Piston Slap: There's a Rattle on the Frontier!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC Commentator Benderofbows writes:


I always enjoy reading Piston Slap and want to ask about my truck, a 2007 Nissan Frontier with the VQ40DE (4.0L V6), 6-speed manual, and 42k miles. Sometimes the truck will rattle while accelerating at around 2200 RPMS. This only happens after completing a long freeway run (an hour or more) and occurs in every gear regardless of throttle position. The noise goes away after a few shifts or always after the truck has been shut off and restarted. It has been going on for 6 months or more (it took me that long to figure out how to duplicate it) and doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, plus it doesn’t trip any check engine lights. I can’t imagine how to replicate the noise for the dealership service department. Any ideas? Computer issue with the air/fuel mix maybe?

Sajeev answers:

I hate being the armchair quarterback at times. That said, I’m putting all my chips on a transmission problem, not an engine issue. That rattle sounds like a bad throwout bearing, pressure plate or clutch. Or maybe it all needs to be replaced when going in there for a look-see.

Keep in mind the number of moving parts inside a manual transmission required to connect/disconnect with the engine. If one of them is a bit out of spec, something could throw a little rattle at a certain frequency: like maybe 2200rpm?

And this is where I stop patting my smart ass on the back and do some actual research. Lo and behold, a full 60 seconds of Googling netted a thread that completely addresses your issue. The solution? You need a new clutch and new flywheel and someone who can install them to the correct torque specs.

Good luck.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Dvp cars Dvp cars on Oct 12, 2011

    ........any of the above plus a possible disintegrating cat, or some other sympathetic vibration that will one day just disappear.........one thing for sure......don't spend any serious money 'til the issue becomes obvious.....and try the cheap fixes first.

    • LeMansteve LeMansteve on Oct 12, 2011

      Old co-worker of mine had a Ford Ranger with a disintegrated cat. The internal element had rusted, vibrated, whatever from the outer housing. He hypermiled all the time and the truck would rattle at a low rpm in every gear.

  • Suter Suter on Oct 13, 2011

    It's difficult. When I was looking to buy a "small" truck (I got the Frontier) there weren't many reliable options to choose from. Tacoma had a lot of issues, Frontier had a lot of issues, any GM small truck was falling apart after 60k miles, etc. Ranger is actually a joke compared to competition. All cars now have their problems. Even when buying Honda you cannot say "It will run forever" any more. So you choose safest option for the money. The length of the warranty should not be a major point when choosing the car. Club Frontier is a great place to hang out at if you own Frontier. A lot of good advices and info.

  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.
  • Theflyersfan Given so many standard nav systems aren't the best and updating could mean a dealer trip, and I stream all music, Android Auto is an absolute must. Wireless isn't necessary and some wireless chargers overheat the phone. And there are some hacks that let YouTube stream on the screen - excellent for listening to concerts.
  • Jeff I going to guess by the condition of the body and interior that there is little to no rust on the frame. Appears to be a very well maintained car.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would not buy a new daily car without it.
  • Namesakeone I hate the thought, and I hope I'm wrong. Mazda. They're a small fish in a really big pond, and they made their reputation on sports cars--a market segment that nobody seems to want to buy new anymore.