Which are the Nissan Frontier years to avoid? The Nissan Frontier is known for being a no-frills, capable small pickup truck. The Nissan Frontier Pro-4X is an affordable option for people seeking more off-road adventures away from the paved road.
The most recent model of the Nissan Frontier was released in 2005. The 2020 model is most likely the final one of this generation because there hasn’t been a significant redesign in a long. As time passed, things evolved. The 2020 model is powered by a V6 with 310 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Compared to the Nissan Frontier’s manual gearbox and 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, this is a remarkable increase.
Older versions had a 4.0 V-6 engine available, but it sacrificed fuel economy for power. There were two different gearbox options: a five-speed automatic and a five-speed manual. Despite having a rougher ride than its predecessor, this Frontier handles better than it did.
The crash test results for the Frontier are concerning. While IIHS had a different assessment, the NHTSA granted them a four-star rating. In both of the recently implemented crash tests, the Frontier did just ok.
Additionally, it lacks features that are standard in many cars for driver aid. Despite the troubling crash test results, the Frontier is a solid choice for a truck if you want something trustworthy and practical.
The 2022 Nissan Frontier has just undergone a revamp. It has a 3.8-liter V6 engine with a nine-speed automated gearbox and 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque to provide you the power you need for both on- and off-road adventures.
The excellent predicted dependability rating of the most recent Nissan Frontier models, according to Consumer Reports, can be the finest argument in favor of buying one. However, previous Nissan Frontiers were everything but dependable. These Nissan Frontier problems are both common and expensive. Without further ado, let’s talk about Nissan Frontier years to avoid.
Which are the Nissan Frontier Years to Avoid?
From its 1998 debut in the United States until the 2004 model year, complaints about the Nissan Frontier were incredibly few. And from 2008 onward, Nissan has been sending out trustworthy Frontiers to the public.
A 310 horsepower V6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission power the 2020 model. This is a major improvement over the manual transmission and 2.5-liter 4-cylinder of the Nissan Frontier.
However, Nissan USA experienced problems in the model years 2005, 2006, and 2007. The 2005 model year saw a thorough redesign after the 2001 facelift just altered the truck’s appearance. This new generation included a new appearance, new chassis, and most importantly, a new engine design.
This was a fantastic upgrade assuming everything remained the same in your Nissan Frontier. But for the first few years of this refresh, there was one serious issue that caused the death of a shockingly large number of Frontiers: a coolant leak that destroyed the transmission.
Although it didn’t affect every 2005–2007 Frontier, it was so frequent that CarComplaints.com rated the 2005 model as a “clunker” and the 2006–2007 models as “avoid like the plague.” You should be alright with any other year, but those are the three Nissan Frontier model years to stay away from.
Between 1998 and 2004, the Nissan Frontier had extremely few complaints. Nissan has also been creating premium Frontiers since 2008. Nissan performed poorly in 2005, 2006, and 2007, yet it was obvious that something was wrong.
After receiving a cosmetic upgrade in 2001, the truck underwent a comprehensive redesign for the 2005 model year. This version included a brand-new appearance, a new chassis, and—most importantly—a new engine layout.
Thus, the Nissan Frontier years to avoid are: 2005 / 2006 / 2007 / 2012 / 2016
The fundamental engine architecture, which positioned the radiator directly over the transmission, was shared by the 2005–2010 Nissan Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra. Sadly, a lot of these radiators had problems and might leak coolant.
The temperature monitor and alarms would likely alert most drivers to a problem before you entirely ran out of coolant, but this would still be a significant risk in any vehicle because overheating may cause some difficulties, both short-term and long-term.
But instead, coolant from the Frontier leaked onto the gearbox. There, the transmission fluid and coolant would combine to form what is referred to as the “strawberry milkshake of death” 2.
While a thick shake from your neighborhood cafe can be wonderful, your vehicle doesn’t want to be sipping that. Your vehicle won’t be able to transfer that engine power to the wheels because the heavy muck will clog the gears. There isn’t a preventative approach to this.
