Used Vehicle Review: Nissan Frontier, 2005 2012 used car reviews reviews nissan
2005 Nissan Frontier NISMO Off-Road Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The Frontier went into 2011 with few equipment changes, but the XE, SE and LE trims were renamed S, SV and SL. The PRO-4X gained a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and outside temperature display.

Stability control was made standard in 2012 Frontiers, and a new sport appearance package (18-inch alloy wheels, dark grille treatment, body-coloured bumpers, PRO-4X-style seats, fog lights, sport graphics package, white-faced gauges and Bluetooth) was added to the option list.

A failed transmission fluid cooler is a frequent occurrence in Frontiers. The real trouble is that this cooler is integrated with the radiator (a common design), so the failure allows the transmission fluid and engine coolant to mix, which can gunk up both the engine’s cooling system and the transmission. Click here and here for more information and comments from Frontier owners who have dealt with the problem.

Watch for failed driveshaft carrier bearings. This piece supports the middle of the two-piece shaft, and is prone to wear that causes a vibration that can be felt inside the truck when being driven. Read here for photos of a bearing that basically disintegrated, and click here and here for videos that show what to look for. Note that this affects all Frontiers, rear- and four-wheel drive alike.

Used Vehicle Review: Nissan Frontier, 2005 2012 used car reviews reviews nissan
2005 Nissan Frontier NISMO Off-Road Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

A whining noise from the engine is caused by worn timing chain guides. Note that this apparently doesn’t affect the main timing chain, but the two secondary ones that turn the camshafts on the V6 engine’s two heads. Click here and here for more information.

A faulty fuel gauge sending unit will cause erratic gauge readings, and can trigger a check engine light.

Certain versions of the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine (code-named QR25DE) are prone to problems, including ingesting pieces of damaged pre-catalyst material and/or loose throttle plate screws, that can cause internal damage. It’s not clear if these problems affected the version of the engine used in the Frontier, but it’s thought that revisions to the engine made for the 2007 model year rendered these concerns moot.

Used Vehicle Review: Nissan Frontier, 2005 2012 used car reviews reviews nissan
2005 Nissan Frontier NISMO Off-Road Crew Cab 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2005-2012 Frontier its “good” rating in frontal offset and side impact crash tests. Testers noted a likelihood of foot/lower leg injuries in the frontal offset test, and rib fractures in the side impact test.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t crash-test on the 2005-and-newer Frontier.

Expect a used Frontier to be a bit less expensive than a similarly-equipped Toyota Tacoma, but pricier than a Chevrolet Colorado and significantly more so than the tiny Ford Ranger or Mazda B-Series.

My opinion is that Nissan’s trucks haven’t been the same since Nissan joined forces with Renault. The Frontier’s reliability problems are similar to those of the larger Titan, and suggest that Nissan has lost the plot as far as building tough trucks is concerned. The Toyota Tacoma is worth the small price premium for its better reliability, and for those who can make do with a smaller truck, a used Ford Ranger can be had for dirt cheap.

Pricing

Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) February, 2012:

Year
Model
Price today
Price new
2011
Frontier SV King Cab 4×2 automatic
$20,725
$28,048
2010
Frontier SE King Cab 4×2 automatic
$18,475
$28,348
2009
Frontier SE King Cab 4×2 automatic
$16,700
$26,948
2008
Frontier SE King Cab 4×2 automatic
$15,575
$24,448
2007
Frontier SE King Cab 4×2 automatic
$14,150
$26,148
2006
Frontier SE King Cab 4×2 automatic
$12,350
$24,448
2005
Frontier SE King Cab 4×2 automatic
$11,100
$22,998

Online resources
  • There are a number of online portals dedicated to the Frontier. Start with NissanHelp.com, ClubFrontier.com, NissanFrontier.org or FrontySpot.com. Other good spots are the Frontier section at NissanForums.com, The Ultimate Nissan Frontier Site and the Frontier section at TruckForums.com.

