I really need to find a cheap van. I don't intend to do many miles per year but it will need to be road-legal.

I found a van near me and it is cheap enough, but it failed the MOT on the things in picture below.

Is this vehicle to be avoided? I would need to pay someone to do the welding for me, is this job too much and should this van be at the scrapyard?

Thanks for any help

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 2
    If I'm reading that correctly, the frame has a ton of rust. That would not be safe to operate at any speed.
    – 3Dave
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 19:09
  • 4
    There are many used vans out there and many ways of finding one. You could find one that has none of these major issues, only a few minor ones. Even a top welder would know not to tackle this never-ending job, not to mention the cost.
    – John Canon
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 19:11
  • 10
    I'd walk away, rapidly! That's a lot of rust, and it'll only get worse...
    – Nick C
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 22:17
  • 3
    Rust never sleeps. Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 15:40
  • 1
    If you show this report to a skilled welder then I'm sure they'd be able to give you a ballpark estimate. Hint: the estimate plus the price of the vehicle will exceed the cost of a vehicle without these major defects.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 18:00

4 Answers 4


It is definitely going to need welding, rust has eaten through several areas and the only way to repair it is to cut out the bad metal and weld in replacements.

It's impossible to say how much work is involved, however translating the UK MOT weird jargon into normal human terms (nearside is passenger side, in this case the left, off-side is the driver side, in other words right) you can see that there's rust bad enough to fail in 6 places:

  • Left rear suspension mounting
  • Right rear suspension mounting
  • Front right subframe
  • Front left subframe jack point
  • Front left subframe
  • Front leftr suspension mount

That sounds like a hell of a lot of rust, and the front right sounds like Swiss cheese. Although I cannot say with absolute certainty from an MOT printout previous experience indicates that this is very likely an economic write-off if this is a cheap van, and that it would not be a smart purchase.

  • 1
    Nearside is passenger side (left), offside is drivers side (right) Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 8:24
  • 1
    Got you're right @BenWilliams! I'm still getting it wrong, even after dealing with that for all these years. Why they can't just use left and right I can't imagine! I've edited to correct.
    – GdD
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 9:11
  • 1
    @fraxinus that's pejoratively parochial. How is the rest of the world (UK, the sub-continent, most Antipodean places, Oceania, Japan, parts of SE Asia, most of southern and eastern Africa, etc., not normal? BTW they write "driver's side". Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 12:30
  • 4
    Even if you drive a LHD car the nearside is still the side nearest the kerb. Just because the steering wheel is on the wrong! side of the car doesn't mean you drive on the other side of the road :) Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 10:11
  • 1
    Thank you to everyone who answered. LOL I will definitely not buy this vehicle :D Thanks again
    – DaveGold
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 14:35

There is a difference between spending money to fix your own MOT failure, and buying a vehicle which has failed its MOT test and needs fixing.

The first case is a risk item: is it worth spending money on an old vehicle, or is it time to replace it? This was discussed in a previous question:

Car has failed MOT, is it worth it?

which was closed as being "opinion based".

It's another matter buying an MOT failure. If it were economic to repair, then the previous owner would have done so, obtained an MOT, and either kept it or sold it. Otherwise, it will be bought for breaking and/or scrap.

The ground rule is

  • Never buy a used vehicle without at least 6 months MOT, preferably a year.

Generally, the people who do that are skilled at repairs, have made a thorough inspection of the vehicle to establish the feasibility, and intend to sell the vehicle on.

Note too, it only just passed the brake tests, a hint that you'll soon have to spend money there as well, perhaps a complete brake system replacement.

So no don't buy it unless you are an expert. The vehicle is "shot".


The corrosion could be a very small amount of work or a massive amount of work.

For the UK MOT, even the smallest hole within 30cm of a suspension component will be a failure.

You would really need to take it somewhere to get a quote, but the fact that there are numerous possibly small or large holes in important areas would suggest that it is not going to be a cheap fix, especially if it is repaired correctly so that it will also pass next years test.


Wrong time to buy

My ex went looking for a cheap van recently. We've split up, she's about to buy her own place, and she needs to move her stuff. Renting a van is fairly expensive, so her plan was to buy one, use it for moving in stages over a couple of weeks, then sell it again.

It turns out that with Covid restrictions ending, a lot of trades have started back out again, and that's pushed up the prices because everyone wants vans. Vans which would have gone for £500 a couple of years back are now £1500-£2000. Long story short, you simply are not going to find a cheap van right now. And if you do buy one now, whatever you get will be at least £1000 over the "proper" price.

Consider a different vehicle instead

However, what you will find fairly easily are MPVs, many of which are derived from small vans. Zafiras, Kangoos, Berlingos and all those kind of MPVs have reasonably large load bays. You could put the rear seats down; or if you're definitely going to be using it as a van then you could remove the rear seats altogether. Prices for these are still running normally, so you won't be paying over the odds for one, and its resale value won't drop off a cliff.

Of course the load bay isn't quite the same, so it really depends on your requirements. Think about whether you genuinely need all that space.

Consider a trailer

If you've got a towbar on your current car, a horsebox/trailer could be a more cost-effective option. I used to provide PA equipment. A double-axle trailer gave me more load space than a Transit van, for very much less cost and maintenance. If your application for this is something like gardening or construction, you may even find that an open trailer is more useful when it comes to loading/unloading than a van would be.

  • 1
    Where I am, a LWB van is about £130 per day. I've previously moved my friend from London to Manchester in a single day of hire time, and my last move from Manchester about 30 miles away took me two days of hire time. How could it be possible to buy a van and later sell it, while losing less to tax, depreciation, and sheer amount of time invested than simply hiring? Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 11:17
  • @AdamBarnes A weekend hire is £300, so that's your comparison. Depreciation is basically zero, because it's older anyway and you're not keeping it for long. Say £100 if we want to be picky. (Unless you damage it, but then damaging a hire van would cost you way more.) Tax and insurance are £500-600 for an entire year; they're refunded when you sell, so pro-rata you're looking at £50 per month. So for two months ownership of a van, during which time you can not only do your move but also all your trips to B&Q, Ikea or whatever, it will cost you £100 less than hiring for a single weekend.
    – Graham
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 13:12
  • You also have to insure it, you have no guarantee that the one you pick to buy will actually last long enough and be resellable, and (most importantly) you're valuing your own time at zero! Add to that that you have to find storage for the vehicle, if you don't sell it in time and have to store it on a public road you'll have to buy more tax, and there is no benefit to having it for longer than you needed it in the first place. If I need two days to get a job done, it's not a value-add to me to have the tools for two months. It's a cost. Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 14:11

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