Is Cheap Gas Bad For Your Food Truck?

Ask any food truck owner and they’ll tell you that gasoline is expensive and they’re always looking for every way possible to save money at the pump. Many already shy away from premium fuel, knowing that their food truck and generators don’t require it. They may even try to save a few pennies per gallon more by going to an off-brand gas station. But most we speak with can’t get rid of the nagging fear: Is the cheap gas going to damage their food truck’s engine?

Is Cheap Gas Bad For Your Food Truck? has researched this question and in the most basic terms, food truck owners can stop worrying about using cheap gas. You’re unlikely to hurt the engine of your truck by using it.

Because of the advances in engine technology, a truck’s on-board computer is able to adjust for the inevitable variations in fuel, so most vendors won’t notice a drop off in performance between different brands of fuel, from the most additive-rich gas sold by the major brands to the bare-bones stuff at your corner convenience store.

Still, spending a few extra pennies per gallon might provide peace of mind to someone who just purchased a $40,000 truck and wants to keep it on the street as often and as long as possible. Food truck owners with older trucks might be more concerned about their engine’s longevity, they too can buy the less expensive gas and still be OK.

While this doesn’t mean that all gas is the same, even though it starts out that way. The fuel from different filling stations comes from a common source: the “base gas” from a refinery. Workers there mix additives mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency into the base gas in order to clean a car or truck’s engine and reduce emissions. Then, the different gas companies — both off-brand and major brands — put their own additive packages in the gas to further boost both cleaning and performance.

A key difference is that the major brands put more additives in their gas and claim to have some secret ingredients. This extra shot of additives provides an additional level of cleaning and protection for your engine.

Food truck owners should look in their truck’s owner’s manual to see what the vehicle maker recommends and, when possible, follow that guideline. Vendors who are still concerned about cheap gas and gasoline quality can ask a specific oil company if it has performed independent testing to substantiate its claims.

Have you had issues with putting cheap gas into your food truck? We’d love to here your stories. You can share them below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter

2017-03-31T08:41:44+00:00 By |Under the Hood|

About the Author:

Richard is an architect by degree (Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan) who began his career in real estate development and architectural planning. In September of 2010 he created Mobile Cuisine Magazine to fill an information void he found when he began researching how to start a mobile hotdog cart in Chicago. Richard found that there was no central repository of mobile street food information anywhere on the internet, and with that, the idea for MCM was born.


  1. Lisa Sep 4, 2013 at 9:25 am

    “Because of the advances in engine technology, a truck’s on-board computer…”
    My truck is from 1983. So what about those of us that drive older trucks? I don’t have a copy of my owners manual to refer to.

  2. Mobile Cuisine Sep 4, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Do a search of your VIN to find out what engine your truck has. From there you should be able to contact the manufacturer to get an answer or a copy of the owners manual.

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