Because the 2005–2007 Frontier is a ticking time bomb that will explode at any moment after 100,000 miles, you can’t just buy one and do a fast fix to ensure that this doesn’t happen to your car. And when it does, you’ll require a full gearbox replacement, one of the most costly repairs in a car.
Even if the vehicle were in excellent condition at this stage, the repair would probably be more expensive.
More radiator leaks destroying the gearbox were reported in these three model years than all other model years combined. That demonstrates both how excellent the Frontier has been throughout its manufacturing cycle and how terrible the issues from 2005 to 2007 were.
Only these Nissan Frontier model years should be avoided, but you must. Don’t buy these models, whether you choose an earlier or newer model.
2022 Nissan Frontier by Elise240SX / CC BY-SA 4.0. A redesign of the 2022 Nissan Frontier has recently taken place. For the power, you need for both on- and off-road activities, it sports a 3.8-liter V6 engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission and 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque.
Why are They on Our List of Nissan Frontier Years to Avoid?
After highlighting the Nissan Frontier years to avoid if you’re intending to buy one, it’s necessary to go through the reasons why you should do so as well as any potential issues you could run into if you currently own a Nissan Frontier during that time.
The 2005 Nissan Frontier had a serious problem with the radiator, which polluted the gearbox coolant as well as the engine oil.
With this problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received several reports. The gearbox on a 2005 Frontier failed, leaving the passengers of the car without power. A coolant leak was discovered to be the cause of the issue after the car was taken to the dealer.
The 2005 Nissan Frontier’s radiator has a faulty seal. Transmission oil might enter the cooling system due to a damaged seal. The transmission oil and coolant were both contaminated as a result.
The gearbox failure on the 2005 Nissan Frontier was brought on by a faulty radiator that allowed engine oil and coolant to mix.
Issues also exist for this year. According to Carcomplaints.com, the top three complaints regarding the 2006 Nissan Frontier are:
- A leak from the radiator into the transmission caused water to transfer to the transmission and transmission fluid to the radiator.
- The timing chain as well as guides were broken, which caused the motor to occasionally make a very loud whining sound.
- The gearbox is overheating as a result of the radiator’s coolant leak into it.
A car that has any of these problems should be avoided.
The 2007 Nissan Frontier features a variety of issues. The most frequent ones include transmission damage from coolant leaks, worn timing chain tensioners, and failure of related equipment like the fuel level sending unit.
Transmission problems in a significant number of Nissan SUVs and trucks from 2005 to 2010 can be linked to coolant leaks from broken radiators.
The “strawberry milkshake of death,” a deadly mixture created when the leaky coolant mixes with the transmission fluid, obliterates everything in its path.
There are several problems with Nissan’s 2012 model year, including chirping paint, clutch problems, and a shaking engine when the car is switched off.
Some Nissan owners are also concerned about an increase in reports of sunroofs that rattle before blowing up.
Several people have complained about these issues on carcomplaints.com and numerous other websites that deal with car issues in general.
The 2016 Nissan Frontier is not a good choice for the following reasons:
- Lack of Speed: The Nissan Frontier’s poor acceleration or engine lag might make it dangerous to drive through or cross an intersection, which would be even more annoying. Slow acceleration indicates a problem with your Frontier that needs to be fixed immediately to stop further damage.
- The flashing airbag light on your Frontier warns you that there is a problem with the airbag system. It’s completely typical if the light comes on for a few seconds when the car starts up. When it persists, you can tell that something is amiss.
- The transmission of the 2016 Nissan Frontier could be to blame for the car’s challenging shifting.
Which are the Best Years for the Nissan Frontier?
Fortunately, the short answer to this question is that all models—aside from those made in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2016—are protected. Other than those stated below, any Nissan Frontier model year can be used without any problems.
