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Types Of Gas A Nissan Frontier Takes (Explained)

Types Of Gas A Nissan Frontier Takes (Explained)

We’ve written extensively about the Nissan Frontier and the various questions you might have about this car on this blog. Today we’re going to take a thorough look at the gas specifications of this car. Let’s start with a quick answer:

Most Nissan Frontier made from 1997 onwards take regular unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87. The only exception to this are the 2005 – 2008 4.0L VQ40DE and the 1997 – 2004 2.4L KA24DE or 3.3L supercharged VG33E engines, which have premium gasoline with an octane of 91 recommended.

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we’ll talk about the different kinds of fuels on the market, what sort of specifications they have and whether or not Nissan recommends them for the Frontier. Furthermore, we’ll also talk about gas mileage, tank size, and the cost of a full tank for the Frontier. Read on!

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Infographic explaining the fuel types for a Nissan Frontier

Gasoline Specifications

2005 – Present

Nissan Frontier, manufactured from 2005 onwards, take regular unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87. The only exception to this is the 2005 – 2008 Frontier with the 4.0L VQ40DE, which can take 87 octane but for which 91 octane is preferred.

Many car owners wonder whether it isn’t better to fill up with 91 octane gasoline for every Frontier because this is supposed to increase the performance of the vehicle and keep it free of deposits.

However, this is not true. Using 91 octane in an engine designed for 87 octane won’t improve the performance because the engine isn’t capable of deriving benefit from it. Furthermore, it also doesn’t keep it cleaner because this has to do with where you buy your gasoline and what detergents the retailers use (more on that later).

1997 – 2004

Nissan Frontier manufactured between 1997 – 2004 and are equipped with a 2.4L KA24DE (4 cylinders) or
3.3L supercharged VG33E (6 cylinders) take regular, unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87.

The Frontiers equipped with the 3.3L VG33ER (6 cylinders with supercharger) engine take premium, unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 87.

These engines can also take 87 octane temporarily whenever 91 octane is unavailable. However, this will result in diminished performance and possible engine misfiring (more on that later). Furthermore, you can only do this when taking the following precautions:

  • have the fuel tank filled only partially with regular unleaded gasoline, and fill up with unleaded premium as soon as possible.
  • avoid full-throttle driving and abrupt acceleration

Reformulated Gasoline

Reformulated gasoline is the gasoline that’s designed to burn cleaner and therefore produce less air pollution. In some areas of the United States, this fuel is mandatory by state law because the air quality in these regions is questionable.

Similarly to another pickup truck the Nissan Titan, the engines of all Frontiers are designed to use reformulated gasoline whenever this is available, and Nissan recommends you use this fuel when you can. However, if reformulated gasoline isn’t available, you can also use non-reformulated gasoline. This won’t cause any trouble for your engine.

Oxygenated Blends

Furthermore, we have to discuss the use of oxygenates in gasoline for the different generations of the Nissan Frontier. Oxygenated blends of gasoline typically contain a form of ethanol, methanol, or MTBE.

Ethanol and methanol are made from biosources, whereas MTBE combines methanol and isobutylene. All of this means these gasses typically burn cleaner than regular gasoline, and that’s why their use is encouraged in the United States.

However, using higher than recommended percentages of these oxygenates in your gasoline will damage the engine and the fuel system. Therefore, Nissan has the following guidelines for the use of these chemicals:

Ethanol (E10/E15)

Before we look at the ethanol requirements for each generation, we have to notify you that there are exceptions to these rules. This exception is the fact that some Nissan Frontier are sold as FlexFuel vehicles, and they can take a much higher percentage of ethanol. More on that in the subheading ‘FlexFuel (E85)’. Now, the ethanol requirement:

  • 2005 – 2017 the Nissan Frontier can take gasoline with a maximum percentage of 10% ethanol (also referred to as E10). Using E15, also commonly sold, is therefore forbidden in most Nissan Frontier of this generation.
  • 2018 – 2019 Nissan Frontier equipped with a 4.0L VQ40DE engine can take a maximum of 10% ethanol, whereas the 2.5L QR25DE can take a maximum of 15% ethanol.
  • From 2020 onwards, all Nissan Frontier can take gasoline with a maximum of 15% ethanol.


