Are you on the market for a good mid-size pickup truck? If that is the case, then the Nissan Frontier is probably one of your top picks. And for a reason. It is one of the best-looking trucks out there. But what about the Nissan Frontier reliability? Well, you shouldn’t worry because we are going to cover a lot when it comes to it.
- What Is The Frontier?
- First Generation D22
- Second Generation D40
- Third Generation D41
Conducting proper research when you are on the market for a used or even new vehicle is probably one of the best decisions that you will make. Before you make a purchase you need to invest some time in order to come to a conclusion on what is the best product out there for your budget. Because getting a new car is not grocery shopping but something more significant that can hit your wallet.
Imagine that you are all smiling and happy with your new purchase and the car simply develops issues at the start of your ownership. This can lead to frustrations and also unhappiness. Since you will be dealing with issues that potentially will cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run. That’s why you need to play it safe and we are going to help you out with that.
In this article, we are going to learn what is the Nissan Frontier is and learn something about the history of this car. Then we will go through each of these generations and learn more about the specs and other interesting topics that you need to know before you buy. Then we will cover the Nissan Frontier reliability and problems. Lastly, we will discuss the alternatives of the Nissan Frontier. So, let’s discuss.
What Is The Nissan Frontier?
Everything in the US revolves around pickup trucks. They are good for everything to be honest and deliver quite a bit of performance. They can haul stuff, tow stuff, carry 5 people comfortably. Basically, they can do anything.
The Frontier is a medium-size pickup truck offered by Nissan and is relatively one of the best trucks out there. But let’s not jump to conclusions too early since we still need to learn the Nissan Frontier reliability and problems that this pickup truck has.
As we mentioned. Knowing the problems will save you thousands of dollars during the ownership of the vehicle. Because you will potentially avoid a problematic model that has a lot of issues. Or, you will simply be aware of this problem and you will be in the search for a truck that has been already sorted out. It’s much better that others do the expensive work instead of you.
Imagine that there is a transmission issue with a car, and not knowingly you purchase a model and you get this issue. The cheapest that you will go will probably be $2,500 since transmissions are very expensive to replace.
But let’s get back to the Frontier. As we said, it is a medium-sized pickup. This means that it is in the same class as the Ford Ranger, Ford Maverick, Chevy Colorado, and other medium-sized trucks. It is produced from 1985 up until the present day. In the following chapters, we are going to cover each of these generations. So, follow along.
Nissan Frontier Generations
As we hinted above, in the following chapters we are going to cover the Nissan Frontier generations. We will cover each of these generations in great detail.
We will learn the specs of these pickups, the safety aspect, fuel mileage, and other important bits that make you want to purchase a new or used pickup. Then we will discuss the Nissan Frontier reliability and learn if the Nissan Frontier is a reliable vehicle or not. So, let’s get started.
1. First Generation Nissan Frontier D22
Although there were Nissan pickup trucks imported previously in the US, they were never named with the nameplate Frontier up until the D22 model when it got the nameplate Frontier for the US market.
The D22 was the first generation of the Frontier and was introduced in 1997 and was produced until 2004. This pickup truck was targeted the mid-size segment and was a class below the bigger trucks like the Ford F-150 and the RAM 1500. In other markets, this pickup truck was also called the Nissan Navara.
The North American model was produced in Smyrna, Tennessee as a 2 door regular cab and also a 2 door king cab. There was also a 4 door cab for the 1999 model.
There were a few trim levels that were offered, namely the DX, DXS, AX, and AXS. The AXS was the top-of-the-line trim that implemented all the goodies like ABS brakes, big 16 alloy rims, and wider tires. There was also a modern stereo with a CD loader.
There were also two variants. A rear-wheel 2WD option that was a standard and a 4WD with increased off-roading capabilities for those who wanted more of their truck.
Engine And Transmission
In terms of engines, there were two engine options. The standard was the good and reliable KA24 4 cylinder 2.4 engine. This engine produced 143hp and 154lb-ft of torque. It is one of the most famous engines in the car world and when it comes to reliability there is hardly something that could match it.
There was also a more powerful engine that was used on the Frontier. This was the 3.3l V6 engine that produced 170hp and 300lb of torque.
Both of these engines were paired with a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4 speed automatic. But what about the Nissan Frontier reliability? We will cover the reliability aspect after we cover the other important aspects of this truck.
Considering that this model is designed in the past century, it is not on the level that modern trucks are. Back in the day even ABS was a luxury item and was only available on the more optioned Frontiers and the base models didn’t get these features. So, keep this in mind if you want to buy one. ABS and airbags are a necessity these days.
