10 Best Used Trucks Under $10,000

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10 Best Used Trucks Under $10,000

Few will argue with the contention that the most American vehicle on the road is the pickup truck. Whether it is hauling lumber to a construction site or pulling a bass boat to the lake, the pickup truck has a special place in our culture. Country music artists sing about them, teenagers crave them and ranchers depend upon them until the cows come home. But a new truck might just be out of your financial reach. To help deal with that economic fact of life, we at Kelley Blue Book with the aid of our Master Mechanic have put together this list of the best used trucks under $10,000. No, they won’t have that new-truck smell, but taken care of correctly they can be your faithful companion for years to come. At publishing time, every model on this list has a Kelley Blue Book Fair Market Value of less than $10,000, and none is more than 10 years old.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $9,520

Recommended engine: 5.4-liter V8

The Ford F-250 Super Duty takes the full-size truck to the next level. Whether you're into construction, farming or leisure-time hauling, the F-250 will deliver an impressive level of capability, refinement and convenience. Depending on spec, an F-250 can ride like a limousine or be one tough son of a work truck. The interesting thing is the F-250’s schizophrenia. This truck often is a sweetheart up until 100,000 miles or so, and then it can turn on you. After passing the hundred grand mark, owners have seen fuel pumps and fuel pump driver modules fail, and they have also encountered engine and transmission problems. So look for a low-mileage example and treat it with TLC.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $9,642

Recommended engine (may increase price): 5.4-liter V8

This truck has many similarities with the Ford F-250 Super Duty that precedes in on this list, with essentially the same strengths and weaknesses. As a full-size hauler the F-150 has few equals. A comfy interior accompanies a seriously capable work machine. Since it shares some engine and transmission configurations with the #10 F-250, it has many of the same problems as the miles roll up. Timing chains can be an issue with the available 5.4-liter engine, sometimes requiring engine replacement. And shifting problems with the transmission can also require a costly out-of-warranty replacement. Again, look for a well-maintained, low-mileage model or seek out a vehicle that has already had an engine and/or trans replacement.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $8,211

Recommended engine (may increase price): 6.0-liter V8 

Riding on a GM full-size truck platform, the 2008 Chevrolet Silverado offers a markedly better ride-and-handling combination than previous-generation Chevy and GMC trucks and the same-vintage Ford F-150. The platform includes a fully boxed frame, coil-over-shock front suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering, and the result is a maneuverable, comfortable vehicle. Power delivery is more than ample, especially in the available 6.0-liter V8, but there are some issues to look out for. Fuel injector problems can occur, and while cleaning them can fix many of the problems, sometimes they need to be replaced. When oil pressure lights glow on the dash, it is usually caused by a bad oil pressure sending unit, a pesky problem. An ABS C0161 code is also common, indicated by an illuminated ABS light, and this typically indicates a bad brake light switch. Our Master Mechanic has also seen high-mileage Silverados of this model year afflicted with valve lifter problems, so look for low-mile vehicles or those that have already had significant engine work.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $7,396

Recommended engine (may increase price): 5.7-liter V8

Rams have become known as the most comfortable and carlike of the full-size pickups, and the 2008 Dodge Ram is no exception. Its available Hemi V-8 delivers 345 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of peak torque, and the five-speed automatic provides smooth power delivery at any reasonable speed. These are good-looking trucks with comfortable interiors, but they do encounter some problems. One of the most prevalent occurs with the exhaust gas recirculation system, and it usually requires replacement of the EGR valve. Our Master Mechanic has also seen failures of the transmission solenoid packs, and sometimes this requires the replacement of the transmission. Ouch! Some Ram 1500s have also encountered problems with the evaporative emission system, and check engine lights are bothersome. The key to overall satisfaction is finding a truck with a solid transmission, so give each vehicle a careful test drive and have it inspected by a mechanic you trust. The Dodge Ram 1500 can be a great all-around vehicle, but an expensive transmission replacement won’t get the relationship started right.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $9,116

Engine: 3.5-liter V6

The Honda Ridgeline is not a conventional pickup truck, and in the eyes of many of its owners that is the beauty of it. It offers a roomy cabin for four with a great set of front bucket seats plus a unique storage compartment below the truck bed. Ride comfort is similar to a minivan, and there are mechanical similarities too. Another similarity is the Ridgeline offers traditional Honda quality. Our Master Mechanic has encountered a few with misfire codes, but those are most often caused by lack of maintenance. If you don’t tune them up, all of a sudden they run poorly at about 100,000 miles. New spark plugs are often the cure, but the Honda engine can experience “carboned-up” valves. Usually a decarbonizing procedure will work, but sometimes a valve job is needed. Catalytic converters typically fail at about 160,000 miles, and some owners have seen hub bearing assemblies fail before reaching 100,000 miles. Still, long-time Ridgeline owners swear by (instead of at) their vehicles.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $9,034

