Are You Looking For a Used Catering Trailer For Sale?
One of the biggest decisions in buying a catering trailer is deciding whether to buy a used catering trailer or a brand new catering trailer.
The question is which is one is actually better for you?
Searching The Catering Trailer Market
A quick google search brings up many second-hand and used catering trailers all over the UK. Sites such as eBay, gumtree, Facebook market place and pre-loved have thousands listed.
With so many options and such conflicting information about the best ways to buy catering trailers, it can be difficult to narrow down exactly what is best for your business.
Who Doesn’t Love a Bargain?
Many second-hand trailers seem very attractive based on their initial cost. You can pick a second-hand catering trailer up on eBay for a few hundred pounds and be ready to go, right?
Not necessarily, catering trailers tend to hold their price better than cars and so the price differences can be negligible. Sellers can price their trailers based on them fulfilling their needs, not those of someone else. Based on our (and our client’s) experiences in the long run used catering trailers can be somewhat of a false economy.
If you factor in your time, general repairs, trailer maintenance, physical adjustments, equipment, running costs, legal obligations, insurance, and chances of a breakdown whilst moving a used trailer could be a much more costly purchase. This is especially so when you can purchase many new catering trailers on finance.
This, of course, can also apply to cheaper, lower-quality new catering trailers. Will you be fitting it out with cheap, low-quality equipment and expect it to last? We didn’t think so. It’s always worth asking questions about build quality and long-term usage.
Know Your Catering Trailer Needs
Even if a business plan is written on the back of a beer mat it will still have implications for the type and size of the trailer you will need. Hopefully, yours is a little more detailed and can provide you with some specifics to look for. If you research these and know them in-depth then you stand a better chance of finding the catering trailer that is perfect for your business. If you include the quality of build, fittings, and fixtures you can make sure your dream catering trailer is also going to last.
Lucky for you we have written a guide to choosing the right catering trailer for you.
Thinking Beyond The Short Term
When looking at used catering trailers for sale alongside their new counterparts each choice has its distinct advantages and disadvantages.
It comes down to realistically looking at your long-term business plan and budget. We’ll list the main pros and cons of buying used and new catering trailers. So that you can make the best decision for yourself and your business.
Buying a Used Catering Trailer
If you want to own a catering trailer but are hesitant to invest in a brand new trailer you may be considering buying a used catering trailer.
- Can be initially cheaper than new trailer
- Equipment may already be installed
- Fast lead time
- Higher risk of costly repairs and maintenance
- Unknown wear and tear/ damage history
- Lower life expectancy
- Safety inspection required – may not be VOSA approved.
- Rarely buy on finance
- Harder to customise to your specific needs
- Rarely include delivery
- Harder to verify the credibility of the seller
- Designed for someone else’s needs
- Layed out for someone else’s business
- Rarely includes warranties
- You have to avoid all the online scams
- Greater time spent researching and visiting
Buying a New Catering Trailer
If you have a budget that fits a new catering trailer is a very worthwhile investment. It will help you avoid costly repairs in the future.
- Custom made specifically to your needs
- Maximal efficiency for your business
- No wear and tear or undisclosed damages
- Reduces the risk of costly breakdowns and major repairs
- Usually have great warranties
- Fresh, clean, and polished appearance
- VOSA approved
- Can be delivered to you
- Can be cheaper in the long run
- Experienced advice and guidance from supplier/ manufacturer
- No visiting time required
- Credibility of seller easy to check
- Brand and customise exterior easily
- All new electronics and mechanical features
- Can be paid for using finance
- Can be a larger initial financial investment
- Customization requires longer lead times
Our Custom Made Catering Trailers Are All New
We have worked with hundreds of used catering trailers and vans in the past, restoring them, converting them, and upgrading them. In the end, almost every single one brought with it its own hidden costs in terms of time and budget. We found ourselves dealing with customers who had had their dreams shattered and business plans put on hold.
Invest In Peace Of Mind
Now, cut to the present day, all of our custom catering trailers are new. One of the things you are buying from us when you invest in one of our catering trailers is peace of mind. You know it is not only built just for you and your business needs but is legal and safe, and it will be wonderful for you to work in.
All of our trailers come with a one-year “back to base” warranty. In terms of size, layout, styling, and equipment your trailer is built specifically to your requirements.
Our advice is to go to an approved trailer manufacturer, as they cannot sell you something that is illegal or unsafe, and will make sure that it comes with all the correct documentation.
Catering Trailer Insurance
The greater the risk the greater the cost of insurance will be. Not for your catering trailer but also for your business needs.
A second-hand/used catering trailer may involve greater costs when looking for insurance. There are three main types of insurance required for running a catering trailer business.
Commercial Catering Trailer Auto insurance
Covers damage caused by the trailer (and towing vehicle) to other people’s vehicles, property, or injuries to them. This type of insurance is especially important to research when looking for a used catering trailer for sale.
Public Liability insurance
Covers against legal costs and claims for compensation made for damage and injuries caused by your business activities. An essential part being Product Liability. This specifically covers compensation claims for injury or property damage caused by any product you sell.
This cover would protect your catering business against claims should a customer became ill after consuming food cooked in your trailer.
Legally required if you are employing someone. Covers against claims for compensation from employees (or former employees) who are injured or become ill through working for you.
