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5 Causes for the Engine Light in Nissan Frontier


5 Causes for the Engine Light in Nissan Frontier

The engine light of the Nissan Frontier can signify various problems of different severities. Most of these problems are relatively harmless. These problems range from exhaust system issues, fuel and air metering concerns, ignition system problems, and even something as silly as a loose gas cap. To make the MIL go away, you need to fix the problem that is causing it. Then, when you restart the car, you won’t see the check engine light anymore.

Usually, to fix the problem, you will have to take the car to the car mechanic. They do some tests, run a diagnostic, and find the root cause of the issue. Alternatively, you will be able to identify the problem yourself if you own an OBD2 scanner. This scanner helps obtain the error codes that your car generates. With the knowledge of error codes, this should be a relatively simple job.

If you don’t want to do any of the above, read on to find out how you can identify which of these issues led to the warning.

Loose Gas Cap

Gas Cap of a car
Gas Cap of a car | Image Credits: Pixabay

First things first, it is important to check if you made a silly mistake and forgot to tighten the gas cap after filling up your car. This is much more common than you think and can often lead to the check engine light in your Nissan Frontier being triggered.

Needless to say, this problem would also occur if you misplace the entire gas cap by some miracle. Once you have tightened it back on, you want to restart your car and the engine light should be gone by now.

Emission Problems

Car Exhaust
Car Exhaust | Image Credits: Pixabay

There are a couple of problems that can occur in the exhaust system which leads to the glowing of the check engine light in the Nissan Frontier. The first problem is a problem with the O2 sensor. This sensor helps maintain the correct air-fuel ratio for optimum performance and emissions. It does this by monitoring the oxygen content of the exhaust fumes. There is generally a failsafe introduced in this system where one sensor checks the value of another. This way, it knows whether there are problems with this sensor.

To help you confirm the problem you can watch out for two behavioral patterns in your car. One is that the car will not give the same fuel economy or power that it once did. Secondly, the exhaust fumes will be more visible than before. It can have a dark black hue. This generally means there is more fuel being burnt than needed.

If the O2 sensor turns out to be the problem, then you have to change it. There are no two ways about it. Hopefully changing this should help that annoying light disappear from your screen.

Catalytic Converter Problems

Working of Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter Cross Section | Image Credits: Youtube – BMCatalysts

As you read above, there are generally two oxygen sensors in the vehicle that keep a check on each other in a way. They also try to ensure that the catalytic converter is working. This converter is responsible for minimizing the harmful emissions from the car. Thus, if the car senses a problem with this component, it immediately notifies the driver.

There are a couple of reasons why you might get this error. One is that the converter is clogged because of soot particles. The other is that all the precious metals (responsible for the exhaust gas conversion) in the converter have been exhausted. In either case, it is relatively hard to determine which of them caused the error. The only thing to go off is a slight reduction in performance and probably some extra emissions from the car.

In either case, it is better to ask a skilled mechanic to handle this problem. Fixing it shall help you with the MIL or check engine light.

Ignition System

Spark Plug
Spark Plug | Image Credits: Pixabay

In the ignition system, there might be two main things that trigger the engine light in the Nissan Frontier. The first one is the sparkplugs themselves. If they are old, then they are generally not able to generate sparks as efficiently as before. This might lead to some slow sparks and a reduction in power. Moreover, you might feel that the engine vibrates far more than normal.

To fix this problem, all you have to do is change the sparkplugs. Generally, they are done during some of the routine maintenance checks as well. Otherwise, you can do it yourself as these parts are quite accessible at the top of the engine.

The second problem is something to do with the battery of the car. If it is discharged significantly, then it won’t be able to start the car or supply the required power to the sparkplugs. This can be identified usually as there is a battery warning light lit up with the check engine light as well. You can charge the battery after taking it out of your car or even try to jump-start the car in such situations.

Once both problems are taken care of, you should be on your merry way again without the MIL bothering you.

Fuel or Air Metering Issues

MAF sensor of a car
MAF sensor | Image credits: Youtube – MotorService Group

As discussed previously, it is important to get the right ratio of fuel and air to mix for optimum performance in your car. This is done with the help of fuel and air metering devices in your car. Hence, if either of these sensors begins to malfunction then you might see the check engine light blinking in your Nissan Frontier. Such problems frequently lead to a loss of power in the Frontier as well.

It is generally hard to discern which of the two is causing these issues. Having an OBD2 scanner will definitely help you narrow it down. However, in other cases, you can always check out the mass airflow (MAF) sensor responsible for air metering. It is easily accessible near the inlet hose of the engine and can often get clogged. Sometimes, just cleaning it can solve the problem. Other times, you may have to replace it.

If the above does not work, then you might have a fuel pump issue on your hands. This is a bit harder to solve. Hence, it is best to ask someone more skilled to look at this problem. Usually, it is just a sensor issue but sometimes the entire pump needs to be changed. Once fixed, you should be back to full power soon.

Can you drive with the Engine Light on in a Nissan Frontier?

Time to discuss something important. Can you continue driving when you notice the Check Engine or the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL)? Usually, yes. As you can see, the problems mentioned above are generally minor issues that shouldn’t hamper the functioning of your car. It is important to note when the MIL is switched on. Here are a few cases –

  • If the light is switched on only sometimes, then it is probably something minor. It is getting triggered by some behavior.  
  • If the light is constantly on (but with no loss in power), then again, the issue is minor. You can afford to take the car to the mechanic (or fix it yourself) at your own convenience.
  • If the light is constantly on (with some power loss), it is a significant problem. Chances are your car has reverted to a limp home mode for basic functionality. It is imperative to get the car checked out at the earliest.
  • If the light is constantly blinking, then this is a major problem. It can be rather dangerous to continue driving. At such times, it is best to just pull over and ask for assistance or try to solve the problem ASAP.

It is important to note that the behavior of the light is to be observed after you switch the car on and run it for some time. When you switch the car on, the check engine light is turned on for an initial system check and then switched off moments after.

Final Thoughts

The engine light is something that is easily ignored by most drivers, even in a Nissan Frontier. Fortunately, the problems associated with it typically aren’t major ones. You can easily identify them using the error codes list and an OBD2 scanner. If you don’t own that, hopefully, this post helped you by shedding some light on the troubleshooting of this warning. You can find more information on more such warning lights in the owner’s manual of the car. We hope you don’t ever have to witness the annoying blinking of that light. And if you do, with any luck, the problem will be resolved easily.

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