Owning a mobile catering van has grown in popularity over the years, so it’s no surprise why you would want to make this your next business venture.

Searching for the perfect vehicle to operate from can be time-consuming and costly, especially if you have no prior knowledge of them. Buying a second hand used catering van can cut costs and feel less intimidating than buying brand new, plus giving an old, used catering van a new home can be rewarding.

In this article, we go over the essentials to buying a second hand catering van, from important things to consider to where to purchase them from.

Things to consider before purchasing

There are many factors to take into consideration before purchasing a used catering van, so research is key to making sure you get the best deal out there. It’s wise to understand what exactly you are looking for when searching for one. 

Here are a few top tips of what to keep in mind when looking for a used catering van:

  • Type of van - Are you looking for a food truck to drive around, or will you need to tow a food cart? Is it mobile or static? Or maybe you want to start a new trend of catering vans and use something completely unique?
  • Budget - What’s your price range, and how much are you willing to spend? Does that factor in any repairs, maintenance or upgrades you may want to do in the future?
  • Insurance - When it comes to catering van insurance, you want to be sure you're getting a policy that suits both you and your catering van. It is essential that you know the kind of catering van you are purchasing, it will help to work out the costs of insuring it.
  • Type of food you'll be selling - Different styles of food require different equipment, which can take up more or less space. Is the size right to home all the needed equipment?
  • Internal space and equipment - Is the catering van large enough to easily fit all the equipment you need?

If you’re new to owning a catering van, make sure to read our article on the pros and cons of owning a mobile catering business to help you decide if this is the right move for you. We’ve also compiled a top 10 list of catering van locations to work out the best placement for your van to bring in the most traffic.

What to look out for

Overall condition

The quality of the van and the condition it has been kept in can make or break a used van deal. Check the overall structure of the van, as well as any equipment it may come with to ensure quality control.


Any damage should help determine whether it’s a good purchase. If there are damages, how much of your budget are you willing to put towards repairs, both cosmetic and structural?


Check to see if everything the van provides works and that you have enough space to add extra equipment to suit the style of food you are cooking. Read our article about the must-have catering equipment to give you an idea of what things you need.

Where to buy a used catering van

Specialist dealers

Going to a specialist means that you are buying from a reputable source, and it can come with added extras like the warranty on your van, specific certifications or conversions that can be made.

Going to a dealer means you can browse all of the options available to you before narrowing down your choice and speaking to people who know about buying a catering van can help your decision. However, it may take a while to find a dealer you trust, and they may be further afield than anticipated, so keep distance in mind when searching if you aren’t willing to make the journey if something goes wrong.

Private dealers

Buying from a private dealer can bring you great deals at a discounted price, however, there’s less reliability if what you are getting is the real thing. You’ll need to be extra cautious to make sure everything you are buying is legit, and it’s always smart to arrange to view the used catering van before handing over any money.

Online auction sites

Sites like Gumtree and eBay make it easy to find second hand catering vans, however, the same due diligence is required when purchasing online – make sure the seller is legit and you aren’t getting scammed out of your money.

Before you go

Once you’ve successfully bought a used catering van, don’t miss our guide to catering pitches to begin your journey on how to start up your catering business.

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