Nissan Frontier Clicking But Not Starting – What Could Be Wrong?

The Nissan Frontier has been one of the top small pickups in the market for years. However, like other trucks, at times, there can be issues with them starting correctly. So what do you do if your Nissan Frontier starter is clicking, but the engine won't start? We have taken the time to diagnose the possible reasons as to why this is happening.

There are a variety of reasons as to why your Nissan Frontier is clicking but not starting. However, the top three culprits are a bad or dead battery, a bad starter, or a bad alternator. You or a certified mechanic will have to pinpoint which one is the issue and troubleshoot accordingly.

While these are the top three issues why our Frontier isn't starting, they aren't the only ones. In this article, we will discuss why your Nissan Frontier is clicking but not starting. In addition, we will discuss the average cost of getting a new starter for your truck. Without further ado, let's get into it!

A Nissan Frontier trekking on the snowy terrain, Nissan Frontier Clicking But Not Starting - What Could Be Wrong?

Nissan Frontier Clicking But Not Starting - What Could Be Wrong?

There are several reasons as to why your Nissan Frontier isn't starting. Usually, there are three possible reasons as to why this is happening. RepairPal states that the most common reasons a vehicle isn't starting are a bad battery, bad starter, or a bad alternator. 

Bad Battery

You have two options if you think your battery is bad. The first is to take the battery out of the truck and take it to a local auto parts store to have it tested. They will be able to tell you if the battery is wrong or not.

If it is bad, they will recycle your old battery and sell you a new one to put in.

If the battery isn't bad and just completely out of juice, then the auto parts store should be able to charge it for you before going back home.

However, if you take your battery and put it back into your Frontier and that doesn't solve the problem, there is something else wrong.

Bad Starter

If your battery is fine, then it could be a bad starter issue. When you start your vehicle and get lights on but no action from the engine, that is a sign the starter is bad. There could be other signs, such as smoke coming from the vehicle or a clicking sound.

Bad Alternator

The third issue could be something with your alternator. If you check your battery and it is fine, but you still get no response from the vehicle when turning the key to start it, then it could be the alternator.

This can be due to bad wiring or a bad connection between the battery and alternator. Alternators keep the battery charging when driving. However, it is hard to know if the alternator is the issue if you can't start the vehicle.

More than likely, the issue will be due to a bad starter. First, check the battery, and if the battery is okay after taking it to an auto parts store, then it is wise to have a mechanic look at your truck.

Suppose you don't want to have the truck towed to the location because of costs. Then search online for a mobile mechanic to come to you to diagnose it. In the long run, this will save you money and time.

Does a bad starter make a clicking noise?

It can. A clicking noise is a sign of a bad starter motor. However, there are other reasons for clicking or ticking sounds to be heard from your vehicle.

In some cases, it could be due to an object stuck in the starter's armature or solenoid—the component responsible for turning on and off the current going into the starter.

It could also be due to a loose or faulty neutral safety switch that prevents the engine from starting in gear. This click, though, is usually more of an intermittent noise than one that keeps happening.

Unfortunately, if your Frontier is clicking but not starting, it could be due to many reasons.

Your starter has an essential job in turning over the engine, and when something goes wrong with that component, you will not be able to get the vehicle working again unless you replace the starter.

However, before you go replacing the starter, let's first identify where the starter is located in a Nissan Frontier.

Where is the starter on a Nissan Frontier?

The starter on a Nissan Frontier is located near the front of the engine block, just behind the oil filter. It is connected to the side of the intake manifold with an electrical wire that runs through some tubing.

To get access to it, you will need to remove part of your engine's intake assembly.

If the problem with your truck is due to something in the starter area, then replacing the starter will solve most issues. However, if it's an object stuck in the armature or solenoid, this could be easily removed with simple tools.

However, if there are more severe issues with your starter, such as faulty wiring or a problem with the neutral safety switch, you will need to take it to a professional.

The starter is located near vital engine components, and working on it yourself could result in damage due to spilling fluids or cutting into the wrong wires.

What is the cost of replacing a starter?

According to AutoZone, the cost for replacement parts for starters ranges from a low price of $50-$350; however, they can also be as expensive as new vehicles. Brand-new starters range anywhere between $80 and over $1,000!

It's important to know what kind you need when owning an older vehicle because not all models are universal across different years or makes/models within these categories.

When you need to replace your starter, the process must be smooth and easy for you. However, many vehicles having starters located under their intake manifold or in other difficult places like on top of heat exchangers.

There are some serious engineering challenges involved when removing them without damaging these systems, which can also cause engine damage.

Nonetheless, for amateur or more advanced mechanics, a starter replacement can be done at home. Checking out a Youtube video can help with a step-by-step process.

Do keep in mind that every vehicle starter replacement is different! If you don't feel comfortable doing a starter yourself, plenty of certified mechanics can help.

Jumper cables clipped to the battery of a pick up

How do you tell if it's your starter or your battery?

If your vehicle isn't starting, the main possible reasons are a bad or dead battery or a bad starter. So the first thing to do is check the battery. Check the battery first because it is easier to diagnose that than replacing a starter.

First, try using jumper cables to start the vehicle. If that doesn't work, take the battery to an auto parts store to check it.

If the battery is fine, then more than likely, you have a bad starter. If you try and start the vehicle after putting in a charged battery and you hear a clicking noise, that is your sign of a bad starter.

Can you jump a car with a bad starter?

The answer is no. If the starter in your vehicle was bad or went out, you will not be able to start your car with jumper cables because there will be nothing for the other vehicle to turn over.

All you would be doing is charging the battery in your vehicle. You must have a good starter for it to work with jumper cables.

Your best bet is to have the car towed to a mechanic or see if the mechanic can come to you. It can be a frustrating issue, but with vehicles, parts go bad, and a starter is one of these components.

Unfortunately, getting your car from point A to point B is one of the most critical parts, so inevitably, you will have to get it repaired.


What can cause starter problems?

Starter problems are usually the result of either a bad battery or corroded terminal connections.

If it's corrosion, you can clean your terminals yourself. Cleaning the terminals will provide a better link from the battery to the vehicle. Also, having clean terminals will make for a better starter life.

In closing

A new starter is an essential part of your vehicle. If you are having issues with starting or your starter seems to be failing more quickly than usual, it may be necessary to replace the starter before it causes more problems.

However, if you are unsure if the starter is the reason for your Nissan Frontier not starting, then it is vital to diagnose the small things first, such as a bad or dead battery, before replacing the starter.

If you like this article on the Nissan Frontier not starting, you should also read:

What Kind Of Engine Does A Nissan Frontier Have?

Can The Nissan Frontier Be Flat Towed?

How Much Weight Can A Nissan Frontier Carry?

Have you had starter problems with your Frontier? Leave us a comment below!

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One comment

  1. Thanks for the information regarding starter problems with my’99 Nissan Frontier. It’s very detailed and has helped me solve the problem.😊

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