Dodge Nitro: Maintenance procedures
The pages that follow contain the required maintenance services determined by the engineers who designed your vehicle. Besides those maintenance items specified in the fixed maintenance schedule, there are other components which may require servicing or replacement in the future.
• Failure to properly maintain your vehicle or perform repairs and service when necessary could result in more costly repairs, damage to other components or negatively impact vehicle performance. Immediately have potential malfunctions examined by an authorized Chrysler Group LLC dealership or qualified repair center.
• Your vehicle has been built with improved fluids that protect the performance and durability of your vehicle and also allow extended maintenance intervals. Do not use chemical flushes in these components as the chemicals can damage your engine, transmission, power steering or air conditioning. Such damage is not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. If a flush is needed because of component malfunction, use only the specified fluid for the flushing procedure.
Checking Oil Level
To assure proper lubrication of your vehicle’s engine, the engine oil must be maintained at the correct level. Check the oil level at regular intervals, such as every fuel stop. The best time to check the engine oil level is about five minutes after a fully warmed up engine is shut off. Checking the oil while the vehicle is on level ground will improve the accuracy of the oil level readings. Always maintain the oil level within the SAFE zone on the dipstick. Adding one quart of oil when the reading is at the bottom of the SAFE zone will result in a reading at the top of the safe zone on these engines.
Overfilling or underfilling the crankcase will cause aeration or loss of oil pressure. This could damage your engine.
Change Engine Oil
The oil change indicator system will remind you that it is time to take your vehicle in for scheduled maintenance. Refer to “Maintenance Schedule” for further information. NOTE: Under no circumstances should oil change intervals exceed 6,000 miles (10 000 km) or six months, whichever occurs first. Engine Oil Selection For best performance and maximum protection for all engines under all types of operating conditions, the manufacturer recommends engine oils that are API Certified and meet the requirements of Chrysler Material Standard MS-6395.
American Petroleum Institute (API) Engine Oil Identification Symbol
This symbol means that the oil
This symbol means that the oil has been certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The manufacturer only recommends API Certified engine oils.
Do not use chemical flushes in your engine oil as the chemicals can damage your engine. Such damage is not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.
Engine Oil Viscosity – 3.7L Engine
SAE 5W-20 engine oil is recommended for all operating temperatures. This engine oil improves low temperature starting and vehicle fuel economy. Your engine oil filler cap shows the recommended engine oil viscosity for your vehicle. Lubricants which do not have both the engine oil certification mark and the correct SAE viscosity grade number should not be used.
Engine Oil Viscosity – 4.0L Engine
SAE 10W-30 engine oil is preferred. SAE 5W-30 engine oil is allowed during cold weather only to improve cold weather starting. Lubricants which do not have both the engine oil certification mark and the correct SAE viscosity grade number should not be used.
Synthetic Engine Oils
You may use synthetic engine oils provided the recommended oil quality requirements are met, and the recommended maintenance intervals for oil and filter changes are followed.
Materials Added to Engine Oils
The manufacturer strongly recommends against the addition of any additives (other than leak detection dyes) to engine oil. Engine oil is an engineered product and it’s performance may be impaired by supplemental additives.
Disposing of Used Engine Oil and Oil Filters
Care should be taken in disposing of used engine oil and oil filters from your vehicle. Used oil and oil filters, indiscriminately discarded, can present a problem to the environment. Contact your authorized dealer, service station, or governmental agency for advice on how and where used oil and oil filters can be safely discarded in your area.
Engine Oil Filter
The engine oil filter should be replaced with a new filter at every engine oil change.
NOTE: For best access to the oil filter, a drive on hoist should be used instead of a chassis hoist (3.7L Only).
Engine Oil Filter Selection
All of the manufacturer’s engines have a full-flow type disposable oil filter. Use a filter of this type for replacement. The quality of replacement filters varies considerably. Only high quality filters should be used to assure most efficient service. MOPAR engine oil filters are high quality oil filters and are recommended.
Engine Air Cleaner Filter
Refer to “Maintenance Schedule” for further information.
The air induction system (air cleaner, hoses, etc.) can provide a measure of protection in the case of engine backfire. Do not remove the air induction system (air cleaner, hoses, etc.) unless such removal is necessary for repair or maintenance. Make sure that no one is near the engine compartment before starting the vehicle with the air induction system (air cleaner, hoses, etc.) removed. Failure to do so can result in serious personal injury.