Fortunately, the answer to this query is all models except for those made in 2005, 2006, and 2007. There are no Nissan Frontier model years to avoid outside those three.
Although there have been a few complaints about the 2008 model’s radiator fluid seeping into the gearbox, the fact that there have only been 10 reports of this issue suggests it is far less of an issue than the hundred or more in each of the previous three years.
Additionally, the 56 complaints from 2008 are significantly more minor problems than the 283, 213, and 198 complaints from 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively. These are the only years with 50 or more complaints.
There are no other models with even 30 complaints if you exclude the 2012 model, for which peeling paint was the most often reported issue.
The Nissan Frontier is a very dependable midsized pickup truck, even though it isn’t as well known as the Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, or even the Toyota Tacoma. You can feel confident buying a used Frontier as long as you shop safely, have it inspected before you buy it, and steer clear of the 2005–2007 models.
Which are the General Issues with the Nissan Frontier?
In this part, we examine a few of the common issues involving Nissan Frontier vehicles. Naturally, the Nissan Frontier has its share of issues, including the following.
Gearbox problems with the Nissan Frontier are common. The radiator’s defective seal is to blame. The Nissan Frontier gearbox can have coolant seepage.
1. Leaking Radiators
In 2005, Nissan Frontier gearbox issues are frequent. The culprit is a faulty seal on the radiator. Coolant may seep into the Nissan Frontier gearbox if the radiator leaks. The diluted transmission oil causes the transmission to entirely malfunction.
After being the target of a class action lawsuit, Nissan provided a warranty. At 80,000 miles or less than eight years, they would cover transmission repairs. For eight to ten years or 100,000 miles, Nissan would cover the gearbox repair costs.
After ten years or 100,000 miles, Nissan still refused to help. The 2005 Frontier was most often afflicted, while numerous users also had concerns about the 2006 and 2007 models.
Even with the 2011 model, the problem continued, albeit on a smaller scale. If your Nissan was manufactured between 2005 and 2007, you should repair the radiator if it is the original.
2. Failure of the Timing Chain Tensioner
This is due to poor manufacturing. The timing chain is imprinted using a die press. The dies eventually wear off, leaving the chain with sharp edges. The plastic tensioner is severed by the upper chain’s pointy edges.
The steel tensioner plunger serves as a support for the tensioner when it becomes worn out. Many owners say that a whining sound was heard at this moment. The steel plunger is made to scrape against the chain.
This might lead to a variety of issues. It may lead to a breakdown of the valves and valve train, wear a hole in the block, or even cause the time to leap. If it isn’t addressed, it will eventually lead to catastrophic engine failure.
Even though it was most common on models from 2005 to 2007, this issue is still a known issue as of 2010. The mileage at which it occurs will depend on how sharp the chain is.
This is not an issue if you don’t start to hear a whining noise. If so, you must immediately have it rectified. If identified early, you should just need to repair the top chain and tensioners.
If you prefer to be proactive, you may modify these items before they cause difficulties.
3. Transmission Problems
The “drivetrain,” which also includes other parts that transfer power to the wheels, includes the Nissan Frontier gearbox. Transmission failure or overheating may result from cooling system problems with some Nissan Frontier vehicles.
Additional red flags indicating the powertrain and maybe the transmission are defective include clunking noises, shifting difficulty, rear differential whining, and premature wear. It could be annoying if these problems with your vehicle persist despite repeated solutions.
4. Brake Problems
Your Nissan Frontier may have a braking system problem if the brake pedals feel mushy or spongy. These brake pedal problems are common in Nissan Frontier vehicles.
You and other motorists may be in danger from spongy brakes, but the NHTSA has also received complaints about excessive corrosion.
5. Engine Problems
If the Check Engine Light on your dashboard illuminates, you might need to park your vehicle or get your engine inspected. Owners and lessees of Nissan Frontier vehicles most frequently experience rattling, banging, and harsh idling engines.