    Recalls
  • Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006063; Units affected: 1,652

    2005-2006: On certain King Cab vehicles, a severe side impact crash could create a relative displacement between the fuel filler cap and filler door. The filler cap tether may be stretched to the point of unscrewing the cap off. This may result in fuel spillage which, in the presence of an ignition source, could result in a fire. Correction: Dealers will install a modified fuel cap tether/pin assembly.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008025; Units affected: 60 (includes other models)

    2008: Certain vehicles fail to comply with CMVSS 110 – Tire Selection and Rims. The tire placard overstates the actual weight capacity. Loading a vehicle beyond its capacity may result in poor vehicle handling characteristics, increasing the risk of a crash. Correction: Owners will be provided with updated labels and installation instructions.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008454; Units affected: 27,695 (includes other models)

    2005-2009: On certain vehicles operated in areas of heavy road salt usage, the front Crash Zone Sensor (CZS) may rust internally. This could result in the non-deployment of the driver and passenger front airbags during a vehicle crash, increasing the risk of personal injuries or death in certain crash conditions. Correction: Dealers will replace the Crash Zone Sensor.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010061 Units affected: 2,297 (includes other models)

    2006-2008: On certain vehicles, the moulded fuel tanks are slightly thinner than specification in the area under the fuel sender unit. This may allow the tank floor to deform causing the fuel sender float to interfere with other features inside the tank. This could cause the instrument panel fuel gauge to show a fuel level of approximately one quarter tank when the fuel tank is empty. An inaccurate fuel gauge can lead to engine stalling while driving, which may increase the risk of a crash causing property damage, personal injury or death. Correction: Letters will be sent to owners in two stages. The first letter will advise owners of fuel gauge inaccuracy and recommend maintaining a fuel level above the one half position. The second letter will follow, requesting owners bring their vehicles to a dealer for replacement of the fuel sender unit.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010085 Units affected: 111 (includes other models)

    2010: On certain vehicles, the fasteners securing the passenger front air bag module may not have been tightened to the proper torque specification. If the fasteners were not tightened properly, they may loosen over time and cause a rattling noise. In the event of a crash, the passenger front airbag may not deploy properly, resulting in the risk of personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect the air bag module fasteners and torque them to specification.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010088 Units affected: 660 (includes other models)

    2010: On certain four-wheel drive vehicles, the joint portion of the front driveshaft may contain small cracks. These cracks may eventually lead to a failure, resulting in separation of the front driveshaft. If the driveshaft failed while the vehicle was moving, a loud noise would be heard. If the vehicle were in 2WD mode, the driveshaft would come to rest on the frame cross-member, and the vehicle could be operated normally. The driveshaft would not come in contact with brake, steering or fuel system components, therefore the risk of a crash is considered minimal. Correction: Dealers will inspect the vehicle and replace the front driveshaft if necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010159 Units affected: 2,759 (includes other models)

    2010: On certain vehicles, the lower control link assembly collars (forming the inboard attachment point to the chassis) may not have been manufactured correctly. If the collar weld fails, the cylindrical collar can open, which will allow the collar to slip over the mounting bolt and bushing. This may change the wheel camber, which could allow vehicle handling characteristics to deteriorate, possibly resulting in a crash causing property damage and/or personal injury. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the lower control link assembly.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010269 Units affected: 39

    2010: On certain vehicles, an improper wire insertion process during assembly resulted in an out-of-specification welding of the tether anchor wire to the seat gusset. The tether anchorage may not meet the strength requirements of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. If a child restraint is installed using the top tether anchor in the front passenger seat, the tether anchor could separate in a crash, increasing the risk of personal injury. Correction: Dealers will replace the front passenger seat tether anchor with a new one.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010373 Units affected: 24,207 (includes other models)

    2005-2006: On certain vehicles the Intelligent Power Distribution Module (IPDM) assembly contains an Engine Control Module (ECM) relay that has a diode for electrical current noise reduction. The ECM relay may allow silicon vapor to form and over time the silicon evaporates from the diode moulding which causes silicon oxide to develop on the ECM relay contact due to arcing. In certain instances, this oxidation could cause engine performance issues (hesitation, rough engine idle, slow start/no-start condition), and engine stalling at low engine speeds which may result in a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the Engine Control Module (ECM) relay.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2011157 Units affected: 2,734 (includes other models)

    2010: Certain vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 110 – Tire Selection and Rims. The French-language wording displayed on the tire placard does not fully comply with the revised requirements of the Standard, which came into force on September 1, 2009. As the variation in the French text is minor, and all required safety information is displayed on the placard, no corrective recall action is required. This technical non-compliance is deemed to be non-safety related.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2011436 Units affected: 528 (includes other models)

    2011: On certain vehicles, the engine oil cooler stud (onto which the oil filter is mounted) could fail. This could cause an engine oil leak, which could illuminate the instrument panel’s engine oil warning lamp. Abnormal noise and rough engine performance may also be noticed and, in the worst case, the engine could fail and stop suddenly while the vehicle is in motion. Engine failure would result in lost vehicle propulsion which, in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions, could increase the risk of a crash causing property damage and/or personal injury. Correction: Dealers will replace the engine oil cooler connector stud.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.