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Suggestions for good used truck?

In the next 6 months, I’m looking to buy a good used truck. Hopefully, my budget will be between $6,000-$8,000. From your experience, what is a good reliable truck that has:

(1)least amount of problems;

(2)repair costs that are not too expensive or hard to do;

(3) affordable maintenance costs

Of course, I plan to buy a truck that has been inspected by outside mechanic. Based on the mileage, inquire if certain maintenance items have been done. Ask for service records. Also, I will check for clean title (check for rebuilt).

thank you

Do you want a smaller truck or a full size? Ranger or F-150 are good suggestions

Ford F150. I am unsure of GM/Chevy trucks.

Don’t even think Toyota. They are nice but have serious rusting issues that never got resolved from 1970’s all the way into early 2000’s.

How are you going to use the truck? If you are going to use the truck to pull a 5th wheel horse trailer, then you may want a 3/4 ton or 1 ton pickup, possibly with a diesel engine. On the other hand, if you are commuting 50 or more miles a day and not hauling heavy loads, but occasionally bulky items that won’t fit in a car, then you may want a compact truck with a 4 cylinder engine.

Do you need 4 wheel drive? Will you be using the truck for off-road use?

For example, years ago when my first wife was living, we had a place in the country and had a horse. I needed the truck to haul hay, haul fencing material, etc. However, I didn’t drive the truck long distances. I bought a 1950 Chevrolet 1 ton for $120. (This was back in 1972). The truck was bigger than I needed, but I had a car to drive to work. One of my thoughts at the time was get rid of both my car and truck, purchase a half ton pickup with air conditioning and combine the function of both the truck and car.

At any rate, specify your needs and then we can give you some ideas.

Thanks for the replies!! Definitely prefer smaller truck (not towing anything) and I don’t need 4 wheel drive. As Triedaq said, I need a truck to commute to work and carry the occasional bulky item that won’t fit in a car. Also, I will use the truck to carry tools but my tools easily fit in a workerman’s bag (similar in size to small carry on luggage).

Toyota is easy to work on and very dependable. Rust can be an issue depending on where you live. Otherwise id run with a chevy or gmc

Note: The older toyotas 90s I havent been into the later model

I concur with bscar and andrew j. any car can be a lemon, but from years of experience some stand out more than others.

A classmate of mine had a 1997 F-150 that had (i think) a 4.6L V8 and had 250,000 miles on it and it looked great and ran great! a 4.6L would be a little easier on gas than a 5.4L Triton V8, but only by a few gallons, more if you drive nice. :slight_smile: The f-150 would ride better than a ranger, if you’re into a little comfort. rangers are a great truck tho.

My wife has a 1999 Expedition with a 5.4L V8. I’ve been very pleased with it’s performance, comfort, economy and reliability. The best mpg I’ve gotten is 19 mpg going 70mph with A/C on going to Nebraska. :slight_smile:

Bear in mind that with any older vehicle it might need some repairs depending on how it was treated in its past life with previous owner. But don’t fret. This is a great chat forum with unprecedented knowledge!! I personally bought a repair book on her truck and my Taurus. If you can follow directions, you can fix it yourself. For ex., to replace heater core in Taurus, the entire dash had to come out. I’ve never done this before. I followed it step by step and it went smoothly. Plus the book sometimes has a tip to help.

I hope i was able to impart some knowledge. Let us know of ANY questions!

If your not hauling or pulling much go with TOYOTA

No need to feed a V8

Ford Ranger, or the Mazda equivalent, are fine small pickup trucks. Since you don’t need 4X4 stay away from those and look for a 2WD model. There should be lots to choose from in your price range. The V6 has lots of power, but the 4 cyl is fine and gets a bit better mpg.

The 2WD is a basic easy to work on truck. They are reliable, hold up well, and not expensive to repair when something breaks.

Every parts house in this part of the country drives stripped down Ford Rangers. That is a good indication of their reliability and economy. It seems they prefer the 4 cylinder automatic.

