10 of the Cheapest Trucks to Maintain

The average transaction price for a brand-new 2019 full-size pickup is right around $50,000. With that in mind, a lot of truck customers are looking for ways to save money, and that includes by shopping for the cheapest trucks to maintain. We’ve focused on two key areas today to help.

We first wanted pickups that were likely to be reliable, so that you wouldn’t have as many repairs to make. But we further investigated how much it typically costs when there is something to fix. After all, a truck with a single repair bill of $500 takes more from your bank account that one that needs two $50 fixes. Smaller trucks are also less expensive to maintain than bigger ones — usually. Note that two intriguing pickups are too new for us to have maintenance-cost information, so we haven’t included them here: the 2019 Ford Ranger and 2020 Jeep Gladiator. 

Photo Credit: Ford

2019 Ford F-150

Our list of the cheapest trucks to maintain goes in reverse order, starting with the 2019 Ford F-150. The Blue Oval’s full-size pickup fares pretty well when it comes to repair frequency: It tends to visit the shop less often than most of its rivals. Yet when fixes are needed, they can get pricey.

Part of this, of course, is the flipside to some vital Ford advantages. A key reason the F-150 is so capable and fuel-efficient is that it relies on weight-saving aluminum for certain body panels — and aluminum can be more expensive to work with than steel. The truck also features advanced technologies for connectivity, driver assistance, and trailering. All bring important benefits but also the potential for a costly repair.

Photo Credit: GMC

2019 GMC Sierra

The next three of our cheapest trucks to maintain are all very closely matched. They may not be quite as reliable as the Ford F-150, but they have lower average repair costs. This trio consists of the other three domestic full-size pickups, and unsurprisingly, it’s the 2019 GMC Sierra that costs the most to keep up with. That’s the price you pay for the truck’s Professional Grade positioning.

On the other hand, that price does cover a variety of high-end equipment and plenty of rugged capability. Remember, too, that the average Sierra repair cost takes into account the luxurious Denali trim. With that model, you can enjoy fancy but expensive-to-fix goodies like a digital rearview mirror, LED headlights, and a multi-color head-up display.

Photo Credit: General Motors

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado shares much of its hardware with the GMC Sierra, and it visits the shop just about as often. The difference is that the Bowtie brand’s more mainstream appeal can mean a slightly lower financial burden for repairs. As a result, the Silverado may be a better choice if you’re shopping for the cheapest trucks to maintain.

Not that the Chevy doesn’t offer its share of upscale content. For example, you can order the 2019 Silverado with a full array of LED exterior lighting, power-retractable running boards, and a class-exclusive power-opening and power-closing tailgate. Chevrolet also gives you one free dealer visit — for an oil change, tire change, and inspection — which helps defray costs at least somewhat.

Photo Credit: Ram Trucks

2019 Ram 1500

Although Fiat-Chrysler doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, the company’s full-size half-ton pickup — the 2019 RAM 1500 — actually ranks right in the middle of the pack on our list of the cheapest trucks to maintain. The newly redesigned Ram has essentially the same numbers as the Chevrolet Silverado, but with its own unique content.

For instance, the Ram is equipped with a standard light-hybrid powertrain for fuel efficiency, and it’s available with the only air suspension in the segment. The truck then showcases some of the segment’s top technologies, from mobile Wi-Fi to automatic emergency braking to a Harman Kardon audio system. To help counter the cost of fixing any of that stuff, the truck rides on a new frame that makes it the “strongest RAM 1500 ever.” 

Photo Credit: GMC

2019 GMC Canyon

The 2019 GMC Canyon is the most expensive mid-size truck to keep up with according to our online research. However, the Canyon does qualify as one of the cheapest trucks to maintain when you consider the bigger beasts: You see, despite having a typical score for repair frequency, the Canyon’s average repair costs are roughly 10 percent lower than any of the previously mentioned full-size pickups.

Also, as with the GMC Sierra, part of the Canyon’s costliness has to do with its premium positioning and range-topping Denali trim. So the risk of an expensive repair is balanced by the fact you’re enjoying a more upscale truck — albeit one that’s tough enough to tow up to 7,700 pounds with its optional diesel engine.

Photo Credit: Toyota

2019 Toyota Tundra

Foreign-branded full-size pickups can’t provide the same peak levels of capability, technology, luxury, or performance as the domestics, but they are the cheapest trucks to maintain in the segment. The 2019 Toyota Tundra hits the sweet spot, since it leads the way for dependability and only one other full-size pickup has lower average repair costs.

Interestingly, that’s the case even though the Tundra boasts more standard safety technology than most pickups — and more than many cars, too. All Tundras carry adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking, a forward-collision warning, a lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and a rearview camera. The Tundra also matches the smaller Toyota Tacoma with a complimentary routine maintenance package that extends for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Photo Credit: Nissan

2019 Nissan Titan

The good news for the 2019 Nissan Titan is that it’s the cheapest truck to maintain in the full-size segment. You’ll read the bad news in the Titan’s less-than-stellar reliability ratings. The big Nissan is also notable for serving up connectivity features that you won’t find in the Toyota Tundra, including standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Toyota doesn’t offer those technologies at all.

Additionally, the Titan does protect your bank account with one of the segment’s longest warranties. Nissan touts bumper-to-bumper coverage for five years or 100,000 miles. The comparable warranty for the Ford F-150 stops after 60,000 miles.

Photo Credit: Chevrolet

2019 Chevrolet Colorado

The 2019 Chevrolet Colorado, like the larger Chevy Silverado, serves up a factory bonus on its way to being one of the cheapest trucks to maintain: Colorado buyers will benefit from one free dealership visit for an oil change, tire rotation, and a multi-point vehicle inspection. It’s a small advantage, but it’s one that you don’t see with the Colorado’s corporate cousin, the GMC Canyon.

The Bowtie brand’s baby pickup also has significantly lower average repair costs than the GMC Canyon — plus technologies and capabilities that aren’t available from the import brands. This includes everything from a mobile W-Fi hotspot to a trailer rating of 7,700 pounds. The Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are limited to 1,000 and 900 pounds less, respectively.

Photo Credit: Nissan

2019 Nissan Frontier

The cheapest trucks to maintain also include the 2019 Nissan Frontier. One key advantage in this regard is that the entry-level Frontier doesn’t have much content to maintain in the first place. Power mirrors, power door locks, power windows, and air conditioning are all optional. Nor does Nissan offer the kind of expensive-to-fix driver-assistance technology that you can get from other trucks in the segment. A rearview camera is standard for the Frontier, but that’s where the list ends.

Now, you can order Nissan’s mid-size pickup with premium equipment like heated leather seats, and actually taking the off-road models off road always has the potential for damage. Yet the Frontier balances that because it’s also relatively reliable, while repair costs should be relatively low. 

Photo Credit: Toyota

2019 Toyota Tacoma

The No. 1 choice among the cheapest trucks to maintain is the 2019 Toyota Tacoma. It scores well for both predicted reliability and repair costs, more than living up to Toyota’s rock-solid reputation for quality. Toyota also keeps maintenance costs down by taking a page from the luxury brands: Routine service is covered for free for the first two years or 25,000 miles of ownership.

That said, every Tacoma does come with an impressive range of safety technology. You’ll no doubt gain extra driving confidence from the standard adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking, a forward-collision warning, a lane-departure alert, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. But you may have to pay extra if these features need to be fixed.

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