All generations of the Nissan Frontier can take gasoline with a maximum of 5% methanol. Furthermore, the gasoline should also contain a suitable amount of appropriate cosolvents and corrosion inhibitors. Little data is available about the compatibility of methanol with the Nissan Frontier, and it’s recommended to stay away from it whenever you can.

If any driveability problems such as engine stalling and difficult hot-starting are experienced after using oxygenate-blend fuels, immediately change to a non-oxygenated fuel or a fuel with a low blend of MTBE.


Nissan Frontier made between 2005 – 2017 can take gasoline with a maximum of 15% MTBE. From 2018 onwards, Nissan has become more careful with its recommendation of such fuel, and its, therefore, recommended to stay away from it.

FlexFuel (E85)

Some Nissan Frontiers made between 2017 – 2019 are so-called FlexFuel vehicles. This means these vehicles can operate on gasoline with a much higher than average ethanol level. In the case of FlexFuel vehicles, this means they can take E85 (which has an ethanol percentage of 51 – 83%, depending on the season and region you live in). By default, these vehicles can take E10, E15, and any other ethanol level lower than the maximum.

You’ll know if your Nissan Frontier is a FlexFuel vehicle by looking at the car’s rear (the car will have a FlexFuel badge) or by opening the gas door. On the inside of the gas door, there should be a sticker that states ‘regular gasoline or FlexFuel’ or something similar.

However, do know that using FlexFuel means you have to be conscious about filling up your car and what to expect from it. Below, we’ve stated the guidelines found in the owner’s manuals of all FlexFuel Frontiers:

  • Do not switch between regular gasoline and E85 when the fuel gauge indicates less than 1/4 full
  • Add more than 5 gallons of fuel when switching between different types of gasoline
  • Operate the vehicle immediately after refueling for at least 5 minutes
  • The characteristics of E-85 fuel make it unsuitable for use when ambient temperatures fall below 0°F (-18°C). In the range of 0°F (-18°C) to 32°F (0°C), you may experience an increase in the time it takes for your engine to start and a deterioration in drivability (sags and/or hesitations) until the engine is fully warmed up.
  • You’ll experience a 30% decrease in fuel economy when using E85 because this fuel stores less energy. However, E85 is typically 30% less expensive at the pump.

Gasoline With Additives

Some gasoline additives include fuel injector cleaner, octane booster (MMT), intake valve deposit removers, etc. Nissan advises strongly against the use of additives as in all generations of the Nissan Frontier. This is because some of these additives will contain solvents that will damage the engine’s fuel system.

Instead, it’s recommended you use gasoline that already has all the proper cleaning detergents in it. This type of gasoline can be bought at TOP TIER retailers. TOP TIER retailers are retailers that adhere to a strict minimum limit set by automotive cooperations. By doing so, you can be sure that the gasoline you’re buying is suitable for your engine and will minimize any damage.

Engine Knock After Refueling

From time to time, you may hear some phenomena referred to as ‘engine knock.’ This knocking sound occurs typically when the engine uses fuel with an octane rating lower than recommended. For example, some engines prefer 91 octane but can use 87 octane. Using 87 octane in these engines may cause a light engine knock, and that’s not a problem.

However, if the engine knock becomes very loud, you have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. You may have put fuel in the car that has too low of an octane rating. Engine knock can also occur when you put E15 in Frontiers that aren’t made for this or when you switch from regular gasoline to E85 without adhering to the guidelines mentioned earlier.

Continuing to drive with a loud engine knock will most likely damage the car’s fuel system. Park the vehicle immediately if this happens, and contact your dealership. Your vehicle will need to be drained of its fuel, and the fuel filter will need to be replaced.

Gas Mileage Of A Nissan Frontier

Understanding the relationship that the Frontier has with its fuel also means looking at its fuel economy. For this, we divided this into the three generations that have been on the North American market. As you can see below, the Nissan Frontier has never been a fuel-efficient machine (all data in MPG).

2022 – Present


2005 – 2021


1997 – 2004


Tank Size Per Generation

From 2005 onwards, all Nissan Frontier have a fuel tank capacity of 21 1/8 gallons or 80 liters.

Between 1997 – 2004 the Nissan Frontier had different fuel tank capacities depending on the engine. These were as follows:

  • KA24DE (4 cylinders): 15–7/8 gallons or 60.2 liters
  • VG33E (6 cylinders) 19–3/8 gallons or 73.4 liters
  • VG33ER (6 cylinders with supercharger) 19–3/8 gallons or 73.4 liters


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