The fuel mileage for the 2.4 KA24 engine was rather good considering that this is a pickup truck. 20 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. With average fuel consumption of 21 mpg. Back in the day, this was an achievement for a truck because most of the trucks got a fuel economy in the low 10’s.
That’s why we need to point the V6 that has been a rather thirsty engine. Getting only 15 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway with an average of 16 mpg, which is rather poor. And you probably want to avoid this engine. But what about the Nissan Frontier reliability? That’s what we are going to cover next.
Nissan Frontier Reliability and Problems
This generation of Nissan Frontier has an impeccable history. On carcomplaints.com’s website, there are basically no complaints on this Nissan. This means that the Nissan Frontier reliability is quite good on the D22 generation. Even though there are some problems that are worth noting that can come up with the age of the truck.
1.1. Rusted Gas Tank 2004 Model
The rusted gas tank is quite common on this generation of the Frontier. You will notice this when you will have to replace the fuel pump. It’s rusted out and you will have a hard time while removing it from the tank.
The solution would be to get a new gas tank that will guarantee that you solved your problem permanently and for the upcoming years. This can be quite expensive. But it is the only way to do it.
1.2 Transmission Problems, No 1st, And 3rd gear
Some owners reported no 1st and 3rd gear on their Frontiers. This was reportedly due to a bad transmission. Soon after the transmission would completely fail and the only way around it would be to replace it with a new one or rebuild it. So, the cost to fix this issue is more than $1,500. So, if you look to buy one, pay attention to how the transmission is shifting.
Overall, this generation of the Nissan Frontier is quite good in every aspect. Your best bet would be to get one with the KA24 engine. It could be slower, but it is far more reliable and fuel-efficient. Now let’s move on to the next generation of the Nissan Frontier.
2. Second Generation Nissan Frontier D40
The D40 is the second generation of the Nissan Frontier. And probably the Frontier that you will quite often see on the roads. Since these cars are fairly more recent than the first generation and also sold in quite larger numbers.
This generation was introduced in 2004 and replaced the previous generation of the Frontier. What is quite interesting is that it was in production until recently when a new generation has replaced this truck.
The longevity of this model was because it was built on a fairly good platform. Namely the Nissan F-Alpha platform which has stood the test of time and survived for more than 15 years. This model was similar to the predecessor, assembled in Tennessee.
Similar to the previous generation there were 2WD and 4WD options for those that are more into off-roading.
Engine And Transmission
There were two engines in the Nissan Frontier, these were the smaller 2.5 4 cylinder engine that produced 154hp and 173 lb-ft of torque. And there was also a more powerful variant that was the 4.0 V6 engine that produced significantly more power. 265Hp and 284 lb-ft of torque to be more precise.
The more powerful engine was the engine of choice in the North American market since the smaller engine is a little bit underpowered for the size of the truck.
In terms of transmissions, there was a 5 speed automatic as a standard and also a 6 speed manual for those who want to drive a manual. But what about the Nissan Frontier reliability? More about that a bit later. Let’s first cover the safety and also fuel economy. Since both of these are pretty important aspects.
According to the IIHS, the Nissan Frontier performed quite well on the tests that they performed on it. Getting a good grade on most of the tests. Overall, the Frontier has much better safety equipment than its predecessor.
And the overall design of the chassis is much more modern which improves the safety of the vehicle. But, you should not take tests for granted and you should always drive safely and obey the laws.
The fuel economy of the Frontier is 17 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway with 19 mpg combined for the 4 cylinder engine.
The more powerful V6 engine has a slightly worse fuel mileage getting 14 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 16 mpg overall combined.
We can conclude that it doesn’t offer quite more fuel efficiency compared to the previous generation. They are on the same level. But it offers quite a bit more power. So, it’s not that bad. But what about the Nissan Frontier reliability? More on that in the next chapter.
Nissan Frontier Reliability and Problems
In this chapter, we will cover the Nissan Frontier reliability. Since there are a few problems to cover we will separate them into two separate chapters. Namely, engine problems and transmission problems. That’s why it will be easier for you to tell which is which. So, let’s get started.
Let’s first start with the engine issues and then we will move on to the transmission problems.
2.1. Timing Chain And Tensioner Failure
The timing chain tensioner was notorious to fail on these trucks and ruin the whole engine in some instances. With 20 complaints about this problem, this problem tops off the list when it comes to engine problems.
The only repair for this problem is to replace the timing chain and the tensioner and costs $2,000 to perform. This problem was most notorious on trucks made between 2005 to 2008. So, if you want to buy a Nissan Frontier, the best thing you can do is to avoid these early models of this truck and avoid some headaches.