Engine Air Cleaner Filter Selection
The quality of replacement engine air cleaner filters varies considerably. Only high quality filters should be used to assure most efficient service. MOPAR engine air cleaner filters are a high quality filter and are recommended.
Your vehicle is equipped with a maintenance-free battery. You will never have to add water, nor is periodic maintenance required.
• Battery fluid is a corrosive acid solution and can burn or even blind you. Do not allow battery fluid to contact your eyes, skin, or clothing. Do not lean over a battery when attaching clamps. If acid splashes in eyes or on skin, flush the area immediately with large amounts of water. Refer to “Jump-Starting Procedures” in “What To Do In Emergencies” for further information.
• Battery gas is flammable and explosive. Keep flame or sparks away from the battery. Do not use a booster battery or any other booster source with an output greater than 12 Volts. Do not allow cable clamps to touch each other.
• Battery posts, terminals, and related accessories contain lead and lead compounds. Wash hands after handling.
• It is essential when replacing the cables on the battery that the positive cable is attached to the positive post and the negative cable is attached to the negative post. Battery posts are marked positive (+) and negative (-) and are identified on the battery case. Cable clamps should be tight on the terminal posts and free of corrosion.
• If a “fast charger” is used while the battery is in the vehicle, disconnect both vehicle battery cables before connecting the charger to the battery. Do not use a “fast charger” to provide starting voltage.
Air Conditioner Maintenance
For best possible performance, your air conditioner should be checked and serviced by an authorized dealer at the start of each warm season. This service should include cleaning of the condenser fins and a performance test. Drive belt tension should also be checked at this time.
Do not use chemical flushes in your air conditioning system as the chemicals can damage your air conditioning components. Such damage is not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.
• Use only refrigerants and compressor lubricants approved by the manufacturer for your air conditioning system. Some unapproved refrigerants are flammable and can explode, injuring you. Other unapproved refrigerants or lubricants can cause the system to fail, requiring costly repairs. Refer to Warranty Information Book, located on the DVD, for further warranty information.
• The air conditioning system contains refrigerant under high pressure. To avoid risk of personal injury or damage to the system, adding refrigerant or any repair requiring lines to be disconnected should be done by an experienced repairman.
Refrigerant Recovery and Recycling
R-134a air conditioning refrigerant is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) that is endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency and is an ozone-saving product. However, the manufacturer recommends that air conditioning service be performed by authorized dealers or other service facilities using recovery and recycling equipment.
Use only manufacturer approved A/C system sealers, stop leak products, seal conditioners, compressor oil, and refrigerants.
Locks and all body pivot points, including such items as seat tracks, door hinge pivot points and rollers, liftgate, tailgate, sliding doors and hood hinges, should be lubricated periodically with a lithium based grease, such as MOPAR Spray White Lube or equivalent, to assure quiet, easy operation and to protect against rust and wear. Prior to the application of any lubricant, the parts concerned should be wiped clean to remove dust and grit; after lubricating excess oil and grease should be removed. Particular attention should also be given to hood latching components to ensure proper function. When performing other underhood services, the hood latch, release mechanism and safety catch should be cleaned and lubricated. The external lock cylinders should be lubricated twice a year, preferably in the Fall and Spring. Apply a small amount of a high quality lubricant, such as MOPAR Lock Cylinder Lubricant or equivalent, directly into the lock cylinder.
Windshield Wiper Blades
Clean the rubber edges of the wiper blades and the windshield periodically with a sponge or soft cloth and a mild non-abrasive cleaner. This will remove accumulations of salt or road film. Operation of the wipers on dry glass for long periods may cause deterioration of the wiper blades. Always use washer fluid when using the wipers to remove salt or dirt from a dry windshield. Avoid using the wiper blades to remove frost or ice from the windshield. Keep the blade rubber out of contact with petroleum products such as engine oil, gasoline, etc.
Life expectancy of wiper blades varies depending on geographical area and frequency of use. Poor performance of blades may be present with chattering, marks, water lines or wet spots. If any condition is present please proceed to clean wiper blades with humid cloth removing any debris that may be affecting its function.
Adding Washer Fluid
The fluid reservoir in the engine compartment should be checked for fluid level at regular intervals. Fill the reservoir with windshield washer solvent/antifreeze (not radiator antifreeze). Operate the system for a few seconds to flush out the residual water.
