When is a Used Container a Wise Choice?

When is a Used Container a Wise Choice?

Now that you’ve made the decision to purchase a shipping container, your next question is: should you buy new or used? The answer to that question will depend on many factors, such as intended usage and budget.

In general, used storage containers are those that are retired from cargo service, so they may not look shiny and blemish-free like new ones will but you will save money. Plus, used shipping containers don’t compromise on security and weather proof qualities. If you don’t mind a few dents and some surface rust, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy used.

Why Buy Used?

Here are a few quick reasons why buying used is a good bet. Buy used if:

  • You’re on a tight budget.
  • You don’t care about appearance, i.e., you’re not using it for a tradeshow, pop-up food truck, boutique or home.
  • Top-of-the-line selection isn’t important to you.
  • You want the most affordable pricing.
  • You want a long service life, but you’re willing to compromise on a few years.

With used, you can still have your choice of condition, color, size, and configuration, and you can add any customizations or modifications you want. There’s minimal ground prep required, and you can still choose from many sizes: 20 ft, 40 ft, 45 ft, 48 ft and 53 ft.


When buying used, you will have to be a bit more diligent in your research on the units themselves as well as the provider.

  • Supplier Reputation: Dealing with a reputable company for your used shipping container is key. Don’t make any rash decisions. Take your time to do your homework and research at least a few different companies. After all, even a used shipping container is a big investment, so you want to make sure you’re not spending a lot of money on a lemon. You want some assurances that the provider will be delivering on what they have promised. Fair prices, solid reputation and many years in business are all things to look out for.
  • Container Inspection: While not always possible, it’s best to check out the container in person rather than buying it sight unseen. Look for holes in the unit – get inside the container, shut the doors and see if you notice light shining through anywhere. If so, there are holes. Next, check for properly working doors and locking mechanisms. Inspect the roof for dents that may lead to pooling water, leaks and rust spots. Eventually, these will turn into holes. Take note of anywhere you will have to do some patching.
  • Delivery Costs: It takes a lot of work to load, transport, and drop off a used shipping container. The driver has to secure the container to the truck, access the site, and drop off the container safely. This all costs money. Ask what the delivery costs are up front. Is it included or is it an extra charge?
  • Toxic Exposure: Many times, used containers could have been used to transport toxic products. This means you may have to provide additional treatment in order to safely reuse the container as, for instance, a living space or to transport food.
  • Need for Repainting: You may want to repaint the container once you take ownership of it. First, you’ll need to make any necessary repairs, and that includes addressing rust spots before You can treat problem areas with rust converter.
  • Features: Make sure the used container you are considering has all the features you’re looking for, such as:
  1. Single-door entry
  2. Double-door entry
  3. Windows
  4. Durable flooring
  5. Ventilation
  6. Internal locking system
  7. HVAC systems
  8. Shelves
  9. Storage space

Buying used may mean you have fewer selections when it comes to hitting everything on your must-have list. Therefore, you may have to make some compromises. Just remember you can always add on modifications later.

In the end, the decision to buy new or used is a highly personal decision. You may not care that it doesn’t look perfect. Maybe your budget will only allow for a used model. Whatever the case, you can’t go wrong with a used shipping container. They serve a solid purpose and can still give you many years and even decades of use.

Contact Transocean Equipment Management

If you’re ready to buy a used shipping container, please contact us in either our North Carolina or South Carolina offices. We would be happy to assist you in making this important decision!


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