2021 Nissan Frontier Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Powertrain & electrical issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

In February 2020, Nissan announced in an official media release that its 2020 Frontier was the last model of the current second generation.

Motoring journalists and the driving public assumed the 2021 model would be fully redesigned. But in January 2021, the company announced its 2022 model would launch in 2021. Until then, they would continue to produce a 2021 version with a few changes to the 2020 model.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2020   2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Nissan Frontier

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Power Train
Seat Belts
Air Bags:sensor:occupant Classification
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking

The 2022 Frontier, launched in September 2021, cut short the 2021 model’s run.

Nevertheless, according to GoodCarBadCar, sales figures for the 2021 model are higher than in 2020. Not by much, but from 54,817 to 60,697 in the U.S. and from 1,355 to 1,716 in Canada.

But there are still complaints reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are also more technical service bulletins (manufacturer communications) in 2021 than 2020: 25 versus 20. These are mandatory early-warning reports required by federal regulations.

Most Common Problems with the 2021 Nissan Frontier

Problems reported to NHTSA relate to airbag sensors, brakes and the automatic emergency braking system, the electrical system, forward-collision avoidance, and the fuel propulsion system. They are contained in 3 individual complaints. Two of the complaints report recurring problems, which is a sign that these vehicles may be lemons.

Also, according to NHTSA, the rollover risk of the 2021 Frontier is 21.2% compared to a rollover risk of 19.8% for the 2020 model. Additionally, they rate the 2021 model only 3 out of 5 stars for the rollover resistance test. This test measures the risk of rollover if the driver loses control of the vehicle. Frontal crash and side crash risks are not rated by NHTSA for this model.

2021 Nissan Frontier Brake & Electrical System Problems

There is no finality about the cause of this complaint. But it relates to the electrical system, forward-collision avoidance, the automatic emergency braking system, and the brakes of the truck in general. The problem resulted in a crash.

The complaint explains how the back tires started to spin out of control when they pulled the newly purchased truck into their garage. The driver had his foot on the brake, but the truck surged forward causing minor truck and property damage. The couple took photographs of the marks the tires made on the epoxy garage floor.

After doing some research, and finding stories about “sudden unintended acceleration,” they took their truck back to the dealership. Both the dealer and manufacturer maintain there is nothing wrong with the vehicle.

At the time of the complaint, the owners said they were asking the dealership to “check the electronic throttle-control and brake override system on this truck.”

There are no brake issues mentioned in manufacturer communications. None of the 8 electrical system bulletins refer to a problem similar to this.

2021 Nissan Frontier Fuel System Problems

This complaint describes how going down a driveway that has a 15-degree slope, the transmission remains in first gear. The same thing happens when there is less than a third of a tank of fuel.

“The engine seems to momentarily cut out as the vehicle feels like the transmission is in neutral. But the tachometer indicates the engine is running.”

When this happens, the malfunction indicator light (MIL) comes on along with the check A/T (automatic transmission) light. Stopping and restarting the truck clears the check A/T light. But the complaint states it takes several drive cycles to clear the MIL light.

“This has happened on two occasions. After the first occurrence the dealer checked for any locked-in codes, but none were present. Since the MIL only stays locked in for a limited time it appears that the onboard diagnostics are not storing codes due to it being a momentary issue.”

There are 2 technical service bulletins that refer to the fuel system. But these deal with leaks at the vent control valve o-ring. There is a bulletin that refers to “MIL on with DTC” dated 1 September 2021. This was added after the complaint was filed with NHTSA on August 22. There are no recalls.

2021 Nissan Frontier Airbag Problems

While the truck was traveling at 75 mph, the airbag warning light came on and started flashing. The driver didn’t stop but took the new Frontier to the dealer the next day.

“The mechanic found and tightened a loose wire to fix the failure. However, several days later the failure recurred.” The fault was repaired a second time.

The Frontier owner reports having done 2,000 miles in the truck at the time of the failures. He is concerned that the failure will recur. There are currently no technical service bulletins about this issue.

What to do if your 2021 Nissan Frontier is a lemon? Your Lemon Rights

Any persistent problem that relates to engines, transmission, brakes, or safety issues has the making of a lemon. If you think you’ve got one, the best thing to do is get advice from an experienced lemon lawyer like Lemberg Law.

The problems discussed in this article could all indicate a lemon. There may be many other problems that haven’t been reported to NHTSA.

Feel free to contact the Lemberg Law Helpline so that we can assess the likelihood of your problem being a lemon. And rest assured, it will be free because the law says Nissan must pay the legal bills for lemons.

