Running a Food Truck For Dummies
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Too many food truck owners center all their attention on their food instead of their entire business. Your food is important, of course, but your truck is the platform for getting your food to your customers. If it isn’t properly maintained, you may find yourself in a situation where you waste money not only by throwing away the food you’ve already prepared for the day but also by sinking in a lot of money to get your truck back on the road.

You need to incorporate regular preventative maintenance into your recurring scheduled to-do list for your food truck. This maintenance not only helps to provide your truck with a longer lifespan but also keeps your business out of the shop when you’re not planning on it. Unexpected trips to the mechanic can mean lost days of business as well as a lot of extra expenses for problems that could easily have been avoided by having regular checkups performed. Regular maintenance can be difficult to afford at times, but it’s priceless when it comes to maintaining the good health of your vehicle.

Regular checks and replacements of the following items will help lengthen the life of your vehicle:
  • Air filter
  • Antifreeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Brake pads
  • Engine oil
  • Fuel filter
  • Oil filter
  • Power steering fluid
  • Tires
  • Transmission fluid
  • Wiper blades

The condition and amount of each of these items will depend on the make, model, and age of your truck, so verify how often they need replacement from your vehicle’s service manual or a local dealer.

Finding a mechanic

When it comes to finding a reliable automotive repair service shop or mechanic, you have various options in your local area. Choosing the right one for you depends on the type of vehicle you select for the base of your business as well as the proximity of the repair shop to your location.

Looking for an auto repair shop when you begin the process of purchasing a food truck is always advisable. Many mechanics can help you inspect the vehicles prior to their purchase. They know what problems should be avoided and what to look for to prevent you from buying a lemon.

Here are some tips to find a reliable automotive repair service for your food truck:
  • Ask local food truck owners for their opinions. This strategy is one of the best and most reliable options for finding an auto repair business. Many other food truck owners have already experienced the good and bad mechanics in your area, so why not hear what they have to say? You may be able to find a quality service in a very short time by using this tip.
  • Expect the shop to have qualified professionals to perform any repairs or maintenance work. Using an auto repair shop with a National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification ensures that the shop and its mechanics have undergone thorough training.
  • Find out whether the shop has technicians with certification from vehicle manufacturers. Mercedes, Ford, Nissan, and GM are examples of manufacturers that offer technician certification. This certification indicates how serious the technicians are about their job and the service they provide. It also means that the technicians are up-to-date on the latest automotive technology.
  • Keep in mind that bigger isn’t always better. A backyard mechanic can provide service that’s as good as — if not better than — the service of a full-sized service shop.
  • Ask for references. This advice applies to all potential repair shops, regardless of whether they’re big or small.
  • Look for state-of-the-art equipment in the repair shop. Without a well-equipped shop, complete in-house repair can’t be guaranteed. Having to allow the shop to farm out work to another mechanic who does have the proper equipment can cost you more.

After you find a mechanic you like, show your appreciation by dropping off some leftovers or a goodie bag filled with your truck’s delicious food once a month. Doing so will pay you dividends when you need them.

Knowing what to do in the event of a breakdown

From time to time any vehicle may need to pull over due to engine or tire problems. Here are some important tasks to perform in case you have issues while driving your truck:
  • At the first sign of truck troubles, gently take your foot off the accelerator. Don’t brake hard or suddenly. Carefully work your vehicle toward the shoulder, preferably the one on the right side of the road. If you’re on an interstate, make your best attempt to reach an exit. Use your turn signal to inform drivers behind you of your intentions. If changing lanes is necessary, watch your mirrors to monitor the traffic around you closely.
  • After getting off the road, make your truck more visible than it already is. Put reflectorized triangles or flares behind your vehicle to alert other drivers; use your emergency flashers. If it’s dark, turn on the interior lights in the cab and kitchen.
  • When you have a flat tire, be certain that you can change it safely without being close to traffic. If that’s possible, change the tire as you normally would.

To help prevent being stranded with a flat tire, check that you have a properly inflated spare tire onboard before you hit the road.

  • When your truck’s issue is beyond your ability to make repairs, get professional help. Wait inside the vehicle with the doors locked, and use your cellphone to call for help (make sure you keep the numbers of your mechanic and a towing company written down and stored in your phone). If someone stops and offers to help, open the window slightly and ask him to call the police.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Richard Myrick is editor-in- chief and founder of Mobile Cuisine Magazine (, a central source for mobile street food information. Since its inception, Mobile Cuisine has been teaching aspiring culinary professionals how to create successful food truck businesses by providing valuable information that can help anyone build a food truck business.

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