2.2. Engine Stall While Driving
There were 7 complaints of people who reported that their engine simply stalled while driving. This can be a rather frustrating thing to deal with. Imagine that your truck simply stalls in the traffic. Bad situation.
Some people reported that replacing the ECU fixed this issue, while some reported that it didn’t do much. Similar to other issues, this problem also appears only in the early years of the Nissan Frontier and attributes to the poor Nissan Frontier reliability for these early models.
2.3. Oil Pressure Sensor
The oil pressure sensor is also notorious for failing on these trucks as well. The sensor will send you the wrong information that you are having high oil pressure even if the oil pressure in the engine is completely fine. The solution for this problem is to replace the oil sensor with a new one.
Not a very expensive job. But frustrating since this problem rarely happens on other vehicles but on the Nissan Frontier is very common.
2.4. Engine Vibrations At Idle
V6 owners reported that the engine is producing significant vibrations at idle. This situation was most present in 2012 models.
This problem is one of the commonalities of this engine, it simply idles rough. So, you need to be aware of this issue that is more common on some trucks than on others and if you are looking to buy one, pay attention to how the engine works.
In this chapter, we are going to cover the transmission problems with this truck. And there is a lot to cover since this truck is one of the most notorious trucks for eating through transmissions.
2.5. Radiator Causes Transmission Failure
With more than 200 complaints for the year 2005, this is the biggest problem with the Nissan Frontier and one of the biggest Nissan Frontier reliability issues.
The radiator will simply leak and contaminate the transmissions fluid which will result in destroyed transmission. The repair for this problem is $4,000. This problem also affects the trucks produced between 2005 to 2008. Later year models do not have this issue.
In this chapter, we are going to cover some other problems that affect the Nissan Frontier reliability as well as the overall visuals of this truck.
2.6. Fuel Sending Unit Failure
The fuel pumps are also notorious to fail on this model. The fuel pump or fuel sending unit is the one that is located inside of the fuel tank and is pumping fuel into the fuel lines.
This unit is electronically controlled and the module that is inside is known to fail and the pump would simply stop working. The solution for this is a new fuel pump.
2.7. Paint Peeling
The paint is notorious for peeling on the Nissan Frontier and is one of the most common issues on these trucks. This is because of the poor quality of work.
The paint simply didn’t adhere to the metal and would simply chip away. This is most notable on the fenders but also on other panels as well. The solution would be to respray the chipped panel.
3. Third Generation Nissan Frontier D41
The newest model was introduced in 2021. This model is using the same platform as the previous generation. But the one used on the new truck is heavily modified to accommodate all the safety standards.
This generation is also offered in a 2WD and 4WD variant. This new variant is able to haul 1,610 lbs and it can tow up to 6,720 lbs. Making it a good hauler if you have a smaller trailer.
This new truck also implements new styling that differentiates it from the crowd and makes it stand out. Especially the blacked-out grill with the red emblem on the PRO 4X trim.
Engine And Transmission
The new generation is using a 3.8L V6 engine that produces 310hp. Which is quite good for a pickup truck of this size. This engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission for improved fuel economy.
Since this truck is based on the same platform that was improved and strengthened we can assume that it delivers a similar result to its predecessor. At the moment of writing, there were no available safety ratings for us to share.
The fuel mileage also improved because of the new 9 speed automatic with the Frontier 2022 getting 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined which is quite respectable. But what about the Nissan Frontier reliability. More on that in the next chapter.
Nissan Frontier Reliability and Problems
Since this model is fairly new. There is nothing to report on the reliability.
Nissan Frontier Alternatives
It is also a good thing to know what is there on the market of similar size in comparison to the Nissan Frontier. There are also other good models that you could purchase. So, which are these models that are out there?
The number one choice would probably be the Ford Ranger. The Ford Ranger is of similar size but a good alternative to the Frontier. Other models include the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, Honda Ridgeline, Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz.
Conclusion – Nissan Frontier Reliability
In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the Nissan Frontier. We learned what is the Nissan Frontier and to which category of vehicles does it belong.
Then we have covered the last three generations of the Nissan Frontier where we learned the specs and the problems these vehicles have. We covered the Nissan Frontier reliability and we can conclude that the Frontier is an overall reliable vehicle. Just make sure that you avoid the 2005 to 2008 models. These have the most problems and can cost a fortune to fix.
Lastly, we have covered the alternatives of the Nissan Frontier. It is good to know that there are also a handful of other options as well.