The solidly constructed Peugeot Expert makes a remarkably good second-hand purchase, writes Steve Banner – just make sure it comes with full-height bulkhead and watch out for dodgy suspensions.
When Peugeot’s current Expert arrived in UK dealerships in early 2007 it began to attack a far wider swathe of the van market than its predecessor.
The old Expert offered buyers the choice of one wheelbase, one roof height, and one size of cargo area; in other words, not much of a choice at all. By contrast, its successor is up for grabs with three different load cubes. They range from 5.0cu/m if you opt for the short-wheelbase standard roof L1H1, 6.0cu/m if you select the long-wheelbase standard roof L2H1, and 7.0cu/m if you choose the long-wheelbase high-roof L2H2.
Gross payload capacities range from 988kg to 1188kg, and it is worth noting that the front-wheel drive Expert is produced as a chassis platform as well as in window van guise. Worth noting too is the fact that it shares the same basic design as Citroen’s Dispatch and Fiat’s Scudo thanks to a long-standing joint venture between the Italian manufacturer and PSA, Citroen and Peugeot’s parent company.
Buyers get to select from two different, fuel-efficient, common rail diesels – a 1.6-litre married to a five-speed gearbox and good for 90hp, or a 2.0-litre married to a six-speed gearbox with either 120hp or 136hp on tap.
Assuming that it comes with a full service history – intervals are set at 20,000 miles – the solidly- constructed Expert is likely to prove a remarkably good second-hand buy.
The engine you are most likely to encounter on dealer forecourts is the 1.6-litre, probably slotted into an L1H1, but it is worth attempting to track down the 120hp 2.0-litre. As well as the six-speed ’box, you get a useful dollop of extra performance; the 90bhp engine can struggle at times, especially if you are running heavily laden in hilly terrain. The 136hp is the best of the bunch if driving pleasure is a priority, but it’s a rare beast on most used van lots.
No matter which engine you select, make sure the vehicle has a full-height bulkhead. Aside from making the driver’s working environment a lot safer, it will also protect him from the excessive amount of noise that emanates from the rear of the vehicle. It is something new Experts have always suffered from, and used examples are unlikely to behave any better. A ply lining in the load area will help deaden the racket as well as providing useful protection from minor dents and scrapes.
On the positive side both the ride and the handling pass muster and Expert’s cab offers plenty of storage space, although tall passengers may complain about a lack of legroom.
When you read the dealer blurb, ignore any references to a three-seater cab. While three seats may be present, the middle one is virtually useless, unless the occupant is very short thanks, to an almost complete lack of leg space.
When you drive your prospective purchase, pay careful attention to the behaviour of the suspension and find out if the front anti-roll bar has been replaced recently. The bushes appear to be its weak point, resulting in premature failure. Some owners report that they have got through two or three anti-roll bars, and if the van has clearly been worked hard then it may be due for another one. If there is evidence that the anti-roll bar has packed up, or is about to, then it will not hurt to check out the rest of the suspension system too. Look for weeping shock absorbers and sagging springs.
The Expert does not appear to be especially prone to premature clutch or dual-mass flywheel failure, but the latter phenomenon can afflict almost all modern LCVs and can prove expensive. If the clutch feels rubbery or judders occasionally, and seems to have a different bite point each time you change gear, then that could be a harbinger of disaster.
If the clutch has been changed already and the flywheel was swapped at the same time, then hopefully you will be insulated from trouble for several thousand miles to come, but unfortunately there are no guarantees.
At the time of writing Peugeot dealer Robins & Day’s Preston branch was advertising a 2007 1.6-litre L1H1 with 22,480 miles recorded for £6795, which sounds like a sensible buy. The group’s Walton-on-Thames, Surrey depot was promoting a 120hp 2.0-litre L2H2 for £13,900 with 21,230 miles and registered in 2010, while Marshalls of Cambridge had a 1.6-litre L1H1 registered in January of this year in stock at 3000 miles and yours for £11,000. If that is a bit too pricey then Wheels Van Centres based near Heathrow Airport was selling a 2007-registered 1.6-litre L1H1 that had covered 75,000 miles for £6995.
Again, remember that if you are looking at an Expert, you should also consider a Dispatch or a Scudo.