In general, pickup trucks are seen as the most sensible and practical type of vehicle. And for these reasons, it is often seen as the kind of car that allows you to get your money’s worth. After all, trucks are typically powerful and designed to tow your trailer, boat or jet skis easily. Moreover, trucks also come standard with a cargo bed that makes it easier to transport any of your bulky stuff.
However, what happens if a pickup truck fails you more than it impresses you? What happens if you’ve got a truck that tends to go in and out of the repair shop? What happens when you realize that you’ve become the owner of the most unreliable trucks ever built in auto history? Would it forever destroy your trust in trucks? Would you still be willing to drive around in one?
Well, it’s honestly hard to say how anyone would react if they had a truck that is more unreliable than the Reliant Robin. They would probably return it to the dealership or try to get rid of the truck one way or another.
Today, the pickup market is largely divided into two. There’s the brand-new truck market and the used truck market. Over the years, there have been a number of truck models with good reviews and high-reliability ratings. On the other hand, there are also several truck models that have achieved nothing but negative feedback. Even worse, some of these have even picked up an alarming number of recalls from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Curious to find out which trucks these are? Fortunately for you, we’ve listed down some of the most disappointing pickup trucks since 1990 so that you won’t end up purchasing a bad truck:
20 1990 Ford F-150
Automaker Ford introduced the United States Market to its F-series truck back in 1948. According to the website Angela Krause Ford, it was also known as the Ford Bonus-Built pickup trucks back then. Unfortunately, several years later, the F-150 became quite a disappointment.
According to the database of CarComplaints.com, this truck became the subject of 13 investigations and eight recalls. Among the investigations, one was conducted regarding “dual fuel tank leakage.” Furthermore, it stated, “These vehicles can experience fuel transfer from one tank to the other due to a malfunctioning fuel pump.” Meanwhile, the recalls issued were due to a fuel assembly, brakes, power train, and electrical system.
19 1993 Ford Ranger
Unfortunately, Ford’s Ranger pickup truck soon became the subject of complaints as well. Even worse, the 1993 Ranger also ended up being affected by as much as 10 recalls.
Some of these recalls affected the headlamps, combination lamps, amber side reflex reflectors, brake rotors, booster, parking brake, as well as throttle linkages and control. In addition, there was also a major recall that affected as many as 14.4 million 1993 Ford Ranger trucks. This one affected the tires and according to the report, “If the tread separates from the tire, the driver can lose control of the vehicle, possibly resulting in a crash causing injury.”
18 1996 Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup truck that has been in the U.S. market since 1995. However, the CarComplaints.com database reveals that the 1996 Tacoma ended up with as many as 318 complaints and six recalls.
Of the complaints, 92 were regarding engine problems. Of the complaints stated, one read, “My vehicles engine began running rough a few days ago and we began troubleshooting to find the cause. We pulled the spark plugs and found rust and water on one plug. We cleaned the plug up and reinstalled it and ran the vehicle to test it. It ran smoothly for about 10 minutes then began running rough again. We have determined that the head gasket has failed.”
17 1997 Toyota Tacoma
Unfortunately, things were also not smooth for the Toyota Tacoma the following year. In fact, problems were also reported on the 1997 Tacoma. In fact, the CarComplaints.com database reveals that it ended up with as much as 147 complaints and four recalls.
Of the complaints, as many as 24 concerned suspension problems. One read, “The truck had been riding rougher on the roads when family following one day noticed the truck leaning left. It was brought to the repair shop thinking it was a suspension problem. It ended up being major rust and corrosion to the frame that was so bad there was no structural support of the struts and springs.”
16 1998 Mazda B2500
According to the website It Still Runs, the Mazda B2500 is a pickup truck that was produced from 1998 to 2001. It seems, however, that things did not turn out well for this vehicle upon introduction.
According to a summary report from the website CarProblemZoo.com, the 1998 B2500 had recorded as many as 26 problems. Of these, the most reported is regarding the truck’s vehicle speed control. One consumer report read, “Vehicles throttle stick open when released. Cannot slow the vehicle down. The only way to slow down is to turn the ignition off.” Meanwhile, another report stated, “Engine stalls and idle is unstable while at a stoplight. Loses power when driving.”
15 1999 GMC Sierra 1500
According to a report from Jalopnik, GMC introduced the name Sierra for pickup trucks way back in 1987. Before this, Sierra had only been used as a designation for a trim level.