Recommended engine: 3.7-liter V6

Labeled a midsize pickup truck, the Dodge Dakota offers a trimmer package that makes it easier to negotiate congested city traffic and crowded parking lots than recent-vintage full-size pickups. It is available in four distinct trim levels with the choice of aft-hinged rear doors (Extended Cab) or four conventional doors (Crew Cab). Standard is a capable 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6. Dependability is strong, but there are a few issues. One is the heater core. It can plug up, preventing flow through the core and thus delivering no heat in the passenger compartment. If you like it hot, this one is not for you. And levity aside, this can be an expensive repair. Some Dakotas also have catalytic converter failures around 100,000 miles, and those too are not cheap to fix. That said, a well-maintained, low-mile Dakota can be a terrific all-around vehicle, neither too big nor too small.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $8,764

Recommended engine (may increase price): 4.0-liter V6

The 2010 Ford Ranger offers good road manners and a handy size smaller than its full-size brother, the F-150. Some were equipped with 2.3-liter four-cylinder engines and a five-speed manual transmission but the 4.0-liter V6 with automatic transmission is a good upgrade. Although not the most powerful in its class, the 4.0-liter engine provides the Ranger with brisk acceleration and a 6,000-pound tow rating. Things to watch out for include thermostat failure, but happily the thermostats fail in the open position so there are no overheating issues. There is also a Technical Service Bulletin for replacement of the left catalytic converter. Average failure is at about 55,000 miles but the “cats” are warrantied from the factory for eight years or 80,000 miles, so that’s no big issue. Our Master Mechanic has seen some failures of the shift-interlock solenoid. When they fail you aren’t going anywhere because you can’t get the truck out of Park. Heater-blend door actuators can also be a problem. Other than that it’s a good truck.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $9,598

Recommended engine (may increase price): 5.3-liter V8

Yet another midsize, the GMC Canyon is rated #3 because of its dependability. The mirror image of its sister vehicle the Chevrolet Colorado, the GMC adds a few upscale touches, but for the most part, the two trucks are interchangeable. As with the Colorado, the Canyon offers a choice of four-, five- or eight-cylinder engines in two- or four-wheel drive. Our engine of choice is the 5.3-liter V8. The Canyon had a national recall for its shift-position indicator, which may keep it from starting in Park or may make it roll away on exit. General Motors will cover that, and we assume most vehicles involved have been fixed. The Canyon also has a problem with the throttle body, but GM has extended warranty coverage on that item to 10 years and 120,000 miles. Our Master Mechanic has also seen problems with the variable valve timing system, usually in high-mile vehicles with low maintenance. Get a well-maintained example, change the oil and you’ll have a good truck.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $7,781

Recommended engine (may increase price): 4.0-liter V6

Why is a 2007 model on the same list with 2011 and 2010 models? In the Tacoma’s case, the reason is dependability. While the truck has worthy opponents, none can touch the Tacoma's long history of reliability and high resale value. Wrapped in muscular sheetmetal, with a powerful V6 engine available, the Tacoma has much to offer those who take their pickup trucks seriously. Like the larger Toyota Tundra, the Tacoma is pretty well trouble-free. Owners have encountered some problems with ABS wheel speed sensors and hub bearing assemblies, but usually only on high-mileage trucks (over 100,000 miles). Occasionally, park neutral switches have been replaced on these vehicles for a “no-start” condition, but that is an infrequent problem. Don’t let its advanced age scare you off. A 2007 Tacoma is a good truck that can deliver many long years of faithful service.

Starting Fair Purchase Price: $9,786

Recommended engine (may increase price): 5.7-liter V8

The U.S.-built Tundra is a big, comfortable truck that features side airbags and electronic stability control. While its owners love its reliability and ease of operation, it was also the first full-size pickup to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award. We rate this truck #1 for several reasons, reliability, comfort and the power to pull a sizable load among them. The only real mechanical problem that has cropped up is with the auxiliary air-pump system. Toyota has come up with a revision for this system that involves replacement of the air pump and check valve, and the good news is the fix has extended warranty coverage to 10 years and 150,000 miles from Toyota. All other systems on this truck have very infrequent problems with low repair costs. As our Master Mechanic puts it, “It is a real great truck.”


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