Buying a used...Fiat grande Punto

Date: Friday, September 16, 2011

Launched in 2007 and styled by Giugiaro, there are, as Steve Banner suggests, a stack of good reasons to purchase a second-hand Fiat Grande Punto Van. You’ve just got to be able to find one first…

While by definition small vans based on three-door hatchback cars do not have the carrying capacity of bigger, purpose-built LCVs, they still have a lot of things going for them.
They are easy to park in the street or in a domestic garage, multi-storey car parks hold no terrors for them and they can be serviced by anybody who can service the hatchback they are derived from. Furthermore, they tend to be inexpensive to run and fun to drive.
All good reasons for buying a second-hand Fiat Grande Punto Van – if you can find one.
Launched in the UK in 2007, it has never sold in Britain in vast numbers, not because there is anything especially wrong with it, but simply because opting for a Ford Fiesta Van tends to be the default position of a high percentage of punters looking for a van of this size.
Persevering in your search could repay dividends, however, because it is such an attractive little package.
Styled by Giugiaro, it has only ever been available with one engine, the 75bhp 1.3-litre Multijet common rail diesel also used by Vauxhall. With 190Nm of torque on tap, it is married to a five-speed gearbox. ABS and EBD  are fitted as standard as is electric power steering. Unusually, you can hit a button on the dash – a system known as Dualdrive – so the steering provides more assistance when you need to manoeuvre into a tight spot.
With a 1.0cu/m cargo area, the Grande Punto Van can handle a gross payload of 520kg.
While the cab interior is roomy, oddment storage space is at a premium. You do, however, get to enjoy nicely sculpted, comfortable seats, and driver and passenger airbags, electric windows, electrically adjustable exterior mirrors and a 12v power point are all standard features. And assuming your purchase has been looked after you will also be getting an eager performer with sharp handling, a comfortable ride and a frugal engine.
When you test drive your prospective purchase, listen for a clonking or creaking sound when you turn the steering wheel. Odds are that the top mounts and bearings on the front wheel struts have failed and will have to be changed. In that case it’s worth pressing for a £250 cut in the van’s price. Failure to get the fault attended to will place excessive strain on the steering system and make it feel uncomfortably heavy, even if you hit the Dualdrive button. It will put extra strain on the suspension too.
Heavy steering that is also accompanied by whining from the steering column may mean that either the power steering’s electric motor or the steering rack needs replacing. Ask the vendor to knock £600 off the Fiat’s price if this is
the case. And if you hear a rumbling from the back during the test drive, it probably means the rear wheel bearings are on their way out, which makes the vehicle worth £150 less.
Once you have finished your test drive, look at the front disc brakes to check for signs of heavy scoring or rust. It’s grounds for another £150 price reduction if they are present. Then open the tailgate and check the load area for signs of water ingress. A faulty door seal may be the culprit – worth a £100 cut in the van’s price.
The tailgate and cab door locks appear to be weak points, and the lock on the driver’s door in particular may eventually require changing because the interior door handle has failed. In this case a £140 cut in the asking price could be justified.
Minor electrical faults can cause irritation from time to time. Usually involving loose connections, they can result in the electric windows either refusing to lower or go back up again. The blower for the heating/ventilation system may elect to pack up too, usually because a build-up of dirt has jammed the motor.
A common fault, and worth a £50 discount, is for the vent trim between the top of the dashboard and the windscreen to come adrift on the driver’s side.
Even the best-loved Grande Punto may have picked up more than its fair share of minor scratches and scrapes. That is because the van sides aren’t protected by rubbing strips as standard, and the wheel arches aren’t protected by plastic mouldings.
While What Van? has highlighted alleged long-term durability issues with the 1.3-litre diesel in other applications, they do not appear to have arisen with Grande Punto.
Finally, although Fiat refers to its new baby as the Grande Punto Van, it’s likely the one you are looking at will be simply badged ‘Punto Van’.

How much should you pay?

In recent months auctioneer BCA has sold a 08-registered example with 51,000 miles recorded for a modest £2900. A 58-plate model with 25,000 miles on the clock went for £3725, but these are not the sort of amounts likely to break most banks.

• All price negotiation reductions come courtesy of second-hand van market specialist UsedVanExpert. Visit www.UsedVanExpert.co.uk for more advice and information.



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