Can I modify my lease van?

It’s not unusual to choose a lease deal for your work vehicle. But are you allowed to modify your leased van? Here’s what you can and can’t do.


Leasing a van, or a fleet of vehicles, is commonplace. For many commercial owners it’s the sensible way forward, offering the chance to drive a new vehicle that works well for their business and can be changed regularly.

But not everyone wants to drive around in a bog-standard white van that looks like every other commercial vehicle on the road. And anyway, different businesses have different needs and requirements for their vehicles.

So changes and modifications are often needed. If you own the van outright, it’s entirely your decision what you do with it and you can make whatever changes you want (as long as you tell your insurance company what you’re doing).

Are modifications permitted?

But are you allowed to make wholesale alterations to a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you? Will your lease company – the lender – allow you to make changes to your van? In other words, can you modify a lease vehicle?

Yes you can, is the positive answer. And that’s good news because you will often want to make conversions, such as modifications to its looks. Most business owners will want to personalise their van with some signwriting, light window tinting or perhaps different wheels.

Others might want to alter its performance or fuel economy by remapping or reprogramming its ECU unit (known as ‘chipping’). Still more might need to improve its use by adding a roof box or some shelving inside. Or, if you carry valuable tools or other items, you might want to up the van’s security.

All of that should be OK. Most leasing companies will allow certain mods to their vans as long as any work can be reversed at the end of the term and put back to how it was at the start of the contract. They are not going to want their van returned with a huge logo across the sides and back doors, but if you can sort that out, or any other changes, it should be acceptable.

What’s allowed, what’s not

What you are allowed to modify all depends on the individual leasing company so it is always worth asking to see what you can do and, anyway, it’s important that you seek full permission before you make any changes.

Depending on the work you do, adding a roof box is often a major requirement. But, while the box itself is OK, don’t fit roof bars unless you have permission as these can leave permanent marks on a van’s bodywork. Wrapping the van should be done by a quality professional so that any advertising slogans and markings can be safely removed.

Adding a towbar is more problematic because it usually involves drilling holes under the vehicle which the lease company might not like. The same goes for adding body extras such as front or rear spoilers, any changes to the interior trim or suspension modifications. Get written permission for any of these mods.

While modern vans are far more secure than they used to be – with better locks, an alarm and even an immobiliser – if you have a small fortune’s worth of expensive tools and equipment stored in the back, you will want to ensure it is properly protected.

Having extra deadlocks fitted is a good idea and one that a leasing company shouldn’t refuse. The same goes for other safety and security items such as privacy glass, slam locks or a dashcam. And to protect the interior, you will probably be allowed ply lining – at the end of the day it’s protecting the asset for all concerned.

Private number plates don’t leave any damage so there shouldn’t be a problem if you want to add yours to a lease van. But this can only be done once you have taken delivery of the vehicle and you will have to get permission from the leasing company of course.

Make sure you also tell the DVLA licensing authority and, as usual, your insurer if you are planning on changing your plates.

Get it agreed

Discuss any mods you want to make to your van with the lender before you sign any agreement. The chances are, they will note those requests on the contract and you can then go ahead with confidence.

Omitting to tell the lease company about your plans could mean you invalidate the warranty on the vehicle and it might even lead to a bill from the lender to cover the costs of returning the vehicle to its original state.

Always remember to tell your insurer about any modifications you have made to your van – leased or otherwise – or you could end up invalidating any cover you thought you had.

Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.

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