According to several NHTSA complaints, some Nissan Frontier drivers are also dissatisfied with the car’s problematic engine mounts and lackluster performance.
Between 1998 and 2004, the Nissan Frontier had extremely few complaints.
6. Airbag and Seat Belts Problems
Check that all of your safety systems are operating correctly if the airbag warning light turns on. Your seat belts and airbags are intended to protect you in the event of an accident. However, certain Nissan Frontier vehicles may have faulty seat belt latches and non-deploying airbags, which might endanger your safety.
7. Starter Issues
One of the most prevalent problems that may occur with a car is a faulty starter, and the Nissan Frontier is no exception. It’s crucial to determine whether the Nissan Frontier starter issue is to blame for the car’s inability to start.
If your Frontier won’t start, don’t assume immediately that the starter is damaged. It could be prevented from turning over by other issues. These might be an issue with the neutral safety switch, broken battery, or battery wires.
If you suspect your battery is malfunctioning, you have two alternatives. The truck’s battery has to be taken out and checked at a nearby auto parts store as the first step. They will be able to inform you if the battery is faulty or not. They will sell you a new battery to replace it if it is broken and recycle the old one.
If the battery isn’t broken and is only completely depleted, the auto parts store should be able to charge it for you before you go home. If you take out and replace the battery in your Frontier and the problem still exists, there could be another problem.
A Bad Starter
If your battery is in fine shape, the issue can be a faulty starter. When you switch on your car and the lights come on but the Nissan Frontier engine won’t start, the starter is probably broken. A clicking noise or smoke emanating from the vehicle are possible further symptoms.
The third issue might be coming from your alternator. If your battery was examined and found to be in good condition, but the car still won’t start when you turn the key, the alternator may be to blame. Poor wiring or a bad battery-to-alternator connection might be to blame for this. Alternators keep the battery charged while you’re driving.
To tell if the alternator is the issue, though, depends on whether you can start the vehicle.
The issue will most likely start with a poor beginning. Check the batteries first, and then after taking them to an auto parts store, have a professional check your truck to make sure it’s in good shape.
How Reliable are the Nissan Frontier Trucks?
The Nissan Frontier has received excellent reviews across all of the main websites that assess the reliability of vehicles. Due to its well-deserved reputation as a dependable small truck, the Frontier frequently features on lists of reliable trucks.
It received a score of 4.0 out of 5.0 on RepairPal and was rated 1 out of 7 midsize truck models.
J.D. Between 2010 and 2019, Power rated the Nissan Frontier’s dependability at 80 to 85%.
This indicates how, in terms of ruggedness and dependability, the Nissan Frontier performs better than its competitors.
Nissan Frontiers: Are They Good Trucks?
A good truck is the Nissan Frontier. It boasts a strong V6 engine and a reasonable cargo capacity. Additionally, it rides well and handles well for a truck. The inside is sleek and modern, the front seats are supportive and pleasant, and it is a nice advance over the previous model.
Several concerns have been made concerning the 2008 model’s radiator fluid seeping into the transmission.
How Much Longer Can a Nissan Frontier Last?
At least 100,000 miles should be on a Nissan Frontier. If you drive your Nissan Frontier between 10,000 and 15,000 miles each year on average, it should last you between 7.5 and 10 years. The Nissan Frontier may last much longer with routine maintenance and upkeep.
How Much Is a Nissan Frontier’s Maximum Possible Mileage?
Your Nissan Frontier should survive up to 100,000 miles, but with the right care, it might travel as far as 200,000. The majority of owners also complain that their Frontiers have high mileage. Some owners claimed to have driven their Frontiers for up to 285,000 miles, 146,000 miles, and 243,000 miles without encountering any major problems.
Is Maintaining a Nissan Frontier Pricey?
The Nissan Frontier’s yearly maintenance is estimated to cost $470 by RepairPal. However, it should be remembered that a Frontier’s repair and maintenance expenses may vary according to factors including location, mileage, and age.
