Especially if you own a home, a pickup truck is a huge labor saver. The issue is that the average cost of a new pickup has skyrocketed over the years. Since 2004, the average price of a car has increased about 18%. Over the same time, the average cost of a pickup has gone up more than 40%. Buying used may be the answer you’re looking for. There are literally tons of moderate mileage, moderately priced, reliable pickups on the market. But which ones are the best?
BestRide can certainly help you find a used truck, but how do you find the most reliable? We got in touch with our friends at CarComplaints.com and combed their data for used trucks that offer remarkable reliability.
According to CarComplaints.com, the Titan years to avoid are the 2004, 2005 and 2006, which had significant issues with leaking rear differentials, to the point where they had to be replaced. According to their database, the 2005 model in particular had over 450 NHTSA complaints, along with a dozen of its own consumer complaints about the drivetrain. By 2007, though, most of those leaky drivetrain complaints had dried up. (Pun intended).
Based on the Dodge Dakota, Mitsubishi Raiders were never a huge success here. They only sold by the handful. Nevertheless, they record one of the lowest rates of complaint in CarComplaints.com’s database. Between 2007 and 2009, just one NHTSA and site visitor complaint was recorded.
Ford is about to drop an updated Ranger on the American public. It can only hope to have the kind of rabid fan base and tried-and-true reliability of the original. By the 2009 model year, registered gripes at CarComplaints.com had dwindled to the single digits in most years. Amazingly, some really nice Rangers still exist, despite being extinct from new car lots for years.
If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s that trucks that have been around forever, relatively unchanged, tend to be pretty reliable. That’s the case with Nissan’s Frontier, a truck that was last revised around the Jurassic period. From 2008 to the present, registered users at CarComplaints.com have barely made a peep.
There are definitely good years and bad years for the Toyota Tundra. Several years of poor secondary air pumps gave the truck’s overall reliability a black eye, but after 2009 or so, complaints leveled off to a more reasonable figure.
Sometimes, the basic chart doesn’t tell the whole story. It sure looks like the 2004 Ford F-150 had a ton of problems, and the 2007 didn’t. However, clicking through the years at CarComplaints.com tells a more complete story. Most of those complaints in 2004 involved side windows that wouldn’t roll up — annoying for sure, but totally fixable and not a deal-breaker. Those much fewer complaints in 2007? Engine problems. It pays to really dig into the databases to learn what you can.
Here’s a graphic depiction of advice that probably came from somebody’s dad at around the time Henry Ford started getting some use out of the assembly line: “Never buy the first year of a new model.” For a dog’s age, Chevrolet bumped along with its old Colorado design with relatively few complaints. 2015 comes along with an all-new Colorado and BOOM, through the roof.
The 2015 model year is definitely going to be pushing our $10,000 cap, but if you’re in the market for a 2WD truck you can probably find something in that range. Yet, don’t discount the 2013 and 2012 models. The biggest complaints those years involved connecting phones to the UConnect system.
The Dodge Dakota is a mid-sized pickup that is offered with two interesting engine choices. The 3.7-liter V6 engine makes plenty of hay for everyday chores and is quick enough upon acceleration, though the 4.7-liter V8 engine ups the stakes considerably paying off in power when you need it. Like its cousin, the Mitsubishi Raider, once you get into the modern era, the Dakota was a pretty reliable vehicle.