Home Cars 14 Used Trucks Drivers Avoid

14 Used Trucks Drivers Avoid

Vukasin Herbez September 17, 2017

Every year, car manufacturers in America produce more than 15 million vehicles with more than half of them being trucks, vans, crossovers or SUVs. This figure shows the number of cars America’s market consumes each year, as well as the incredible number of used cars that are available. With such a massive number of used cars for sale, it is important to know which cars to buy and which to avoid and why.

Since pickup trucks are one of the most popular vehicle classes in America, almost all major manufacturers offer at least one model. So, every year there are a few million new trucks on our roads, as well as a few million used trucks for sale. Today’s pickup trucks have come a long way from those dusty, dirty and tough trucks of yesterday. Modern technology, materials and designs have made them more user-friendly vehicles.

There are even lifestyle models for people who want to give the appearance of working hard, but never use their trucks as workhorses. With each passing year, manufacturers present new options, body styles, engine choices, versions and trim levels, so finding the right truck can be a difficult task.

Shoppers must consider what model, engine, cab configuration and trim level to look for, along with the standard things when buying a used vehicle. They include the condition, mileage, wear, warranty, possible recalls, damage, salvage title and more. One way to shorten your list of options is to understand which used trucks to avoid. If you want to make sure to buy the best used truck possible, keep reading to learn which models in each particular year may cause you trouble.

1. 2010 Dodge Ram 1500

One of the most popular light-duty trucks is the Dodge Ram. A superior vehicle, it is just the 2010 model year Ram equipped with the V6 engine you’ll want to avoid when shopping for a used truck. The reason for this claim is due to the base 3.7-liter V6 engine, which is relatively weak with just 215 HP and 235 lb-ft of torque. In addition, it has poor fuel economy figures for a V6 engine. In fact, there are no differences in fuel economy between the V6 and V8, but with the bigger engine, you get more power.

Second, the base equipment is lacking compared to other trucks in its class. This model earned a three-star rating during NHTSA crash testing, which is bad. So, despite the good looks and low price, avoid this model and choose the newer Dodge Ram, which would be a much better purchase.

2. 2003 to 2005 Chevrolet Colorado

The Chevy Colorado was a popular compact truck that was practical and came with extra options and designs. However, it proved to be of poor quality, and the 2003 to 2005 model years were especially problematic. In fact, buyers reported numerous problems with the air conditioning and electrical systems, as well as the engine and rusty frame.

In later years it had some problems, but 2003 to 2005 were the worst. It may come with a small price tag, but the Chevrolet Colorado from the early 2000’s can cost you big money in repairs. It could never be as dependable as a compact work truck should be. Fortunately, Chevrolet introduced a new model recently and seems to have fixed up all their truck problems from the past.

3. Ford Trucks with 5.4-liter V8 Engines

From 2003 to 2010, Ford produced many trucks with a modular 5.4-liter V8 engine that featured an innovative three-valve cylinder head. Despite being relatively powerful, those engines were known to develop serious issues, especially when they crossed the 100,000-mile mark. The main problem is the camshaft phaser, a device that changes the angle of the camshaft to open the valves. When this system fails, the idle becomes rough and the engine loses power. The first sign of trouble is strange engine noises.

The repairs are costly since they require a new phaser, and possible a new set of camshafts and valves, among other things. Besides the F-Series, Ford put this engine in the Expedition, the Explorer and the Lincoln Navigator. So, if you are looking to buy a used Ford truck, avoid engines with the 5.4-liter V8 and three-valve heads, especially if they have covered a lot of miles.

4. 2000 to 2005 Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado is one of the main light-duty trucks out there. In fact, Chevy has produced them in the millions so far. But, in the used car market, their reputation is problematic. Not all Silverados are bad, but some model years tend to be troublesome. Pay attention to the early 2000 to 2005 Silverados for steering issues, engine faults, and rusted brake lines. Apparently, rusted brake lines are a common issue with Silverados of that age.

The newer models can develop electronic issues and may have shaky suspensions. However, the biggest potential problem is the small-block 5.3-liter, V8 engine with a big thirst for fuel and oil. Some users have reported it uses a quart of oil every 1,000 miles, which is excessive. Also, there are known issues with the automatic gearbox. So, if you are looking for a Silverado, be sure to check all those things to find a decent pickup truck.

5. Chevrolet Avalanche

It seemed like a good idea at the time for Chevy to introduce a truck derived from an SUV and the Avalanche is exactly that – a Chevy Suburban truck. It has all the comforts of a Suburban SUV with a small truck bed in the back and updated roofline. Although they discontinued the Avalanche, they produced it from 2001 to 2012, so there are a lot of them. This makes the price affordable; however, there are more than a few problems with this model. In fact, most of them involve assembly quality, like the components Chevy installed.

