Apollo Custom Manufacturing

Mobile Cart and Truck Builders

Food Trucks

What To Buy - New or Used Food Truck?

Published on April 4th, 2020

So, you're thinking about getting into the food truck business and can’t decide if you should buy a new or used unit. Whether it’s a truck or a trailer, this decision can be a tough one depending on your budget.

If you have a large budget and can afford a new step van and all new equipment, you can be looking at approximately $140,000 CDN, more or less, depending on final details. If you purchase a good, used step van and new equipment, it will run around $85,000-$100,000.00.  A new trailer and equipment, depending on the size and equipment, is in the $60,000 - $90,000.00 CDN range - which equates to approximately $41,000 -$62,000 US for U.S. customers. If you decide you want to purchase a used food truck or concession trailer, you will need to proceed with caution and make sure you do your OWN homework. Don’t take the word of the seller. In many cases the mobile kitchen you are considering is attractive because of price point and the quick availability of a tool for your business plan. The seller may have labels to show that it was inspected and had passed inspection at that time. This is likely true, however the unit was inspected to comply with the standard at that time and not what is currently accepted by local and national authorities.

There have been many changes to mobile kitchen, gas and electrical standards, especially over the last 6 years. If you find a used food truck or concession trailer that suits your needs but you are unsure if the gas, electrical and water system are up to current code, contact a certified company that can provide an opinion, inspection or perform a system upgrade, if necessary. The unit you are considering may only require some small and relatively inexpensive modifications to make it compliant, in which case the cost saving on the used unit may still be significant. On the other hand, if major upgrades are required, the cost of removing the current system and replacing with new may outweigh the reduced cost of a used vehicle.

Many used mobile kitchens inspected by Apollo have required work to major systems. We inspected trucks and trailers with water system tanks that were too small, electrical was not tagged and gas systems were not legal. In addition, we found exhaust hoods and fire suppression that were inadequate or nonexistent. In most of these cases, the cost of upgrades to make the mobile kitchen compliant, the price savings exceeded or come close to the price of a new build. As with most used items for sale, there truly are good deals to be had but on the other hand there are some money pits. Make sure you do your homework and get an inspection. If the food truck or trailer you are looking at is more than a few years old, it may have more chance of hidden costs to bring it to code. Do your research and get a quote for comparison on a new build vs bringing a used unit to code.

 Apollo can perform an inspection for $250 and will also supply a list of any upgrades or changes that may be required to bring the mobile kitchen to code.

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