What's the Most Reliable Pickup Ever Made?

1988 Toyota Pickup

Our Jalopnik friends have presented evidence that posits 80s-era Toyota trucks are perhaps the most reliable pickups ever made, citing a well worn 1988 model with almost 250,000 miles on its odometer and lack of major mechanical problems during its two decades-plus of existence.

Other examples seem to support this claim, such as Top Gear's fabled attempt to kill a similar vintage Hilux diesel.

So, is the mid-80s Toyota truck the most reliable pickup ever made or is there domestic iron that's been hauling since the 20th century that makes this small Toyota look like the tailgate on a 2007 Tundra?

Make your case!

Comments

I would have to think some Dodge Cummins powered trucks should be in the running as well, but that's just speculation on my part. I know I have read of some of those old Cummins powered Dodges reaching over a million miles.

I don't think that guy knows a lot about trucks. 250k is not any kind of record and it's not like this Toy can be used for real work.

I think what would qualify a truck as being the most reliable would have to do with how the truck is maintained and how it's driven, not by how or who builds it. My dad has a 1997 Chevy Silverado which he bought brand new, and it now has almost 200,000 miles on it, with the original engine and transmission. I myself, at one time, had a 1994 Chevy Silverado that had just over 150,000 miles on it when I traded it in for a new GMC Sierra. If I still had that truck, I'm sure it would have somewhere close to 300,000.

There are Fords and GMs with over 1,000,000 miles on them. 250K isn't bad, but it's far from being a record.

250k is just getting started. There are plenty of domestic trucks north of 250k miles.

The early Toyota pickups were pretty reliable all things considered however it was considered a mini-pickup, not too capable, and most did very little true work.

I have a 1986 K30 with 350,126 miles on it and it works everyday. the body may not look great but when anyone needed to be pulled out they know this truck can do the job when other fail.

that's a reliable pickup.

Bill

Well, after having traveled to Central and South America, I have been able to see many of these old Toyotas doing what many of you say they can't. I have seen them working! I'll give you a for instance... I was staying in an apartment in Zona 9 in Guatemala City when I saw this old truck hauling a load of concrete blocks and rebar. As best as I could tell from the body design it was a 1985-1988 Toyota and the bed was stacked full of blocks up to the height of the ladder rack where they were hauling the rebar while the driver was cruisin' on down the road. Sorry to say this, but there is a whole lot of world out there that a whole lot of people don't even think about. LET'S GET OUT OF THE BUBBLE! I'm not saying the domestics aren't good trucks, all I'm saying is that they aren't the only ones.

Although I do agree that toyotas from that era are very reliable, and I would put them on my list of most reliable trucks. They provide no evidence and 250k is a joke. One of my good friends has a 02 4 cylinder ranger nothing major done to it just a after market exhaust. Original trans/engine 350k miles. And ive used 80 f350s and silverados w/ 500k that are just rusty.

First thing, they all break at some point in time, but...
I just cant see how the '80's toys could be the unofficial winner of reliability. These trucks are pretty good mechanically, until they overheat a little and warp the heads. Granted it was not every vehicle, but still a common occurance. Oh, and the greatest killer of this reliability myth...RUST. You could almost hear these things rusting.
Look, all you have to do is go out there and count the number of '80's rangers and s-10's, and if you can hack the numerical challenge, count the number of 80's model pickups. Just be sure to know model year changes! I would prpbably go as far as letting you count toyota cars from the 80's....still won't pass the count of rangers and s-10's. I won't even ask you to count f-series and c/k pickups....and lets not forget the dandy-D.

The most reliable trucks out there have to be the old mechanically controlled Dodge/Cummins trucks. Every one of them bought works hard (after all that's why people buy them), and there are many of them way over 400K miles.

Nothing wrong with the little Toyota seen here, but how much has it been worked and still got to 250K miles? Propbably hauls around one or two people and no cargo for most of that 250K miles.

Most of those 80s Japanese pickups suffer from terrible rust problems. That 250k motor was probably hauling around a swiss cheese body and a bucket-of-bolts suspension.

Look, no one can really tell what is the most reliable truck ever made, unless we were all to make a list of all the trucks that go into repair shops, which is next to impossible. It's all about how well you maintain it, your driving habits, driving conditions, and what the truck is used for. For example, if you have a truck that you use for construction, but you don't do regular maintenance on it, it will not last as long as a truck that is used for daily driving and is well maintained, and this is true no matter what the brand.

