The Risks of Buying Used Hot Dog Carts

The Risks of Buying Used Hot Dog Carts

When purchasing a hot dog vending cart, certain requirements must be met. Is it appealing to the target audience? Is it a good fit for your requirements to serve food? Will it be able to pass the Health Department’s requirements? Asking questions before making a purchase will help you avoid problems in the long run.

Buying a hot dog cart used may save you money but may cost you peace of mind in the long run. If you are considering a used hot dog cart for purchase consider all of the following questions:

Appearance on the outside: Approach the hot dog cart and put yourself in the position of the customer. Would you be willing to purchase a food item from this piece of machinery? Does it appear to be a food-safe and customer-friendly environment? When it comes to the food industry, appearances are extremely important to the bottom line. There are dozens of establishments where the food is mediocre, but the ambiance is what draws customers back time and time again.

Cost-to-benefit ratio: Take a look at the bottom line numbers associated with purchasing a hot dog cart. Take into consideration how long you will be working the streets before you even consider what type of cart to purchase. Consider the length of time it will take you to pay it off completely. How much time will you have to put in to pay it off?

Health Inspections in the Past: Seek proof of health inspections from previous owners, especially if the cart has only been in use for the past 8 months or so, and ask for them. This is primarily applicable to previously owned carts. The health inspectors are ruthless, and they will point out any cracks or crevices that they come across in your home (or unseen. ) It is their responsibility to ensure the safety of the unit, so expect them to pull out their flashlights and inspect everything.

The age of the cart matters!  Don’t buy anything that is more than four years old. The reason for this is that the Health Department’s rules are constantly changing, and upgrading in order to comply can be extremely expensive. Food carts, on the other hand, depreciate at a much faster rate than other types of vehicles and trailers.

The cart’s mechanical functions: How often do you intend to make use of the trailer? In order to be successful, you should have the option of running your cart and selling your product on a daily basis. This indicates that you have a high volume of usage and require a device that can handle a high volume of usage. If you only plan to use the concession cart once or twice a year, any old concession cart will suffice; however, if you plan to use it more frequently, you will need a workhorse.

Insurance: In order to obtain a quote for insurance on a hot dog cart before making a purchase, contact your insurance agent. Alternatively, you could simply inquire as to whether you can ensure the business and include the cart.  Find out how your insurance company feels about insuring older equipment versus a new cart with a warranty.

Mechanical dependability is CRITICAL

When it comes to providing adequate service, a hot dog cart must be in full working condition. It’s important to have the right tools on hand when you’re trying to convince people to buy lunch so that you can provide proper food and service. In order for your cart to be functional, it must meet a few simple specifications.

Stainless Steel is a type of steel that is corrosion resistant. Surface Typically, this is how the carts are delivered, and it is critical that they remain clean. When compared to other surfaces, this one can be disinfected quickly and made ready for use with little effort on your part.

Cutting Board: Usually found near the handle, this is an extremely useful tool. Frequently disregarded

Sinks that are appropriate: Carts with two sinks are excellent, but carts with three sinks are even better. Three sinks are typically used for the washing, rinsing, and sanitizing of utensils in a typical kitchen. This is integrated into a cart, which eliminates a lot of hassle.

Cold Drinks Keep Drinks Cold in an Insulated Soda Cooler: The cooler, which has an exterior drain that does not automatically leak onto the street but does keep the drinks cold, is extremely useful.

A simple rack that holds small potato chip individual bags is located on one side of the stand, and it serves as a snack dispenser. It not only saves space, but it also draws attention to the display stand. Most shopping carts offer this as an optional feature.

Pump Water System: You must have access to running water, and this type of system is the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

Does the pump work? Does the pump leak? Is the plumbing in good condition? Will it run all day?

What about the burner or steamer system? Is it in good working order? Is there a bun warmer? Burners to keep the buns warm. Does the bun warmer work? Are all the lids for condiments and toppings still with the cart and in good shape?

Is there a nice strong umbrella? You won’t be able to stand out in the sun all day, and neither will your customers. I recommend a 6.5-foot umbrella, and the traditional white and red colors will help people recognize your hot dog stand from a distance of several blocks. An old umbrella can make your cart look terrible. A poorly made umbrella will fold up in high winds or tear away from the ribs when under stress.

Check over the wastewater tanks. How much water do they hold? Will that be enough for your local health department?

Propane tank for heating: The typical street carts have five-pound propane tanks, but the tanks for the larger model carts could be much larger. How old are the tanks? Are the regulators ok? You might need to check with a gas fitter and or have lines and tanks replaced.

Bad things can happen in a hurry if your cart isn’t road-worthy. Is the wiring in good repair? Do the signal lights work? Is the trailer DOT compliant? If the trailer isn’t DOT compliant you can’t tow it legally. Trailer with DOT registration and the ability to move: A hot dog cart must be able to be towed, which means it must be road-ready. Check to see that it has the proper permits to be transported on the highways.

In the end, buying a used cart CAN save you some money, but there are often unknown risks and costs which might cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to sort out. Some issues will be non-starters for your local health department.

To be 100% sure, check with your local health department and start with a new, reliable, and guaranteed cart that meets all the specs and requirements in your area. One of our hot dog cart experts would be happy to talk to you about what you need to do to get started!



We bring decades of real-life hot dog hot dog slingin’ experience! We design carts that we have loved and used for years and are confident you will feel the same way.  


Each cart is assembled by our team of skilled craftspeople and thoroughly inspected before it leaves our manufacturing facility. 



We are available 24/7 to support you in your new business venture. Our warranty / extended warranty are the best in the business and will give you the extra security you may need when making this exciting investment.