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.
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.
The Ford F-150 continues to be America’s best-selling truck. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without its fair share of issues. In the newer model years, Ford has done a great job of addressing some of the F-150’s common problems.
While many F-150s fly past the 100,000-mile mark without any issues, that doesn’t mean there aren’t problem spots. For example, in 2011 Ford introduced its Ecoboost engine in the F-150. This engine made a lot of promises and, for the most part, it delivered. In fact, there are reports of this engine lasting over 200,000 miles.
The 2015 model was a concerning year for the F-150 though. It suffered from a litany of transmission issues, most of them related to downshifting. The last thing you want with a truck is transmission problems. So make sure to do your research.
Since breaking away from Dodge, Ram has enjoyed a sharp rise in sales for the past few years. In fact, the company was able to pass the Chevy Silverado to become the second best-selling truck in America. This success speaks to the quality that Ram has put into its trucks.
However, this was not always the case for the company. Looking back to earlier model years there are a few alarming issues that tend to pop up around 100,000 miles. For example, trucks from the early 2000s were known to have problems with the dashboard cracking. Body rust was also something that many Ram owners complained about.
The Tundra is Toyota’s bid to get into the full-size truck market. While it’s sales numbers have yet to truly compete with the Silverado or F-150, the Tundra still has a strong following. This is probably due to Toyota’s general reputation for reliability.
For the most part, the Tundra upholds this reputation. If you’re in the market for a used Tundra, keep in mind that the first -generation and early second-generation models did have some issues with rust. Rust could mean a death sentence for any car, so be sure to do a thorough inspection of the truck before you buy it.
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-models 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 sheet metal repairs.
Introduced for 2004, Nissan’s Titan has struggled to keep up with more popular full-size pickup trucks. It’s not that the Titan is a bad truck, it just fails to seperate itself from the likes of the F-150 and Silverado.
If you find your self looking for a used Titan, be aware of some of the issues that plagued early models. There are many reports about rear axle and differential issues, so check any used high-mileage Titans for axle problems and fluid leaks.
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.
The Nissan Frontier has drawn a lot of criticism for remain basically unchanged since it debuted. On one hand, it is frustrating that the truck is so out of date. On the other hand, it provides a distinct advantage. Because the Frontier hasn’t changed, all its issues are well documented.
This means that if you are ever looking to buy a one you know what to look for. The big problem with most Frontier models has to do with leaks. Customers have reported problems with coolant leaking into the transmission. This problem typical shows itself around the 100,000-mile mark.
The best way to figure out if this problem affects the truck you’re looking at is to take it to a trusted mechanic for inspection.
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.
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.
Eric Gilley also contributed to this post.