Pickup trucks have become increasingly sophisticated and are moving away from their original functions. Because of this, consumers who are in the market for a vehicle have fewer choices as their budgets and needs grow thinner. For this reason, most people shopping for a pickup truck nowadays are likely investigating the used-vehicle market. Buying a used pickup truck comes with some drawbacks, though. There are a number of problems with the truck, the most glaring of which is its bad condition and many concealed difficulties that can be spotted only by a competent technician. We are unable to assist you with this matter. However, we can compile a list of problematic pickup trucks which have been reported by drivers.
Pickup trucks can be pricey, therefore to cut costs you opt for a pre-owned model. So long as you don't unwittingly invest in one of the secondhand pickup trucks you must never buy, this strategy should be successful.
What criteria would you use to determine which pickup vehicle to buy, and more importantly, which one to avoid? You should still consult a professional technician for a definitive answer, but this can tell you which trucks seem to have recurring problems. You'll have far more luck on the second hand market if you stick to this checklist.
Pickup vehicles are highly useful. Pickup trucks are a surefire method of getting things done, whether you're tailgating, carrying, gardening, or camping. However, some vehicles are more trustworthy, and thus worth getting, compared to others.
It's wise not to add further stress to the already difficult process of buying a truck by settling for a lemon. That low-priced pickup can seem like a good deal at first, but when you factor in the endless stream of maintenance bills, the "real" value of the vehicle drops to almost nothing. Remember that and stay away from these money traps at all costs.
Here are some examples of pickup trucks that have proven to be unreliable in the past, so you can avoid them if you're in the market for a used vehicle.
Vehicles Powered by a 5.4L 3V V8 Ford Engine
2004 - 2010
Even though the F-150 series was already discussed in detail, the tendency of the engine to malfunction necessitated more attention be paid to it in order that fewer people would be unlucky enough to acquire one of these technical catastrophes. Between 1997 and 2004, Ford offered a 5.4L V-8 engine that performed admirably. If you can find an F-150 from before 2004 with a 2-valve Condor V8, by all means, purchase it.
However, changing all three valves simultaneously failed miserably. While "Triton" was meant to be an upgrade, it actually represented a major setback. As was previously noted, spark plugs would spontaneously fall off, resulting in repair expenditures between $1,000 to $3,000. It would be wiser to invest twice as much in an engine replacement. Especially when you know that, at some point, the same process will need to be repeated with Triton. The spark plug design of the 5.4L 3-valve V-8 is the worst of all time. Ford deserves credit for that. If you ever come across a truck equipped with a 5.4L 3 Valve Ford Triton, make haste to get away from that monstrosity. Don't stop running until you reach safety.
2002 - 2005 & 2007-2008
Though Avalanche has long since vanished, the resale specimen is still out there, waiting to prey on unsuspecting customers. If you ignore Avalanche's weaker towing capacities, you'll find that it wasn't all that bad. The clever midgate design that allowed the vehicle to be converted from an SUV to a truck and back again was quite useful. Paint cladding issues plagued early vehicles, but GM has now fixed the problem. Another issue with the early Avalanches was faulty speedometers. When stopped for speeding, many drivers would be taken aback. Then in 2004 and 2005, there were transmission problems, among other problems. Finally, in 2007 and 2008, Avalanche permanently labelled a problematic truck for its excessive engine oil consumption. And when you consider that its dashboard is prone to breaking, you can see why it's so low on the list.
2004 - 2005, 2008 & 2015
Since it is smaller than a regular half-ton truck, the Chevy Colorado may appear like the greatest option for those who don't require a towing rig. It's easier to manage, cheaper, and more efficient. However, things are not peachy keen in Colorado.
First, the 2004 and 2005 models had a wide variety of issues, such as an air conditioner heater which only operates on high or doesn't function at all, a failure to start the engine and a persistent check engine light, water pouring into the cab, a rusty frame, etc. The model year 2008 also had its fair share of problems. Nonetheless, there is also the fact that the engine overheated due to a fried power system and a broken radiator. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2011, Colorado recalled all of them due to a malfunctioning child seat and a problematic brake light that might have resulted in an accident. Finally, many 2015 Chevrolet Colorados have gearbox issues, such as sluggish shifting or an inability to downshift. Additionally, the engine may stall unexpectedly, so you may want to pass on the 2015 Colorado.
2000 - 2008 & 2014 - 2015
Silverado has had its fair share of highs and lows throughout the years, and just because there were nine difficult model years in a row doesn't imply they were all bad. We'll detail the most common problems, but used Silverados should be approached with caution just in case. Most people who are into pickup trucks are aware of the problem of rusty brake lines on older Silverados. There have also been engine problems with several millennium models. Steering-related issues are extremely widespread in 2004 and 2005 Silverados, with clunking noise being the most prevalent.
