New Food Trailers vs. Used Food Trailers – What you need to know before taking the plunge

So you’ve decided it’s time to invest in a mobile food trailer for your business. Whether you already own a brick-and-mortar restaurant, or you’re just starting out a new concept, one thing is likely for sure – you can’t wait to hit the pavement and take your mobile food concept to the streets to share your delicious eats with people. Before you can get started there are some important things to take into consideration when purchasing your trailer.


When you’re just starting out you could find yourself facing a common debate, new vs. old. It’s important to know exactly what your new business needs to operate efficiently and maximize profits. With years of industry experience we have compiled a list of the top pros and cons of choosing between new and used when on the market for your custom food trailer.  

Here are six things to know when considering a used food trailer. 

      • The used market is very limited – Just finding a used food trailer for sale can be very difficult. Much less finding one that fits your needs, budget, and is within a reasonable distance. Because this is such a growing industry right now, there are many more people who are buying than selling, so it can be very difficult to get in on a good deal for a used food trailer.
      • Pricing is often similar new food trailers – Probably one of the first things to come to mind is that used will be a lot cheaper. In our experience you might be surprised to find that is not always the case. People tend to overvalue their food trailer because they feel they are selling a whole business, not just  a piece of equipment. But unless you are planning to do exactly what they did, in their area, their customer base adds no value.
      • There are a lot of online scams – Our hearts sink every time we hear it – “We put a deposit on a used trailer that seemed like a good deal and never heard from them again.” We have heard countless stories like this. There are online scams targeted towards almost every industry, so it is important to know who you are dealing with. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.
      • No warranties – Warranties provide a safety net should something go wrong with the equipment. It is impossible to know the true cost of ownership when there are no warranties. If there was money saved on a used food trailer, it could go right back out when so
        mething goes wrong. Taking that risk onto yourself can be a costly venture.
      • Trailers were not manufactured in accordance with current health codes – The number one complaint from new food truck owners is that they were not aware of all the regulations they’d have to abide by. This can be especially difficult when it comes to health codes because each city, county, and state can implement their own codes, and these codes are constantly changing. Used trailers can complicate this process by not offering what you need to operate in accordance with current local codes and require further time and money to make it compliant.
      • Trailer was designed for someone else’s needs – Bottom line, it was initially designed for someone else’s concept, not your own. Each business is unique, and therefore so are the needs. Don’t get boxed into someone else’s vision. 

Here are some considerations to creating a new custom food trailer for your mobile concept.

      • Value does not depreciate like a new car does – Food trailers hold their value unlike a new car, so don’t let the car market let you think otherwise. As noted above, the used market is very limited, so if your trailer matches someone else’s needs, it can be very valuable to them.
      • Takes longer to get – New food trailers are advertised all over the internet, but the reality is that almost none are built ahead of time. Typically, when buying new you’re likely going to get something that is custom built specific to your needs, which can take about 8-12 weeks. This is something to consider if looking to get a quick start.
      • Designed and built for exact needs – Get exactly what you need to maximize your businesses success. Trailer interiors and exteriors can be designed for your exact needs, so have fun with it!
      • Warrantied – Versus going used, you’re protected with warranties to ensure the quality of your mobile investment. 
        his also allows you to better calculate your true cost of ownership since you won’t be responsible for any warranty repairs needed.
      • Manufactured in accordance with current health codes – When looking at new food trailers, make sure you are working with a dealer and manufacturer who will consider your local health codes, and build the trailer accordingly. Again, operating in accordance to health codes can be a major hurdle when starting out, so partnering with a dealer who understands this can save a lot of time, money and headache down the road.
      • Easier to verify credibility of seller – Avoid scams by doing business with a credible dealer in the industry. Online reviews, The Better Business Bureau, the North American Trailer Dealers Association, and trailer manufacturers are all solid ways to verify a dealer’s credibility and reputation.
      • Easier to finance – There are a variety of financing options available when buying new, but because of the risk involved, banks are often hesitant to finance
        used equipment.
      • Overall cleanliness – Food trailers get dirty, fast. Many owners clean visible surfaces, but often disregard unseen areas. This hidden buildup can be an open invitation to many unwanted critters and circumstance. Instead of cleaning up someone else’s mess, a new trailer is pristine to help you spend more time on what matters.
      • Full support system within the industry – When opting for new your dealer handles logistics during build, knows if repairs are needed, answers technical questions and more to allow you the time for other important tasks.

There you have a comprehensive list of considerations when debating to go new vs. used with your mobile concept. Have another important tip to consider? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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