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We all love beating the high cost of buying pickup trucks. As popular as they continue to be, there are still some great deals that pop up now and then. Sometimes they’re just too good to pass up. But there might be reasons why certain years and models of trucks are cheap, and it’s not because they’re cheap to maintain. 

Going through forums and looking at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration complaints, a few trucks stick out as being costly to maintain. Sometimes it is the number of recalls in any given year. Other times it is costly repairs that noticeably pile up for certain pickup model years. We’ll cover the reasons you should probably stay away from any of the following pickup trucks. 

2004 Ford F-150

A red 2004 Ford F-150, this truck marked a low point for the Ford brand.
2004 Ford F-150 | Bryan Mitchell via Getty Images

For as dependable as they’re known for, this year of Ford’s F-250 was problematic. First off, there were 16 recalls for the 2004 F-150. And unrelated to the recalls, one of the major problems was with spark plugs exploding out of the engine. This can typically happen around 150,000 miles on the ticker. But this isn’t the only problem that pops up at this mileage. 

A rough idle is another complaint that comes at this same mileage. This is caused by the EGR sensor sticking. When that happens idling is affected. Finally, a common complaint is over noisy rear ends. Usually, this is due to a worn differential clutch. If you’ve fallen in love with a particular 2004 F-150, you should check to see what repairs and maintenance have been performed before stepping up.

2005 Chevrolet Silverado

A Silverado logo on a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Chevrolet’s Silverado has a solid background of reliable service. But a counter to that reputation is the 2005 Silverado. Owner complaints run the gamut so it is hard to pinpoint where a potential used truck buyer should look. The good news is that some of these problems should have been corrected under warranty.

Recalls were for fuel lines, steering boxes, issues with manual transmission gear shifts, power steering hoses leaking, brakes, and rear seat belts. For customer complaints, they mainly focus on transfer case failures, temperature control actuator issues, and fuel level sensors failing. But electrical system issues and fuel injection problems seem to have a lot of complaints as well. As you well know, any of these can add up to major repair costs.

2007 Toyota Tundra

Used pickup trucks under $10,000 like this 2007 Toyota Tundra
The 2007 Toyota Tundra truck | Toyota

If nothing else, Toyota has a reputation for quality and reliability across all of its models. The Tundra is no different. But the 2007 Tundra, besides having six recalls, has a long list of complaints with the NHTSA. Most of them don’t surface until 100,000 miles. These include leaking exhaust manifolds, which cause repeated ticking noise, air injection pump failures, and fried oxygen sensors. 

Recalls covered everything from heated seat problems to breaking driveshafts. Then there are the dreaded Takata airbag failures, which can cause metal shards to come into contact with passengers in the event of being triggered. Accelerator pedals sticking and fried power window switches are some of the others. 

2002 Ram 1500

2002 ram
2002 Ram 1500 single cab | Stellantis

We’re going way back to 2002 for issues with the Ram 1500. This year Ram has a litany of complaints that start with problems with the engine not turning over with starting attempts. Four-wheel drive sensors failing is, yet, another problem. Both coolant leaks and water leaking through window seals add to owners’ frustrations. As these full-size trucks hit 100,000, which almost all of them will have done by now, these issues become more prevalent. 

Mid-2000s Nissan Frontier

2007 Nissan Frontier
2007 Nissan Frontier double cab | Nissan

The Cheapest Trucks to Maintain Include Some Pretty Big Names

The Frontier has always been Nissan’s best-selling pickup. Its versatility and size make it perfect for many owners. But the 2005 to 2007 Frontiers have transmission problems. They fail from antifreeze leaking into the transmission case. Bad seals in the radiator are the culprit. Distributor shafts also can get rusty, causing the bearing on the shaft to fail. There are also complaints about EGR valves and EVAP canisters going bad.