You should generally stay away from the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, especially if it is equipped with the 5.3L V8. That one not only burns through gas quickly, but also oil. Some owners have reported adding oil every thousand miles. And that hasn't altered for 2008 too though. There are a wide variety of problems unique to the newest Silverados, the model years 2014 and 2015. Problems include broken air conditioning and peeling paint. The suspension is shaky and noisy, and the automatic transmission doesn't perform well from the get-go. The fact that General Motors just shrugs off gearbox malfunction as "regular operations" also doesn't help.
2000, 2002 & 2004-2006
Another vehicle you can't buy brand new is the revolutionary Dodge-Dakota; you'll have to settle for a pre-owned one instead. As oil sludge built up and brakes failed, the 2000 models lost oil pressure. Trouble with the brakes persisted throughout 2002. Dakota's brakes would randomly lock up, necessitating repair of the calliper, pads, and rotors. In 2004, Dakota began to alter in an unexpected way. The engine has a rough idle, and there have been more brake issues.
2004-2005 & 2010
Despite being the best-selling car in the United States, it is not without flaws. Ford F-150 owners' worst worries came true in the 2004 and 2005 models. A generation later, during the first 2 years of the eleventh, Blue Oval has still not worked out what it was doing. While engine difficulties are certainly the most serious, they are not usually the most common complaint. In the first few years of its production, the F-150 was plagued by a variety of engine problems, including spark plugs that broke off within the head or popped out, excessive engine noise, and a host of other issues. There's also the problem of the power windows breaking down, which is common in both 2004 & 2005 models. As if it weren't bad enough, the transmission gave out at the end. There was a large number of recalls, over a dozen.
Even though Ford fixed most of these problems in 2011 and 2012, that year was still a wash. It may come as a surprise, but the most prevalent problem wasn't related to the vehicle's engine. Actually, it was the back window that shattered itself. The back window would break randomly and without warning. It was still possible to experience transmission issues. It's important to bring up the challenges of transitioning from second towards first, such as tremors and erratic movement.
Ford F-350 and F-250
2006, 2008 & 2011
Most issues with the one-ton F-350 and the three-quarter-ton F-250 occurred about the same time. Both pickup trucks' engines have broken down in 2006, and the F-250 has a particularly shaky suspension to boot. The engine problems of both trucks persisted throughout 2008. Also, F-250 has issues with unexpected acceleration and braking. Eventually, 2011 models arrived on the market, but they had death wobble suspension problems that were truly terrifying.
GMC Sierra and Canyon
Years: Same as Chevy Colorado and Silverado
As the mechanical siblings of the Colorado and Silverado, it should come as no surprise that the Canyon and Sierra have essentially the same issues. So, we'll just describe the most serious ones, along with a warning that you should pay special attention to the problems that have been plaguing the aforementioned Chevys. Earlier models of the Canyon experienced electrical and braking problems, while newer models, including the 2015 GMC Canyon, have a shaky automatic transmission that downshifts harshly. Many older Sierras experienced electrical and mechanical difficulties. The headlights on the 2014 GMC-Sierra 1500 are incredibly dim, which makes vision a major problem. It's important to remember that GM didn't fix the problem for the 2015 models.
2006 - 2008
The verdict on the newly revived Ridgeline has not yet been rendered, although much is known about the previous generations of trucks. The worst years were 2006 through 2008, with 2006 being the worst of those. However, the problems with the 2006 Honda Ridgeline were much more severe than those with the 2007 and 2008 models. Exhaust blue smoke was a common sign that the infamous #4 cylinder was faulty. After a certain point, even if you replace something as simple as the spark plug, you will have to replace the engine. Moreover, the V6 engine with a 3.5-liter displacement does not come cheap.
2005 - 2008
A late second-generation Nissan Frontier, with its antiquated looks and all that comes with it, is not a good investment, but an early second-generation model could prove to be even more troublesome. Pickup trucks manufactured by Nissan from the model year 2005 through the model year 2008 have amongst of the most pervasive gearbox problems we've ever encountered. As for the legitimacy of tyranny, that's not the problem. The flawed radiator design is to blame. To be more specific, the radiator often cracks, leading to coolant leaking into the transmission. Combining antifreeze with transmission fluid is a bad idea since it damages the transmission. That's one fantastic midsize truck if changing transmissions is your thing.
