ECN Forum

Vans/Box Truck

Posted By: Tiger

Vans/Box Truck - 05/04/05 08:21 PM

I'm considering buying a new van or box truck in a few months. I see DHL uses a Ford van. Any opinions?

Posted By: Active 1

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/04/05 09:55 PM

I can't help you on Ford vs Chevy. I think they both will have there problems.

If you go with a box type truck get one where the box sits lower on the back wheels. It will have the wheel wells going into the box. This keeps the body lower for less steping to get in and lower overhead clearance. Also get one where the box is wider than the cab.

I have been looking as somthing like this:

This one has storage doors on the outside:

They come in Ford or Chevy 10,12, or 14'. Other body builders make something simular.

I see them advertised between $20-30k. Sometimes cheaper than a normal 1 ton cargo van.

If going this route I would get the 12 or 14' version. I have a 12' step van body and it's not much problem. Step vans are great also but hard to come by. Also they don't have much except metal in the cab so they are cold and noisy.

Watch the GVWR. For a box 9K max is probibly too low. 12K is a bit strong and may give a hard ride. If the GVWR is too high it may limit the roads you can take.

Ford clips why they think they are better:

No EPA econimy on biger trucks. I have looked up EPA ratings and HP on 1/2 ton P/U just for comparison:

Ford 4.6L 231 HP 16 city, 20 mpg hwy
Ford 5.4L 300 HP 15 city, 19 mpg hwy
Chevy 5.3L 295 HP 16 city, 20 mpg hwy
Chevy 6.0L 345 HP 14 city, 19 mpg hwy

Posted By: Rick Bruder

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/05/05 01:40 AM

Hi Dave,
It depends on what kind of work you do and how much material you carry.
Vans are the cheapest if you don't carry too much stuff. The new sprinters are working out great for alot of companies that I know. We use a box type truck from Hackney bodies. The site below has a gallery that you can look at the trucks and bodies. They are not real cheap, but they hold alot of parts and tools.
Posted By: Electric Eagle

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/05/05 02:38 AM

We have 3 types of vehicles. GMC vans, a GMC with a Supreme Spartain box (like Active's second link), and a Dodge Sprinter.

We liked the box truck at first, but now we wouldn't but it again. THe bins leak when it rains, it is hard to get in many customers driveways, and it gets 8 MPG. For service trucks, we will buy the Sprinter from now on. The only draw back is it's hard to get ladders on and off.
Posted By: macmikeman

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/05/05 05:12 PM

I switched from Ford vans to Chevy vans last time I picked one up (1.5 Yrs ago). So far I am happy with the performance with one exception. The rear doors on my Chevy Express 3500 van open all the way to 180 deg from the closed position. This was sold to me as a "plus" if you need to reverse up to a loading dock. It has actually become a "minus" whenever the wind is blowing moderate to hard as the doors can suddenly blow all the way out and smack into the cars parked on each side of you. If you buy any new vans try to get ones without this " feature".
Posted By: Active 1

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/05/05 08:55 PM

Electric Eagle:
8 mpg would be a shocker after you bought a new truck. Do you know the make and engine of the box truck your talking about?

I liked the idea of the Sprinter with the better fuel econimy. At this time the diesel they run on is about $.30 more per gallon. They list a low HP rating with a small engine, something like 150 HP. My truck is a diesel 6.2L rated about 180 HP gets about 13 MPG and is way under powered. Up close the sprinters look more light duty. They are tall but don't look as wide. They seem to be about the most expensive cargo van right now.

Which type of box truck do you use? The ones with or with out the outside storage boxes?

Posted By: maintenanceguy

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/06/05 12:36 AM

[QUOTE] macmikeman wrote: I switched from Ford vans to Chevy vans last time I picked one up (1.5 Yrs ago). So far I am happy with the performance with one exception. The rear doors on my Chevy Express 3500 van open all the way to 180 deg from the closed position...whenever the wind is blowing moderate to hard as the doors can suddenly blow all the way out and smack into the cars parked on each side of you. [/QUYOTE]

We just bought a GMC van and took two months for both rear door hinges to get cracks in the tiny little stop blocks because of the same thing.

Our old ford van had a steel rod that we could disconnect to let the doors open 180º. The new GMC just swings open.

After three return visits to the dealer,(they screwed pieces of drive belt to strap the doors to stop at 90º) they finally agreed to replace the hinges this week.

I'll be putting steel cable straps on the doors to stop the doors from opening too far.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/06/05 01:33 AM

Last year, as my truck was on its' last legs, I found a great resource at This is a Federal government auction site where, among other things, trucks and vans are sold. Watching the site will help you learn what is available, and for how much.

There seem to be two main schools of thought...the "van" school, and the "utility body" school.
Vans are nice in that everything is out of the weather, and away from prying eyes.
Utility bodies are better for hauling large stuff, in fair weather make great rolling workshops, and offer better vision for lane changes and backing up.
Size is an issue. Too big, and parking is difficult. Too small, and you slow down on big hills.

Don't forget the obvious "new" truck came from the power company. Just be wary....most used work trucks have been beat all to pieces. And be clear about what you need....for example, you probably won't need four-wheel drive, or dual rear wheels.

You'll probably be best served by something in the 3/4 ton category. You'll want it set up for towing. You'll want some sort of ladder rack and pipe carrier. You want REAL truck tires. And you'll want the truck low enough to fit into parking garages.
Posted By: Electric Eagle

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/06/05 02:33 AM

Active 1,
Our box truck is a GMC Savanah with the 5.9L engine. The Sprinter gets 25MPG or 3 times what our box gets, so 30 cents a gallon extra looks pretty cheap. The Sprinter is very peppy from 0-40 or so, after that is seems very slow, but I really don't want my guys doing 90 in a residental neighborhood anyway. It serves it's purpose well, if you can get over the initial purchase price, it is very ecconomical.
Posted By: highvoltageguy

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/06/05 03:34 AM

probable a long ways away from a alot of you, but prices might be worth the plane ticket and drive back
Posted By: Rick Bruder

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/07/05 03:02 AM

Our trucks are Isuzu tilt-over cabs with a hackney body on the back. All the material is on the inside.
Posted By: Tiger

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/07/05 03:44 AM

Is it the AC/1000 then Rick?

Posted By: Rick Bruder

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/08/05 12:02 AM

I think so, but truthfully I would have to look it up. A picture of my first one is on their web site in the gallery section of it. It's the 12.5' box, not the 14'.
Posted By: njelectricmaster

Re: Vans/Box Truck - 05/08/05 03:59 PM

Hello from South Dakota,

Just my two pennies, but I think it all depends on what it will be used for.

I have used a box truck and it is perfect for housing projects, where you have more than one to do, or if residential work is all you do. They also work well for project vehicles. The biggest draw back is the size, and it is a pain in the rear for service work.

I have also used a utility bed truck and I liked it alot for service work where you do not need much material in the bed. Kind of a hassel to get in and out of the bed and especially if you have a cover on it.

The all round vehicle is of course the standard cargo van. If it is set up with rat packs on the bottom, shelves on the sides, and a ladder rack on top. I have always been amazed at how much material you can get into a van.

So all in all it just depends on what you are doing.

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