Commercial windshield washer solvents are flammable. They could ignite and burn you. Care must be exercised when filling or working around the washer solution.
The best protection against carbon monoxide entry into the vehicle body is a properly maintained engine exhaust system. If you notice a change in the sound of the exhaust system; or if the exhaust fumes can be detected inside the vehicle; or when the underside or rear of the vehicle is damaged; have an authorized technician inspect the complete exhaust system and adjacent body areas for broken, damaged, deteriorated, or mispositioned parts. Open seams or loose connections could permit exhaust fumes to seep into the passenger compartment. In addition, inspect the exhaust system each time the vehicle is raised for lubrication or oil change. Replace as required.
• Exhaust gases can injure or kill. They contain carbon monoxide (CO), which is colorless and odorless. Breathing it can make you unconscious and can eventually poison you. To avoid breathing CO, refer to “Safety Tips/Exhaust Gas” in “Things To Know Before Starting Your Vehicle” for further information.
• A hot exhaust system can start a fire if you park over materials that can burn. Such materials might be grass or leaves coming into contact with your exhaust system. Do not park or operate your vehicle in areas where your exhaust system can contact anything that can burn.
• The catalytic converter requires the use of unleaded fuel only. Leaded gasoline will destroy the effectiveness of the catalyst as an emissions control device and may seriously reduce engine performance and cause serious damage to the engine.
• Damage to the catalytic converter can result if your vehicle is not kept in proper operating condition. In the event of engine malfunction, particularly involving engine misfire or other apparent loss of performance, have your vehicle serviced promptly. Continued operation of your vehicle with a severe malfunction could cause the converter to overheat, resulting in possible damage to the converter and vehicle.
Under normal operating conditions, the catalytic converter will not require maintenance. However, it is important to keep the engine properly tuned to assure proper catalyst operation and prevent possible catalyst damage.
Intentional tampering with emissions control systems can result in civil penalties being assessed against you. In unusual situations involving grossly malfunctioning engine operation, a scorching odor may suggest severe and abnormal catalyst overheating. If this occurs, stop the vehicle, turn off the engine and allow it to cool. Service, including a tune-up to manufacturer’s specifications, should be obtained immediately.
To minimize the possibility of catalytic converter damage:
• Do not shut off the engine or interrupt the ignition, when the transmission is in gear and the vehicle is in motion.
• Do not try to start the engine by pushing or towing the vehicle.
• Do not idle the engine with any spark plug wires disconnected or removed, such as when diagnostic testing, or for prolonged periods during very rough idle or malfunctioning operating conditions.
You or others can be badly burned by hot engine coolant (antifreeze) or steam from your radiator. If you see or hear steam coming from under the hood, do not open the hood until the radiator has had time to cool. Never try to open a cooling system pressure cap when the radiator or coolant bottle is hot.
Engine Coolant Checks
Check engine coolant (antifreeze) protection every 12 months (before the onset of freezing weather, where applicable). If the engine coolant (antifreeze) is dirty or rusty in appearance, the system should be drained, flushed and refilled with fresh engine coolant (antifreeze). Check the front of the A/C condenser (if equipped) or radiator for any accumulation of bugs, leaves, etc. If dirty, clean by gently spraying water from a garden hose vertically down the face of the A/C condenser (if equipped) or the back of the radiator core. Check the engine cooling system hoses for brittle rubber, cracking, tears, cuts, and tightness of the connection at the coolant recovery bottle and radiator. Inspect the entire system for leaks. With the engine at normal operating temperature (but not running), check the cooling system pressure cap for proper vacuum sealing by draining a small amount of engine coolant (antifreeze) from the radiator drain cock. If the cap is sealing properly, the engine coolant (antifreeze) will begin to drain from the coolant recovery bottle. DO NOT REMOVE THE COOLANT PRESSURE CAP WHEN THE COOLING SYSTEM IS HOT.
Cooling System – Drain, Flush, and Refill
If the engine coolant (antifreeze) is dirty and contains a considerable amount of sediment, clean and flush with reliable cooling system cleaner. Follow with a thorough rinsing to remove all deposits and chemicals. Properly dispose of the old engine coolant (antifreeze). Refer to “Maintenance Schedule” for further information.