I had a very comparable experience with my mid 80's Dodge. 1985 D150 1/2 ton with a 318 ci Rochester carbureted engine. I bought this truck new in 1985 and traded it in for a 2002 Ram 1500. I had almost 300, 000 miles on it when I traded it. I never had the engine or transmission out of it for any reason. The only issue I ever had, not including expendable items, was that mounts for the radiator cracked after only 15 years. I truly wish I had it back.

Did everyone not see what "Top Gear" did to one of these trucks. turned over and rolled into the ocean under water, droped on its roof, set on fire...on and on it went...and the damn thing still ran and drove away. 80's Toyota trucks are by a mile the most relaible...having owned 2 of them over the years, both had over 300k miles..only ever had to replace belts and hoses. You have to get the 22R or 22RE motors though...those are the best!

The least reliable pick up truck is Toyota. This pos and the idiots that judged it shows how little they know about trucks.

I don't think they are claiming that 250 000 miles is among the greatest mileage numbers of all time. I think they mean that in that 250 000 miles there was no major work done on the truck. No major parts needed. No major repairs.

As an owner of many Toyota trucks, the old 22r/re versions (especially the 2wd trucks) were pretty reliable and seemingly indestructible.

the Ford in line 6 cylinders are worth noting. I've gotten years of use with minimal repairs and regular maintenance. The worse enemy where i live, is rust and cold weather. The old foreign cars and trucks rust as fast as any vehicle if not faster. Compact trucks are not the same as full size trucks.

I put 275000 on my 85 S-10 with no motor problems and it did not smoke when I sold it.I was hard on it,burnouts etc. but I maintained it very well.I still see it driven around thought it doesn't look as good as when I had it.I now have a 07 Colorado and love it.The Toyota rep is hype as far as I'm concerned.

I own a 1993 ford ranger V-6 4.0 liter with almst 300,000 miles on it. The engine, alternator, and radiator are original. Had the manual trans rebuilt at 140,000 and 220,000. Replaced the fuel guage and starter motor.l I will drive it until the motor blows up.

I'm a partner in a landscaping company and we run 46 pick-ups involving all major brands. Hands-down by far the most bullet-proof reliable pick-up is the Toyota brand. Second best I would say is Dodge. GM's are the worst with some Ford's being good but overall most of them are below Toyota and Dodge by a long shot. I can easily expect 375,000 from my Toyota's before any type of even minor problem surface. The Dodge's are good about 300k and then they start falling apart. The GM's and most Ford's will nickle and dime you from 50,000 on. Toyota makes one durable truck.

Ford trucks are just getting warmed up at 250,000 miles. There are more F-Series trucks on the road with over 250,000 miles than any other brand, according to R.L. Polk & Co. vehicle registrations. In fact, in the world of Built Ford Tough, trucks with one million miles are not unheard of. Furthermore, F-Series trucks have been the best-selling vehicle (cars, trucks, CUVs, SUVs, vans) in the U.S. for 27 straight years and the best-selling truck for 32 years.



Ever driven a '79 Ford truck with an inline 6? I had one in high school. I wanted that engine to die so I would have to replace it with v-8. I could not kill that engine. WOT neutral drops. Pull it in 1st gear and hold it to the floor. Beat it through fields and ditches. That truck would not die. And when I got it, it had already over a 100k on it. IF nothing else, that truck deserves an honerable mention. I punished that thing and it ran just as good the day I sold it as the day I bought it.

I agree with several ideas that preceed this comment:

1)The old toyotas are good trucks, but not intended to tow everyday of its life.
2)The Ford straight 6 is probably the best and motor reliable motor that Ford has ever built.
3)Too bad the Cummins motor was put into a Dodge - because the motor will last twice as long as the truck will.
4)Of the trucks produced in the past 10 years - it would be hard to beat either the F-150 or the 99-2006.5 Silverados, I personally know of F-150s and Silverados that have 250,000+ miles on them that have little more done to them then oil changes, belts, and batteries. (the F-150 is a landscape truck that pulls a trailer everywhere it goes; and the Silverado pulls a bass boat through the mountains of NC at least 3 times a month).
5)If you properly maintain a Chevy 350, you can easily get 300,000 miles out of it - too bad the same is not true about the transmissions that go behind them.

maybe ford is the best seller because ppl have to buy a new one very couple of years.........and why does everybody say dodge doesnt last long my family and i have had at least 6 trucks each with over 400k...and we put em thru towing,hauling, and off roading..hard off roading

I have a 1998 Dodge Ram that has 270,000 thats had no major issues. Also had a 1986 Dodge pickup with over 300,000 on it.

