

Our pick Ford Transit Custom 2.0 EcoBlue
Used deals from £11,900
Monthly finance from £269*

The Ford Transit Custom is not only the best-selling van in the UK, it’s also one of the best-selling vehicles full stop. Choice won’t be a problem when you’re looking for a used example then. Running costs will be kept in check by the frugal diesel engines, cheap servicing and affordable parts, but while the old 2.2-litre engine is fine, the later 2.0-litre diesel is better.

Along with two body lengths, there are also two body heights. Short-wheelbase (L1) models offer a maximum load length of 2,554mm, but this extends to 2,921mm in the long-wheelbase (L2) model. However, all versions feature a load-through bulkhead, increasing the load length to 3,037mm and 3,404mm respectively. Perfect for carrying copper pipes.

All versions of the Transit Custom are great to drive, but an update in 2018 improved the cabin. Highlights included an upgraded media system and more in-cab storage, so search for a post-2018 model if you value these.

2. Volkswagen Transporter

Our pick Volkswagen Transporter 2.0 TDI DSG
Used deals from £16,157
Monthly finance from £261*

If image is important to your plumbing business, you might want to consider the Volkswagen Transporter T6. Launched in 2015, this popular medium van was updated in 2019, when it became the T6.1. It’s the most stylish van for plumbers, although strong demand means it’s more expensive than many of its rivals.

On the plus side, this means that the Volkswagen Transporter is good at holding its value, which will be music to the ears of your accountant, as you'll get more money back when you come to sell it on. The bean counters will also like the excellent fuel economy of the 'BlueMotion' diesel engines, although the short service internals and relatively costly maintenance are black marks against the Volkswagen.

Both the short and long-wheelbase versions are available with low and medium roofs, but you’ll also find high roof variants of the longer Transporter. Up to 2,975mm of load length is available in the long-wheelbase version, but a load-through feature was added as part of the 2019 update.

3. Vauxhall Vivaro

Our pick Vauxhall Vivaro 1.6 CDTi BiTurbo
Used deals from £10,548
Monthly finance from £309*

The British-built Vauxhall Vivaro (2014-2019) offers excellent value for money. It shares a lot in common with the Renault Trafic below, including four 1.6-litre diesel engines. A few cosmetic tweaks set it apart from its French cousin - some versions even have a Union Flag on the back.

Opt for a Vivaro with EcoFlex fuel-saving tech for the best fuel economy, and while the single-turbocharged versions should be fine for local plumbing duties, the twin-turbo models are recommended for longer trips and heavy loads, as they offer additional muscle.

At 2,937mm, the long-wheelbase L2 model falls just shy of the magic three-metre load length, but making use of the load-through bulkhead and flaps beneath the passenger seat will increase this to a significant 4,150mm. There’s also plenty of room in the back for racking and shelving.

4. Renault Trafic

Our pick Renault Trafic 2.0 dCi
Used deals from £10,957
Monthly finance from £258*

If you like the look of the second-generation Vauxhall Vivaro, and you’re not too fussed about having a British-built van, take a look at the Renault Trafic. The current Vivaro is based on the same platform as the Peugeot Expert, Citroen Dispatch and Toyota Proace, leaving the Trafic to forge its own path.

In fact, the Trafic has been updated for 2022, with improvements to the van’s styling, interior and technology. This follows an update in 2019 when the old 1.6-litre diesel engines were replaced by new 2.0-litre diesels. The later the Trafic, the better the van.

Like many medium vans, there are short and long-wheelbase versions available, with up to 4,150mm of load length available via the load-through bulkhead and fold-up passenger seat. Look out for used examples with the optional dealer-fit racking options, including load lining and interior roof racks. LED lighting was added as part of the 2019 update.

5. Fiat Ducato

Our pick Fiat Ducato 2.3 MultiJet II
Used deals Limited stock

Buying a van the size of a Fiat Ducato might be overkill for a plumbing business, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s one of the most popular commercial vehicles in Europe. It might trace its roots back to 2006, but a series of updates have kept the Ducato near the top of the large van class.

If you think it’s big on the outside, wait until you see the inside. Even the smallest Ducato offers a maximum load length of 2,670mm, while the largest version can cope with 4,070mm. If you’re fed up with making regular trips to the plumbing supplies store, the Ducato could be just the ticket.

You can squeeze a Euro pallet through the side door, so it’ll swallow a boiler with ease. A light duty variant should be adequate for most plumbers, but maxi versions are available if you regularly carry heavy loads.

6. Toyota Proace

Toyota Proace front three quarters view

Our pick Toyota Proace 1.6D
Used deals from £15,799
Monthly finance from £296*

If you’re searching for your first van, it won’t take you long to discover that platform-sharing - where different manufacturers share parts to create more sophisticated and affordable vans - is a big thing in the medium van business. Launched in 2016, the Toyota Proace is essentially a rebadged Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Vivaro.

Toyota’s warranty is one reason why you might choose the Proace over its European siblings, though, as the Japanese van can be covered for up to 10 years if you get it serviced with Toyota every year. That leaves you free to concentrate on boiler installations and dripping taps. And trying to keep challenging customers happy.

Look out for models with the Smart Cargo system, which features a removable bulkhead panel and flip-up passenger seat. This increases the maximum load length to 4,026mm for the aptly-named Long model, though even the Compact can swallow 3,324mm of length.

7. Mercedes Vito

Our pick Mercedes Vito 2.1 CDI
Used deals from £13,999
Monthly finance from £256*

You’ll pay a premium for a Mercedes-Benz Vito, but the three-pointed star should reflect well on your business, thanks to its upmarket reputation. Just remember that your customers might think you’re charging too much for your plumbing services.

Having said that, driving a slick-looking van will impress other customers much more than you saving cash and sticking with a tatty old model. Plus, you’re entitled to a medium van of real quality, as you’ll be spending a lot of time behind the wheel. The Vito feels a cut above its competitors, most notably in the cabin, although the dashboard design is starting to look a little dated.

Unusually for a medium van, the Vito is available with front-, rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations, with the popular rear-wheel-drive versions powered by Mercedes’ 2.1-litre diesel engine. Choose the Vito L3 for a maximum load length of 3,061mm.

8. Ford Transit Connect

Ford Transit Connect front three quarters view

Our pick Ford Transit Connect 1.5 EcoBlue
Used deals from £8,948
Monthly finance from £253*

Not every plumber wants or needs a medium or large van, which is why we’re concluding our list of the best vans for plumbers with the Ford Transit Connect. It’s cheaper to buy and should cost less to run than its bigger rivals, so you could be quids in.

Okay, you’re not going to be returning from the plumbing supplies store with three-metre copper pipes in the back, but for darting between jobs, the Transit Connect is hard to beat. It’s even as good to drive as a decent compact SUV.

We’d recommend getting a Transit Connect built after the 2018 update. There are four trim levels: Base/Leader, Trend, Limited and Sport, plus a rugged-looking Active model for any plumbing jobs at the end of a gravel track!

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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