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

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 another model year to view more problems: 2020   2022   2023

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

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 Complaint Summary

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

Brake & Electrical System Issues

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.

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Problems with the Fuel System

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.

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.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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
  • Anthony A

    I have had a 2021 frontier for 9 months and the truck has 40,000 miles on it and the number 5 piston is knocking and they want to replace the engine and I’m wondering if this is lemon?

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