Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: The 2005-2007 Xterra appears to have a widespread defect where coolant leaks into the transmission, causing transmission failure around 90,000 miles. Repair costs are typically upwards of $3,500.

The same defect exists in the Pathfinder & Frontier as well. And according to the New York Times & a class action lawsuit, the defect actually extends through 2010 model year. More info here.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
103,994 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2005 Nissan Xterra drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 13 of 17)

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problem #82

Oct 012012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 126,000 miles


While out of town at a family wedding I noticed a shuttering noise while driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra. From time to time there was a loss in acceleration. Although we were not involved in any accidents we were lucky to have not been rear ended from losing speed on the freeway. After some research on this issue I have come across numerous reports on a problem with the radiator leaking into the transmission. I went to have my truck looked at and it was confirmed that I have the same problem. Nissan knows about this because of the numerous reports, but there has not been a recall. The only thing done was an extended warranty. From what I can tell - by the time you start experiencing these problems you are way over the warranty. This could have been a very dangerous situation, thankfully it wasn't. now we, the consumers, are left with paying for Nissan's faulty parts...that could pose a serious risk of an auto accident.

- Steens, MS, USA

problem #81

Sep 162012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Our daughter was driving home, late at night, when the engine began making strange sounds and lurching at about 50 mph. She was only a few blocks from home, so drove home very slowly. On later inspection, my husband found the radiator/transmission issue and looked on the internet to see if others had this problem. We were horrified to discover that many, many, many Nissan owners have the same exact problem of coolant in the transmission. (our Xterra has just over 100,000 miles.) this is obviously a well known issue with Nissan, but nothing has been done. We spoke with a regional manager with Nissan who listened politely, said she'd look into it, and had her assistant finally call us over a week later (she promised four days) to say nothing could be done. Something can be done! I encourage anyone with this same problem to write to Nissan, send a cc to your better business bureau, and submit complaints to consumer awareness groups to document this problem and get Nissan to act responsibly for their faulty radiator. This is a major, costly, potentially dangerous issue that should never have occurred in the first place. We love our Xterra, faithfully change the oil, and have recommended it to so many other people. It feels like a slap in the face that Nissan will not admit their role in this problem and do something about it! updated IVOQ 11/19/12

- Wasilla, AK, USA

problem #80

Sep 242012


  • 135,000 miles
Radiator broke down which causes the transmission fluid to be mixed with radiator fluid. This kills both the transmission and radiator. This was a well known and defined problem by Nissan and they never did anything about it. Total bill is well over $5K for transmission, radiator, labor.

- Ellington, CT, USA

problem #79

Sep 132012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


While driving down a busy los angeles street during rush hour, my car suddenly lost drivability. The engine RPM's increased, but the car would not engage. Nearly got into multiple accidents trying to get to the side of the road. Car was towed to a mechanic where a strawberry milk color liquid was found in the transmission. Was told coolant and transmission fluid mixing was the cause. Required to rebuild transmission, replace radiator and transmission control valve. Repair cost estimated at $5050 plus tax.

- Northridge, CA, USA

problem #78

Jul 012012


  • 110,000 miles
Car was acting funny so I took it to my mechanic. Coolant was leaking into the transmission. Replaced the radiator before it caused any major issues with the tranny but still cost me $1200. Now a check engine light came on indicating something with the tranny. I am afraid it will fail now and I will have to put more money. Nissan extended the warranty to 80K miles but this issues started happening after that.

- Monroe, CT, USA

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problem #77

Jul 042012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
Radiator coolant leaked into transmission causing overheating. Replaced radiator $1200 now required to replace transmission for $3510 parts, $1450 labor, and $100 fluid at tischer Nissan laurel Maryland. Transmission feels like riding over rumble strips.

- Elkridge , MD, USA

problem #76

Apr 112012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 118,214 miles


I was noticing a difference in the shifting of my vehicle and took it to a transmission specialist who discovered I had radiator fluid mixed in with my transmission fluid. I was told my radiator needed to be replaced and the transmission flushed, which may or may not solve the problem. There was hope this would work as I caught the problem early and never had a service code pop up. I paid $1110 for this work. Subsequently I contacted my Nissan dealer who told me it was related to the radiator problem that Nissan had extended the warranty on. I contacted Nissan and made a claim for reimbursement and for the problem to be rectified completely. Nissan advised me to take the vehicle to the dealer at my own expense for a diagnosis. The Nissan dealer verified that indeed my problem was due to the radiator issue and my transmission needs to be replaced. I contacted the manufacturer again and when I told them this I was told my vehicle had surpassed the extended warranty of 80,000 miles and they would not assist. During my research, I have discovered that most of the people with the same problem were also over the 80,000 miles granted by Nissan. My transmission completely stopped shifting and is parked in my driveway. I feel the extended warranty notice sent by Nissan was very misleading. It stated a "radiator issue" which in no way identifies that is only the culprit and not that the transmission will be impacted and rendered useless. It would have been such an easier option to replace a radiator and continue to have transportation, then to have a lawn ornament. By the way...why was there never a service code light that alerted to the problem?

