A generation ago, logging 100,000 miles on a car or truck meant that it didn’t have much time left on the road. Electronics and suspension components would wear out first. Then gaskets and other rubber bits. And if you lived somewhere where the roads are salted in winter, you could expect to see rust beginning to eat your investment away before your very eyes — even with the right preventative maintenance.
Today, things are a bit different. The average age of cars on the road is 11.5 years old, up from 8.5 years back in 1995. So if the average American puts 15,000 miles a year on their car, that means they’re going to be racking up over 172,500 miles over their car’s lifespan, up from the 127,000 they were putting on them back in the ’90s.
The good news is that modern cars and trucks can take it; they’re more robust and reliable than their predecessors, and are built for the added wear-and-tear. But they can still experience the problems earlier models did, especially once the odometer rolls over into that sixth digit. And nowhere is that more noticeable than in hard-living pickup trucks. With pickups as popular — and expensive — as ever, customers are flocking to used pickups like never before. While we recently covered 10 things to look out for when buying a used truck, every model has its own quirks. Looking at some of the most popular trucks in the U.S., we’ve come up with a short list of trucks that can have problems once you pass 100,000 miles, and what things to look out for if you’re considering a high-mileage pickup.
1. Ford F-150
America’s best-selling vehicle was all-new for 2015; as a result, there aren’t many of them out there that have cracked the 100,000 mile mark yet. But the rest of the world is still catching up to its new aluminum-intensive construction, a material previously reserved for premium and sports cars. As a result, body work can cost as much as 26% more than on its steel-bodied competitors. So if you end up with a new F-150, don’t crash it until repair shops build up a backlog of parts.
If you’re in the market for a high-mileage Ford truck, the best thing you can do is research to find out if the truck is up to date on recall repairs. Models from 1999-2003 could have a defective cruise control switch, which could cause fires, and Triton V8-equipped models from ’97-’06 are known for spitting out spark plugs, causing a whole host of issues. If these issues are sorted, and regular maintenance was done on the truck its whole life, there’s no reason your used F-150 couldn’t crack the 200,000 mark.
Next: The issues can add up with this popular truck.
2. Chevrolet Silverado
For a lot of truck owners, they’re either a Ford or Chevy person, and it would take a lot for them to switch sides. As a result, the F-150/Silverado rivalry is the most intense competition in America, and both trucks are built to outdo one another. But older Silverados have just as many issues as their rivals. High oil consumption, malfunctioning anti-lock brake sensors, and an engine knocking noise on cold starts are all common complaints for high-mileage older models. Make sure these issues are sorted on prospective used trucks. If they aren’t, be prepared to spend a few weekends wrenching on your new-old truck.
Next: This truck is known to be the problem child of the top three.
3. Ram 1500
Ram has been enjoying new levels of popularity thanks to its great gas mileage and class-leading towing capacity. But Chrysler’s trucks have generally had the most problems of any full-size American truck. Older trucks (say, before 2001) can suffer from a number of quality control issues, like cracking dashboards and interior trim, and body rust, especially around the fuel filler door. For newer models, a common complaint relates to a defective fuse box, or in Mopar-parlance, Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM). Owners of 2000s-era trucks have reported everything from starting issues, to the horn going off, to airbags randomly deploying. Electrical issues are a nightmare, and usually expensive. Do your homework and make sure a used Ram doesn’t have any of these problems.
Next: This truck has been known to hide its fatal flaws.
4. Toyota Tundra
Introduced for 2000, the Tundra was Toyota’s attempt to break up the Big Three’s stranglehold on the full-size truck market. It may run a distant fourth in the segment, but there’s a strong base who swear by the Tundra for its bulletproof reliability. That said, early models are known to have a bit of a rust problem. In 2009, Toyota issued a major recall on 2000-’03 Tundras for catastrophic frame rust issues. So if you find a cheap early Tundra, be sure to crawl underneath and check the condition of the frame.
Next: This truck may be new, but it’s not without its issues.
5. Nissan Titan
Introduced for 2004, Nissan’s Titan comes in a distant fifth place in the full-size pickup segment. Like the F-150, it’s all-new, so there haven’t been many reports of serious problems. By all accounts, early trucks had teething issues: Many customers have reported rear axle and differential issues, so check any used high-mileage Titans for axle problems and fluid leaks.
Next: This unique truck can develop some unique issues.
6. Honda Ridgeline
After a three year hiatus, Honda reintroduced the Ridgeline for 2017, and it’s finally become the family-friendly, do-anything truck it always wanted to be. But the first-generation model never really caught on with the American truck-buying public, despite its compact size and versatility. Like the new truck, the late-model shared its platform with the Pilot SUV and Odyssey minivan, which meant it couldn’t quite run with full-size pickups. If you’ve punished an older Ridgeline enough (especially 2006-2008 models) you could be dealing with a sagging rear suspension, and a number of engine or transmission issues. And if it spent time in snowy climates, beware of rust: the bed is integrated into the body, making for costly sheetmetal repairs.
Next: One of Chevy’s brightest stars has a checkered past.
7. Chevrolet Colorado
The first-generation Colorado was a replacement to Chevy’s long-serving S-10. And while it shared that truck’s compact dimensions, it didn’t hold up as well. The 2000s weren’t exactly General Motors’ golden years, and the Colorado suffers for it. Owners of the first-generation trucks (2004-2012) complain of body rust, so-so fit and finish, failing electrical components, and leaky cabins as their trucks age. But don’t let these gremlins scare you off: In terms of new trucks, the current Colorado is one of the best trucks out there at any price.
Next: The oldest truck on this list has a well-known fatal flaw.
8. Nissan Frontier
The Nissan Frontier has been on sale largely unchanged since 2004, which means its pros and cons have been documented better than virtually any other truck on this list. Buyers love the Frontier’s ruggedness and compact size. However, they could do without its dirty habit of leaking coolant into the transmission. If you’re dealing with a Frontier with close to 100,000 miles, check the coolant level closely and watch for any leaks. If you see anything out of the ordinary there, your transmission may not be long for this world.
Next: This famously reliable truck has hit a rough patch.
9. Toyota Tacoma
For over 20 years, the Toyota Tacoma has been the king of the midsize market. Thanks to its compact size, near full-size capability, and bulletproof reliability, the Tacoma has proven to be about as much truck as anyone needs. But that changed in 2016, when Toyota replaced the long-serving model with an all-new one. Since then, the Tacoma has earned itself Consumer Reports’ “Worst Buy” rating, due to issues like leaking differentials, a low-quality interior, and poor steering feel. The truck is still mechanically bulletproof, but we hope Toyota sorts out these issues sooner rather than later.
Next: This hybrid wasn’t ready for prime time.
10. GMC Sierra Hybrid
The full-size GMC Sierra is virtually identical to the Chevy Silverado. And while these models have evolved significantly over the past few years, it’s interesting to note that older models offered something that the new ones don’t: A hybrid powertrain. From 2005 to 2007 and 2009 to 2013, GMC paired its 5.3 liter Vortec V8 to a mild hybrid system. While it boosted fuel economy somewhat, its benefits (namely an auto start/stop function) could become liabilities as these trucks take on miles. Unique transmissions (from 2009 on) and assorted electrical parts mean that keeping one of these on the road will likely be more difficult than standard gas-powered models.