Nissan Frontier Transmission Problems [Problems, Causes & Solutions]

Are you thinking about getting yourself a Nissan Frontier and wondering what the Nissan Frontier transmission problems are? Well, then this guide’s for you!

The most common transmission problem in Frontier is transmission malfunction due to transmission fluid mixture, which happens due to leaks in the radiator. The next common issue is transmission fluid drainage due to leaks in the fluid pan.

Like these, there are a bunch of other transmission issues which we’ll be walking you through in this guide. So, without further ado, take a look!

Key Takeaways:

  • Transmission malfunction is the most common transmission problem found in 2005 to 2008 Nissan Frontiers. The reason behind this was weak radiators which would leak oil into the transmission.
  • The transmission pan in the Nissan Frontiers is close to the ground. Therefore, they get damaged easily, which results in transmission fluid leaks.
  • Low fluid level is responsible for hard gear shifting, gear slipping, transmission failure, etc.
  • When the shifter bushing wears out, that can lead to loose transmission or unresponsive transmission.

Nissan Frontier Automatic Transmission Problems

There are a couple of automatic transmission issues in the Nissan Frontier; here are some of the most common ones.

● Transmission Malfunction

A radiator leak was a common issue from 2005 to 2008 Nissan Frontiers. The radiator housing was weak on old Frontiers, and as a result, they would break easily. When the radiator leaks, the fluid pours into the transmission from the radiator, which leads to malfunction.

There are a bunch of symptoms of transmission malfunction. The very common symptom is the engine check light turning on. Yes, the engine check light can turn on due to many reasons. But when you notice an abnormality in gear shifting along with the engine check light on, then it’s due to a malfunction in the transmission.

That’s not all! Transmission malfunction can cause the engine to stall and give very poor mileage too. Therefore, whenever you notice any of the mentioned symptoms, you should first check the transmission.


If the transmission malfunction is due to the radiator leak, the transmission fluid needs to be drained, and new fluid needs to be poured. But in some cases, the fluid can damage the transmission. In that case, you’ll have to replace it with a new transmission.

Along with that, you’ll have to replace the radiator too. However, depending on the leak condition, the radiator can also be repaired for temporary use.

● Transmission Fluid Leak

The transmission pan in the Nissan Frontier is very close to the road. Therefore, if there are road hazards like big rocks or speed breakers, etc., these can easily hit the pan, which can cause a leak. And when the pan leaks, the fluid starts draining.

Another thing that causes fluid leaks is the transmission gasket. The gasket becomes brittle with use, hence leading to fluid leaks. The transmission fluid can also leak if the bolts aren’t connected securely after the fluid change.

The easiest way to determine whether the transmission is leaking fluid is to check under the vehicle. If there is a leak, the ground will have fluid.

Apart from that, the warning light might turn on, you might hear a grinding noise when shifting gears, the vehicle might vibrate during the gear shift, and the accelerator might respond late.


The very first thing to do is check what’s causing the fluid leak. If it’s due to the fracture of the fluid pan or the gasket, you’ll have to replace it. And if it’s because of the loose bolt connections, then tightening the bolt should solve the issue.

● Transmission Slipping

When the gear changes automatically without you wanting it to change, that’s called a transmission slip. It can happen in both automatic and manual transmissions. The most common reason for transmission slipping is low fluid level. When the fluid level is extremely low, that can lead to transmission slip.

The next cause is the wrong fluid in the transmission. If the transmission fluid has gone bad, that can also lead to a transmission slip. The most common cause of transmission slip in a manual transmission is the worn-out clutch.


The solution to transmission slipping depends on what’s causing the problem. You need to refill it when it’s due to low transmission fluid. In this case, you’ll have to check whether the fluid pan has leaked.

If there is a leak, then replacing the pan is a must. For bad transmission fluid, you’ll have to drain the old fluid and pour new. If the clutch has worn out, you’ll have to replace the clutch.

Read More: How to Flat Tow a Nissan Frontier.

Nissan Frontier Manual Transmission Problems

Several issues are common in the Nissan Frontier Manual transmission; here are a few.

● Hard Gear Shift

It was an issue in the old manual transmission Nissan Frontiers; the most common reason is the low fluid level. When the transmission fluid level is low, air presence increases there, making it hard to change or shift the gears. When the transmission fails, it is very hard to shift the gear.

Though it’s rare when there is anything wrong with the transmission shifter sensor that can lead to a hard gear shift too.


Check the transmission fluid level with a dipstick; if that seems low, refill the tank. Then check the radiator; if there is any leak indicates the engine oil has mixed with the transmission fluid.

In that case, if the transmission is damaged, you’ll have to replace that. If it’s not damaged, then draining the oil fluid and pouring new should solve the problem. When the problem is in the transmission shifter sensor, you’ll need to install a new one.

● Loose Transmission

Another problem with the manual Nissan Frontier is the loose transmission. Usually, this problem occurs when the plastic shifter bushing has broken or worn out. However, some other factors can also lead to this issue, such as worn-out transmission teeth, etc.


Changing the shifter bushing should solve the loose transmission issue. If it’s not, then consider taking your vehicle to a mechanic.

Nissan Frontier 9 Speed Transmission Problems

According to many Nissan users, the following are the most common frontier 9-speed transmission issues.

  • Hard gear downshifting
  • Jerking when shifting transmission
  • Noise when shifting gear

These issues are found in 2020 to 2021 Nissan Frontiers. Some say they are found in Nissan Titan as well.


When the transmission fluid is contaminated, that can lead to hard downshifting issues. Transmission fluid can get contaminated if the radiator leaks and pours engine fluid into the transmission.

Vehicle jerking when shifting transmission can be caused by a worn-out clutch or torque gear. And that can also lead to noise while transmission shifts.

Nissan Frontier Transmission Problem Years

The Nissan Frontier transmission faults were more related to auxiliary problems that harmed the transmission than to the design and functionality of the transmission itself.

From 2005 to 2010, the Nissan Frontier experienced serious transmission issues.

Even though there are frequent transmission problems every year, those six years were among the worst for transmission problems. When coolant from the Nissan Frontier’s radiator seeped into the gearbox fluid, the fluid became contaminated.


What is the most common problem with a Nissan Frontier Transmission?

The most common transmission issues in Nissan Frontier are transmission malfunction, hard gear shift, and gear slipping. These usually happen when the radiator leaks oil into the transmission, the transmission fails, or when the gear teeth wear out.

How much does it cost to replace a transmission in a Nissan Frontier?

The transmission replacement cost in the Nissan Frontier depends on the model year, engine type, and trim level. It also depends on the transmission type as well. However, on average replacing the Nissan Frontier transmission might cost anywhere between $3,500 to $4,500.


Malfunctions in the transmission, hard gear shift, gear slipping, and transmission fluid leaks are the most common Nissan Frontier transmission problems.

Contaminated transmission fluid, leaks in the radiator, and the fluid pan are what mainly cause these issues. And there are some symptoms as well that indicate that the problem is in the transmission, which we’ve mentioned above. Hope this guide helps.

References & Resources:


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