If you’re in the market for a dependable compact SUV, the Dodge Nitro should be one of your top picks. Aside from having impressive crash test scores and safety features, the Nitro also boasts a striking design, quiet ride, and considerable towing capacity. It has been years since its last model was released in 2011, yet it remains a viable option for people looking for a reliable daily driver.
Are Dodge Nitros Reliable?
The Dodge Nitro has received high scores on major reliability ratings. RepairPal gives it 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking it 8th out of 26 midsize SUVs. Annual repair and maintenance costs for this model amount to approximately $582, which is $70 lower than most vehicle models. Owners of the Nitro usually bring in their vehicles for unscheduled repairs 0.3 times a year compared to the average 0.4 with a 12% probability of having a major issue. With proper maintenance and timely repairs, the Nitro can go beyond its expected service life.
Top Dodge Nitro Problems
Despite being a reliable daily driver, the Dodge Nitro is no stranger to developing issues as it racks up mileage. Below are some of the model’s most common issues across different model years.
Engine Won’t Start
Many Nitro owners across all model years (2007-2011) have reported instances when their vehicles couldn’t start despite having a working battery, starter, and alternator. Some of them had to call a towing company to bring their SUVs back to their respective dealers. Further investigation found that the no-start condition was caused by an electrostatic discharge (ESD) that affected the Nitros’ wireless control module (WCM). As a result, this activated the anti-theft system in error.
Defective Power Door Lock
A defective power door lock has been a commonly reported issue by 2007-2011 Nitro owners. Some drivers have reported that they couldn’t lock or unlock their doors, while others are left to deal with door locks that work intermittently. To resolve this issue, experts recommend modifying the door hardware and panel.
Illuminated Liftgate Ajar Light
Owners of some 2007-2011 Nitros have reported that their courtesy lights and liftgate ajar light would illuminate intermittently despite having a closed liftgate. Upon checking, mechanics determined that the issue was caused by mismatched wirings at the liftgate ajar switch connector.
Loose Steering Wheel Emblems and Non-Deployment of Head Restraints
Despite having impressive safety features, some Dodge Nitros have been reported to have loose steering wheel emblems that may increase the risk of injury during a collision. In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled certain 2007-2011 Dodge Nitros due to loose emblems or securing nuts. These parts may become projectiles when the airbags on the driver’s side deploy during a collision.
The NHTSA recalled 2011-2012 Dodge Nitros that were manufactured from June 17 to December 15, 2011 in 2013 due to an electrical over-stress of a resistor in the occupant restraint control module. If left unaddressed, the active head restraints in these models may not deploy during a collision.
After issuing recall campaign number N38, Chrysler either flashed the affected vehicles’ TIPM or replaced the occupant restraint control module, free of charge. Other FCA-owned models included in this recall are certain 2011-2013 Chrysler Sebrings, 2011-2013 Dodge Avengers, and 2011-2012 Jeep Libertys.
Defective Remote Keyless Entry System
Some owners of 2007-2011 Nitros (excluding the 2010 redesign) have reported issues with their ride’s remote start or keyless entry system. In some cases, the SUV would take up to two minutes to unlock. Several drivers have also complained that their radiator fans would turn on and the check engine light would illuminate after using the keyless remote.
Being a part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brand means the Dodge Nitro comes with a totally integrated power module (TIPM). The module serves as the distribution box for the model’s entire electrical system. But while this has its advantages, it’s also one of the most common causes of drivability issues in many 2007-2010 Nitros.
A lot of Nitro owners have reported that their SUVs would randomly die or stall while idling.
Some have also complained that the lights would work intermittently, and the wipers, radio, and heater would randomly turn on. In some cases, the front windows would also roll down by themselves while the doors would lock and unlock for no reason at all due to an outdated TIPM.
Engine and Transmission Issues due to Outdated PCM Software
Many owners of 2007-2008 Nitros have reported that their SUVs would buck repeatedly when they step on the accelerator pedal. The transmission may also fail to go into reverse. In some cases, the affected vehicles may surge and trigger fault code P0741 (torque converter clutch performance). These issues are typically resolved by updating the PCM.
Stuck Rear Door
Some 2007-2008 Nitro owners have reported being unable to open their doors using the model’s keyless entry system. Drivers also report that the hatch could still be opened from one side despite having all the doors locked. These issues are typically resolved by adjusting the door latch adjustment screw.
Multiple Electrical Issues
Electrical issues are bound to come up when discussing the most common 2007 and 2008 Dodge Nitro problems. Many owners of these model years have complained about having an illuminated battery light, a horn that would blow randomly, and wiper systems that would automatically shoot water. There have also been reports of doors that would lock randomly and headlights that turn on automatically.
Roof Rack Lifting
According to some owners of the 2007 Dodge Nitro, problems with its roof racks are not uncommon for the model year. Affected drivers report hearing rattling noises from the roof and having broken racks after driving at high speeds. The roof rack on this model year tends to come loose due to the lack of adhesive tape at the front of the side rails.
Whether you’re looking for a new or used Dodge Nitro, worn-out or damaged components will inevitably affect its quality and drivability. So it’s important to stay on top of its repair and maintenance. It’s also a good idea to look out for any recalls that may include your SUV, as it will help you resolve any issues it may have before they get worse.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.
I’m the original owner of a 2008 Dodge Nitro R/T with the 4.0 V6 and 4WD. As of my posting this it has 122k miles. Mine was completely trouble free for the first 70k. After that it’s been one thing after another. This vehicle has only reinforced my opinion that if you’re planning on buying or keeping any OBD-II vehicle after the warranty runs out to spend the money for a good cod scanner that will read every computer system on a vehicle and not just the PCM. Having such a scanner, decent repair skills, and a decent set of hand tools will save you a fortune in the long run.
My 07 Nitro has the traction control light come on every time I turn. What can I do to fix this issue?
You have more than likely worn out the turn bearing, Stop turning….