Selection of Engine Coolant
Use only the manufacturer’s recommended engine coolant (antifreeze). Refer to “Fluids, Lubricants, and Genuine Parts” in “Maintaining Your Vehicle” for further information.
• Mixing of engine coolant (antifreeze) other than the specified HOAT engine coolant (antifreeze) may result in decreased corrosion protection and engine damage. If a non-HOAT engine coolant (antifreeze) is introduced into the cooling system in an emergency, it should be replaced with the specified engine coolant (antifreeze) as soon as possible.
• Do not use water alone or alcohol based engine coolant (antifreeze) products. Do not use additional rust inhibitors or antirust products, as they may not be compatible with the engine coolant (antifreeze) and may plug the radiator.
• This vehicle has not been designed for use with propylene glycol based engine coolant (antifreeze). Use of propylene glycol based engine coolant (antifreeze) is not recommended.
Your vehicle has been built with an improved engine coolant (antifreeze) that allows extended maintenance intervals. This engine coolant (antifreeze) can be used up to five years or 102,000 miles (170 000 km) before replacement. To prevent reducing this extended maintenance period, it is important that you use the same engine coolant (antifreeze) throughout the life of your vehicle.
Please review these recommendations for using Hybrid Organic Additive Technology (HOAT) engine coolant (antifreeze). When adding engine coolant (antifreeze):
• The manufacturer recommends using MOPAR Antifreeze/Coolant 5 Year/100,000 Mile Formula HOAT (Hybrid Organic Additive Technology) or equivalent.
• Mix a minimum solution of 50% HOAT engine coolant and distilled water. Use higher concentrations (not to exceed 70%) if temperatures below 34°F ( 37°C) are anticipated.
• Use only high purity water such as distilled or deionized water when mixing the water/engine coolant (antifreeze) solution. The use of lower quality water will reduce the amount of corrosion protection in the engine cooling system. Please note that it is the owner’s responsibility to maintain the proper level of protection against freezing according to the temperatures occurring in the area where the vehicle is operated.
Mixing engine coolant (antifreeze) types will decrease the life of the engine coolant (antifreeze) and will require more frequent coolant changes.
Cooling System Pressure Cap
The cap must be fully tightened to prevent the loss of engine coolant (antifreeze) and to ensure that the engine coolant (antifreeze) will return to the radiator from the coolant reserve tank. The cap should be inspected and cleaned if there is any accumulation of foreign material on the sealing surfaces.
• The warning words “DO NOT OPEN HOT” on the cooling system pressure cap are a safety precaution. Never add engine coolant (antifreeze) when the engine is overheated. Do not loosen or remove the cap to cool an overheated engine. Heat causes pressure to build up in the cooling system. To prevent scalding or injury, do not remove the pressure cap while the system is hot or under pressure.
• Do not use a pressure cap other than the one specified for your vehicle. Personal injury or engine damage may result.
Disposal of Used Engine Coolant
Used ethylene glycol based engine coolant (antifreeze) is a regulated substance requiring proper disposal. Check with your local authorities to determine the disposal rules for your community. To prevent ingestion by animals or children, do not store ethylene glycol based engine coolant (antifreeze) in open containers or allow it to remain in puddles on the ground. If ingested by a child or pet, seek emergency assistance immediately. Clean up any ground spills immediately.
Engine Coolant Level
The coolant bottle provides a quick visual method for determining that the coolant level is adequate. With the engine idling and warm to normal operating temperature, the level of the engine coolant (antifreeze) in the bottle should be between the ranges indicated on the bottle.
The radiator normally remains completely full, so there is no need to remove the radiator cap unless checking for engine coolant (antifreeze) freeze point or replacing the engine coolant (antifreeze). Advise your service attendant of this. As long as the engine operating temperature is satisfactory, the coolant bottle need only be checked once a month. When additional engine coolant (antifreeze) is needed to maintain the proper level, it should be added to the coolant bottle. Do not overfill.
Points to Remember
When the vehicle is stopped after a few miles/ kilometers of operation, you may observe vapor coming from the front of the engine compartment. This is normally a result of moisture from rain, snow, or high humidity accumulating on the radiator and being vaporized when the thermostat opens, allowing hot engine coolant (antifreeze) to enter the radiator. If an examination of your engine compartment shows no evidence of radiator or hose leaks, the vehicle may be safely driven. The vapor will soon dissipate.
