The Most Common Nissan Frontier Problems Are Ridiculously Expensive

The 2020 Nissan Frontier has earned the reputation of a no-frills hard-working compact pickup truck. The 2020 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X is an affordable option for those seeking more adventure at the end of the pavement.

While the Nissan Frontier offers little in the way of technology inside the cab with its smaller than average 5.8-inch infotainment screen, lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, and nonexistent driver assist safety features, it puts its tech where it’s needed to be a better truck.

The new-for-2020 3.8-liter V6 delivers 310 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque backed by a nine-speed automatic transmission to deliver sufficient power whether your adventures are on or off the beaten path.

Perhaps the best reason to buy a 2020 Nissan Frontier is the nearly flawless predicted reliability rating of the newer models. For a period in the mid-2000s, reliable was hardly a word used to describe the Nissan Frontier.

1998 through 2004 Nissan Frontier models

Car Complaints lists its earliest reported complaint about Nissan Frontier for the 1998 model year. There are only three complaints registered for that year, two are electrical issues centered around the instrument cluster and the other is for a sudden, 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 7.28 complaints per year for the first seven years from 1998 through 2004. 2001 was the worst year during that period with 17 complaints in total. The worst offender being the Service Engine light indicating catalytic converter failure at 103,000 miles with a $1,300 repair cost.

2009 through 2019

Newer models ranging from 2009 through 2019 (no data for 2020 yet) have experienced a slight increase in reported problems. It is likely that more of these vehicles are still on the road during a time when online reporting of problems is more popular. With 182 complaints reported for the 11-year period results in an average of 16.55 complaints per year. 

The worst year for this period is 2012 with 44 complaints, nearly 25 percent of all the complaints during the period and 15 more than any other year. Chipping paint and corrosion account for 14 of those, 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 repair bill. The No. 1 problem for the 2012 Nissan Frontier, due to the volume of complaints, is the paint chipping issue. This typically occurs around 49,000 miles and has an average repair cost of $600.

Avoid Frontier models from 2005 through 2008

RELATED: The 2018 Nissan Frontier Is One of the Best Cheap Trucks You Can Buy

If you are in the market for a used Nissan Frontier it would be best to avoid any models from 2005 through 2008. Car Complaints has registered 746 problems over these four model years for an average of 186.5 per year. According to Car Complaints, 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.

No. 1 on the “Worst Nissan Frontier Problems” list is the 2005 Frontier, No. 2 and No. 3 are the 2006 and 2007 models respectively. While the transmission failure issue is the overwhelming problem with 204 complaints of the 2005’s total 283, engine and fuel system problems round out the top three problems.

By 2008 Nissan 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 31 transmission/cracked radiator reports and 55 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 for $1,700. However, there was only one report for that.