Food truck costing 101: Trucks vs. Trailers

Posted by Firouzeh Tahbaz

Should you run your business from a Food Truck or a Concession Trailer?  In this article, we’ll review the pros and cons.

Food trucks are generally an attractive business model because of their low startup cost. It is simple to operate, which makes it an attractive business venture for small business owners.

But how much does it really cost to start one?

The primary driver that sets a food truck apart from a Concession Trailer is the cost of the product. When choosing between a Food Truck or a Concession trailer, it is essential to consider what your business will do and how much you have to spend on the venture.

Food trucks are more expensive than concession trailers; however, there is a way to get around this problem and make it seem like you’re actually saving money. You can do a cost-benefit analysis to compare the impact of each option and decide which one will benefit your company most.

Food Trucks

Choosing between a truck and a trailer may seem like an easy decision. Still, it will depend significantly on your mobility needs.

A food truck will be the best option if you value mobility. The convenience of having an engine built in will definitely benefit your business.

Due to their high costs, brand new food trucks can consume up to 90% of your investment. Brand new trucks are not proportionate to the rest of your startup costs. It seems like a significant expense, especially in comparison to other startup costs. The total price is still much less than a physical store’s fit-out.

To give you an idea, the latest model of the Ford Step Van costs around $ 70,000, excluding the fit-out works.

Brand New Food Trucks that include fit-out costs will cost you anywhere between $ 100,000 – $ 175,000, wherein $ $10,000 to $30,000 of the total cost is often dedicated to fit-out costs.

The benefit of buying fresh-out-of-the-box new trucks is to have them specially crafted to your particular requirements. It’s more practical to have a new truck fitted out than having an old one restored. The measure of additional work required in destruction will cost you extra dollars. The price difference is pretty slim in general unless you score a great deal! Then, that’s a different story.

Pizza TruckAnother advantage of buying brand new food trucks is that you will not be inconvenienced by a truck breaking down. A brand new truck has the peace of mind that comes with it. However, you should weigh your options. The anxiety of buying something used could result in unnecessary stress can be detrimental to your mental health. This stress could have long-term effects on your business.

Brand New trucks offer a warranty with their vehicles. Think of it this way: the length of time your vehicle is under guarantee is the length of time you won’t anticipate that it will break down. For brand new, it’s like paying a little extra for the peace of mind that it offers.

Most new food trucks are financeable, even though they are expensive. When you finance your food truck, you can use your cash flow to pay off the mortgage at a fixed rate each month until it is fully paid off. You will still have to ensure that your loan terms meet specific requirements to get the best interest rate possible. Used and second-hand

Used trucks have their pros and cons. Of course, one of its advantages is that it can be used right away because it’s already fully fitted. As soon as your permits are approved, you can start your operations.

One disadvantage of used food trucks is that you don’t know the engine’s condition and parts. And repair costs might be expensive.

If you are looking for used food trucks in your area, Craiglist and Facebook Marketplace are good places to scout.

Used food trucks can be acquired at a price between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000. You can find a few used trucks for about $ 50,000 and below, but you need to ensure the unit is in good condition. It would still depend on the actual state of the unit. If you have a trustworthy mechanic to examine the truck, you may explore this route as well.

Concession Trailer

A trailer is a good option if you’d like to park in a place for a longer period. It’s approximately half the price of a food truck, but it’s generally of the same size, except for those super compact ones, which cost a lot cheaper. A pop-up food trailer is an excellent way to start your own business. They’re inexpensive to purchase, easy to operate and have a small footprint, making them ideal for the growing trend of mobile dining.

There are various concession trailers, but for this comparison, let’s look at a standard one that is 16 feet x 7 feet.

The cost of a new concession trailer will be around $ 40,000 to $ 60,000. If you are looking for an affordable option, you can find used concession trailers still in good condition.

You can find used concession trailers for sale online. The price of a used trailer is roughly around the exact cost of a brand new one. Depending on the condition, you can pay anywhere from $25,000 to less than that. The only advantage is, a used one will eliminate the need to wait months to fabricate.

If you decide to purchase a used concession trailer and refurbish it, this may not be a good idea. While the cost difference between a brand new and used trailer isn’t much, having a new trailer custom-made to your needs is more economical.


If you decide to use a food truck or trailer, you must comply with local codes. These are likely to vary depending on your location.

Here at Venture Food Trucks, we take our craft seriously. We make sure that our designs are code compliant and you won’t have any problems with your local authorities.