• Do not overfill the coolant recovery bottle.
• Check engine coolant (antifreeze) freeze point in the radiator and in the coolant recovery bottle. If engine coolant (antifreeze) needs to be added, contents of coolant recovery bottle must also be protected against freezing.
• If frequent engine coolant (antifreeze) additions are required, or if the level in the recovery bottle does not drop when the engine cools, the cooling system should be pressure tested for leaks.
• Maintain engine coolant (antifreeze) concentration at 50% HOAT engine coolant (antifreeze) (minimum) and distilled water for proper corrosion protection of your engine which contains aluminum components.
• Make sure that the radiator and coolant recovery bottle hoses are not kinked or obstructed.
• Keep the front of the radiator clean. If your vehicle is equipped with air conditioning, keep the front of the condenser clean, also.
• Do not change the thermostat for Summer or Winter operation. If replacement is ever necessary, install only the correct type thermostat. Other designs may result in unsatisfactory cooling performance, poor gas mileage, and increased emissions.
In order to assure brake system performance, all brake system components should be inspected periodically. Refer to “Maintenance Schedule” for further information.
Riding the brakes can lead to brake failure and possibly an accident. Driving with your foot resting or riding on the brake pedal can result in abnormally high brake temperatures, excessive lining wear, and possible brake damage. You would not have your full braking capacity in an emergency.
Brake Master Cylinder
The fluid level in the master cylinder should be checked when performing under hood services or immediately if the BRAKE warning light is illuminated. Be sure to clean the top of the master cylinder area before removing the cap. If necessary, add fluid to bring the fluid level up to the requirements described on the brake fluid reservoir. With disc brakes, fluid level can be expected to fall as the brake pads wear. Brake fluid level should be checked when pads are replaced. However, low fluid level may be caused by a leak and a checkup may be needed. Use only manufacturer’s recommended brake fluid. Refer to “Fluids, Lubricants, and Genuine Parts” in “Maintaining Your Vehicle” for further information.
• Use only manufacturer’s recommended brake fluid. Refer to “Fluids, Lubricants, and Genuine Parts” in “Maintaining Your Vehicle” for further information. Using the wrong type of brake fluid can severely damage your brake system and/or impair its performance. The proper type of brake fluid for your vehicle is also labeled on the original factory installed hydraulic master cylinder reservoir.
• To avoid contamination from foreign matter or moisture, use only new brake fluid or fluid that has been in a tightly closed container. Keep the master cylinder reservoir cap secured at all times. Brake fluid in a open container absorbs moisture from the air resulting in a lower boiling point. This may cause it to boil unexpectedly during hard or prolonged braking, resulting in sudden brake failure. This could result in a accident.
• Overfilling the brake fluid reservoir can result in spilling brake fluid on hot engine parts, causing the brake fluid to catch fire. Brake fluid can also damage painted and vinyl surfaces, care should be taken to avoid its contact with these surfaces.
• Do not allow petroleum based fluid to contaminate the brake fluid. Brake seal components could be damaged, causing partial or complete brake failure. This could result in an accident.
Fluid Level Check
Your vehicle is equipped with a capped transmission oil fill tube. It is sealed and should not be tampered with. Your authorized dealer has the proper tools to ensure that the fluid level is set properly.
Selection of Lubricant
It is important that the proper lubricant is used in the transmission to assure optimum transmission performance. Use only manufacturer’s recommended transmission fluid. Refer to “Fluids, Lubricants, and Genuine Parts” in “Maintaining Your Vehicle” for further information. It is important that the transmission fluid be maintained at the prescribed level using the recommended fluid.
Using a transmission fluid other than the manufacturer’s recommended fluid may cause deterioration in transmission shift quality and/or torque converter shudder. Using a transmission fluid other than the manufacturer’s recommended fluid will result in more frequent fluid and filter changes. Refer to “Fluids, Lubricants, and Genuine Parts” in “Maintaining Your Vehicle” for further information.
The manufacturer strongly recommends against the addition of any additives to the transmission. The only exception to this policy is the use of special dyes to aid in detecting fluid leaks. The use of transmission sealers should be avoided as they may adversely affect seals.
Do not use chemical flushes in your transmission as the chemicals can damage your transmission components. Such damage is not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.