Just several years after its introduction, however, the Sierra 1500 truck ran into some trouble. In fact, records reveal that the 1999 Sierra 1500 became the subject of 195 complaints and four recalls. Of the complaints, a staggering 110 were regarding the brakes. One of the reports read, “I was driving about 35mph and I was coming to a red light so I put on the brakes and I heard a pop and my brake pedal went to the floor and I almost went thru the intersection.”
14 2000 Chevrolet Silverado
Beginning 1975 all the way to 1999, GMC had used the term Silverado as a designation for a trim used on Suburbans, Tahoes and Chevy pickup trucks. Nonetheless, according to the website Car Covers, the GMT Silverado 1500 and 2500 pickups were released in 1998 and introduced as 1999 models.
Just a couple of years later, the 2000 Silverado encountered issues. According to the NHTSA, this truck became the subject of 2,147 complaints and 24 recalls. Of the recalls, three concerned the service brakes. One report stated, “If contact occurs and the brake pipe becomes damaged, in half of the brake system there can be a loss of brake fluid and pressure.”
13 2001 Toyota Tundra
From the looks of it, the 2001 Toyota Tundra is another problematic truck. In fact, the NHTSA database reveals that it received as many as 384 complaints and six recalls.
With regard to the complaints, 156 had to do with structural problems. One complaint stated, “Vehicle frame has sufficient rust including holes in the frame. There were two recalls dealing with this rust issue, neither fixed the problem. This has been an ongoing issue for Toyota including class action lawsuits - but those didn't include 2001 Tundra.” One of the recalls did, in fact, refer to this corrosion issue. It read, “Excessive corrosion of the rear cross member may cause the separation of the spare tire stowed under the truck bed which would present a road hazard that could cause a crash.”
12 2002 Chevrolet S-10
The Chevrolet S-10 is a compact pickup truck that was introduced to the market back in 1982, according to the website Parts Geek. Several years later, its 2002 model posed problems.
According to CarComplaints.com, this particular model suffered from engine problems. One of the comments stated, “Mechanic said this intake gasket was a very common problem on the S-10. Bad engineering.” Meanwhile, some complaints also cited transmission problems. One report said, “As I accelerated I noticed the power changed. I was only going a couple of blocks to my destination and had no need to go no more than 25 -30 miles per hour. Parked car and came back. The truck would not go into reverse and the idle seemed very high.”
11 2003 Chevrolet Silverado
It seems the 2003 Silverado is one of the most disappointing models that Chevy has ever come out with. According to the NHTSA, it received an alarming 2,079 complaints and became the subject of 15 recalls.
Of the said complaints, as many as 549 concerned the service brakes. Of these complaints, one stated, “I was traveling down the road, was approaching a red light, applied brakes, they did not work. Went through a red light, applied emergency brakes came to a stop. Immediately returned home applying the emergency brake, thank god I was only around the block. Upon examining the brakes under the car, all of the lines were rusted out, causing a loss of all brake fluid.”
10 2004 Ford F-150
After receiving major complaints about its 1990 model, the F-150 came under scrutiny once more due to its 2004 model. According to the NHTSA, the 2004 F-150 received as many as 1,976 complaints and 16 recalls.
Of the recalls, one concerned “fuel tank strap corrosion.” Furthermore, the report stated, “As a result of the corrosion, one or both straps may fail, allowing the fuel lines to separate from the tank, or in some cases, causing the tank to contact the ground. Either scenario may result in a fuel leak presenting a fire hazard.” As many as 1.1 million F-150 units were said to be potentially affected by this fuel system recall.
9 2004 Chevrolet Silverado
Just like the Ford F-150, the 2004 Chevrolet Silverado also had a number of alarming problems. In fact, the NHTSA reveals that this truck model became the subject of 1,810 complaints and 17 recalls.
Of the complaints, 533 pointed out issues with the truck’s electrical system. One complaint stated, “Many of the vehicles in this family suffer from random electrical shorts and or poor electrical grounding relating to the drive by wire throttle actuator. The result is that the vehicle will go into reduced engine power mode randomly. In this mode, the vehicle will idle but not accelerate or drive. This issue is well documented on message boards with no consistent fix.”
8 2007 Nissan Frontier
According to Nissan USA, the Frontier is the “highest ranked midsize pickup in initial quality, three years in a row.” The award was bestowed to the truck by J.D. Power.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the Frontier never had any problems. In fact, according to the NHTSA, the 2007 Frontier had become the subject of as many as 468 complaints. Of these, 113 pertained to the truck’s gasoline fuel system. One complaint stated, “My vehicle no longer registers how much fuel is in my tank because of a faulty fuel sending unit. I ran out of gas on the freeway.” Other owners also made similar complaints.
