The True Cost of Commercial Vehicles

Acquiring a commercial vehicle for your small business is a big step in your growth, but there are a lot of hidden costs that come with your purchase beyond the price tag for the vehicle itself. It is important to know the true cost so you don’t face any surprises. Keep reading to find out more.

Whether you are looking to expand your business into the food truck world or you are seeking a delivery van, commercial vehicle costs add up. It is not as simple as buying a personal car. There are more regulations and fees you have to consider as a small business owner.

Permits and Licenses

As an entrepreneur, you are well aware of all the red tape that is involved with running your business. The regulation dance is not over!

Depending on the size, type, and use of your vehicle, you may need to apply for commercial driver’s license (CDL) for you or whoever you are employing to drive. Check the DMV for more information for your state. The cost for getting a CDL is minimal but can add up depending on what you’ll be using the vehicle for such as Hazmat materials or passengers. You should calculate initial and renewal costs for your specific state, but look at the California DMV’s cost sheet for a rough estimate.

Here is a handy guide provided by the DMV for additional permits and licenses you may be required to obtain for your vehicle. Make sure to select which state you are in for accurate information. If you plan on driving over state lines, you’ll need to also research permits for each state your vehicle will operate in, even if you are just passing through!

Food trucks are gaining popularity all across America, and they seem like a low-cost alternative to opening a full restaurant. However, there are a lot more permits that you will need to apply and pay for in order to operate a mobile food vehicle: commercial kitchen space, health inspections, parking, off-hours storage, and more.

Lifetime Costs

The costs for maintaining a commercial vehicle throughout its lifetime is where you will spend the most money after initially buying it. For example, auto insurance for a commercial vehicle varies widely and is substantially more expensive than for personal cars – sometimes several thousands of dollars a year.

Turbotax offers a good resource for things to consider regarding tax deductions for a vehicle used for business. Always consult your tax professional for accurate deduction qualifications, and take advantage of these free tax tools to help you calculate tax costs and deductions.

Keep a spreadsheet with estimated costs for taxes, fuel, repairs and maintenance, vehicle registration, cleaning, parking/storage, tolls, and any permits and licenses. Update real costs and projections each year once you get started and include these numbers in your cash flow analysis.

Paying For Your Vehicle

The initial purchase expense can cost you roughly between $10,000 and $150,000 – less if you find an inexpensive used one. This can be difficult for small businesses to cover with only working capital, so applying for a loan eases the upfront cost. Read the first installment of our “true cost” series to know how much a loan really costs.

Opportunity Fund offers loans for commercial vehicles and for mobile food trucks. Our commercial vehicle loans are only available in California, but our mobile food truck loans are also available in Florida, Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina. What is unique about getting a loan with us? A lot of commercial vehicle loans only cover purchasing the vehicle, but Opportunity Fund’s loans are applicable to use for vehicle maintenance and repairs.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or

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