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Glossary of Van & Vehicle Terminology

Let us help you cut through the jargon

With our glossary of commonly used van and finance terms we've broken down some of the most confusing acronyms in this list to help you when you come to choose a vehicle or are searching for information.

Our team of experienced and helpful experts have shared their expertise, which has been compiled into this handy A to Z guide of vehicle and van terminology.

4WD (Four Wheel Drive): A 4x4 car or truck is powered by 4WD technology that powers all four wheels equally. Particularly useful for tough terrain and difficult driving conditions.

ABS (Anti-lock Braking System): Under heavy braking, this system prevents brake lockup, thereby avoiding an undesirable skid. It enables you to stop quickly and safely, while maintaining vehicle control.

APR (Annual Percentage Rate): The loan agreement requires interest payments, with higher Annual Percentage Rates leading to a higher amount due.

Barn doors: Large outward-opening rear doors.

Balloon payment: At the conclusion of certain lease hire or hire purchase agreements, a lump sum payment known as a balloon payment may be required. Such an arrangement typically results in lower monthly payments over the duration of the agreement.

Bulkhead: The van can be outfitted with a variety of partition types between the cab and the cargo area, including full-height, half-height, windowed, and grille/mesh variations.

Cabin/Cab: The area the driver and passengers occupy in the interior of the vehicle.

Contract hire: An automobile rental contract whereby a van is procured for a defined duration, to be returned upon completion of the terms.

Depreciation: The depreciation of your van over a specified time frame.

Down-payment: At the onset of financing a van, a lump sum payment, referred to as a down payment, can be utilized to decrease the monthly costs.

EBA (Electronic Brake Assist): In the event of an emergency, additional brake pressure is applied to guarantee that the van stops in the shortest distance.

EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution): The van's weight and speed are monitored to ensure that the maximum possible braking power is distributed between the front and rear axles in any situation.

ESP (Electronic Stability Programme): Helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle by preventing skidding.

EV: To be a truly 100% electric vehicle, the car must have zero emissions and be powered by electricity only.

Frails: Installed along the side of the van, an extra rack was provided for additional storage.

FSH (Full service History): [When buying or selling a second-hand car, a vehicle should be advertised with an FSH detailing repairs and maintenance throughout the vehicle’s life.

GAP insurance: If you have acquired your van via a lease agreement, in the event of damage to the vehicle, your insurance company will only financially cover the present value of the van. This may not be enough to cover the remaining finance still owed on the van, which could leave you with a financial shortfall. GAP insurance can help to protect you from such a situation.

GTW (Gross Train Weight): The weight limit of the van, any trailers towed, and any loads must not exceed the maximum permitted.

GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight): The maximum authorized weight of the van with fuel, driver, passengers, and any cargo included.

Hire purchase (HP): The buyer and HP firm have come to an agreement in which the buyer will pay in installments, essentially leasing the vehicle from the HP firm until the full price has been paid. In the event that the contract is terminated, the van must be returned to the HP firm.

HPI Check: [An HPI checks the background of a used vehicle if you want to buy it, and provides information about its history.

Hybrid: A hybrid car combines the power of a standard combustion engine with one or more electric motors.

Lease: A van rental option is ideal for those seeking to acquire a vehicle temporarily, as they only pay for the depreciation over the period of the lease. This can be a cost-effective alternative to buying outright, and is especially beneficial for those who intend to switch vans every three to four years.

Load space: The allocated storage capacity within the vehicle.

Load width: The typical quoted range of vehicle measurements is the minimum distance between wheel arches and the maximum distance between walls of the van.

MPG (Miles Per Gallon): MPG is a term used to describe how many miles a car can travel per gallon of fuel it uses.

PAS (Power Assisted Steering): This system assists steering, significantly improving the maneuverability of the van.

Payload capacity: The vehicle's maximum load-carrying capacity.

PCP (Personal Contract Purchase): Similar to a van lease and provides the option of purchasing the vehicle at the conclusion of the lease period.

Ply lining: Involves fitting a van out with inbuilt plywood components like shelves.

Residual value: The value of a van at the end of a specific period, generally used or calculated when discussing leasing agreements.

Roller doors: These shutters slide up and down in a vertical direction.

Roof rack: An external cargo storage system that enables extra space on the roof of the vehicle.

Side-loading doors: These sliding doors are designed for easy loading and unloading of items from the side of the vehicle. They can sometimes be power-assisted.

SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification): If a car is no longer in use, it must be registered as SORN to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to prove it doesn’t need road tax anymore.

Tail Gate: In pick-ups, dropsides, and tippers, the tailgate serves as a barrier to prevent items from slipping out of the cargo bed. On pick-ups and dropsides, the tailgate is hinged at the bottom for convenient loading, while on tippers, the tailgate is hinged at the top to facilitate efficient unloading of the payload.

Tail Lift: Commonly found on Luton vans, this is a hydraulic mechanism that assists in the loading of goods into the cargo area by raising them to the appropriate height.

Towing Limit: The maximum weight the vehicle can tow of a trailer with brakes.

Turning Circle: The smallest circular rotation the vehicle can perform. Generally stated as kerb-to-kerb (k) or between walls (w).

VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): Every car has a unique VIN at time of manufacture, in order to identify it from others.

Warranty: Manufacturers generally offer a warranty with the purchase of a van, which is an agreement in terms of maintenance.

Wheelbase: The wheelbase is the distance between the centre of the front and rear wheels, and a longer wheelbase provides more interior space.

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