Tipper buying guide: your questions answered

Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2017   |   Author: Tony Rock

With the help of Citroen, Volkswagen and commercial vehicle converters VFS, What Van? guides you through the factors you need to consider before investing in a tipper.

What is a tipper van?

Let’s start at the beginning.

In its most common form, a tipper is a light commercial vehicle with either a single- or double-cab at the front, and – more importantly – a flat bed at the back, which is open and has low sides plus a hinged tailgate.

The load to be transported is carried on the flat bed and at the destination discharged, or tipped out. How? The ram mechanism raises the front of the bed at an angle so that the load is tipped out to the rear of the vehicle. 

But that’s just one type because there are also ‘three-way’ tippers, which allow tipping to either side as well to the rear, while Citroen points to variants such as ‘cage tippers’, which are useful for carrying loads such as leaves that would otherwise blow away. The enclosed cage top section ensures that the load stays in the body, enabling the moving of, as Volkswagen says, a higher, albeit lighter, load.

Who buys tipper vans?

Tippers are bought by a variety of customers. As well as construction businesses, they are purchased by companies involved in the agricultural, forestry and horticultural sectors, as well by utility companies and local authorities.

What can I carry in a tipper?

Armed with the above knowledge, it will come as no surprise to find out that typical bulk loads that are delivered and offloaded in a tipper include loose building materials such as hard core or Tarmac, plus rubble, sand, gravel, cement, soil, tree waste and litter.

Be careful, however, not to carry anything that can be damaged in the act of tipping it out!

How to choose the right model for you

Right, now we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how you go about making sure you choose the model that best meets your needs.

VFS lists the key considerations in order of importance as:

  1. Payload
  2. Durability
  3. Price
  4. Warranty

Citroen agrees that payload is often the most important factor for tipper users, although as it points out, other requirements might trump payload, such as needing the durability of a steel body for transporting stone because it can take the knocks when a lighter alloy body could provide a better payload.

Volkswagen, however, believes it’s possible to strike a balance between payload and durability, and says thatwhen it comes to making tippers, it tries “to achieve maximum payload without compromising on materials/strength”.

Once you’ve decided which factors are most important for your business, it’s time to consider the…



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