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Nissan Frontier: Problems & Solutions

ciamanciaman Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Nissan
Hello Nissan owners, If you have a S/C Frontier pickup truck and you here a KNOCKING noise from the engine. Your going to be replacing your s/c. I just bought this new 2003 Frontier truck, I have 3000 miles on the on it , and I hear this KNOCKING noise from the engine. It starts to make this desil engine noise from idle to about 1700 rpm. some times its loud and some times its faint to hear. Well I thought it still might be braking in so I drove it for another 1000 miles and still hear it . So I went to my dealer and they said its a KNOWN problem & their going to replace the S/C unit. Boy was I pissed.Has anyone had this problem.They say the rotors are not matched up to each other, and they bined under a load. Have fun with this big $$$$ item. I wish I could get rid of this truck. I'm stuck with it for 5 years.


  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 8,019
    I've changed the title of this one to a more generic "problems" topic to make one central place where folks can ask and answer about any problems they may be having with their Frontier.

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  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    Some time ago I asked a question about reliability of the supercharger in the S/C pickup. The failure of yours is the first such reported failure in this forum but leaves bad taste in my mouth as it happened after so few miles. I was strongly considering buying this truck but I just changed my mind.
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    Can somebody tell me why is there not one decent forum about the older Nissan pickup (up to 96 model? There are hundreds of thousands of these trucks on the road. Nobody has any suggestions or experiences to share? This is really disappointing. I have a 4x4 95 SE V6 king cab truck and would be interested in chatting with other owners of similar pickups. There must be 30,000 posts on Honda Accord on this site, but almost nothing on Nissan trucks.
  • Hello everyone this is CIAMAN bringing you back more tech info. Well I called Eaton the manufacture of the S/C. before the dealer starts ripping the engine apart. We spoke of the problem I was having And they said they NEVER had this problem before. They check every one of their units before sending them out. And their is no such thing as the rotors binding inside , their separate from each other and do not touch each other. The rep. put some confidence in me saying the dealer did not make the right jugdement call without T-Shooting the problem. They think it could be the Anti Knock Sensor Not doing Its job.. So The rep I spoke to Said He was going to get a hold of Nissan In Tennesee and sending some one from there to look at my truck and a rep from Eaton too,and meet me at the dealer. So I am getting good support for this Knocking noise. Eaton wants to find the problem, and clear things up . Eaton stands up to its products. So I have some relief over this and I think things will turn out good. Eaton is going to setup a time to meet and I will get back to all of you when this problem is solved. And I hope its something stupid & simple! Because really do I like the truck.
  • hello p100 I did not want to discourage any one with my message Its a good truck if they can resolve this Knocking noise, so stay tuned I will be writing more info within two weeks you know how dealers are not to good some times thats why you have to do homework and fix it yourself. Or get smart people involved. see ya
  • ciamanciaman Posts: 6
    Hello every poor S/C Nissan truck owner. This is CIAMAN. Well to continue my discussion from before , Eaton did not pull through like they said they were on sending a rep out. And Nobody from Nissan Headquarters never responded. So I did not receive any support on my Knocking noise that I STILL HAVE. Even after the dealership replaced the supercharger. I do not know if this is just the nature of the truck to make this knocking noise . The mechanic said he can't hear any noise. I think I'm being blown off. Every body else who rides in the truck hears it. My next step is to go to another dealer and ask to drive a new s/c truck and see if it makes the same noise. If any body needs a squeeze of lemon to go with their ice tea I will bring my truck over. Knock Knock- who's There- Nissan .over & out.
  • pitrottpitrott Posts: 37
    P100 go to this link for post about nissan hardbody's they have all ya need!
  • srl99srl99 Posts: 37
    My BRAND NEW 2003 XE (4cyl, auto) dumped ALL it's
    tranny fluid on the ground last weekend. We were
    lucky we weren't killed as we were headed onto the
    interstate for a snowy, chains required nighttime
    drive over 7500' mountain pass (Donner Pass I80

    Towed into a dealer, they say 'some clamps
    which hold the tubes open were left in at the
    factory so the tranny cooler tube detached from
    the radiator. We checked - there's no tranny

    I saw ALL the fluid on the ground (what didn't
    turn to smoke/burn on contact with the car) I
    also saw smoke coming out of the back, sides and
    front of the truck as I pulled over. I also saw
    the tube detached from the radiator.

