Buying a used truck can save you money or allow you the opportunity to buy a truck with more features. You also maximize your investment because you won’t be experiencing the initial loss in value that occurs when you buy a new truck and drive it off the dealership lot.
However, there are some trucks that aren’t a great value when they’re used. Buying one of the following trucks could negate any savings you achieve by costing you more in repairs. While not every truck has the problems we list below, these are common issues that each model experiences. You can avoid most mechanical issues by purchasing a truck with less miles and performing routine maintenance.
If you’re in the market for a used truck, think twice before buying one in our list below.
Just because the Chevy Colorado is one of the smaller ones on this list doesn’t mean that the problems you’ll deal with will also be smaller. Chevy created an attractive option by making this truck responsive when it comes to handling, fuel efficiency, and less expensive than larger trucks.
These benefits are quickly forgotten when you realize that you’ll also have to deal with an engine that just won’t start, climate control mechanisms that fail, and an engine light with a mind of its own. The most frustrating part about these problems is their lack of clarity and consistency. This makes diagnosing and repairing them very difficult.
Model years that are especially vulnerable to problems are 2003 through 2005.
Ford F-150 and F-250
This one might surprise you. After all, Ford is a powerhouse in the auto industry for building some heavy-duty trucks that can do everything from being used as a family car, to off-roading, and towing large construction equipment. While we included the F-150 on this list, not all of them are bad.
When you buy this truck used, you need to do your research on the make and model you intend to buy. There are many older models that are plagued with a wide range of issues. Engine problems aren’t the most common problem they have, but it’s definitely one of the more expensive ones.
You may get loud mystery noises coming from the motor, or spark plugs that break off or pop out. The motor for the windows is also a widespread problem, as are transmission failures that require a complete replacement.
This is the super-duty big brother to the F-150, and it too has been plagued by a variety of issues over the years. This truck is notorious for having a shaky suspension and a high rate of engine failure. The older models of this full-size truck are more likely to have engine problems, so if you decide this is the used truck for you, do some careful research on the engine before you buy one.
Other scary problems include the death wobble, unintended acceleration, and premature braking. These are problems that can turn a quiet drive to the grocery store into an up-close and-personal experience with helter skelter.
From about 2003 through 2010, Ford used a 5.4-liter V8 engine. Keep an eye out for this engine and avoid it. As they rack up the miles, they develop more and more problems.
Toyota trucks are known for running forever and being some of the most reliable trucks on the road. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their fair share of problems. The Tundra has had massive recalls for a rust-prone cross member.
The most significant issues are found in the first and second generation of the truck. Maybe you can chalk it up to a learning curve. Whatever the reason for the problems, it’s best to be careful when buying a used Tundra.
The 2000 through 2003 models are the ones to keep an eye out for as they have rust issues. In addition, the 2005 through 2008 models have the 5.8-liter V8 engines, which are prone to a piston slapping sound.
Nissan got lazy towards the end of the second generation of the Frontier, and it painfully shows in the used models. These trucks are outdated in their styling and performance. What this means for you is a consistent problem with the transmission as problems emanate from the radiator.
The 2005 through 2008 model years are especially problematic. These trucks tend to suffer radiator cracking that lets the coolant leak into the transmission. When this happens, you’ll have to replace both the radiator and the transmission.
Dodge Ram 1500 and 3500
When you buy this truck, you commit to dealing with powertrain issues in the future. If you somehow manage to get lucky and don’t have this problem, there are plenty of other issues that will pop up. Oil sludge tends to build up, which can cause engine failure. Less vital, but visually unsightly, is the dashboard cracking problem.
If that wasn’t bad enough, newer model years haven’t earned the best safety ratings and are plagued with electrical issues. This may have you struggling with a faulty radio and questionable cruise control.
Be wary of the 2010 model as it’s especially vulnerable to problems with its V6 engine because it’s weak in power and has poor fuel economy.
Dodge Ram 3500
Some of the other vehicles on this list let you avoid reliability issues by selecting a different model in the lineup. That isn’t the case for the Dodge Ram. The bigger 3500 is plagued with just as many issues. It’s safe to say that the bigger the truck, the bigger the problems. The 3500 commonly has failure problems with the steering, suspension, and transmission.
One thing no one wants to associate with a vehicle is the dreaded death wobble. When you buy a 3500, you can expect to experience a harsh and almost jarring vibration through the front end and steering wheel. The shaking can make it challenging to steer. What’s more terrifying than not being able to control a full-size, heavy-duty truck?
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The Chevy Silverado is a tough one to add to this list. For some years, Chevy hit on every cylinder and produced a truck with impressive performance and reliability. Then other years it dropped the ball and manufactured a dud plagued with problems. Some trucks leak oil like a sieve, others have rusted out brake lines, and still more have steering issues.
Stay away from the 2007 and 2008 Silverados, especially the 5.3-liter V8 engine. These engines use up oil and fuel like it’s going out of style.
This is one of the newer trucks on this list, so it will take some more time before we know all of the potential problems that can plague this truck. So far, though, there’s plenty to be aware of.
The Ridgeline first went into production in 2005, but it’s the 2006 through 2008 models that you need to be careful of when making a purchase. The 2007 and 2008 models have several minor issues like premature rust, failing climate control, and peeling paint. The 2006 model is the worst with bad cylinders that require frequent spark plug replacement and the need for an eventual engine replacement.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Canyon made its way onto this list. Given that it’s a GMC, it’s mechanically similar to the Sierra and Colorado. This means you can expect the same kind of problems that we already mentioned for the other models. You may face electrical issues, leaking oil, faulty check engine lights, steering problems, and rusting brake lines.
Stay away from the 2000 through 2008 models and the 2014 through 2015 models. The 2000s models experience brake and electrical issues. The newer models have a questionable automatic transmission.
Here is another Nissan on the list because yet again, Nissan has failed. These used trucks are outdated, hulking, clunky, and have several reliability issues. The most common issue is that the rear axle tends to leak. For many of these trucks, the problem doesn’t end there. You could easily experience the entire rear end failing.
Keep an eye out for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 models as they are prone to the leaking issue.
Since this is the third Dodge truck on this list, it is safe to say that it should stick to building muscle cars. After all, the Charger, Challenger, and Durango SUV are all impressive performance vehicles. Unfortunately, the Dakota doesn’t live up to the same standards.
This truck may be tempting to buy used. It’s no longer being made, and that can make used prices tempting. If you can’t resist and you do purchase one, you may have to deal with inconsistent oil pressure and sludge build up.
These trucks are also famous for having brake problems in which they randomly lock up. If this happens, you’ll have to replace the rotors, pads, and calipers. And let’s not forget the terrifying and downright life-threatening experience of having your brakes lock while driving.
Avoid These Used Trucks and Save Yourself a Headache
Keep in mind that these observations are broad generalizations pertaining to these used vehicles. It isn’t a guarantee that every single one will have the issues discussed in this article. These are problems that tend to pop up frequently and are considered common issues.
Whether or not your used car will have any of these problems will depend on the wear and tear, maintenance care, and luck. You can lower your risk by looking for a truck with lower miles and has been well taken care of.