2004 - 2006
Until recently, the Nissan Titan was one of the most antiquated full-size pickup trucks available, a distinction still held by the Frontier. Titan had a number of reliability concerns when it was still new, between 2004 and 2006. The most frequent cause of failure was leaking rear axle seals. Titan's entire back end will fail if the differential doesn't lose enough oil first. Nissan, of course, did not issue a recall for the defective pickups and instead waited for the problem to be resolved on its own.
2001 - 2003, 2011 & 2013 - 2014
Both the Dodge-era forerunner of the RAM 1500 and the current RAM 1500 have seen their share of issues. Avoid the years 2001, 2002, and 2003 if you're looking for a pre-owned Dodge. You must avoid these like the plague. They were awful then, and the passage of time hasn't improved matters. You can choose from issues like broken dashboards and transmission breakdowns to clogged oil and seized engines. The 4.7L Magnum V8 engine appears to be the primary source of trouble. More than a dozen separate recalls have been issued for the 2002-2003 Dodge Ram 1500. There have been 16 separate recalls on the 2001 model. Not much more can be said about that. Last but not least, the 2011 Dodge Ram has poor safety ratings and Chrysler's infamous TIPM that causes chaos in the engine.
However, the modern RAM 1500 has significant electronic problems. Problems with the audio system, the cruise control, or the radio are quite typical occurrences. There is a $150 diagnostic fee, but in most cases you will need to buy a brand new system. That's an extra $2,300 in the bank. There are also the more common problems such as transmission hiccups, electrical malfunctions, and engine breakdowns.
RAM 3500 and 2500
2006 - 2007 & 2012 - 2015
Both of Dodge's 2006 heavy-duty Rams have problems with the air conditioner and heater. For the most part, they just weren't reliable. Suspension, steering, and transmission issues were the most serious. That is to say, more death sway and varying degrees of distress. Problems with the steering and suspension persisted throughout 2007, despite the fact that the heater and cooler had been fixed.
Even though the RAM 2500 units from 2012-2015 were likely better constructed, you should still check them out for any problems. Death wobble, severe vibrations, and out-of-control steering have been known to occur seldom, particularly in 2012 and 2013 vehicles. Death wobble and a wobbly suspension plague 2012 and 2013 RAM 3500s, but one-ton RAM 3500s appear to be better constructed than three-quarter-ton models in 2014 and 2015.
2005 - 2013 & 2016
After Big Trio showed little enthusiasm for the mid-size truck market, Toyota Tacoma emerged as the clear market leader. While Tacoma is typically dependable, a huge recall affecting 700,000 vehicles has been issued for versions from 2005 to 2011. The rear leaf springs were corroded and might have broken, sending pieces flying and potentially damaging the fuel tank and other components of the truck.
The paint on the older models was of such poor quality that it would peel off like an apple, and they rust easily. Also, many 2009 Tacoma owners have complained about the radio suddenly turning off. Toyota Tacoma has been completely remodelled for 2016, yet that hasn't stopped the appearance of new issues. When travelling at high speeds, many people find the noise emanating from the driver's door to be quite distracting. In addition, there are issues with engine vibrations and automatic transmission engagement speed when cold that need fixing.
2005 - 2008
As a result of rust concerns with the rear cross members, Toyota has issued a huge recall affecting 110,000 Tundras from the years 2000 to 2003. The worst years were the final models of the initial generation and the first models of the second. Several problems occurred, including the secondary air pump failing, the check engine lights coming on, and cold piston slap. A lack of lustre paint (particularly on the top) and a broken radio are two further issues. Over a dozen safety recalls have been issued for the Toyota Tundra from 2005-2008. The 2007 Toyota Tundra is indeed the truck to buy if you want a 5.7L V8 and want to hear the pistons slap.
Despite their widespread appeal, used pickup trucks have become considerably more expensive to purchase in recent years, forcing consumers further into the used car market in search of affordability. Used cars are cheaper, but problems with the truck's internal mechanics are more common in used pick up trucks and might be difficult to spot. Even if a used pickup truck looks great when you buy it, its performance may decline over time. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to foresee if and when your pickup may develop problems, and the time and money required to fix them can much exceed the value of the vehicle.
Those in the market for a pickup truck nowadays are most likely checking out the pre-owned options first. The most obvious disadvantage of purchasing a used pickup vehicle is its poor condition. If you follow this guide, you should have greater chance finding a good used item. Ford's 5.4L V-8 engine, which was available from 1997 to 2004, was a notable performer but a complete failure. It cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to fix the problem of spark plugs coming loose on their own.