    I *don't* believe that _any_ tranny (auto
    especially) can run w/o fluid.

    Nissan USA offered $30 for a rent-o-car for ONE
    day ("customer satisfaction - you didn't buy
    an extended warranty").

    Thoughts on what to do? I believe, minimum, the
    tranny needs to be replaced - but a replacement
    truck isn't out of the question in my mind (only
    1500 miles on it). Hard to see how this vehicle
    meets the obligatory warranty of 'merchantability
    and fitness'.

    Should the dealer have checked these clamps/
    connections before delivery? Seems like it to me.

    I drove(?) a FIAT for a couple of years - which
    friends laughed got excellent gas mileage - on the
    back of the tow truck - feeling like this will be
    a lemon.
  • p100p100 Posts: 1,116
    I would not worry about the smoke coming from under the truck, as it was probably caused by transmission oil being sprayed onto hot exhaust pipes.

    Loosing transmission oil suddenly can indeed damage your transmission - it depends on how quickly you caught the problem and how quickly the oil was dumped and how long you drove with low oil or no oil in the transmission.

    It is sad that dealers do not do better job preparing new vehicles for sale. If they had inspected the truck properly, they would probably have found the problem. I sometimes wonder if they even drive new cars before sale - maybe in the dealer's parking lot. If they properly inspected new vehicles and took them was a test drive and inspected them again prior to sale, problems like you experienced could be avoided. I turned away in disgust when I test drove two brand new Nissan Maxima SE (03 models)and both had vibration in the steering wheel and on one of them the hood bounced up and down like it was made of rubber. So much for pre-delivery inspection. And these were $ 29K sticker cars. I would have bought one of these cars if I was impressed with the test drive.

    My advice is - if you can trade the truck in and talk the dealer into selling you a new one for minimum difference, go for it. Trucks generlaly have very good resale value and dealers can sometimes sell slightly used trucks for more than they can sell a new one.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    If I understand this failure scenario, the cooling line(s) opened and allowed the transmission to pump itself dry. Is that correct?

    Believe it or not, this is actually a better situation than running a auto transmission low for many miles. Since it dumped all the fluid you quickly got to a point where there wasn't enough fluid to operate the transmission. If I guess right, it just suddenly started slipping and you quickly realized that something was wrong and you came to a stop.

    I would bet that there was probably no damage. In most transmission designs there is always some fluid left in the clutch cavities if pressure is lost. Intermittent slipping for a period of time is more damaging.

    Let them repair it and refill the transmission. Drive it hard for a while, then decide whether to explore going further.

    I hope everything works is okay. That's a shame on a new truck. At the very least I hope they clean up the underbody for you.

    Best regards,
  • srl99srl99 Posts: 37
    Sorry for the delay - more details of the failure.

    Packed up the truck bed and cab with stuff and the family. Had bed
    load covered with a tarp and a bungie net (prepared for a 250 mi
    drive over Donner Pass in CA (7400 ft)). Also had chains on board,
    as chain controls were required on highway (I-80 Reno NV ->
    Oakland CA).

    Just filled up the gas tank and was making the turn to the highway
    ramp and noticed smoke coming from the rear of the truck. Assumed I
    had gotten a bungie too close to the exhaust and so pulled over
    immediately (after the stoplight turned green).