The 80's small import pickups were the fashion statement trucks of their time. The 70's Chevy LUV was much more of a do everything vehicle than the Toyota they mention. It also shared the "rust to death" syndrome with the Toy however. Nothing wrong with some Toyotas - the T100 was a good work truck if you didn't need a full size but wanted to haul and tow. The 90's Tacoma was a rust bucket and did not have run forever reliability despite Toyota advertising (lying?) that it was so reliable that 128% of the trucks ever built were still on the road.

On the farm we have 2 k10 sierra diesels with over 350k on them each. Almost nothing on them works except the engine and transmission. They're both very solid.

My Father had a 1986 Toyota 4x4 truck that would not die, bought it brand new and sold it with around 319,000 miles on it to some kid who rolled it wheeling a week later. My fondest memories were in the passenger seat of that truck with my father. He would take me wheeling and to his favorite hunting and fishing spots. It was a great recreation truck. My father's friend got rid of a mid-70's Ranger in 2004, He had bought it new, and clocked over 400,000 miles on it. It rode SO HORRIBLE, but ran good (besides it being very noisy). He made a tax write off out of it.

You can keep any truck running, thats not what makes them dependable. Dependable is not having to repair the truck every year. I currently have a 2006 Dodge Dakota with a V6 and 6 speed manual. We will see.

I can say that these trucks are very dependable I have owned three of them one 1985 (which I have had since high school)and two 1987 all trucks had well over 200,000 miles with minimal maintenance. I also worked for Toyota in 1985 to 1988 and we had tons of these trucks rolling into the dealership about three to four transports a day! as they were still built in Japan (quality). I took a chance and purchased a 2002 Tacoma and was not Impressed with it had it a year and then it was totaled in an accident. Also go check out LC Engineering.com they have some sweet as engines for these trucks with the stage 5 over 200 HP for a 4 cylinder!

Small Toyota's are the most relaible. Everyone that disagrees is just jealous or has never owned one.

My first truck I bought after leaving the Marines was an 86 Toyota 4x4 with 32" tires on it. I took it mudding and embarassed many full-size trucks in the off-road world with just a 4-cylinder 22R engine powering the truck with 35" tires.

From there I raced 7 desert off-road races with over 120,000 miles on the drivetrain and never looked back.

I sold the race truck and bought an 86 2WD long-box for $300 and that thing lasted many years and through many winters and sold it to a farmer who is still using it today.

I also bought an 85 2WD and built it up with 33" tires and made it into a prerunner and sold it to some racers. That thing just kept on running.

I now have a 97 Tacoma and what can I say it starts up everyday and gives me little problems. Since I bought my first Toyota back in 1992, I have had no reason to buy another truck. Toyota's have been solid and reliable and I will continue to buy their trucks.

And as I travel the world, it is nice to see so many Toyota trucks the world over!

By the way Toyota's were the first mechanized vehicles to cross Antarctica and 2 Toyota trucks were the first vehicles to make it to the north pole!

my ford e-350 work van has 325000 and runs strong. only replace the trans starter and things like that

Response to "a bucket of bolts suspension". I own a 1980 Toyota P/U with a one piece of front suspension(the front axle), there are no adjustments possible or necessary because it just huge piece of axle almost impossible to break or bent. I take it off road all the time, I haul lawn mowing equipment and I drive it everyday to school .It will continue to work after most of the other brands leave us. The truck as a whole with all its components (std. transmission, engine cooling system, suspension, engine, axles, a/c and simplicity ) is not an outlier (speaking statistics ) in this brand and model it is the average and representation of the condition of the majority of such of its kind. Try to look for one in a junkyard and you can make it work, I did and it worked.

What's the point of having an engine that can make 500,000 miles when the rest of the truck rust so fast the engine after 100K will fall on the road.

