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How Much Does A Used Food Truck Cost

How Much Does A Used Food Truck Cost To Operate?

Last Updated on May 17, 2024 by Shari Mason

According to Zippia, there are currently about 36,324 registered food truck businesses in operation across the US.

Recent reports also show that the food truck industry has an estimated $1.16 billion market size in 2021 and is expected to record a 6.4% CAGR from 2022 to 2030. 

The rising demand for “go-to” meals and the rising popularity of the mobile lifestyle influence many people to want to invest in having a dive in the food truck industry.

But how much does a used food truck cost? Is buying pre-owned food trucks even worth it? Keep reading to have an informed decision.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy A Used Food Truck?

Infographics of a Used Food Truck Cost

Buying a used food truck usually costs around $30,000 to $100,000. Some pre-owned food trucks may cost even lower, but the risk of having hidden costs of repairs might be overwhelming.

In general, you’ll most likely spend roughly $30,000 to $114,000 to own and run a food truck business, with an average annual income of $300,000. 

If your financial status doesn’t permit you to buy a used food truck yet, you may opt to rent a food truck for at least six months (or even longer) within a $2,000 to $3,000 monthly rental budget.

Read: How Much Revenue Does A Taco Truck Make?

How Much Will It Cost To Run It? 

Licenses & Permits

Infographiocs of a Food Truck Licenses & Permits

The costs of licenses and permits vary depending on your location, but on average, you’ll spend approximately $28,276 annually, according to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Food Truck Index.

These licenses and permits may include a business certificate, fire permit, food truck application, food truck license/permit, GPS contract, hawker and peddler permit, health permit, sales tax deposit, vehicle license, and vendor identification badge.

Sample License & Permit Fees When Opening A Food Truck Business

License/PermitNew OrleansRochesterBoston
Business CertificateAround $150Around $25Around $65
Fire PermitAround $50Around $100Around $110
Food Truck ApplicationAround $50Around  $7Around $500
Food Truck License/Permit Around $400.25Around $1000Around N/A
GPS ContractN/AN/AAround $299 + $89
Hawker and Peddler PermitN/AN/AAround $62
Health PermitAround $100Around $200Around $100
Sales Tax DepositAround $50N/AN/A
Vehicle LicenseAround $10Around $40Around $40
Vendor Identification BadgeAround $5Around $24N/A
TotalAround $815.25Around $1,396Around $1,265

Equipment

Food Truck business equipment costs upward of $45,000, especially when starting from scratch. 

Here are some Food Truck appliances that you might need:

  • Soup kettles
  • Warmers
  • Freezers
  • Flat tops or griddles
  • Salamanders
  • Microwaves
  • Charbroilers
  • Refrigerators
  • Ranges
  • Fryers
  • Toasters

Consumable Products

Consumable Products

Gasoline & Propane

Since your kitchen is portable, you’ll have to spend roughly $600 monthly on gasoline and propane gas [2]. 

Supplies

Food Truck business serveware may cost around $300, depending on the number of items you’ll purchase, of course. 

These serveware may include napkins, takeout containers, and other utensils. 

Ingredients 

You might spend around $1,000 to $2,000 weekly on ingredients like spices, cooking oil, and other raw materials. 

Insurance & Maintenance

You could spend a minimum of $1,000 annually for food truck insurance, but if you wish to add more coverage, you’ll have to spend more.

Some add-on insurance coverages include:

  • Contents insurance
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Worker’s compensation insurance

You’ll have to set aside at least $1,000 for food truck routine maintenance. However, this budget still depends on the condition of the used food truck you have bought. 

Unfortunately, no insurance policy covers routine maintenance expenses, so you must always be prepared for such.

Professional Support

Starting a food truck business isn’t as simple as most people think, so availing of professional support and advice is inevitable. 

You might need the help of a highly-skilled mechanic to oversee the condition of your food truck engine and other parts and the expertise of an accountant or a business attorney. 

According to Yelp, anywhere from $75–125 per hour for a service mechanic at an independent shop is fair. [1] Meanwhile, accountants may charge around $37 to $400 an hour.

Staff

Infographics of a Foodtruck Staff

You will need to consider the minimum wage of your staff depending on your prospective location, subject to the local labor laws and cost of living. 

Whether you plan to start your food truck business solo or full-time, you’ll probably need two to six employees. 

