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The Nissan Frontier has earned the reputation of a no-frills hard-working compact pickup truck. The Nissan Frontier Pro-4X is also an affordable option for those seeking more off-road adventures at the end of the pavement.

With its recent redesign, the current 2022 Nissan Frontier with a 3.8-liter V6 engine delivers 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque backed by a nine-speed automatic transmission to provide sufficient power whether your adventures are on or off the beaten path. Perhaps the best reason to buy a Nissan Frontier is its high predicted reliability rating of the newer models, according to Consumer Reports. However, earlier Nissan Frontier models were anything but reliable. Here are some common and expensive Nissan Frontier problems.

1998 through 2004 Nissan Frontier model years

2000 Nissan Frontier crew cab four-door light pickup truck has some of the most common Nissan Frontier problems
2000 Nissan Frontier | Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Car Complaints lists its earliest reported complaint about Nissan Frontier for the 1998 model year. There are only three complaints registered for that year, with two being about electrical issues centered around the instrument cluster. The other is for a sudden and unintended acceleration of the engine. All three of these issues occurred after 140,000 miles which is understandable since reporting problems to an online entity was not a common option in 1998.

Overall, early Nissan Frontiers have fared well on Car Complaints, averaging 8.28 complaints per year for the first seven years from the 1998 through 2004 model years. The 2001 Nissan Frontier was the worst year during that period, with 17 complaints in total. The worst offender was the Service Engine light indicating catalytic converter failure at 103,000 miles with a $1,300 repair cost.

2009 through 2019 Frontiers

Newer Nissan Frontier 2009 through 2019 models (with no reported data for the 2020-2022 model years yet) have experienced a slight increase in reported problems. Likely, more of these vehicles are still on the road when online reporting of problems is more popular. With 197 complaints reported for the 11-year period, results average 17.9 complaints per year

The worst year for this period is the 2012 Nissan Frontier with 46 complaints, nearly 25% of all the complaints during the period and at least 16 more than any other year. Chipping paint and corrosion account for 17 of the reported problems, and engine issues account for 10 more.

The most expensive repair involved a worn-out standard transmission system clutch at an average of 34,000 miles resulting in a $1,500 average maintenance bill. However, the most common problem for the 2012 Nissan Frontier is its paint chipping issue. This typically occurs around 50,000 miles and has an average repair cost of $600.

Avoid 2005-2008 Nissan Frontier models


Buying a Used 2020 Nissan Frontier Is a Gamble

If you are in the market for a used Nissan Frontier, it would be best to avoid any 2005 through 2008 models. Nissan Frontier reliability nosedives in this era. Car Complaints has registered 753 problems over these four model years for an average of 188.25 issues per year. The three worst problems associated with Nissan Frontiers, in general, all involve cooling systems leaking into the transmissions, causing transmission failure at just over 100,000 miles with average repair costs ranging from $3,600 to $4,100.

The model with the most problems is the 2005 Nissan Frontier, with the 2006 and 2007 model year Frontiers not far behind. While the transmission failure issue is the overwhelming problem with 204 complaints of the 2005 Frontier’s total of 284 reported issues, engine and fuel system problems also round out the top three problems.

By the time the 2008 Nissan Frontier rolled out, the automaker was beginning to get a handle on the coolant ruining the transmission problem as reports dropped from a high of 204 in 2005 down to only 32 transmission and cracked radiator reports and 56 issues overall. Although an improvement over the previous three years, it might be best to opt for a 2009 model as its top problem is with a slipping clutch disc with a repair bill of $1,700. However, there was only one report for that, making it a relatively rare issue.