That's Toyota problem in the 80's

COME ON!!! everyone here knows a mid 80s toyota is FAR more reliable than any domestic pickup truck (im talking about the light, 4 cylinder pickups of coarse, not the huge monsters of trucks some people are mentioning in the post) now i relize that any motor can make it 300k + if its proporly maintained.
to prove my point....GO TO ANY JUNK YARD YOU WILL FIND MORE FORDS AND CHEVYS THAN YOU WOULD TOYOTAS

I ABUSE my 92 Toyota 4x4 truck. Its got the "junk" V6 motor, and it's still rock solid. 209k miles and not even close to quittin' yet. I don't care what anyone says about any other truck, this one's tough as nails. Destroys Rangers and S10's, only thing it won't do it outrun 'em haha.

i do think toyota truck are reliable..but what model is casue some model are not that mutch reliable same wit ford and gmc or dodge...we have to say what models and motrs etc..cause there some prob in all off them.

iss gmc having a lot off brake probs.

ford motor prob.

dodge front end probs.

so please guive us models and years..because it can defer a lot.

plus new truck might not be as reliable as old ones.


joco

first i would like to say any truck that you can get up in anykind of weather 20 degrees below or raining hail at ya and turn the key without pumping the accelator and starts up and is ready to put in gear and go without stalling well thats a good truck MY TRUCK HAS 562,O67 AS OF TODAY ORINGAL MILES ON IT AND THE MOTOR BESIDES EVERYDAY MAIENTENCE ON IT IS STILL GOING STRONG AND IS MUCH DEPENDABLE ITS A 94 GMC 4X4 milege is recorded through the chevy delerships

For compact trucks, I'd have to go with the Toyota. I know of several used for courier service (auto parts delivery) that have racked up over 400,000 miles without major repairs needed.

For fullsize trucks I have to go with Ford owing to personal experience, as I have a 1996 F-150 with over 290,000 miles (about 100,000 pulling a 7,000 lb race car trailer and another 50,000 pulling farm implements and hay wagons). The old 300 straight six never lets me down. All I have had to do is oil changes every 5,000 miles, coolant flush and fill every two years, and plugs and wires every 30,000 miles. It has only asked for one water pump and I have about 75,000 miles on the second clutch. Overall the truck has only required minimal non-maintenance items, such as a new exhaust, a few sets of tires, a set of shocks, and radius arm bushings. She doesn't use any oil, and just passed an emissions test without a catalytic converter (my converter clogged up right before inspection and I had to go in without the converter, just a beat out shell, and it passed with 128 PPM HCs with 220 allowable, and .08% CO with 1.2% allowed!). FYI, I am running legal again, as I found a converter cheap on EBAY and put it on) The only letdown with this truck is the crappy Ford power steering pumps. I am on my third one already. I definitely would like to replace that with a GM piece (allegedly some Ford vans with the 300 used a Saginaw pump; I'd love to get my hands on one and replace my Ford pump). I know Chevys, Dodges, Nissans, Mazdas, and others have all done well also, and I am not discounting that. I am just reporting my personal experiences.

Personally I was a Chevy man, till I owned one. My Grandad had a 94 F 150 and that thing was crap, It barely had 100000 miles on it before it fell apart....The cummings in a dodge is bulletproof, but the rest of the truck is not so good. Toyota Pickups are the most reliable trucks hands down. 250000 definately isn't a record, but the only GMC's, Ford's, or Dodges that reach over 200k have to be WEll maintained and garage kept. Every time you see a Toyota 4x4, what does it have on it? Big tires and Mud. People abuse those little trucks everyday, and they still keep going, I should know,,I now own three. As far as power, you can't beat a Chevy, Ford, or Dodge. Thats what American Muscle is all about, but if you really want to try my 83 Toyota 4x4, go ahead, its rolled the odometer 3 times. But I really don't care if anyone likes Toyota or not, because one of these days, you will be on the side of the road with your hood up, and I'll pass you,Ha, Yall take it easy.

With my experience, I was a Chevy man, till I owned one. My 94 F-150 fell apart before 100k. Of course the 80's model Toyota's weren't built for pulling, but no one can question their reliability. If you take care of any truck, there is the possiblity of it going the distance. But what if you don't take care of it? What truck would last? The Toyota......Look around, just about every Toyota you see has Big tires and is covered in mud. People abuse these little trucks and they keep on going. For power you can't beat a Dodge, Chevy, or Ford. But they can hang with a Toyota. You all claim to have Fords, Chevys, and Dodges with 250k but you don't see many of them on the road in my area of the country(we actually use trucks). My 83' Toyota has never let me down, and I would put it up against any other truck. But again, for power, you can't beat American Muscle.

I have personally seen these little trucks haul things I would not have attempted with my full size Chevy trucks.

The old Chevy trucks were great..but when I roll out into the desert of the mountains, I want a Toyota because I know I'll roll back!