You may also want to investigate some insurance extras:
frozen food cover (if required), replacement vehicle cover and business income insurance
Advice When Buying A Used Trailer
1. Do Your Research
Know in-depth what a catering trailer needs to have in order to be both legal and safe in the UK, especially if the trailer you are looking at buying doesn’t come with all of the features you require.
Find out and look up the manufacturer and check out the reviews. If the reviews are weighted towards the negative, then stay away from them. If it is a company selling the trailer also check out their reviews, the same rule applies. Was it built in the UK, what is the build quality?
Look at the age of the trailer and make sure it’s been well looked after, the older the trailer the higher the chance of hidden problems rearing their ugly heads in the future.
Are there large pictures in the advert you can inspect? Can you ask the seller questions and receive clear answers before viewing?
If you are buying from a dealer or company ask for a warranty, also find out what is and is not included in their warranty. If your purchase isn’t backed up with a good warranty you need to be asking yourself why.
2. Things To Look Out For
If it looks bad in the photos, it really will be bad. Generally, photos will be taken to make the catering trailer look as good as it can.
Is the model and make correct and does the listed equipment tally with what you can see in the photos? Any discrepancies need to be sounding alarm bells.
Are there any indicators of damage such as paint patches and filling? Think about how was the damage caused and what this may mean for the rest of the trailer and its structural integrity.
Is the price greatly lower than it should be (as with new catering trailers)? This can be a potential warning sign of a scam or a trailer that has been used to death.
Is it built with high-quality materials that can stand wear and tear? How easy will it be to clean?
Is the equipment well looked after, chances are if the equipment is well maintained and functions well, so is the trailer itself.
Beware cheap fittings and fixtures, have they just been added? They could be covering a multitude of sins.
3. Visit It
Spend some time looking around and inspecting it, know what questions to ask and where to look for telltale signs of potential future problems. If the condition is other than that advertised, walk away.
Think of, measure and move about in the space. Is it the size that you need now and how will it fit in with future plans? Check the electrics work well and carry CE marks.
Check the documentation, food hygiene rating, VOSA, gas, and electrical (where needed) certificates and if any work on the gas and electrics has happened after the certificates were issued. You should be able to check the dates on any LPG hosing.
Find out how much it will be to insure, the owner should have policy documents they can show you.
Check the ventilation, hatches and doors are they adequate for your needs?
4. Never buy on impulse
Like buying a car or house you shouldn’t be pressured into buying a used catering trailer. If the owner is coming across too salesy it may be time to step away. With some ridiculously low prices around remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Things To Check For On a Second-Hand Catering Trailer
There are too many horror stories of people buying used catering trailers that looked amazing online (or even inspecting by eye) but in reality cost them dearly. So here are a few things to watch out for when you do your due diligence.
- What equipment is included and what condition it is in
- Look at the documentation
- Hatch size
- Electrical certificates
- Chassis condition
- Gas piping and electrical cabling
- Food grade lining
- State of the jockey wheel
- Reason for sale
- Axles and coupling quality
- VOSA certification
- Age of trailer (manufacturers plate serial number)
- Hidden dirt build-up
- Adequate ventilation
- Hand and pot washing facilities
I bought a used catering trailer from eBay. It looked great and came with current gas and electric certificates. It had stainless steel liner all round, two hatches, spotlights in the roof, fold away signs and even a generator were all included in the price – I saved a tidy packet!
I was absolutely buzzing when I won the auction and spent most of a business loan on it.
Two weeks in and I noticed a creaking when walking about the floor. Turns out the base lining hid a completely rotten framework underneath, the further in I dug the worse it got. I had to spend so much money on having it stripped back and re-built, I was fuming.
At the same time, I decided to get the gas and electric checked. Better safe than sorry, right? I couldn’t believe it, the chassis, lights and even the generator were not earthed. It had been rewired by some idiot using illegal cables twisted together and fixed in place with Sellotape!
I could go on and on about the niggly things I have found including the cracked gas pipes and leaking roof. Four months down the line and it’s nearly all sorted now, but has cost me almost twice the price I bought it for. I’ve missed the main festival season for this year, so will have to try to recoup next.
So, here’s a warning to all of you buying a used catering trailer. Watch what you buy (especially sold as seen), pull all the equipment out, check dates on piping and electricians’ records and certificates to see if any more recent changes have been made. Look right underneath the chassis and give it a good poke with a screwdriver, ask to see all electricals working and try to view it on a rainy day.
I met a chap at a catering supplier who bought a used trailer that needed brakes and didn’t have them. But that’s not the worst of it, some electrical fault casued a fire in it overnight and that was it, game over… poor bugger. My advice to starters – It’s your money, be clever with it, look at buying a new trailer even if it costs you more to start with.
New Catering Trailers Without The Worries
Of course with our custom-built trailers, you don’t have to worry about any of these factors. We build specifically to your requirements and only use quality materials (for example Aluminium Composite Sheeting, not GRP). We thoroughly quality-check our trailers and will only supply them to you with VOSA testing approval. You can see examples of our custom-built trailers in our gallery of catering trailer photographs here.
When buying a catering trailer take a considered look at your current budget and business plan, both sort, medium and long term. Think about future costs and having the trailer built around you and your business.
Do your research as used catering trailers for sale are not necessarily cheaper than new in terms of time, effort or finance.
Your Dream Catering Trailer
If you would like to find out how much your dream trailer would cost, designed around your specifications you can quickly fill out our instant quote form here:
If you require further advice when choosing our trailer you can use our decades of expertise by calling us on 07702 794600