In comparison to the average of $652 for all vehicle types and $548 for midsize trucks, maintaining a Frontier is comparatively less expensive.
From RepairPal, these are some Nissan Frontier repairs and costs:
- Replacement of the ABS Control Module: $881 to $902.
- Replacement of the steering center link: $445 to $475.
- Replacement of the power steering pump: $675 to $712.
- A new spark plug wire costs between $114 and $121.
- Replace a brake booster for $411 to $453.
- Drain and refill for the drive axle assembly: $73 to $87.
How Much Does Insurance for the Nissan Frontier Cost?
The Zebra reports that the Nissan Frontier’s typical vehicle insurance premium is about $119 per month.
The Frontier is $10 less costly to insure than the typical car when compared to their respective insurance costs.
How Can You Make Your Nissan Frontier Last Longer?
The following suggestions will help your Nissan Frontier last longer:
- Maintain the Nissan Frontier by doing the recommended maintenance as directed by Nissan. According to a proverb, if you take good care of your vehicle, it will take good care of you.
- Increase the vehicle’s lifetime and prevent rust by:
- Apply an anti-rust coating on your Frontier, paying specific attention to the frame.
- During the winter, wash your truck frequently to remove light salt to avoid corrosion.
- To prevent transmission issues, periodically replace the transmission fluids.
- Fix problems as soon as you become aware of them; don’t wait until they become more serious.
In Comparison to Similar Pickup Trucks, How Durable are Nissan Frontiers?
We contrast the Nissan Frontier’s durability with those of its rivals below:
The Nissan Frontier vs The Toyota Tacoma
With the Toyota Tacoma as one of its rivals, the Ford Frontier has continued to be one of the most dependable vehicles in the midsize truck segment.
The Tacoma can outlive the Frontier with an average mileage of 200,000 miles.
With a 4.0 reliability rating from RepairPal compared to the Toyota Tacoma’s 3.5 ratings, the Nissan Frontier is more dependable than the Toyota Tacoma.
Both trucks have relatively equal maintenance costs. The annual cost of maintenance for the Tacoma is $473 as opposed to $470 for the Nissan Frontier.
The Nissan Frontier vs The Chevrolet Colorado
In comparison to the Nissan Frontier, the Chevrolet Colorado provides an excellent off-roading experience with a touch of elegance.
Similar mileage coverage is provided by both cars throughout a lifespan of between 100,000 and 200,000 kilometers. Additionally, both share the same 4.0 RepairPal dependability rating.
The average annual cost of repairs and maintenance for a Nissan Frontier is $470. The yearly maintenance costs for the Chevrolet Colorado are $599, so this is around $129 less.
The Nissan Frontier vs The Ford Ranger
Like the Ford Ranger, the Nissan Frontier has a powerful V-6 engine. However, the Nissan Frontiers only have an average lifespan of 100,000 miles whereas the Ranger may go up to 200,000 miles.
On RepairPal, they both have a reliability score of 4.0. This results in a dependability score that is the same, yet out of 7 midsize trucks, the Frontier is ranked first and the Ranger is placed third.
With an average yearly cost of $615 as opposed to $470 for the Frontier, the Ford Ranger had a higher maintenance cost of $145.
Nissan produced an SUV referred to as the Frontier. It made its debut in the motor industry in 1997. To restore its title as the creator of the small truck, Nissan leaned on the Frontier. Nissan established itself by using the Frontier as a foundation for innovative improvements. It seems like the Nissan Frontier is a trustworthy work car.
From the time the Nissan Frontier made its American debut in 1998 through the 2004 model year, complaints about the vehicle were very rare. Nissan has also been offering trustworthy Frontiers for sale to the general public since 2008. However, something went wrong for Nissan in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Over time, though, issues with the Nissan Frontier became apparent, which led irate vehicle owners to lodge grievances with various organizations. When Nissan starts developing a new model year, it may want to consider taking a close look at each of these problems and coming up with remedies.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”