Be Glad Your Nissan Frontier Wasn't Built in Spain

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

European drivers have a problem. Motorists who own Nissan Navara pickups keep finding their trips cut short by an annoying noise: the sound of their trucks splitting in half.

So many Navaras — sold in North America as the Nissan Frontier — are snapping in two due to extreme frame rust that owners are pressuring governments to do something about. Check out these photos if you think it’s an isolated problem.

In all instances, the rusty chassis snaps at the point of maximum frame stress — just ahead of the rear axle, where the body and bed meet. Once corrosion reaches a point, the vehicles fold like Superman on laundry day.

In Britain, Tory member of parliament Huw ­Merriman plans to raise the bendy Nissan issue at Monday’s Transport Select Committee meeting.

“To reassure the public, Nissan would be well advised to recall all affected vehicles,” he told The Sun.

The vehicles involved all appear to be second-generation Navaras, built in Spain between 2005 and 2014. Many of the affected vehicles seem to be 2007 models. U.S. Frontiers maintain the old bodystyle of these Navaras, though Nissan builds that model at its Canton, Mississippi assembly plant. Despite serious instances of frame rust in older Pathfinders, the Navara’s problem doesn’t seem to translate to its American Frontier cousin.

In response to the controversy, Nissan declared the frame-splitting issue only affects higher-end D40 Navaras built from 2005 to 2008, though serious rust has been found on some newer models. The automaker advises owners to have dealers inspect their vehicles, with repairs or a possible buy-back offered to those who discover their trucks are on the verge of becoming a drinking straw.

[Image: Nissan]

Steph Willems
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  • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Feb 13, 2017

    @Jeff S " So many Navaras — sold in NORTH AMERICA as the Nissan Frontier — are snapping in two due to extreme frame rust that owners are pressuring governments to do something about. Check out these photos if you think it’s an isolated problem." So how many Nissan Frontiers have had their frames snapping in the US?

  • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Feb 13, 2017

    @Jeff S It would appear how those rusted vehicles went to Europe. Manufacturer not that liable. They take more care now. "your vehicle was one of the many of the load and transported on deck, it WILL HAVE been subject to salty water or atmosphere. If the waves were splashing and crashing on the side of the ship, your vehicle will have been doused in salt water quite a lot of times. After it's "salting" it will have been stored for a while possibly in sun and the water which has entered through seals etc will then just sit an rust the vehicle. At pre delivery, nothing would be noticed because they basically don't look for anything, just repair the dings and scratches and clean them."

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Feb 13, 2017

    Not that Spain is in some way a poor automaker - VW group entrusts it's subsidiary SEAT to build Audi Q5s and VW Polos, GM build Merivas in the country. Nissan has form for Navara defects without a recall - the D22 diesel engine was known for blowing conrods through the block, even with a full dealer service history.

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    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 13, 2017

      WallMerkat, In the NE of Spain (Viga) the French auto manufacturers have plants. DenverMike claims to have been to Spain over 36 times, he would know ;)

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 13, 2017

    I was thinking. The D40 was engineered and designed at Nissan's San Diego Design centre. I don't think the differences between the NA and global pick up would of been that significant. I have never been a fan of the D40 due to its wanting off road performance. I have read conflicting statements regarding the newest D23 Navara. Some comments stated the chassis was based on the D22 (D20) and I have read others its based on the D40. Maybe the D23 designation is a clue. The D40 design was also the basis for the old Armada and Titan chassis. It would be interesting to research and find out.

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    • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 13, 2017

      @BAFO - I agree, Australia's much higher payload-ratings (for the same trucks) would definitely exacerbate the failure rate of Spanish built, D40 Navaras (our US built Frontiers). But it obviously underscores the fact OZ overrates the payload of Navaras/Frontiers, while the USDOT rated the same D40 chassis with a realistic and scientific based payload rating. Australia's USDOT "equivalent" (there is none!) simply leaves payload ratings completely up to OEM marketing executive's sense of humour! But even still, there's bound to be less instances of failures of these rusty frames in arid, dry regions, which make up most of Australia. Without a doubt.