Buying a used...Vauxhall Vivaro

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Steve Banner checks out what to look for when buying Vauxhall’s medium van
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Vauxhall’s front-wheel drive Vivaro is that in the dozen or so years since its launch it has not dated to anywhere near the extent predicted by critics. When it first appeared, detractors opined that its still-distinctive styling would start to look old-fashioned very quickly, but it’s fair to say it hasn’t.
Yet while Vivaro has retained its original shape, there have been a lot of changes under the metal.
Six years ago the old 1.9-litre diesel generating either 82hp or 100hp was scrapped in favour of a new 2.0-litre generating either 90hp or 115hp. The 2.5-litre diesel was retained, but power was increased from 135hp to 145hp.
Post-2006 Vivaros have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with an automated manual transmission offered as an option under the Tecshift banner.
With a load cube extending from 5.0m3 to 8.4m3, the Vivaro is marketed in both short- and long-wheelbase versions and with either a standard or a high roof. Gross payload capacity ranges from just over a tonne to upwards of 1.2 tonnes with nominal gross weights of either 2.7 or 2.9 tonnes. It has also been made available as both a SWB and LWB double-cab van, as a minibus and as a dropside. Recent upgrades include the arrival of low-CO2 Ecoflex models.
The Vivaro is, of course, a rebadged version of Renault’s Trafic and is also marketed by Nissan as the Primastar.
Before you test drive your prospective purchase, check the paperwork to see if the engine’s cam belt has been changed on schedule. In most cases it should be swapped the sooner of five years or 72,000 miles. If it’s not been done on time, along with associated parts such as rollers, then it is likely to fail, advises leading website Used Van Expert, which will mean an engine rebuild at the very least. You may even have to buy a completely new one.
As a consequence, you should insist that the belt is changed before you purchase the vehicle if a swap is overdue. If the deadline is approaching then get the price reduced by £300 and have the job done immediately after transaction.
If the Vivaro you are looking at has covered upwards of 80,000 miles then find out if the alternator has been changed. If it hasn’t, then it may decide to disintegrate, causing damage to the drive belt and other parts of the engine.
There are no warning signs that the alternator is about to pack up alas, so your best bet is to get the vendor to drop the asking price by £350 so that you can have it swapped at the next major service.

Discover when the brake pads and discs were last changed. Vivaros have a hunger for both according to Used Van Expert, which contends that they need replacing at every other service at least. If they haven’t been swapped recently then the van’s asking price needs cutting by £200.
Make sure that the engine management lights come on with the ignition and go out a few seconds after you start up. If they do not, says Used Van Expert, then there is likely to be a problem in one of three areas: the wiring loom, the electronic engine control unit or the camshaft sensor.
If the van either refuses or is reluctant to start from cold, then the glow plugs may need changing. If the starting problem is intermittent however, and the engine cuts out during the test drive, then a faulty fuel pump is likely to be the culprit.
Hesitant starting at all times usually indicates that the injectors are worn, Used Van Expert says, especially if fuel consumption is high and the exhaust is pumping out a lot of black smoke.
All of these deficiencies mean a big bill and the vendor should cut the vehicle’s price accordingly. Think in terms of £500 for the glow plugs, £1000 for the injectors and a painful £2000 for the fuel pump.
Once you are under way, check that the gear change is smooth, with no crunching. Listen carefully for any whining or chattering noises and see if you can spot an oil leak from the back of the engine once the vehicle is stationary again.
Crunching, whining, chattering and oil leaks are all signs that the gearbox is past its sell-by date and needs replacing. That’s a £1000 job according to Used Van Expert. That said, it is worth noting that changing the bearings may sometimes be sufficient to deal with any problems.
If you find a stretch of rough or potholed road during your test drive, then listen for a  knocking from the front suspension. That tell-tale sound will warn you that a lower control arm bush probably needs replacing and if that is the case then the entire arm will probably require changing. That justifies a £125 price reduction.
So how much will you have to pay for your second-hand Vivaro?
Auctioneer Manheim recently disposed of a 2.7-tonne 115hp, 2007-registered, 07-plate short-wheelbase standard-roof van with 87,000 miles recorded for £3350. A younger version of the same model dating back to 2009, on an 09 plate that had clocked up 85,000 miles went for £4850.
A 2.9-tonne 115hp LWB?standard-roof van, 2010 on a 10 plate, in upmarket Sportive trim, and with 92,000 miles to its name went for £5900 at a Manheim sale.

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