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Looking for a used truck from the early 2000's that wont die on me

I’m looking for a good used truck that won’t break on me. My first choice was Toyota because of this segment I saw on the BBC show Top Gear where they demonstrate how hard it is to destroy a toyota pickup. Also consumer reports loves them. However they’re out of my price range.



I’ve heard conflicting things about the quality of Ford Trucks. Some workmen I’ve spoken to swear by them, others swear at them. I’ve heard that Chevies are crap. Consumer reports says both are crap and Dodge is worse.



What’s a budget trucker-to-be to do?

You pick your dice and play your chances. I am still running a 92 gmc and a 93 f250xl with good luck.

If you are looking cheap. Rangers are great, they were basically unchanged for decades so if you do need repairs pars are easy to come by.

I have a 99 Ranger right now; 4cyl, 5spd, 2wd, and it has been a gem. Only regular maintenance needed. It is a small truck though, but great on gas.

I also owned a 98 Blazer (basically an S-10 with a cap). The Blazer’s main problem was burning through ball joints every 50k or so. It had the 4.3L auto and was a hungry motor, honestly, I probably would have been better off with a base V8 1500 instead if I had the choice over.

Out of the two the Ford has held up much better. Then again the Blazer was a loaded 4x4 and the Ranger is base, there was a lot more to go wrong on the Blazer.

I plan on keeping the Ranger for many more miles.

What about the F-series trucks? It sounds like the Ford is a better bet though. thanks.

One of my best friends has a 2002 maybe 03 F150. He had a problem with the transfer case and the airbag (the airbag leaked a white powder on the floor), both were replaced under warranty. He drives it for a work truck (landscaping w/ plenty of towing) and it gets beat some, but he still drives it out to Colorado (we live in Ohio) to go skiing in the winter. No real problems.

I recently drove a 2006 F150 to New Mexico and back, it is a much quieter ride than the older version that my buddy has. Very smooth and comfortable, plenty of room in the back seats, and decent sized bed too. It took the heat very well. When I am ready to buy a new used vehicle (I never buy new) that is probably what I will be looking at.

As entertaining as that clip was, realistically any truck-type vehicle can be crashed a bunch and keep running and rolling and other than the seawater trial (which required extensive work to get it back running) they didn’t really abuse the engine that much. Toyotas are nice trucks, especially the Tacoma, but they’re nothing magical and IMHO they’re overpriced.

If longevity and low cost of owning is your main concern, you really can’t beat a full-sized domestic pickup. Despite the whole little-guy-peeing-on-stuff sticker subculture, there’s really not much of a difference between the big three as far as full-size gas powered trucks go. The trouble with them of course is that they’re overbuilt for just a daily driver or light work truck, so that gas mileage isn’t that great and heavier-duty components can be a bit more expensive.

With the compact trucks, there are definitely differences. The current GM compact truck, the ColoradoCanyon have had a lot of problems and the Dakota is okay, but they’re a little bigger and for my money I’d just go with a full size. The Nissans are also nice, but the Ford Ranger is just as good and is only marginally less nice than the Tacoma, but are cheaper new and far cheaper used. A few year old Ranger is probably the best small truck you can get for the money.

Pickups are a big thing here where I live in OK due to farming and the oil/gas industry. These pickups accrue a lot of miles, many haul heavy loads (loaded sock trailers, etc.) and take a beating due to environmental conditions. (weather extremes and a lot of dirt)

Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks are very popular here and if they were crap then I can assure you that these tight-fisted farmers would not buy them; nor would they be repeat buyers if the vehicles were crap.

What is crap is Consumer Reports. CR hardly does objective scientific testing nor do they investigate any complaint made about a truck as to the real reason behind that complaint. Some complaints are justifiable; many are not.

Most vehicle problems are owner inflicted. It’s not due to the truck being “bad”.
Any of them will last if it has not been abused and if it is maintained properly after the purchase.

For what it’s worth, all of my brothers in law are in the masonry business and use Chevy trucks. These trucks are used to haul heavy loads (cement, block, etc) along with being used as personal vehicles. They get driven a lot and driven hard and my BILs would not own anything else.
One of the last pickups one of my BILs owned got about 450k miles put on it before being sold (still running/driving) and the only problem he ever had was one transmission at around 300k miles.
Another of my BILs owns a couple of Tahoes and he has had very few problems with either one. One has about 180k miles on it and the other about 250k miles. The latter did get a set of lower ball joints at around 215k miles but other than that and the previously mentioned transmission they’ve all been rock solid trucks.

Considering the one BIL’s driving habits and the heavy loads the truck saw I’m surprised the truck even made it to a 150k miles.

Good point about Consumer Reports. In its tests, Consumer Reports wants the trucks tested to drive like cars. One criticism of the Ford Ranger is that “it never lets you forget you are driving a truck”. I always thought that trucks had a special purpose–to haul things. Cars have another purpose–to transport people. I don’t think that the data base for Consumer Reports includes contractors, farmers, and other businesses that really use a truck for its intended purpose.

Maybe I’m too much like Archie and Edith Bunker. In the opening theme song for “All in the Family”, they refer to the good old days when “Gals were gals and men were men”. Well, I liked the good old days when “cars were cars and trucks were trucks”.
I had a 1950 Chevrolet 1 ton pick-up when I had a place in the country. It had an interior that made a school bus seem luxurious and rode like a wheelbarrow when it didn’t have a load in the bed. However, it could work. I even put it in double low and stretched fence with it. I’ll bet most pick-ups today would be hard pressed to do this kind of work.

I have owned primarily Ford F-series trucks. Will be taking a vacation using a 95 F350 crew cab starting this weekend. Have also owned a 77 F150 that lasted 15 yrs plus before I sold it, and it is still doing farm work in my county, fully operational.

I also owned a 79 Dodge half ton for several years. Found it to be OK, but had to do more repairs to it than the 77 Ford.

Owned a 91 Mazda with good success and no expenses other than normal maintenance costs for over 100K miles.

I think the key is to take your time and find one that fits your needs, and has been relatively well taken care of. When I was in the market for used, I had to look at a whole slew of choices before I found a good used one that met my expectations. Pick ups can get beat up badly and I found most of them on the market were that way. Patience paid off, however.

I like that show and I saw that segment. It was cool but really says nothing about long term reliability.

However, I’ve owned two Toyota pickups, both bought new, a '79 and then an '89. The only thing that killed the '79 was rust. The only thing that killed the '89 was an errant driver in a Hyundae…after 338,000 miles.

The motors and drivetrains in the pickups…the 4-bangers anyway…are virtually indestructable. Reliability overall is excellent.

Yeah, it’s hard to get one for an affordable price. But for a reason. Their ads used to say “get your hands on a Toyota and you’ll never let go”. That’s been my experience with their pickups.

to be fair, the Hilux in the show had a small diesel engine in it, so you can’t really compare it to a Tacoma over here in the states.
With a nearly 10 year old vehicle, how it was driven and maintained will be more important than the brand you look at. Have it inspected by a mechanic before you buy it. It’s better to spend $5000 on a Ford that’s running just as strong as the day it left the showroom floor than to pay $7000 for a Toyota that’s been beaten to death and is 1 shift away from needing a new transmission or engine.