Buying a used truck can be risky business, especially when you plan on using the truck for performance-related activities, off-road events, or enthusiast purposes. You have to comb through the stats to see if the truck fits the profile you want, just the same as you have to look at the vehicle history to ensure you’re not buying a rebuilt, Frankenstein-style monstrosity cobbled together with pieces from here and there over the years. For those who have been eyeing a used Frontier to get as a performance truck, there are some key differences that you will benefit from when you buy from a Certified Pre-Owned Nissan Frontier dealership.
What are these differences, and how do they impact the performance of a Frontier? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss. More specifically, we’ll go through the pros and cons of buying used, why and how it can affect the performance of the Frontier, and why some trims will benefit more from being Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) than others. But let’s talk about why Certified Pre-Owned matters for the Nissan Frontier and its performance.
Performance Matters for a CPO Truck
Certified Pre-Owned means that the vehicle has gone through a multi-point inspection and typically has fewer miles on it. Most certified pre-owned vehicles are also ten years old or newer. That’s just the general standard that most manufacturers use for classifying a vehicle as CPO. Each manufacturer has its own specific regulations that Certified Pre-Owned models must meet before being sold.
In the case of Nissan, its CPO vehicles come with a seven-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 167-point inspection, and 24-hour roadside assistance. You also have access to a year’s worth of a pre-paid maintenance plan when you purchase a Certified Pre-Owned Nissan. That last bit is extra important, but we’ll get to that later.
For a Nissan Frontier, it’s a truck that’s known for being performance-oriented, so having 100,000 miles worth of coverage for the powertrain makes a pretty big difference between buying a standard used Frontier versus a CPO Frontier. If anything goes wrong with the powertrain with a standard used Frontier, you have to pay out of pocket to repair it. If you’re an enthusiast who likes the challenge of maintaining your own truck, then that might be fine. But on the CPO side, if anything goes wrong with the powertrain (which includes the engine, the driveline, the transmission, and the axles), it’s all covered by the warranty. This means that whatever sort of trials you put the truck through, any manufacturing defects will be covered by the warranty, making it a lot easier to maintain the truck in the long run.
Why the PRO-X Trims are CPO Worthy
If you want to buy the Frontier for the sake of owning a cheap truck that you need for basic work and travel purposes, then a CPO model might not be for you. You can find plenty of more affordable used Frontiers from private sellers and used Frontier dealers willing to get rid of old model years. However, if you’re looking at buying a used Frontier PRO-X or PRO-4X trim specifically because you want an off-road capable truck, then buying Certified Pre-Owned begins to make a lot more sense.
For those of you who don’t know, the Frontier PRO-X and PRO-4X are the off-road-ready trims for Nissan’s popular pickup. These trims come with plenty of performance features like Dana axles, electronic locking rear differentials, two-speed transfer cases, and more. The transfer case is what enables the true four-wheel drive capabilities, which can put a lot of wear and tear on the driveline and axles when the vehicle is taken on off-road excursions.
It’s easy to rack up a lot of maintenance costs with an off-road trim because of the punishment to the shocks, the wear on the tires, and the extra stress on the powertrain. When you take a vehicle off-road, it’s easy to degrade its performance much more quickly than if you just buy a used vehicle and drive it from point A to point B on the road. This is because you’re stressing the wheel articulation over uneven hills and rocks, you’re putting more work into the shocks with every additional bump you take, and the rocky or gravely terrain will eat away at the tires more quickly than standard roads.
Now Nissan specifically has a complimentary one-year maintenance plan for select CPO purchases that lasts for up to 10,000 miles and includes two free oil and filter replacements, as well as two tire rotations. That alone would help a lot for enthusiasts because it cuts out the maintenance of having to replace the oil and rotate the tires on your dime.
Keep in mind that off-road tires take a lot more punishment than normal tires, and as a result, they usually have to be rotated and replaced a lot sooner. So taking advantage of the complimentary maintenance period would be a huge boon for anyone who managed to get their hands on a PRO-X or PRO-4X trim from a Certified Pre-Owned Nissan Frontier dealership. It’s one of the benefits of going CPO if you’re heavy into a performance-oriented Frontier.
Limits on CPO Frontier Model Years
One thing to keep in mind with CPO Frontiers is that not every model year is eligible. Some manufacturers opt to certify used models that are a decade old, while others limit their CPO programs to vehicles made more recently. Nissan fits in between the various groups, limiting its Certified Pre-Owned vehicles to the last six model years. Additionally, all Nissan-certified models must have fewer than 80,000 miles on them.
If you were thinking about buying an old Nissan Frontier and wanted a CPO model to help cut the costs of maintenance, you’re out of luck. A fixer-upper project makes sense if you plan on learning the ropes about how to maintain a Nissan truck, or you have something special in mind for it. Unfortunately, the older used Frontiers, from more than six years ago, are ineligible for Certified Pre-Owned status.
Used Versus CPO for a Performance-Ready Nissan Frontier
So which kind of Nissan Frontier models are best purchased certified? Well, if you’re interested in a high-performance Frontier and you are interested in going off-road, then something newer and from the PRO-X or PRO-4X lines makes the most sense. If you have intentions of grinding your truck hard, then the extra warranty coverage can really come in handy in case any mechanical defects come to light.
Of course, if you plan on doing a lot of upgrading, tweaking, and parts replacements, then going Certified Pre-Owned probably won’t make the most sense as you are likely to void the warranty coverage. So there’s definitely a give and take scenario here. But for entry-level off-road enthusiasts who want the reliability of a stock tuck, going CPO is a safe bet without many risks, especially since you still get to enjoy a price tag that’s lower than the MSRP of a new model year truck on top of the warranty coverage in case you were considering putting your truck through the off-road grinder.
Things get a little murkier if you’re simply talking about a basic Frontier, though. Does it really justify a purchase of a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle if you don’t plan on going off-road? What if you aren’t planning on getting a PRO-X or PRO-4X? Well, then maybe it would be easier to stick with a basic used Frontier. However, even if you only plan on tackling some light off-road trails, maybe a camping trip here or there, or you’re thinking about a cross-country trip, the CPO route would probably be the safer bet. Of course, even if you aren’t planning any off-road adventures, having a CPO truck does give you some extra peace of mind.