Am looking at used small pick up trucks (Tacoma, Ranger, etc.) and due to the high prices, will need to look at 1998 to 2005 or so. Everything else being equal am I better off with an older low mileage or newer high mileage vehicle?
The BIGGEST factor in determining how reliable it might be is maintenance. If both vehicles were maintained well then I’d get the newer with the high mileage. But it’s still a crap shoot.
Find a low mileage truck with all the maintenance records. At 7 years and older, condition matters more than brand. Find the newest, lowest mileage truck that meets you needs and is in superb condition. It will take a lot of work, but it will be worth it.
100,000 miles from commuting on open highway would be preferable to 50,000 miles delivering newspapers door to door. And a 1965 Ford with a 390 engine and only 10,000 miles would make a great piece of yard art but not much good for a daily driver. Throw a half dozen possible vehicles out here and watch them get hit on.
I beg to differ with some of the opinions on what to look for in an older truck. Trucks change mechanics slowly compared to cars and parts are much easier to come by. For that reason, I would much prefer to buy an older truck with a pristine body that may need a little mechanical work or has high miles. If you must make the choice, choose a Taco, my first recommendation, with the most cared for body. Car dealers know this better then we common folk and why Toyota trucks tend to be the most easily traded for and sold and usually for the highest price. Get a higher mileage from private buyer who took care of the body.
You can easily make a truck more reliable…you can’t easily make it more inspectable…
Tacos have the advantage of “once you fix, they stay fixed”. Other brands have more perpetual problems in my experience…rust and body damage becomes the great equalizer.