Parking & Storage

Food trucks must stay in commissary parking lots in some states and cities, which may cost up to $1,500 per month, depending on the city. 

Most cities strictly regulate where food trucks can park when they’re serving or when they’re close.

Business Marketing

Setting aside money for advertising your food truck is also a must. We recommend using at least 12% to 20% of your food truck business revenue on marketing your brand.

Remember, marketing your business brings in new customers and drives more profit, so investing is always best.

– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice

7 Tips To Follow When Buying A Used Food Truck 

1. Decide If It Meets Your Needs

Infographics of a Food Truck

It’s essential to identify your business model and its needs first before buying a used food truck. It’s like buying your personal car. 

You can’t buy a two-door sportscar if you have a family of five, right?

You must decide whether you’ll want a smaller or larger food truck or if there are any size restrictions on the city you plan to start your business with. 

Is it too big or just big enough? Will the food truck meet the demands of your chosen niche?

2. Check The Maintenance Logs

Don’t be tempted to buy overly cheap food trucks. In most cases, food trucks with a too-good-to-be-true low price often need higher routine maintenance costs, so beware.

Therefore, we suggest hiring an experienced mechanic to check the food truck’s maintenance logs [3] to ensure you aren’t wasting your hard-earned money.

This tip will also unveil everything the food truck has gone through, how it was well taken care of, or how it has been badly overused.

3. Know The Manufacturer

Infographics of a Food Truck Manufactirer

It’s also highly suggested that you check out the food truck manufacturer you plan to buy. Most of the time, customer reviews are beneficial in informing other customers about the food truck’s quality.

It would also be best to check out reviews about the food truck dealer before closing the deal with them. Trust us when we say this tip will save you from a lot of trouble–and wasted money.

4. Check The Truck’s Age

The truck’s age is another important detail you should never miss when buying a used food truck.

Although the truck’s age isn’t a deal breaker to some, this simple detail often reveals how well the truck has been maintained over the years.

“There is money to be made in mobile food, but food trucks are not a get-rich-quick scheme.”

– David Weber, American Author

When an almost too-vintage food truck still looks pristine, you’re lucky because it must be well-maintained despite its age.  

5. Pay Attention To Its Odometer

Odometers may not be an issue to some since food trucks don’t drive long distances, but this simple detail might affect the food truck’s overall price.

Like most cars, food truck prices go down when it has more miles. Often a used food truck’s price goes down the more miles it has. We always recommend buying food trucks with fewer miles.

6. Diesel Engine Or Gas?

Infographics of a Food Truck Fuel

Choosing between food trucks that use engines or gas is also important; no matter what most people say, this is just a matter of personal preference.

You must remember that gas is quieter and cheaper than diesel, but diesel [4] engines are more powerful and get better fuel economy.

Read: Should You Leave Propane Tank Outside In Winter?

7. Ask For A Warranty

Warranty is very important, so always find a way to negotiate this matter with the dealer. 

Even though you’re buying a used food truck, more than $100,000 is still an exceptionally large investment, so make sure it’s backed up with a good warranty.

FAQs 

u003cstrongu003eIs it safe to buy a used food truck?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, it’s safe to buy a used food truck. However, you need to ensure you’ll get your money’s worth by checking out important details about the food truck, such as its odometer, warranty options, and age.

u003cstrongu003eIs a lease-to-own food truck better than buying a used one?u003c/strongu003e

If you don’t have sufficient money to buy or invest in a used food truck, a lease-to-own food truck is somehow better. You won’t have to take considerable loans in a bank or dry up your savings account. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eHowever, it’ll definitely take you more time to pay off the food truck at a much higher sale price.

u003cstrongu003eAre food trucks a good investment?u003c/strongu003e

Yes, food trucks are good investments. If your food truck business becomes successful, you’ll have at least $300,000 in profit (or more) in a year.

u003cstrongu003eHow much is the monthly profit of a food truck?u003c/strongu003e

According to Toasttab, the national average food truck revenue is around $20,000-$42,000 monthly. 

Final Words 

Buying a used food truck may seem too risky, but if you know all the important things to consider before buying one, you won’t have to worry.

With the rising popularity of food truck businesses, it’s always best to be informed about what typically affects the increase of its price or how you can actually save yourself from the trouble of accidentally buying the wrong food truck.

References:

  1. https://www.yelp.com/costs/autorepair  
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/propane#
  3. https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/maintenance-log
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diesel 
Shari Mason

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