7 2007 Chevrolet Silverado
For the Chevy Silverado, 2007 model also proved to be quite disappointing. According to the NHTSA, this particular truck model has been the subject of 847 complaints and four recalls.
A lot of these complaints concerned the truck's airbags. However, as many as 98 complaints were regarding the truck’s electrical system and some reported fire incidents. One report stated, “Vehicle was purchased used and the owner had it for four days. While driving along the interstate he smelled and saw smoke coming from passenger side from under the dash. He pulled to the side of the road and droplets of fire was falling to the carpet.”
6 2012 Ram 2500
Today, the Ram 2500 is one of the most popular pickup truck models around. Nonetheless, not all its year models are without problems. Case in point is the 2012 Ram 2500 that received as many as 242 complaints and five recalls.
Of the recalls, one concerned the truck’s power train. According to NHTSA, “Being able to shift the transmission without pushing the brake pedal and/or without a key in the ignition can increase the risk of an unintended vehicle rollaway that may result in personal injury or a crash.” Meanwhile, another recall concerned the truck’s engine and engine cooling. The NHTSA stated that the “fuel heater may leak and could increase fire risk.”
5 2017 Chevrolet Colorado
As you can tell, the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado is a pretty recent pickup truck model. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have serious issues. In fact, it has already been the subject of 42 complaints and one recall, according to the NHTSA.
The recall concerned the truck’s gasoline fuel system. According to the NHTSA, “A damaged fuel line can create a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire.” Meanwhile, the majority of the complaints made were regarding the truck’s power train. One complaint stated, “I started smelling burning plastic, then when starting my vehicle in the morning the exhaust smell was so overpowering that it would gag us.”
4 2017 Nissan Titan
Just like Chevy Colorado, the 2017 model of the Nissan Titan also proved to be problematic. According to the NHTSA, this truck received 37 complaints and became the subject of two recalls.
Of the complaints, most concerned the truck’s engine. Of these, two had complained of having a unit with a “dead pedal.” That meant that the truck did not accelerate even you press the pedal. At the same time, there were also complaints raised on the truck’s vehicle speed control. One stated, “Unintended acceleration multiple times in my possession. A launch forward into another individual’s vehicle. Brought it back to the dealership for a second time with the same complaint and finally, they were able to duplicate the problem.”
3 2018 Chevrolet Colorado
The 2018 Chevy Colorado has been the subject of 46 complaints and one recall, according to CarComplaints.com. Most of the complaints reported transmission problems in the vehicle, specifically a shudder or vibration.
One complaint remarked, “A shudder coming from the transmission almost like driving over rumble strips in the road at certain speeds. They put in a new torque converter. Seemed fixed for 100 miles, then the problem came back.” Another complaint also spoke of the exact same issue with the truck, stating, “Vibrates like crazy when I’m driving between 20 and 60 miles maybe and start to accelerate. The whole truck vibrates.”
2 2018 GMC Canyon
Although quite new, the 2018 GMC Canyon is already the subject of one recall and nine reported complaints so far. According to the NHTSA, the recall was done due to a problem with the fuel pump. It further remarked, “The high-pressure fuel pump may detach from its mounting flange, possibly resulting in the pump damaging the high-pressure fuel line.” The said recall potentially pertains to 895 units.
Meanwhile, another issue raised in the complaints was regarding the power train. One stated, “Transmission clunks feels like your hit in the rear end. I thought I was rear-ended 3 times so far. My transmission surges forward from 4th to 5th gear. Very dangerous to wear I don’t want to drive the truck.”
1 2019 Ford Ranger
For some time now, many have anticipated the return of the Ford Ranger to the U.S. market. Unfortunately, its 2019 model is turning out to be quite a disappointment.
According to a report from Autoblog, the issue stems from the PRNDL wiring bezel. With this problem, the shifter can be prevented from locking into park. Because of this, it is possible to shift out of Park even if your foot is off the brake pedal. Clearly, this is a safety issue and Ford is looking to fix the problem as soon as possible. It is estimated that up to 3,500 models in the US and Canada are affected. That’s 3,000 units in the U.S. and 500 units in Canada.
Sources - Angela Krause Ford, CarComplaints.com, NHTSA, Motor Trend, It Still Runs & Jalopnik