- Novato, CA, USA

problem #75

Sep 032012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
Nissan is well-aware of a design flaw that allows radiator fluid to cross-contaminate transmission fluid. They jokingly (at least their dealers) refer to it as a "strawberry milkshake". the antifreeze degrades transmission parts and causes transmission failure. A quick web search shows over 300 such cases.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #74

Aug 142012


  • 104,324 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While parked, the contact attempted to start the vehicle but the engine would not start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostics. The technician stated that the radiator and transmission would have to be replaced due to coolant from the radiator leaking into the transmission, causing an electrical shortage. There was an investigation under NHTSA action number: DP12004 (power train:automatic transmission:cooling unit and lines power train:automatic transmission:torque converter power train:automatic transmission:control module (tcm, PCM)) that could have been related to the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 104,324.

- Imperial, MO, USA

problem #73

Aug 012012


  • 90,000 miles
Transmission locked in one gear which caused dangerous circumstances on well traveled roads. Subsequently, it operated normally, but the problem recurred. The occurrences were intermittent, and if occurred on a highway in heavy traffic could have resulted in an accident and injuries. Nissan has admitted there is a problem/defect by extending the warranty to 80,000 miles. However, this defect affects vehicles beyond 80,000 and is a significant safety concern. I understand the defect has to do with a cooling system in the transmission which is prone to cracking resulting in the mixing of radiator fluid and transmission fluid, ultimately rendering the transmission inoperable.

- Kingston, NY, USA

problem #72

Jun 022012


  • 108,000 miles


Just as I was about to enter the 405 freeway in long beach, my Xterra would not accelerate. The garden grove Nissan dealer said it was due to a leak in the radiator that caused the transmission to give out. I was charged $5,000 to repair. I filed a claim with the dealer and that's when I first learned that I had been given an extra 20,000 miles warranty back when my Xterra only had 60,000 miles. I was never notified of the extended warranty and I've been taking my Xterra to the dealer for all maintenance since I bought it from the dealer.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #71

Aug 092012


  • 112,000 miles
Coolant leaking into the transmission ruined both the radiator and transmission.

- Grand Bay, AL, USA

problem #70

May 182012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 116,151 miles
After driving to a remote fair ground facility, the transmission failed due to a leak allowing coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. After leaving the driver and passenger stranded waiting for help, the passenger lost consciousness due to high outdoor temperatures and lack of near by facilities. Paramedics were called to the scene.

- Flagstaff, AZ, USA

problem #69

Jul 252012


  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact was driving 65 mph when the vehicle started shaking violently. The contact drove the vehicle to the dealer who inspected the failure. The dealer advised the contact that radiator fluids leaked into the transmission, causing a transmission failure. Both the radiator and the transmission would need replacing at the contact's expense of $7000. The manufacturer was notified who offered no assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 86,000.

- Puyllaup, WA, USA

problem #68

Jul 312012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,833 miles
Brought a used 2005 Nissan Xterra from a dealer in eugene Oregon on October 13, 2011. On July 31, 2012 the radiator leaked fluid into the transmission disabling the vehicle. Took it to the deals where I have an extended warranty ( 12 months or 12,000 miles) only to be told that the radiator caused the problem to the transmission, which meant both are not covered by the warranty.

- Eugene, OR, USA

problem #67

Jul 052012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
My 2005 Nissan Xterra started having some problems early in July. On or about July 5 I was pulling onto highway 30 in montgomery Illinois. There was oncoming traffic. I pushed the gas and proceeded to merge on to the highway. The car moved very slowly almost causing an accident. I pulled over out of traffic and rested car for approx 5min. When I began to accelerate again the car performed normally. I took to a mechanic who stated that the radiator fluids had mixed with the transmission fluids causing the transmission to slip and fail. After hearing this I went online and observed that over 500 people have also experienced the same problem and that it is a defect in the manufacturing of all 2005-2010 trucks and SUV's. I have asked Nissan to repair my car at their expense since it is a problem they knew about. They first stated they did not send me the original info on this problem because they did not know I owned the car. This is not true. They had previously sent me information about a tow bar issue/recall and a Nissan dealer in san jose ca fixed that problem. I believe that Nissan intentionally did not inform owners because they wanted the mileage to exceed what they were offering (80,000). Had I known I would have had my truck looked at long before the mileage expired. What happened to me could happen to a family and if they were to pull into ongoing traffic an accident would certainly occur. This is very dangerous and Nissan needs to do the right thing. I appreciate you opening an investigation on this and hope you get results before someone dies.

- Montgomery, IL, USA

problem #66

Jul 242012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
Traveling at 65 mph, transmission started to shack terribly and was almost uncontrollable. This was a direct failure of a leak in the radiator that allowed radiator fluid to leak into the transmission and cause the transmission to fail.

- Puyallup, WA, USA

problem #65

Jul 022012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 177,000 miles
Transmission damage attributed to contamination by engine coolant. The source of the contamination is a cracked atf line that runs through an engine coolant chamber in the radiator.

- Westlake, CA, USA

problem #64

Jul 092012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
Failure of radiator causes engine coolant to mix with transmission fluid causing transmission destruction. While driving on the highway, vehicle shakes violently and shifts hard during slower driving. Happens to be a very common problem I was un aware of, until it was too late. Dealer service dept advised me it was a $8,000 "known issue" and instructed me to contact Nissan about helping with repairs.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #63

Jul 022012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
Daughter coming to intersection at 20 mph. Failed in intersection and was able to coast out of intersection. Later found failure due to water in transmission. Nissan has a class action suit on this issue- which I joined.

- Redlands, CA, USA

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