How hard can it be? (Van driving for the 1st time)

18
Found 27th Aug 2017
I need to hire a van. I've got the website open ready to click the reserve button but I'm scared tbh.

I've driven for 30+ years but always just a car.

I need a LWB large van but it's the long wheel base bit that's bothering me. Is it much harder to manoeuvre round corners etc?

The hire place is in an industrial area of town so although I'm not bothered about driving on the motorway, I'm already worried about getting it out of the lot and through the town.

I dont have any other options so I need to do it but my fear of the unknown is making me really hesitant. Got any advice?

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18 Comments

Simple rule when driving a longer vehicle...don't steer the front of it -steer the back axle. So don't start to turn until the rear wheels are at the turning point. If you steer before you are going to clip kerbs or worse. Take your time. You'll be fine.
Edited by: "mrty" 27th Aug 2017

I find driving a van easier, you're higher up than in a car so you have a better view of traffic in front.
If you're that worried, find a local 'man with van' service, they're everywhere.

Original Poster

mrty3 m ago

Simple rule when driving a longer vehicle...don't steer the front of it …Simple rule when driving a longer vehicle...don't steer the front of it -steer the back axle. So don't start to turn until the rear wheels are at the turning point. If you steer before you are going to clip kerbs or worse. Take your time. You'll be fine.


That's a great bit of advice thank you. That's exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for.

Original Poster

PKRichie3 m ago

I find driving a van easier, you're higher up than in a car so you have a …I find driving a van easier, you're higher up than in a car so you have a better view of traffic in front.If you're that worried, find a local 'man with van' service, they're everywhere.


Unfortunately I've spent the last week calling several and they all come in at around £250-£280. I can get a van for £33 + fuel.

Honestly even xlwb ones are so easy these days. As above was said, just think about going a bit deeper before turning a 90 degree corner so the back wheels don't hit the curb. Reversing takes a bit of practice to judge how far you can go backwards before hitting anything, if you have a passenger, they can always get out and help. Re. M-ways. Be careful when overtaking, you can get a big blast of wind coming off lorries which can feel a bit offputting, also leave plenty of space before changing lanes. I have accidentally cut up a couple of truckers by being too keen to get back into the slow lane.

i hired a ford transit van once and i found it very difficult to use but i just about managed to drive it through central london for the one day i had it. the clutch was difficult for me as i am female and i found reversing very difficult but luckily i had my brother with me so he had to stand outside to let me know how close i was when reversing.

not extremely difficult but you should be fine. just be careful when you drive it and you should be fine

Original Poster

Thanks for the tips, forewarned is forearmed so I'm happy that these things are being pointed out.

Driving a van isn't much different than driving a car. You are higher up so you can see better. When I passed my test many moons ago the first thing I had to drive was an ancient minibus through central London. I'm only five foot tall so if I can do it, anyone can. I hired one a couple of years ago to move house and they have come along in leaps and bounds since my London days. You'll be fine

mutley11 h, 22 m ago

i hired a ford transit van once and i found it very difficult to use but i …i hired a ford transit van once and i found it very difficult to use but i just about managed to drive it through central london for the one day i had it. the clutch was difficult for me as i am female and i found reversing very difficult but luckily i had my brother with me so he had to stand outside to let me know how close i was when reversing.not extremely difficult but you should be fine. just be careful when you drive it and you should be fine

The clutch was difficult because you're female? How does that make a difference?
Edited by: "craigstephens" 27th Aug 2017

Explain your concerns to the hire company, they should spend 5/10 minutes with you pointing out the blind spots etc.

The higher driving position may just surprise you, far easier to read the road ahead, take corners wider than normal, if that means waiting until the roads clear, then so be it, and get someone to guide you if reversing.

Mistake I made was road positioning at a junction.
31821151-RAXe8.jpg
I was the top right orange car turning right, with that positioning in a car you can see left out of the rear off side window, but in a van you have no rear windows
. Just need to make sure you are perpendicular with the road you are joining.

craigstephens5 h, 14 m ago

The clutch was difficult because you're female? How does that make a …The clutch was difficult because you're female? How does that make a difference?

He had only just had the op, and the stitches were playing havoc with his (now her) upper leg movements!

I love driving vans, something about getting all manly a day away from office work I don't find them any more difficult at all. Just turn later, pay more attention and if in doubt ask for help. I've driven vans and minibuses though some tiny tiny narrow streets in the UK and abroad and it's only the turning circle that requires a bit more attention. When parking or turning you don't have a huge front engine block so the windscreen is pretty much where the radiator is so you don't need to leave a huge space in front.

craigstephens5 h, 51 m ago

The clutch was difficult because you're female? How does that make a …The clutch was difficult because you're female? How does that make a difference?


I can't answer for mutters but as a very small woman driving a very old transit van, it wasn't easy. The one I used to drive actually had the gearstick from an escort which was way too short and meant I had to lean down and to the left to change gear. Trying to Do that and depress the clutch at the same time was a challenge. Seats didn't adjust as well in those days either.

I hired a lwb transit few weeks back. Golden rule use your side mirrors at all times. Think about the vehicle length, especially when reversing. Hopefully your van may have a camera like mine did. Watch en route for low bridges, car park entrances due to height of van. Don't worry about the width. If you need to gain confidence go round some quiet streets to get used to your vehicle first, but really i think you'll be ok. You will enjoy it. Good luck! 🚚

I recently did it moved house had Luton van was worried had my dad with me just for peace of mind. No problems go slow pick up confidence. I will do it again when I move

mutley116 h, 50 m ago

i hired a ford transit van once and i found it very difficult to use but i …i hired a ford transit van once and i found it very difficult to use but i just about managed to drive it through central london for the one day i had it. the clutch was difficult for me as i am female and i found reversing very difficult but luckily i had my brother with me so he had to stand outside to let me know how close i was when reversing.not extremely difficult but you should be fine. just be careful when you drive it and you should be fine

Difficult because your a female? Aww bless

Original Poster

I'm glad I posted about this here now, I feel better about this being something I can do instead of something I need to be worried about. Thanks for the replies and the tips..
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