Warning About the Nissan Frontier and Nissan of Reno

October 19, 2008

Last week I had the snow tires put on my Frontier at the Reno Costco Tire Center.

When I got the truck back the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light was flashing. I found out that it meant the TPMS was malfunctioning.

I took the truck to Nissan of Reno to have it fixed.

Despite the following article (and a letter to Nissan) Keoni (and everyone at Nissan of Reno) treated me very courteously and professionally. I respect them for that. And the TPMS was fixed.


I bought a brand new Nissan Frontier from Nissan of Reno in March 2007.

Shortly afterwards I noticed how bumpy the ride was. You feel every bump in the road. The truck I took for a test drive had a very smooth ride. I even mentioned to my salesman, Jon Smith, how smooth the ride was.

Unfortunately, that was not the truck I bought. I ended up with a different one because I decided to get alloy wheels.

When I realized there was a problem, the first thing I did was check the tire pressures. They were all several pounds high. Lowering them to the correct value did not help with the ride.

Everyone had been so nice to me when I bought it that I thought they would fix the problem, or at least try to fix the problem.

I was wrong.

Because bringing the truck in is so inconvenient I decided to wait until the first oil change before pursuing it.

On Tuesday, June 26, 2007, I brought my Frontier to Nissan of Reno for its first oil change and to report that the ride was very bumpy.

One of their service techs went out with me for a drive in my truck.

Then we went for a drive in a new Frontier (a black one). The ride in that one was so bad that the service tech admitted there was definitely something wrong with it.

We then went out in a new red Frontier. The ride was better than mine but not as good as the one I had test-driven in March.

When we got back, the service tech said they would take my wheels (with tires) off the truck and check them in their wheel balance machine.

After that, due to Nissan of Reno’s extremely poor communications with Enterprise, I had to wait 1.5 hours to get a rental car. The only reason I got one at all was because I gave Derrick (the Service Manager) a choice. He could either get me a rental car immediately or give me my truck back so I could go home. He called a different rental agency (Advantage Rent-a-Car) who was there in five minutes to pick me up.

Late in the day, Keoni left a message with my message service to say that the suspension had been checked and everything was ok. Here is a WMA of the message (msg.wma)

On Wednesday, June 27, I went back to retrieve my truck. The cashier asked me if my day was going any better than yesterday. I told her that, unfortunately, it was not.

She called Derrick (Service Manager), who came over immediately.

I calmly read him the riot act. I told him that if all Frontiers ride the way mine does I had no choice but to write an article to warn everyone about Frontiers.

He suggested we go for a ride together in my truck. I agreed.

He pulled my truck around and we went for a test drive. During the drive he said all Frontiers ride the way mine did. He said he owned a Frontier himself and it rides that way, too. I reminded him about my test drive the day before with his service tech. I also told him that my 1990 Nissan pickup drives better than my new one.

Here's The Thing

When he had brought my truck around I noticed there were stones wedged in the tire treads of the left front tire. (The reason I noticed them was because I noticed Derrick noticing them.)

I recognized the stones. They were the stones from my driveway. I used 3/4" Ginger Rock on my driveway (See the picture of my driveway: stones.pdf.)  Nissan of Reno's lot was paved so they didn't come from there. Ginger rock is not commonly found on Reno's roads. They're paved.

(My tires always pick up stones from my driveway, but even when I remove them the truck ride is still very bumpy.)

If Nissan of Reno had done the test they had promised to do (pull the wheels and test them in their balance machine) they would have seen the stones and removed them.

If they had merely inspected the tires they would have seen the stones and removed them.

I think that any inspection of the suspension would include an inspection of the tires.

Therefore, the evidence suggests they didn't do any of these things.

If Nissan of Reno charges Nissan Corporate for this work, then they are charging Corporate for work they haven't done. See the attached invoice. (invoice.pdf)

Indeed, now I wonder if Nissan of Reno even changed the oil.

On a range of 1 to 5, where 1 is unacceptable and 5 is excellent, The Nissan Frontier SE 4x4 gets a 2.

On the same scale, Nissan of Reno gets a 0.


If you decide to look at the Nissan Frontier:

1.  Take a test drive on several types of roads, not just smooth asphalt. Pay attention to how it feels. Do you feel jarring bumps to your butt or your back? When you talk to your salesperson have you suddenly developed vibrato or tremolo?

2.  If you like the truck and the ride, buy that truck. If it doesn't have the features you want, and another one does, test drive that truck. Do not buy a truck unless you have test driven that particular truck.

3.  I don't know if this problem with the uniformity of vehicles is only with the Frontier or if it applies to the entire Nissan fleet of vehicles. To be safe, only buy a vehicle if you have test driven that particular vehicle.

4.  Do not buy a vehicle from Nissan of Reno.

5.  Do not have a vehicle serviced at Nissan of Reno.

As to what could be causing the problem with my truck. It could be a number of things.

1. The suspension could be poorly designed.

2.  The suspension could have been properly designed but different parts were substituted in Production for the parts called for in the design.

3.  The quality control of the parts used in the suspension could be poor.

4.  The tires (265/70 R16 BFGoodrich Long Trail OWL Tires) might be defective or just not good tires for this vehicle.

Since Nissan doesn't care, it really doesn't matter, does it?

If, despite everything, you really want a Nissan Frontier SE 4x4 and don't care about the ride, I will sell you mine. (It's Red, with low mileage.)

Jed Margolin
Virginia City Highlands, NV
July 2, 2007