Starting issues in the Nissan Frontier can leave drivers stranded and frustrated. This guide takes a look at some of the most common causes of intermittent starting problems in Nissan Frontiers and provides troubleshooting tips to help you to track down the source of the issue.
By methodically checking each component, Frontier owners can pinpoint the root of the starting issue. Performing basic maintenance and testing on starting and charging system components can help you to prevent many starting faults.
With the right knowledge and diagnostic approach, Nissan Frontier owners can troubleshoot the intermittent starting issues and get their vehicles back on the road.
Table of Contents
Causes for Intermittent Starting Problems in the Nissan Frontier
Faulty battery connections
- Corroded, loose, or damaged battery terminals can cause high resistance and prevent sufficient power from reaching the starter.
Weak or failing battery
- Old batteries can lose the capacity and voltage by making them unable to supply the amps required by the starter.
Dying starter motor
- Malfunctions internally in the starter motor can cause slow cranking or intermittent operations as it fails.
Loose starter relay or solenoid
- Vibration can cause the starter relay or solenoid contacts to lose the tightness. This creates resistance or intermittent connection to failures in starting the vehicle.
Ignition switch faults
- Internal switch contacts can wear or corrode by interrupting the voltage to the starter relay.
Low cranking RPM
- Worn brushes, faulty solenoid windings, short armature, or bad bearings can cause weak starter output. This causes slow cranking that may not start.
Engine ground straps
- Ground straps between the engine and the chassis/battery can become loose or corroded. This creates voltage drop and no-start conditions.
Faulty neutral safety switch
- A defective neutral safety switch prevents starter operation unless the shifter is in park/neutral.
Low system voltage
- Alternator failure or poor connection results in low charging output. This can cause intermittent weak cranking or no-start issues, especially if the battery is also compromised.
Troubleshooting Tips for Tracking Down the Intermittent Starting Issues on the Nissan Frontier
- Use a meter such as a multimeter to check the battery voltage at rest and while cranking. Load-test the battery to verify the capacity.
- Use an ammeter to check the starter amp draw while cranking. A low reading can indicate a weak starter winding or faulty solenoid.
- Test the voltage at the starter terminal while cranking. A significant drop points to an excessive resistance in the wiring, connections, or relay.
- With the key in the starting position, wiggle the battery cables, starter wires, and relay while an assistant watches the starter operation. If the movement affects the cranking, there is an intermittent contact issue.
- Lightly tap the starter motor or ignition switch with the screwdriver’s handle while engaging the key. If the starter cranks normally for a moment, it points to an internal fault.
- Bypass the relay and the test-jump solenoid with screwdrivers to isolate the fault in either components.
- Use an ammeter to check for a high parasitic current drain, which can discharge the battery overnight. Disconnect the fuses one by one to isolate the circuit.
FAQs About Nissan Frontier Intermittent Starting Problem
Q: Why does the Frontier starts fine most of the time, but sometimes it may shows difficulties?
A: An intermittent problem implies something is loosening up, corroding, or only working when the temperature is cold or hot. The “sometimes” nature points to an electrical issue.
Q: Can bad gas cause intermittent hard starting?
A: While bad or old gasoline won’t make it impossible to start, it can certainly cause long cranking times, misfires, and rough running until flushed out of the fuel system.
Q: Should I replace or rebuild my starter if it is failing?
A: For cost reasons, most recommend replacing the starter altogether if it demonstrates wear or high resistance when tested. Rebuilding can be an option for rare, high-end starters.