I’d like to add to JPKansas’s remarks that with pretty much any vehicle with a decent market share, you can find a fan club site online. Once you make your pick, use that fan club site for maintenance and repair info. You’ll often find that the owners have figured out easier ways to do repairs. For example, that Taurus heater core? Well Gen III and IV Taurus owners have figured out that there is a small tab of metal that you can cut off and then you only have to loosen the dash just a bit, but you don’t have to remove it. As long as you’re flexible, it can save hours on the repair… but you won’t find that procedure in any repair manual.

Thank you for the suggestions!!! It seems Ford 150 is a popular choice. I’ll also look into Toyota, preferably a Tacoma, then GMC and Chevy. When I narrow it down to 3 actual trucks, I’ll definitely post back to see what you guys think would be best.

Toyota has bought back quite a few Tacoma’s(1995-2000) in my area or put new frames due to severe rust.

It did not end with Tacoma’s and started with Tundra’s in 2000/2001. My mothers was taken off the road due to severe frame rust since mid August deemed unsafe by Toyota. They handed her a loaner Camry and she called recently for status and they stated frame is back ordered and shop has other trucks ahead of her.

When you buy any used vehicle, you only know if it is a good one if you have access to the maintenance records and you have it thoroughly inspected by your mechanic. However, this is even more important with a used truck as a higher percentage of truck drivers abuse or neglect their vehicles.

Okay, maybe I am stereotyping, but I see it everyday. I see trucks where I live that are driven harder than the cars around me. It’s something about the average male truck owner that makes him aggressive. Maybe it’s the high seating position. Maybe it’s all of the horsepower that many of these trucks come with. Yet those who own the smaller four cylinder trucks without all the horsepower seem to neglect them.

The point I am getting at is that it is EXTREMELY important to:

A) Only buy a truck that has the records to show maintenance was done on time.


B) Get the truck thoroughly inspected by YOUR mechanic (with you paying the bill). Don’t skimp on the inspection because it is a “certified” used car, and don’t let the salesman talk you out of doing the inspection BEFORE you sign anything. If you were buying a house, would you let the seller hire the home inspector? I wouldn’t. The inspector knows who is signing her/his check, and that can (will) affect how many problems he/she finds.

This is generally good advice for any used vehicle, but it is even more important for a used truck.

Now, having said all that, I think the Toyota Tacoma is a good truck, but I would also look at the Ford Ranger which was also sold with a Mazda name badge. Nissan also used to make a good small truck, but I don’t know if they still do. Just about everyone I know who drives a Chevy S10 (or the GMC equivalent) has had reliability issues, so I would stay away from them unless you find a really good one.

If you buy a pick-up truck from a private seller, try to find one owned and driven by a woman. In my experience, they tend to take better care of their trucks than their male counterparts.

Thanks for the replies!! Definitely prefer smaller truck (not towing anything) and I don’t need 4 wheel drive. As Triedaq said, I need a truck to commute to work and carry the occasional bulky item that won’t fit in a car. Also, I will use the truck to carry tools but my tools easily fit in a workerman’s bag (similar in size to small carry on luggage).

If the items you’re planning on hauling aren’t going to be very tall, how about looking at a smaller SUV like the Escape? With the rear seats folded down it’d be like having a cap on the truck

The best bang for the buck may be a Nissan Frontier. They have a good reliability record. I know the temptation for getting the very inexpensive Ford Ranger, but. It’s essentially unchanged since the 1980’s and the satisfaction rating of people who have to use them as “trucks” according to CR is low. If you need a “real” truck, I would look for a used F150, 2wd, 6 cyl. Regardless, Toyota makes and always has, the best compact PU, Ford the best full size, year in and out.
Rust can be dealt with !

If I read correctly, I think the Ranger is getting redesigned in the next year or so, so it should be a nice refresh to the truck.
Then again, it’s the new model, a used model Ranger will have tons of places that can work on it and parts should be easy and cheap to find