To individuals who don't need a towing rig, the Chevrolet Colorado may seem like the best alternative. Many other problems plagued models produced in 2004 and 2005, such as an air conditioner heater that either works only on high or doesn't work at all. Both the 2004 and 2005 Silverados have a widespread problem with the steering. Forget about buying a 2007 Silverado, especially if it has a 5.3L V8 engine. When it comes to the 2004 and 2005 Ford F-150, all of the worst fears of owners were realised.
Things with Dodge-Dakota started changing in an unexpected way around 2004. Both pickups' engines have died on us in 2006, and the F-250 has a particularly unstable suspension. The headlights on my 2014 GMC-Sierra 1500 are so weak that driving at night is nearly impossible. The #4 cylinder was a major source of trouble for the 2006-2008 Honda Ridgeline. Transmission issues are common in pickup vehicles, and Nissan Frontiers from 2005 to 2008 are no exception.
The Nissan Titan was among the oldest full-size pickup trucks until quite recently. All told, Dodge issued over a dozen separate recalls for the Ram 1500 in 2002 and 2003. When it comes to safety, the 2011 Dodge Ram scores poorly, and the vehicle also features Chrysler's infamous TIPM, which can cause engine instability. It's still a good idea to inspect a RAM 2500 for issues, even though those made between 2012 and 2015 were probably of higher quality. Rare instances of death wobble, extreme tremors, and uncontrollable steering have been reported in 2012 and 2013 model year automobiles.
Older models had paint so low-quality that it flaked off like an apple. If you're in the market for a pickup with a 5.7L V8 and enjoy the sound of revving engines, go no further than the 2007 Toyota Tundra. The cost of even a used pickup truck has skyrocketed in recent years. You should be aware that a used pickup's performance can deteriorate over time, even if it looks fantastic when you buy it.
- Buying a used pickup truck comes with some drawbacks, though.
- Here are some examples of pickup trucks that have proven to be unreliable in the past, so you can avoid them if you're in the market for a used vehicle.
- Between 1997 and 2004, Ford offered a 5.4L V-8 engine that performed admirably.
- The spark plug design of the 5.4L 3-valve V-8 is the worst of all time.
- There are a wide variety of problems unique to the newest Silverados, the model years 2014 and 2015.
- As the mechanical siblings of the Colorado and Silverado, it should come as no surprise that the Canyon and Sierra have essentially the same issues.
- Earlier models of the Canyon experienced electrical and braking problems, while newer models, including the 2015 GMC Canyon, have a shaky automatic transmission that downshifts harshly.
- Many older Sierras experienced electrical and mechanical difficulties.
- Avoid the years 2001, 2002, and 2003 if you're looking for a pre-owned Dodge.
- More than a dozen separate recalls have been issued for the 2002-2003 Dodge Ram 1500.
- Even though the RAM 2500 units from 2012-2015 were likely better constructed, you should still check them out for any problems.
- Death wobble, severe vibrations, and out-of-control steering have been known to occur seldom, particularly in 2012 and 2013 vehicles.
- While Tacoma is typically dependable, a huge recall affecting 700,000 vehicles has been issued for versions from 2005 to 2011.
- Over a dozen safety recalls have been issued for the Toyota Tundra from 2005-2008.
- Even if a used pickup truck looks great when you buy it, its performance may decline over time.
FAQs About Used Pickups
The Chevy Silverado 1500 is a reliable truck in the 2012, 2015, and 2018 model years. When handled with care, the Silverado can last 300,000 miles and beyond. Some owners use their trucks for up to 20 years. Regular maintenance is key, or your Silverado may not make it past 150,000 miles.
If you are considering pickup trucks a full decade old, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than the Ram 1500. This full-size truck won MotorTrend's Truck of the Year. In addition it earned “Most Improved” on J.D. Power's 2013 dependability rankings, its score jumping an unprecedented 30%.
It's not only about saving money on initial costs and features when it comes to buying a pre-owned truck. You will be making a smarter investment. Depreciation happens no matter if you buy old or new. However, when you buy a brand-new truck, that depreciation is going to hit a lot harder than if you buy used.
For a quick, easy-to-remember rule of thumb, remember that the lower the mileage, the better. For used trucks with gas engines, try to keep the mileage under 100,000 miles. Used trucks with a diesel engine can go a good deal further since diesel engines are easier to maintain than gasoline.
The current quality of high-mileage used cars ultimately comes down to its maintenance. A 500,000-mile used car or truck has obviously seen its fair share of wear and tear but if the damages wear repaired immediately and the parts were changed when they were supposed to, the vehicle is bound to survive long.