    After pulling over there was smoke coming from the rear, sides and
    the hood. Popped the hood and saw a ton of fluid on the ground -
    turned off the engine. Now parked in the breakdown lane of the on-
    ramp (lucky it happened at this place, lucky to have a breakdown lane
    on the ramp, lucky it didn't happen in the snowy mountains, lucky
    to be alive). AAA sent a tow truck VERY QUICKLY and got us out of

    It wasn't too difficult to find the loose hose in the engine
    compartment. Red fluid on the ground probably meant tranny fluid.

    This truck has always shifted hard - but I have seen many complaints
    about the Nissan automatic so I assumed it was normal.

    Can't say how long it had been leaking, but I did pull over very
    quickly after it started smoking.

    Spoke to the selling dealer - he said a few interesting things: 1)
    when they do warranty work they do the maximum, as it maximizes
    their billing and profit. 2) As they didn't repair the car he can't
    talk to the tech to find out if there's any question on the tranny.
    3) I should call Nissan and ask for a tranny replacement or an
    extended warranty on the drivetrain (100k miles). He says they prefer
    the extended warranty in these cases. [I have called Nissan cust svc
    and await their reply.] 4) Checking hoses and clamps is NOT part
    of pre-delivery inspection - they just check fluids and safety
    equipment (this from dealership manager.).

    If Nissan does give the extended warranty and I have no more problems
    with this truck - I'll live with it. Else I have a prepaid legal
    plan which I will be using. [I have to believe this incident will
    reduce the resale price of the truck, aside from the risk to life
    and limb.]

    I'll note this was 4PM on Sunday and Reno Nissan was open - but
    helpless (hopeless). On Monday I had the truck sent to Carson City
    Jeep/Nissan (35 miles further away), as Reno Nissan was STILL
    hopeless when their service dep't opened. Carson City Nissan was
    awesome - they sent a flatbed, and gave me priority service.
    Honestly, I chose the Nissan-only store first over the Jeep/Nissan
    store, but boy was I wrong.

    Before this incident I had nothing but good things to say about the
    truck. It was a good value, not a speed demon (4cyl w/ auto) but
    sufficient for around town, and usable for driving up mountains as
    long as one uses momentum to advantage. Now the jury is out.

    Once I have resolution on the tranny replacement/ext warranty
    question I'll be writing a letter to Nissan documenting the
    whole affair. I have NEVER experienced such a major failure
    on an automobile regardless of age, make or country of origin.
    This incident was at 1507 (one thousand five hundred seven) miles.
    I would have happily brought the truck in for a 1000 mile service/
    oil-change but none is required and my hometown dealer confirmed
    they don't want to see it until 3500 (3750?) miles.

    Truck is still sitting at repairing dealer as I'm 250 miles away,
    waiting for Nissan's answer, and need to carve out the time for the
    500 mile round trip.
  • Hello Everyone CIAMAN is back with a quiet knock free truck. I brought back my nissan to the dealer because the knock was driving me crazy. And I told them I do not want the truck back until the problem is fixed or your going to be buying it back and was firm with them so, the dealer took the truck from me & kept it for a weeks worth of trouble shooting.I also told them to give me a rental car for the down time and they did.The dealer found a simple cheep part that failed, they call it a vacuum tank and valve assy. part number 14958-5S625. It took an hours worth of labor and it fixed the knocking noise diapered and never returned again. I was a very happy person. The dealer said they made a mistake in replacing the supercharger that was not the problem. Now I have to look at my tranny lines for missing clamps from what I just read on another truck owners problem. Over&Out
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,875
    If you want to start a discussion of older Nissan trucks, please e-mail and let me know and I'll open one up for you IF...your interest is mainly tech problems. If you want a general discussion with other owners, you might be better off starting a new topic in our Pickups Board, which you can find by using the drop down window to the left of this page where it says "Browse by Message Board".

