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Buying a used pickup - Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi?

I am looking to buy a used pickup and have been looking at late 80’s and early 90’s short bed Toyota’s, Nissans, and Mitsubishi’s. I will be commuting and carrying smaller loads. I just want something reliable with decent gas milage. Are there years or makes that are particularly better or worse than others? What should I keep my eye out for?

Service records, pre-purchase inspection and overall condition are more important than make, model year or miles. Buy the one in the best condition you can find.


A 20 year old commuter vehicle is tough to find. How much can you spend? I wouldn’t spend more than a few hundred bucks for any of the trucks you mention because of age. Why would you expect a $500 vehicle to be reliable enough to commute in?

Ford Ranger

I had a Mitsubishi Mity Max (early 90s model, I think) for a while. I really liked a lot about the truck, but the block cracked in the original engine at less than 100k miles, then the used engine I had it replaced with did the same thing. An informal “parking lot poll” of people I happened to meet with Mitsubishi vehicles seems to show that their 4 cylinder engines didn`t have a very good life expectancy. Maybe a more extensive Google search would prove otherwise.

Ive been driving a 94 Toyota PU for the last 8 years. It has 230k miles so far and still hanging in there. Thats the only modern Toyota I`ve had, so maybe a fluke. Never had a Nissan PU, but a few 80s Sentras did well for me.

Toyotas with a stick shift are best. Nissans are OK but at that age the body will develop serious rust problems.

Agree that Mitsubishi trucks have other vices. A Mazda or Ford Ranger, bot stick shioft. would be a good choice as well.

Nissans in my opinion are not as worthy of being called a truck vs the toyota, lower payload etc. is my recollection for that vintage.

If it’s that old, keep looking at Toyotas. Don’t worry about the difference in years. Buy the newest you can afford. Good luck in your search.

Agree; but OP is mainly interested in commuting and carrying the occasional small load.