Which Nissan Frontier Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

This mid-size truck from Nissan, first in the United States in 1998, has gone on to become a global hit ever since its premiere. Nissan Hardbody was its previous moniker until 1997, when the brand was changed to Frontier.

And while the Frontier’s image was tarnished for a few years in the mid-2000s, it has since been a good product with minimal difficulties.

According to my study, there are some years that have been particularly problematic for consumers with a wide range of concerns. There are also plenty of strong, dependable midsize pickups to be had in the Nissan Frontier model years I suggest you avoid.

Nissan Frontier Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Between 1998 and 2004, there were only a handful of complaints regarding the Nissan Frontier. It’s also worth noting that Nissan has been churning out solid Frontiers since 2008.

Although Nissan USA had a bad run in 2005, 2006, and 2007, it was evident that something had gone wrong.

After having a cosmetic update in 2001, the truck was completely redesigned for the 2005 model year. In addition to a new look, this generation also included a new chassis, and most importantly, a new engine layout.

In other words, these are the Nissan Frontier years to stay away from:

  • 2005 Nissan Frontier
  • 2006 Nissan Frontier
  • 2007 Nissan Frontier
  • 2012 Nissan Frontier
  • 2016 Nissan Frontier

What Makes These Nissan Frontier Years Worth Avoiding?

1. Nissan Frontier 2005 Model Year Issues

The radiator contaminated both the engine oil and the gearbox coolant, which was a severe issue with the 2005 Nissan Frontier.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received several reports regarding this issue. A 2005 Frontier’s gearbox failed, resulting in a loss of power for the vehicle’s occupants. When the car was taken to the dealer, a coolant leak was found to be the source of the problem. 

The 2005 Nissan Frontier’s radiator had a defective seal. The broken seal lets transmission oil get into the cooling system. This made both the coolant and the transmission oil dirty.

The 2005 Nissan Frontier’s gearbox failure was caused by a faulty radiator, which resulted in engine oil and coolant being mixed.

2. Nissan Frontier 2006 Model Year Issues

This year also have issues. The top 3 issues with the 2006 Nissan Frontier, according to Carcomplaints.com, are:

  • A crack in the radiator allowed fluid to leak into the transmission; water transmitted to the transmission and tranny fluid transferred to the radiator.
  • The timing chain and guides were out of order; the motor might generate an extremely loud whining noise.
  • The radiator is leaking coolant into the transmission, causing the transmission to overheat.

A vehicle with any of these issues should be avoided.

3. Nissan Frontier 2007 Model Year Problems

The 2007 Nissan Frontier has a plethora of faults. The most prevalent include coolant leakage into and ruining the transmission, worn timing chain tensioners and associated equipment failure of the fuel level sending unit.

Coolant leaks from damaged radiators in a large number of Nissan SUVs and trucks from 2005 to 2010 can be connected to transmission failures.

The leaking coolant reacts with the transmission fluid, forming a poisonous concoction dubbed the “strawberry milkshake of death” that annihilates everything in its path.

4. Nissan Frontier 2012 Model Issues

Nissan’s 2012 model year is plagued by a number of issues, including chirping paint, clutch issues, and a shaking engine when the car is turned off. Some Nissan owners are also worried about a rise in complaints about sunroofs that rattle and then explode.

There have been a few complaints regarding these difficulties on carcomplaints.com and many other websites that deal with vehicle problems in general.

5. Nissan Frontier 2016 Model Issues

Here are a few reasons why you should avoid the Nissan Frontier 2016-

  • Not Getting Enough Speed: The Nissan Frontier’s engine lag or slow acceleration may make it unsafe while passing or crossing an intersection, making it even more frustrating. Sluggish acceleration is a sign that something is wrong with your Frontier, and it needs to be fixed right away to prevent more damage.
  • Your Frontier’s airbag light is on and flashing to alert you to an issue with the airbag system. It’s quite normal if the light comes on for a few seconds while the car starts up. It’s when it doesn’t go away that you know something’s wrong.
  • The 2016 Frontier’s transmission may be the cause of the Nissan Frontier’s difficult shifting.

Which Years are Safe to Buy Used?

Fortunately, the quick answer to this query is that all bar the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2016 models are covered. Any Nissan Frontier model year other than those listed below is safe to use.

  • 1998 Nissan Frontier
  • 1999 Nissan Frontier
  • 2000 Nissan Frontier
  • 2001 Nissan Frontier
  • 2002 Nissan Frontier
  • 2003 Nissan Frontier
  • 2004 Nissan Frontier
  • 2008 Nissan Frontier
  • 2009 Nissan Frontier
  • 2010 Nissan Frontier
  • 2011 Nissan Frontier
  • 2012 Nissan Frontier
  • 2013 Nissan Frontier
  • 2014 Nissan Frontier
  • 2015 Nissan Frontier
  • 2017 Nissan Frontier
  • 2018 Nissan Frontier
  • 2019 Nissan Frontier
  • 2020 Nissan Frontier

You can purchase a used Nissan Frontier with confidence if you browse carefully, check the vehicle before purchasing, and avoid the 2005-2007 versions.

As a whole, the Nissan Frontier is a decent pickup at a reasonable price point. Because there are so many available, customers have a wide variety of options when it comes to selecting the best Frontier model and pricing. Looking at recall data and driver comments and ratings, it appears that the consensus is to get a newer, later-model Frontier if you can afford it. Your life’s greatest gamble may be to pick the ideal year for frontiers.

Conclusion

To summarize, owning a Nissan Frontier is a wise decision. The frontier years, with the possible exception of a few years, are the best to buy. To get the best deal on a Nissan Frontier, use these instructions. In order to make an informed purchase of the greatest Nissan Frontier years, you will need to know about the issues that plague each model year, which are stated in this very article.

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