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Pickup trucks occupy a strange space in the automotive market. On the one hand, pickup trucks are meant to be the most utilitarian vehicles. This means they have to be practical, tough, and reliable. However, pickup trucks have morphed from a tool to a status symbol somewhere along the way. It seems reliability and toughness have become less important than features and upholstery. In fact, three of the least reliable pickup trucks are some of the most popular trucks on the road. 

What are the least reliable pickup trucks? 

Lineup of F-150 trucks
Lineup of Ford F-150 pickups | Getty

Consumer Reports takes many aspects into account when rating vehicles. One of the metrics is predicted reliability. Consumer Reports explains how it comes up with these figures here: 

“Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey for over 300,000 vehicles, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how 2000 through 2022 vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system.” 

With that in mind, the three least reliable pickup trucks so far for 2023 are the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500, and the Ford F-150 Hybrid. These three nameplates are also some of the most popular and recognizable vehicles ever made. So why are they so popular if they aren’t reliable? 

The 2022 Ford F-150 Hybrid has gotten hit with more poor reliability complaints than a boat with 100 holes in it. Drivers complain that the 2022 F-105 Hybrid has issues with in-car electronics, like phone connectivity problems. There are also many complaints of brittle plastics that easily break. Worst of all, the truck’s two 12-volt batteries needed to power the hybrid system, have been failing, leaving drivers needing replacements. In one case, a driver needed a replacement after 13,500 miles.

The Chevy Silverado isn’t doing much better. On Consumer Reports, the Silverado only ranked better than the Ford F-150 Hybrid for reliability. The most significant Chevy Silverado 1500 problems center around engine issues. The V8 engines are prone to something called engine lifter failure. This usually means the rocker arm, valve tip, and push rod will also likely go bad if left unattended. Also, the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel inline-six engine is prone to long crank and starting issues, though the diesel engine issues are largely resolved for current models.

The GMC Sierra 1500 is the last of the three very popular pickup trucks with some reliability issues. According to RepairPal, the most common issues for these trucks are problems with the 4WD transfer case, fuel lever sensor failure, and heating and AC.

What are the most popular pickup truck brands in the U.S.? 

The 2023 Ford F-150 driving in dirt and gravel
2023 Ford F-150 | Ford

According to TFLtruck, 2022 truck sales show that GM, Ford F-series, and Chevy Silverado landed first through third place in that order. GM truck nameplates combined sold 754,876, Ford F-series sold 653,957, and Chevy sold 513,354 Silverados. 241,522 GMC Sierras sold, landing that nameplate in fifth place behind Ram trucks. 

The Venn Diagram of the least reliable pickup trucks and the most popular pickup trucks is nearly a circle. That is hard to understand. However, at least anecdotally, truck buyers are quite loyal to their truck brand of choice. 

What makes for a bad pickup truck? 

2023 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X in snow
2023 GMC Sierra 1500 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

Just because Consumer Reports predict poor reliability, that doesn’t mean they will have trouble. The fact is, people buy Ford F-150s, Chevy Silverados, and GMC Sierras by the buckets. And for many people, these trucks offer everything customers need. Also, for some, extra maintenance is worth it to continue to own a Ford pickup truck or whichever model they are loyal to. 

It’s also important to note that although truck people (myself included) can be strange, this phenomenon isn’t special to my truck peeps. Jaguars have been notoriously unreliable for decades, and people still love them. Look at Alfa Romeo, too. The point is, the proof shows that we like to buy the cars we like, not always what cars are the best. And that’s OK.