For example, the speedometer can malfunction, which can get you in trouble with the law. There have been transmission and oil consumption problems with the 5.3-liter, V8 engine. There are even reports of cracking dashboards. So, if you want to buy the Avalanche to combine comfort with the advantages of a pickup, you will be disappointed. The payload and towing capacity is unimpressive. And, if you need a working vehicle with space for at least five people, choose a double cab or a crew cab truck.

6. Chevrolet SSR

In the early 2000’s, the retro design was the king. Introducing new cars with classic shapes was the ticket to success. For this reason, Chevrolet thought it would be a great idea to present a retro-styled truck with a sporty feel and retractable hard top. Chevy thought it could work as a lifestyle vehicle for people who wanted a sports car, but with a retro vibe and space for all their needs.

The person in charge of the Chevrolet product development department at the time must have had a wild imagination. However, Chevrolet did introduce such a vehicle in 2003 and called it the Super Sports Roadster or SSR. They built it on an SUV platform with a Corvette V8 engine. It had a fold-down hard top and a tight cabin for only two passengers, making the SSR something like a modern hot rod. It not only looked cool, it had a glorious soundtrack from the small block V8 with around 400 HP and dual exhaust pipes.

The performance wasn’t impressive because the sprint to 60 mph took around six seconds, but it wasn’t slow, either. With a retro design, big wheels and a strange silhouette, it was something different on the street. However, the market`s response was mild. The price was north of $45,000, which meant it wasn`t affordable. Soon, older people started buying SSRs as midlife crisis cars.

That killed the model because it wasn’t cool anymore in the eyes of the younger crowd. The end came in 2006 after Chevy built approximately 24,000. Today, you can pick one up for an affordable price and have an interesting-looking truck in your driveway.

Bear in mind, this is not a real truck despite the looks, a somewhat-usable truck bed, and a powerful engine. It can’t haul big items or carry a lot of weight. The cabin is small and cramped. This is not a truck, but just a lifestyle retro vehicle that looks like one. That is why it is not a relevant model in the truck market, so you should avoid it.

7. 2006/07 and 2012 to 2015 Dodge Ram HD

The 2500 and 3500 series Dodge Ram that they built between 2006 and 2007 and from 2012 to 2015 are famous for a series of problems. In fact, in that period, Dodge trucks were subject to several big recalls, so be aware of that and search online to see the exact models they recalled. Often, these big trucks suffer AC and heater failure, but it doesn’t end there. Transmission problems, drivetrain issues, steering, and brakes are all known to be problematic.

Some years are better and some are worse, so it all depends on recalls and component installation, as well as the mileage of the exact truck. Models with lots of miles and hard life can develop issues with the suspension and driveshaft. If you take a test drive and find a vibration or noise coming from underneath the truck, avoid purchasing that vehicle.

8. 2000 to 2006 Dodge Dakota

As you may already know, there are full-size trucks like the Ford F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado and there are compact-size trucks like the Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger. However, during the late 80’s and 90’s, there was also a mid-size class of trucks led by Dodge Dakota. As one of the industry`s leaders, Dodge noticed the buyers of full-size trucks often didn’t need all that power and space. They also observed that buyers of compact-size trucks often needed more power and usability. Their solution was a mid-size truck.

They conceived a model with smaller dimensions than a full-size Dodge Ram, but with optional all-wheel drive, as well as an impressive towing capacity and payload. They priced it between the big and small models, so it would appeal to a wider audience. Dodge was right and in 1987, after they introduced the Dakota, sales went up significantly. It was the first mid-size truck on the market, so it hit the spot because it was affordable.

It was also highly functional and came with better fuel economy than the bigger models. Up until 2011, the Dakota was in Dodge’s truck lineup until they discontinued it. This means you will find a lot of Dakotas on used car lots, but there are some potential problems with models from the early 2000’s.

First, the V6 engine proved to be unreliable and thirsty. Second, it drivers failed to perform regular maintenance, there would be an oil sludge build up and eventually, it caused engine failure. Third, the most dangerous problem was how the brakes would lock up at random, which could cause a crash. Although they sold it with replacement brake calipers and rotors, it could be an expensive fix. Despite the cool design and affordability, you may want to skip the 2000 to 2006 Dodge Dakota built.

9. 2005 to 2010 Ford F-150

Most people know the F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America. In fact, Ford sold it in millions, but it still had a few issues. In fact, you should avoid certain model years due to problems with the engine, loud noises, rattles and vibrations. Some users reported transmission problems and a few electrical issues, too. Back in the day, Ford experienced a few recalls and fixed the biggest problems. In 2010, customers started complaining again, but this time not for mechanical problems, but for rear glass breaking.