I think in truth there is no such thing. If there was, the auto companies would never make money from it and it would be discontinued and quietly swept under the rug.
sorry.

when i go about trying to determine the most reliable truck, i must first wade through all of the macho north american attitude and attempt to stick to scientific facts

would someone please stand up and do some sort of real life test to determine this

I think the Toyota is the most reliable. Because Consumer Reports has a reliability report based on consumer surveys.

My first vehicle was a 1985 Toyota Hilux with the 4 cyl. 4 speed man. tranny. I had just broke the 390k mile marker on a trip from Kansas City to La Crosse, WI when I was hit by a semi truck. I lived, the truck didn't.

The entire time it was owned I never had to replace anything other than tires, battery, alternator, belt, lamp bulbs, and spark plugs. That's it. It never had the joy of meeting a mechanic.

Now as it was my first vehicle I babied it... Yeah right. I didn't know any better and I tried to kill that poor truck. Since it was a truck I just assumed that it should be able to off-road whenever I felt the desire to drive it off a curb or into a gravel pit to practice donuts and e-brake turns. I didn't know that it was supposed to be too small to haul anything so I moved all of my friends and made some new friends (read: young women) when they needed someone with a truck. I don't know if you could pull a boat with it, but one night I found out it could haul 13 college girls to the Mississipi river and isn't that a more important statistic?

One night camping and after having too much to drink me and two of my buddies got into a "debate" on who had the best truck. In an idiots move we all drove our trucks down a tree filled hill. It had been raining so none of us got back up the hill with our trucks. The next day, with a splitting headache, I climbed back down the hill and started climbing back up. About every 10 feet or so I had to get out and put sandbags under the rear wheels but I made it up. One truck got towed about 2 miles and through a creek before it got back to a road and the other is still there as far as I know.

Never lost a race in it either... now of course I wasn't stupid enough to race to the next block. My races were always to someplace like Madison (2 hours away) or the Badlands in South Dakota (6 hours). It didn't have much for accelaration but you could beat anyone in an endurance race. Anyone.

I can't really tell you what it couldn't do. Rust wasn't an issue because I washed it regularly and waxed it about once a month. It did everything I ever asked it to, no matter how dumb the request was. No company will ever be STUPID enough to build another vehicle this reliable.

I have and use everyday a 1983 GMC S-15 it has 619000 miles on it. it still has all of its oem parts I have changed out the brakes and water pump everthing else is factory. Best of all it is made in the USA. It has never let me down. I do not know what the record is but if it keeps going maybe it will some day set a new one.

I have a 1988 toyota 4x4 with 182,000 miles on it. Still new basically. My sister brought it new in 88 and I made fun of her due to I was a Mopar and Chevy fan,....yeas both mopar and chevy!...I know I know. Anyway, I had a 1980 jeep grand wagoneer with a stock 360 and flipped axles. I still believe these full body jeeps rank up there in reliability. the 360's were underbuilt and could take whatever was thrown at it. But bakc to the Toyota. I made fun of her until she pulled me out of a mudhole back in 89. Since that time I have slowly swallowed my pride until I purchased a 78 toyota SR5 2 wd while out in CO. this car had 216,00 miles on it when I brought it. I was leary but it ran so good I couldnt pass it for the money. Long story short; I put anohter 100,000 on it runnin it all over CO passes, fire trails, ahuling things it never hsould have hauled and it lived. I ended up selling it to a buddy with 316,000 miles on it for 1300 dollars back in 2000. It now has over 450,000 miles on it and all he has ever done was replace the timing chain assembly the fuel pump / filter and usual fluid change. This is of course the 22r motor. I have the 22re motor in my 88 and have been thrilled with it. I haul and overload my truck with firewood every year and it keeps ticking. The 3.0 and 3.4 motors from toyota are not the same quality as the 22r/re. So if you have a 80's 22r/re you really do have one of the most reliable trucks ever made. I hate to admit this because my roots are still with Mopar and Chevy but those foreigners knew how to build em in the eighties.

Im so tired of hillbilly chevy guys bragging about how great thier truck is and how it has a million miles on it but forget to mention the many thangs that commonly break on the truck like the doorhandles the frame by the stearing box and so on. The 22r and 22re both would and will outlast and american engine many times over. if there is any machinest on here please explane this. If your commenting because you know a friend or have a dad or some retarded story about how many miles a chevy or ford truck lasted well than i guess that driving a chevy truck with no windshield wipers or hitting the breaks on an 80s ford with a worn out fron ttb front end that send you into a death wobble doesnt realy matter as long as the engine still runs!



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