If you’re in the market for a truck, you have plenty of options. Just about every car manufacturer offers at least one or two pickup-style trucks for you to choose from. If you’re buying used, your choices skyrocket since you’re selecting not just the make and model, but the model year, too.
You need to choose wisely. Even reliable manufacturers will sometimes produce mediocre or even dangerous models. When you’re buying a used truck, it’s worthwhile to do your research and discover the models and years to avoid.
You can start here. Below, you’ll find three of the worst makes and models released in the last five years. Keep reading to learn which truck models to avoid and why they’re so likely to be a lemon.
2015 and 2016 Chevy Colorado
Some people swear by Chevy when it comes to pickups. However, they’ve had some problems in recent years. In particular, the Chevy Colorado is known for having some serious complaints. In 2015 and 2016, the truck saw critical issues that led many people to file complaints with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The truck was reintroduced to the US market in 2015 after significant redesigns, and these improvements came with a number of bugs.
First, many people complained about transmission problems. Complaints include sluggish transmissions that won’t downshift properly. In particular, many drivers find that their trucks won’t upshift or downshift appropriately on hills, which can burn out the motor. This may be connected to the number of engine stalling issues the car had, too.
Next, the NHTSA alone has received 228 complaints about the steering system. The most common problem was the loss of power steering, which can be deadly. Without power steering, the driver must be able to physically pull the steering wheel to turn the truck.
Oh, and one other important note. The Chevy Colorado is mechanically identical to the GMC Canyon. General Motors makes both trucks, and they’re built on the same platform. As a result, the 2015 and 2016 GMC Canyon has all of these problems, too. If you’re looking for a used compact pickup, avoid these model years for both vehicles.
Common problems with the Chevy Colorado:
- Transmission won’t downshift or upshift around hills
- Loss of power steering
- Engine stalls
Verdict: If you love GM brands, get a Colorado or a Canyon made in 2017 or later, when reviews rose significantly as model issues were resolved.
2021 and 2022 GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500
We’re back with General Motors for the second entry on this list. The most recent model years of the GMC Sierra and the Chevy Silverado have been recalled for fire risks. These issues are so blatant that General Motors has issued a warning to owners of 2021-2022 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras to park outside away from flammable objects. More than 3000 of these vehicles have been recalled.
The issue appears to be due to a manufacturing error with the brake pressure modulator valve assemblies. According to the recall report, the bolts connecting these assemblies are not tight enough. As a result, water may get into the assembly and lead to fires under the hood of these trucks.
These models are very new, so reports about other problems are still coming in. However, the NHTSA has already received more than two dozen reports about electrical issues in these vehicles. These issues range from power steering not working to the backup camera failing to run. These issues are less immediately dangerous than engine fires but still pose a threat to drivers.
Common problems with the GMC Sierra:
- Engine fires when the truck gets wet
- Power steering failures
- Electrical errors such as the backup camera failing
Verdict: Don’t buy the most recent Sierra and Silverado models. Instead, go back a few years to get better road-tested models like the 2018.
2019 Ram 1500
Now we’re on a different brand: Ram. The 2019 Ram 1500 is a bad model year from an otherwise reliable manufacturer. In 2019, the truck was redesigned with new quad- and crew-cab models. However, as with most redesigns, some lingering issues were only discovered once the trucks were on the road.
First and foremost, the truck had a variety of electrical issues that were reported to the NHTSA. These issues ranged from flickering headlights to a complete failure to start. The instrument board may also go dark, leaving drivers unable to tell their speed.
The transmission is also known to be faulty. At less than 11,000 miles, drivers may start noticing that the truck won’t shift out of first gear. Drivers also report grinding noises, stalled engines, and dropping out of gear while stopped or even while running.
The steering column has its problems, too. Drivers notice grinding noises when they turn the car. The power steering may also go out at irregular intervals, causing the vehicle to lock up. The steering issue has led to crashes and injuries on cars with fewer than 40,000 miles.
Common problems with the Dodge Ram:
- Electrical system malfunctions
- Transmission gets stuck in first gear or downshifts unexpectedly
- Steering wheel locking up and grinding noises when turning
Verdict: If you want a recent used Ram 1500, either get the 2018 model or the 2020 model. Just skip the 2019 to avoid the problems introduced with the redesign.
Don’t Get Stuck with a Dangerous Truck
No truck is immune from occasional mechanical problems. However, there’s a big difference between trucks with mechanical issues from wear and tear and those that just don’t work. If you’re looking to buy a new-to-you truck, you should avoid makes and model years that are known to have problems, like the ones on this list.
If you’ve already bought a truck on this list, though, you’re not out of luck. You might be able to get it taken care of under California’s lemon law. If you’re not sure whether you qualify, you should contact a lemon law lawyer to find out. Reach out today to learn whether you could potentially have your lemon of a truck repaired or replaced.