    thank you


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  • rgfbrgfb Posts: 1
    I read the horror story of srl99 regarding his transmission. I have a new (about a month old) 2003 Nissan Frontier, 4 cyl. auto/trans, with just over 1000 miles. I was driving to my destination yesterday (12/5) and the transmission would not up shift into a higher gear. If I took my foot of the accelerator and then re applied the gas it felt like I was in neutral and I had to pull over to let cars go by. I would then start up again with the same steps occurring about 4 times before I made it to my location (still 80 miles from home). I phoned the dealer/service dept and the tech tells me I have to get the truck to him and he suggested I drive it to the dealer...RIGHT! After some choice discussion the dealer agreed to have it towed to their location. Five minutes later the tow service calls but says they can't tow the truck until Sunday 12/7/03. No offer of a loaner car. I have my wife pick me up and now have a difficult situation with a daily commute to work without my brand new truck.
    srl99: Can you let me know how you made out with your problem? I did not see any tranny fluid but I am not the most mechanical person in the world either but know what the fluid looks like. If you would like to email me directly my email is
  • I own a 2001 Nissan Frontier V6 4x4 manual shift.Four-wheel drive used maybe 15 days in winter. Rest of year I engage four-wheel drive 5 times in rain to keep hubs lubicated. This year I engaged it in first snow. Above 30 MPH roaring, grinding noise in free-running hubs and/or front differential. Had hubs greased for $160 at dealer. Still roars and grinds.
    My prior 1998 Nissan 4x4 four-wheel drive cut out alltogether in its third year (did not work at all).
    I am drawing the conclusion it is bad engineering and am quite frankly disgusted with it. Just when you needed in snow it does't work. This is the last Nissan Pickup I bouught.
    Anyone please comment with Nisssan Pickup four-wheel drive experience. Good or Bad.
  • srl99srl99 Posts: 37
    Well now I know why the Frontier was (a LITTLE) cheaper - Nissan doesn't stand behind it. I previously documented the (auto) tranny fluid dump at 1507 miles. The repairing dealer was kind enough to give me one of the "wedges" left in the oil line at the factory which caused the cooler line to come off the radiator. [Looks like the links you'd remove from a metal watch band to make it smaller.]

    All the fluid was pumped out of the tranny - smoke was everywhere - we were stuck at the side of an onramp on a snowing winter day about to climb a mountain pass with chains on.

    What's Nissan USA customer satisfaction's resolution after 4+ weeks? Refill the tranny fluid, put the hose back on, have a nice day. "You should've bought an extended warranty".

    Yeah - no kidding - but what I REALLY should've bought is a Toyota.

    The repairing dealer determined there was no tranny problem - by driving it less than one mile? Good trick (dumped fluid at 1507 miles on odo, picked up at 1508 miles).

    There's no tranny damage? - so what's the cost of Nissan giving us an extended warranty? If the risk is zero - they'll have zero extended warranty claims - right?

    Anyone want to bet on whether the car we buy next summer will be a Nissan??

    NHTSA and lemon law case here we come!

  • I'm starting to shop for a new truck to repalce my '98 ford ranger 4WD extended cab which has 133,000 miles. Other than the damper door, tensioner,and windshield washer motor it is a good truck. I'm interested in the Frontier non S/C, but I'm not too impressed with the gas mileage of the 3.3 liter. An earlier post recommended a diesel which would be a nice option and/or different gearing for the highway. This board is very helpful, keep up the good work.
  • I purchased my 2003 frontier in october w/ 44 miles on it. I broke in the engine properly and even use the 4wd. I had no problems till 5,000 miles. I had to use the 4WD in some heavy snow on the east coast. Upon stopping short during my drive the brakes clutterred, clanged and grinded to a halt. They brakes work fine if i come to a normal stop, but if i have to apply any extra pressure to the brake pedal it feels and sounds like the front end of the truck is gonna crumble. The dealer cant fit me in for 2 to a great start nissan usa
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    Being that its the brakes, I'd think they would be able to push you up in the queue. After all it is safety related.
This discussion has been closed.