Complaint Data

DateMar 14, 2023
Numerous complaints of problems with bad/defective engine mounts .
CategoryPower Train
DateMar 11, 2023
I brought my truck in for service on 3/10/23 and they preformed the recall for the transmission. This involved reprogramming no parts were available yet. On my trip home from the shop I noticed right away my fuel economy went from 21mpg to 18 mpg (same roads I always drive) and I have been having a warning light come on after I let and it has came on and off twice. I worry about what would make such a drastic change and what is it doing to my transmission. I have notified the dealer but they are not open till monday. I do not want my private information shared. I do not know if this is a normal or common problem
CategoryFuel/propulsion System, Unknown Or Other
DateSep 27, 2022
Transmission in park nissan sent notice truck could roll away. Radio turns self on and off 2-3 times after starting vehicle no lights or messages show up cell phone bluetooth won't work
CategorySeat Belts, Seats, Unknown Or Other
DateJul 26, 2022
Have gone to nissan for excessive rattle noise in passenger footwell would sound louder as I gave it gas they concluded that the heater core bracket was loose and tighten but sound did no go away took it in again heater core bracket not good would need to replace so had to take it in third time for same heater core issue eventually they replaced heater core but still have problems with the air was taken to nissan over 7 times for climate problems. It was not equal driver side blew hotter than the that passenger side eventually it stop blowing air through front vents only the defrost vent works seat adjusting bracket did not lock in place when coming to a stop the passenger seat would slide forward defective nissan replaced --few month later passenger seatbelt tensioner went bad check engine error code took it to nissan was replaced by nissan nissan service mechanics driving car with defective seatbelt that no issue until part came in same with bracket I had to take them on a ride they kept saying they cant recreate problem as far as climate its been a heat wave over 98 degrees outside and I'm having to drive in a hot car these problems have been since first day I drove car home I've been to service center over 12 times don't feel safe with vehicle I have spoken to nissan arbitration dept enter jessica willis car currently has no air and they are aware of my situation and the heat wave that im having to deal with
DateApr 15, 2022
Sidewall failed at 70mph on I-40 westbound causing immediate deflation of the tire almost causing loss of vehicle control. The problem has not been reproduced by a dealer or independent service center. The vehicle has not been inspected by any police or manufacturer. The low tire warning lamp illuminated seconds after said blowout. Hancook dynapro at m p265/75r16
CategoryAir Bags:sensor:occupant Classification
DateNov 08, 2021
The contact owns a 2021 nissan frontier. The contact stated while driving 75 mph, the air bag warning light illuminated and was flashing. The contact continued driving to his residence. The following day the vehicle was taken to a dealer to be inspected. The mechanic found and tightened a loose wire to fix the failure however, several days later the failure recurred. The contact took the vehicle back to the local dealer who reset the air bag sensor to clear the code. The contact was concerned that the failure would recur. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 2,000.
CategoryElectrical System, Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Service Brakes
DateOct 07, 2021
My husband and I bought a new truck. My husband pulled the truck into our garage, once in the garage the back tires started to spin out of control, he looked down and saw he had his foot on the brake only, but truck surged forward causing no injuries but have minor truck and property damage. Have a picture of where there is stationary tire marks on our epoxy garage floor showing the black tire marks of the tires spinning out of control just before the truck surged forward. After this incident we found articles about sudden unintended acceleration which we feel is what happened to my husband. The dealership we bought the vehicle from has been derogatory from the start of this incident. We have contacted several attorneys to only be turned down saying we don't have a case because my husband wasn't injured (thank god). We waived the manufacturer arbitration and found only one attorney who took us through pre-litigation but then discharged us after getting the denial letter from the manufacturer, telling us to get a second opinion. We're at a crossroads and don't know what to do at this point. Morally, would it be right to trade in what we feel is a dangerously defective new vehicle? For that is the crossroads we stand at, either pursuing a civil lawsuit or trading it in. The truck was inspected once by the manufacturer and once by the dealership where we bought it. We are currently asking the dealership's garage to further check the electronic throttle-control and brake override system on this truck. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
CategoryFuel/propulsion System
DateAug 22, 2021
Descending my driveway which is an approximately 15 degree slope with the transmission selected to remain in 1st gear, and approximately one third of a tank of fuel or less remaining in the fuel tank the engine seems to momentarily cut out as the vehicle feels like the transmission is in neutral, but the tachometer indicates the engine is running. When this occurs the mil comes on along with the check at light. Stopping the vehicle and restarting the vehicle clears the check at light, but it takes several drive cycles to clear the mil light. This has happened on two occasions. After the first occurrence the dealer checked for any locked in codes, but none were present. Since the mil only stays locked in for a limited time it appears that the on board diagnostics are not storing codes due to it being a momentary issue.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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