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How to drive a van for the first time

Posted on by Idrive

If you can drive then you are no doubt used to your own car more than any other, so getting behind the wheel of another car can be strange and can take some getting used to. So when you hire a van for the first time you can expect to feel even more out of place as you tower over traffic. It can often feel like a daunting and cumbersome position to be in but the key to successfully driving a van lies in taking your time, thinking smartly and following these handy tips on how to drive a van for the first time…

Are you sitting comfortably?

Essentially, a van is just a larger version of a car, and just as you’d want to adjust the seat in a different car you will want to do the same in a van. Ensure your feet can reach the pedals and that you can see over the dashboard. Once you’ve set your seat you need to set your mirrors. Because there is no rear-view in van you get bigger wing mirrors and it’s vital that you make the best use of these.

Familiarise yourself with your surroundings

You’re going to need to know where things like indicators and window wipers are – now is the time to get familiar with them. You don’t want to be out on the road when it starts to rain with no idea where the wiper switch is. Go one step further and find all of the key functions such as hazard lights, bonnet release, temperature settings and the horn. All of these things will come in handy at some point so find them before you set off.


Top gear

All makes and models of vehicles are different, that means the gears will be different too. You might be smooth at changing gears in your car and not give it a second thought but it’s a good idea to check how many gears your van has and that you can easily shift through them. If you get out on the motorway and find hitting the highest gear is tricky then you can expect to waste a lot of fuel.

Plan your route

A simple point: if you were taking a new journey in a car then you’d plan how you’re going to get there, and the same applies for driving a van. If you do your homework you can find the quickest route and avoid any tricky roads which might get you stuck or lost in a van.

Learn your height

A vital piece of information you need to know is the height of your van, while you may not be as tall as a bus you could find yourself restricted from certain areas such as car parks if you have a large enough van. Once you know your height limit ensure you keep an eye out for signage before going under any bridges or barriers, a crash into these things can be very costly.

Spread the load

It’s tempting to get your van and simply chuck in all the things you want to move but you can do some serious damage if you don’t take notice of the weight restrictions. You can make better use of your van by spreading the weight evenly across the base and tying down any loose items so that they don’t get throw around in transit. Also, it should go without saying that heavier items should go on the bottom to avoid damage to lighter items. We’ve written an article with lots of advice on loading a van properly here.


These are some very basic tips for your first attempt at driving a van, but even someone with a few van hire trips under their belt can benefit from taking a few minutes to factor in these tips. They can save you money and can even save your life when out on the roads.

For more information about premier van hire services then contact I-Drive Van hire today, we’ll be happy to get you set up and on the road whether you’re a novice or an expert at handling a van.

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