If you are going to move yourself, hiring a self drive vehicle (van hire) is more economical and practical to move your belongings than using friends and families cars, fully loaded. We have put together some advice on hiring a van to help you.
To choose the right vehicle from a van hire company you need to consider exactly what you need to transport. Bear in mind that the bigger the vehicle, the more expensive it will be, the driving licence requirements will be different and the fuel costs will go up.
There is a wide choice of vans to choose from. The most popular van is the Transit van, for it's size and value for money. A transit van can easily carry 800kgs - so that's anything from wardrobes (not stood up), a sofa, kitchen appliances etc and averages 35 miles to the gallon.
A Long wheel base high top transit adds around three feet to the length of the standard transit and when combined with the high roof adds a lot more space for taller items like wardrobes. They carry around 1400kgs and will have an mpg of 25-30. Panel vans do not carry furniture that well as they curve in at the top.
The Luton Box van has always been associated with moving home and self drive removals. It is basically a Long wheelbase transit type van (as above) but fitted with a large box on the back. These are much easier to pack your belongings into and packed carefully, will hold the contents of a one bedroom flat in one go (depending if you are a clutter monster or not). The box is higher off the floor/road than a panel van and therefore you have to lift items onto the van sometimes 2 - 3 feet from the floor. If you do have very heavy items, pianos, safes etc you could hire a vehicle with a hydraulic tail lift that will automatically lift items into the back of the van saving your back.
The biggest vehicle you can drive on your normal car driving licence is a 7.5 ton box wagon unless you passed your test after January 1997 then you would require a category C1 licence. This is a sensible choice because of its size and therefore capacity to hold a lot more items and carry more weight. This is also an ideal choice if you are traveling a long way and do not want to do the journey more than once, or if you cannot collect your keys until after lunchtime and have to leave you old home for someone to move in also in the afternoon.
Both the Luton vans and the 7.5 ton vans will be quite high, so please watch out for any low bridges, trees or wires when driving these vehicles.
Ask the van hire company about their charges so you know exactly what you are paying for. A lot of companies charge for mileage after a fixed allowance. The allowance can range from as little as 50-150 miles. After this some companies often charge from 8-12p a mile. This will increase your hire cost dramatically, so work out how many miles you will be traveling and how many trips you will be making. If you predict that you will use more than the allowance, it may be best to choose a company that offers unlimited mileage- then you won't have any hidden cost to pay for when you return the van.
You will need your driving licence (paper and photo card), usually two proof of address (Gas or Electric bills) and bank or building society statements when you hire the van.
Ask about special offers- often companies will do a weekend offer that will save you quite a bit and will also reduce the stress factor of having the vehicle back in 24 hours.
Choose a company that has full insurance included in the price. This will cover for any damages, theft or loss throughout your hire period. Remember to ask about any excesses that might apply to the insurance cover.
Make sure you get breakdown cover with your van. This will eliminate the worst case scenario of being stuck on a main road/ motorway and having to organise a recovery vehicle to transport you and all your goods to your destination.
Check the vehicle's interior and exterior condition. If there are any damages make sure the employee is aware of them before you hire, so that you are not to blame for the cost of repairs. Walk round the vehicle before you sign the hire agreement making a note of any scratches, dents etc
If you are moving to Europe or the Channel Islands then make sure that the hire company is happy with you taking the vehicle abroad. Some companies will allow you to drive abroad but need the vehicle returned to the place you hired from. So this will mean that you will have to drive to your destination, drive back and then find a way of returning.
Its not your car, you do have to drive differently. All vans are taller than cars so keep your eyes peeled above you as well. common hazards are trees and bushes, low bridges and lights. They can lean as well, especially the luton vans or 7.5t wagons. You can be a foot away from a wall with your wheels but if you are on a slope the top of the van could be touching the wall. Just be aware of the top of the van.
A van is not as light as a car and especially when loaded. The take longer to stop so drive more slowly and carefully round bends.
Your blindspots are much bigger, use your mirrors all the time to spot vehicles and especially cyclists moving into a blindspot. When you turn left this is especially important.
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