Apparently, the rear glass of the F-150 would shatter by itself without any hit or impact. If you are looking for a 2010 F-150, check to see if they have replaced the rear glass. Just compare the numbers on the doors and windshield with the numbers on the rear glass. If they are the same, the glass is original, but if the rear glass has different markings and numbers, you will know it is new. Other than that, 2010 Ford F-150s are solid trucks.

10. 2005 to 2013 Toyota Tacoma

When the “Big Three,” Ford, Chevy and Dodge abandoned the concept of a mid-size truck and concentrated only on full-size models, the Toyota Tacoma became a leader among the rarer, surviving models. This means it sold above expectations, so today there are plenty of those trucks as second-hand offerings. The Tacoma is a relatively durable and high-quality product, but certain year models were part of a massive recall by Toyota for various issues. One of the main problems were the rear leaf springs that could rust and crumble under heavy loads.

Even worse, in some cases, crumbled leaf springs could penetrate the rear-mounted fuel tank and cause fuel leaks. Over the years, they solved the problems as a part of a recall, but there were still some problems with the paint, as well as loud noises and vibrations coming from the drivetrain. Also, buyers reported a slow automatic transmission, but this is not an actual problem or a malfunction, just the way they made the Tacoma gearboxes.

11. 2005 to 2008 Toyota Tundra

Like the smaller Tacoma, the full-size Tundra had its share of troubles, especially during the 2005 to 2008 model years. They were also part of massive recall that covered hundreds of thousands of Toyota pickups. Buyers also reported a few issues with the paint, the electronics and the secondary air pump.

Despite its decent performance and power, the 5.7-liter V8 engine was loud and had cold piston slap sounds. Even though this sound is not connected with possible engine failure, buyers should be aware when shopping for a 2005 to 2008 Toyota Tundra.

Also, the interior is dull and there aren’t many options. In some cases, the paint could peel, especially on the roof. Those issues are with trucks in warm areas with a lot of sunshine that affects the paint on the roof of the vehicle.

12. 2005 to 2008 Nissan Frontier

The Frontier was a popular mid-size truck Nissan available in various versions, like the Toyota Tacoma and Dodge Dakota. In most cases, this was a dependable work truck without any major issues. However, the 2005 to 2008 models they built had big problems. Almost every Frontier Nissan built in that period experienced transmission failure. To make things worse, the transmission itself wasn’t the biggest problem.

The radiator was prone to cracking and when that happened, usually after 100,000 miles, the coolant found its way into the gearbox, mixing with the ATF oil, creating irreversible damage. Some coolants even chemically dissolved the oil, making the transmission run without any lubrication. This caused overheating of the gearbox and engine break down. So, the Nissan Frontier is an affordable truck, but the first thing you want to check out is the transmission. You will want to be sure they have replaced it and solved any problems with the radiator. If not, run away from this model.

13. 2004 to 2006 Nissan Titan

Produced for a long time, the Nissan Titan was an affordable and simple work truck with decent mechanics and engine. However, it also had its share of issues and failures, even with Nissan trying to cover it up. The Titan wasn’t a part of any major recalls in that period, even though most pickup experts think it should have been. The biggest problem with the Titan Nissan built between 2004 and 2006 is the rear axle.

The problem was the rear differential and loose sealing, which let the oil leak out. Any vehicle without oil will fail soon and lots of owners experienced this. Some even managed to have Nissan cover it by their warranty. So, if you are looking for a Titan, first check the differential and seals, and everything else. Since this truck has outdated styling and interior equipment, the prices are affordable.

14. 2006 to 2008 Honda Ridgeline

Honda introduced its first pickup in 2006, which was a sign Honda wanted to enter the full-size truck game. Even though the idea, design and equipment were spot on, the mechanics were problematic. The Ridgeline was the only full-sized truck featuring an independent rear suspension and unibody construction without the typical ladder-type chassis.

This meant the Ridgeline was just a lifestyle truck with a small payload and towing capacity. Nissan built it to haul light trailers and nothing more. Basically, it was a truck for people who didn’t need a truck. Under the hood was a 3.5-liter V6 engine that didn’t have a lot of torque at 247 lb-ft. Yet all the problems with Ridgeline came from those upgrades. Since they made this truck for highway driving and not for towing or hauling, when somebody used the Ridgeline for any real purpose, things started to break. The suspension and cross members failed, and the engine would burn too much oil, emitting a gray-blue smoke.

Although the 3.5-liter V6 was perfect for the Accord or any other mid-size sedan, in a pickup truck with pulling and carrying duties, it wasn’t enough. So, if you want this kind of truck, you can find the Ridgeline at a relatively inexpensive price, but the signature Honda reliability doesn’t come with it.

A used truck is an affordable alternative to a new one; however, be sure to check the year and look for any recalls, too. You don’t want to end up with a used lemon that will cost you more than a new pickup.

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