Full Size Pickup Truck Reliability

In this article, we propose to review full size pickup truck reliability of Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan – the most popular pickup truck names in the vehicle market.

Full-size pickup trucks make up more than 10 percent of new vehicle sales in Canada. Which means there’s plenty of choices available to used-truck shoppers.

It also means the most common reliability problems with those used truck models will be well-known and documented. If you’re one of many pickup owners who use their vehicles for work, a broken truck means lost income, so durability and ease of repair are particularly important.

Once you’ve determined which model meets your needs, find out what could go wrong with it. Whether you’re looking to tow in Toronto or do carpentry in Kapuskasing, here’s a reliability overview of the big names in big trucks you’ll find in today’s used-vehicle marketplace.

Toyota Tundra

Toyota Tundra SR5 blue
Toyota Tundra SR5 blue

Nothing is perfect, not even a Toyota’s reliability. When shopping for a used Toyota Tundra pickup, look for oil leaks where the camshaft covers attach to the cylinder head, a sign that sealant was inadequately applied when the engine was built.

Other known issues include an engine hesitant to start when warm, a parking brake that may not hold the vehicle in place and a weak battery that can cause various electronic system faults.

Ford F-150

Ford F150 Crew FX4 black
Ford F150 Crew FX4 black

In used F-150 trucks with the 2.7L Ecoboost turbo engine introduced in 2015, watch for an oil leak around the oil-pressure sensor. Older models with the 3.5L turbo V6 are known for condensation buildup in the intercooler.

A clunk from the front suspension could indicate a worn steering shaft between the steering wheel and front wheels. A clunk heard from underneath the truck points to a lack of lubrication in the driveshaft.

Check for evidence of water leaks into the headliner near the back of the cabin.

Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra

Chevrolet Siverado Z71 Grey
Chevrolet Siverado Z71 Grey

Chevrolet and GMC are both General Motors brands. The Silverado and Sierra pickups are virtually identical from a mechanical standpoint.

Note any vibrations that occur when the truck is in motion. This has generated many complaints among owners of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, and can be frustrating to diagnose.

Two recalls are worth noting for earlier versions of these trucks. One for power steering that could cut out suddenly and lead to loss of control and a crash. The other addressed a loose driver’s seat.

Nissan Titan

Nissan Titan V8 Pro4x
Nissan Titan V8 Pro4x

Nissan redesigned its light-duty Titan truck in 2017 after skipping the 2016 model year. So if you’re shopping for a late-model truck, you’ll be looking at two different generations.

The original Titan pickup was sold from 2004 through 2015. Quality improved during that time, but known issues include rear-differential failures and worn rear-axle seals that allowed gear lubricant to leak.

A loud ticking from the engine at idle could indicate a cracked exhaust manifold.

Difficulty shifting the transmission out of park may point to a failed neutral position switch or a shift linkage problem.

Research doesn’t reveal much about the second-generation truck so far, but look for proof of diligent maintenance and some remaining factory warranty when shopping for a used model.

Ram 1500

Ram 1500 Quad Cab Hemi White
Ram 1500 Quad Cab Hemi White

Watch for rough or clunky transmission shifting, which in older trucks can indicate poor maintenance. In newer models, new transmission control software may be the fix.

Some Ram 1500 pickup truck models came with a height-adjustable air suspension system. This can be a handy feature, but when its components fail — which you can count on eventually — they can be expensive to repair or replace.

If the cruise control doesn’t work, it’s probably a bad switch on the brake pedal. If you’re comfortable repairing your own vehicle, it’s a cheap and easy fix.

In 2016, Ram switched from a steering column-mounted transmission shift lever to a dial on the dash. If your budget allows, consider whether you prefer one to the other.

Ram’s available diesel V6 engine offers great torque and thrifty fuel economy, but also more complaints about reliability than this truck’s gasoline engines.

Prior to 2011, this pickup was known as the Dodge Ram 1500.

What else should you watch for?

  • Engaging the four-wheel drive system in modern pickup trucks is handled electronically. During your test drive, make sure it works: Stop the truck and turn the dial, stopping at each available setting. You should hear an electric motor or hydraulic actuator and then a gentle clunk as the gears engage.
  • Drive the truck a short distance with the 4WD engaged. If any of the settings don’t work, you hear strange noises, or the truck shows a 4WD fault message in the instrument panel, don’t buy the truck without an inspection.
  • Some pickups have metal underbody plates to prevent damage during off-road driving. If any of them are dented or badly scraped, the truck may have lived a hard life.
  • Like winter road salt, mud can cause corrosion, so look for dirt or mud build-up on or in the truck’s frame. Surface rust is fine, but more serious corrosion in places you can’t see can compromise the truck’s structure.
  • Pickup trucks typically get worked harder than any other type of vehicle, making a pre-purchase inspection especially important. We recommend having any used model checked by a trusted mechanic before you buy. It will cost $150 to $200, but that money will be well spent on the peace of mind that comes with buying a truck.

Ready to Start Searching?

If you are now ready to start your search, you can find thousands of pickup trucks on Ontariocars.ca. You can search for the brand of your choice including the trucks that are close to you. We’re sure you’ll be able to find the right truck.

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