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 16 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Nov 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles


Recently I experienced a sudden loss of acceleration as I attempted to merge onto a highway. I was also very lucky that I didn't cause a serious accident. The problem was intermittent at first and then increased. Nissan acknowledged a radiator design flaw and extended the basic warranty to lessor of 96 months or 80K miles. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to inform them my Xterra was affected by the same problem. While under 96 mos, my vehicle has 89K miles. I requested an exception which was denied. Nissan's failure to stand behind their products, particularly when the problem represents a serious safety concern and attributable to a design flaw, is inexcusable. Nissan denies any safety concern. This problem (referenced by Nissan in the radiator assembly customer satisfaction program description) pertains to 2005-2010 Xterra, pathfinder and frontier vehicles equipped with auto transmissions. Corrosion within the radiator leads to a crack and contamination of engine coolant with trans fluid, damaging radiator & transmission corrosion develops over time and most vehicle owners will likely exceed the 80K limit before problem presents itself. An internet search revealed 15 dedicated web threads to this problem and they are mostly 2005 vehicles. If Nissan didn"T correct the design flaw before 2010, the # of failures will significantly increase over the coming years as model yr 2005-2010 cars age. How many accidents or fatalities need to occur during this period before Nissan is held accountable for their negligence? the dealer estimate to repair my Xterra is $6,760. This is a significant financial burden and hardship on any vehicle with just over 80,000 miles. How many Nissan owners have to experience financial hardship before Nissan is held accountable?"

- Maple Grove, MN, USA

problem #21

Oct 252011


  • 89,000 miles
I was driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra at 55 mph on a two lane highway when it began to shake violently as if I had ran over spilled lumber or rumble strips. I braked hard as I thought I had ran over something. I hadn't, so after pulling over and checking for loose tires or driveline I continue on perplexed as to what happened. A few miles later it did it again. Come to find out there is a known defect on 2005 thru 2010 Nissan Xterra's, pathfinders, and frontier's in which the radiators internally leak water into the automatic transmissions and causes the violent shaking at high speeds. Nissan is aware of the issue and has only chosen to extend the warranty on the radiators and not recall the vehicles. In fact the letter sent to the consumers doesn't even reference the transmission (in which it destroys). While my family and I were not hurt, it was a close call and could have easily been worse at the speed I was going and the effect the failure has on the vehicle.

- North Adams, MA, USA

problem #20

Oct 252011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
I was picking up my children from school and my car just stopped driving in the middle of the intersection while I was making a left turn at a stoplight. I brought it to a trans shop and they said I have coolant in my transmission which caused it to fail. Repairs are estimated at $4326 and I am just angry and sick over this situation. Not only was it a scary situation to break down in the middle of the intersection with my kids in the car but I am very disappointed in all the reports I have been reading about in the 2005 Xterra. I can not afford to fix this problem and this is simply not fair that Nissan isn't taking responsibility for their negligence. Please help!!

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #19

Apr 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles


Faulty radiator design allowed a crack that caused cross contamination of coolant and transmission fluid. Caused transmission to fail.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #18

Nov 162006

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 2,800 miles
The clutch first failed at 2800 miles. Nissan replaced it but told me it was bad driving. I have had a clutch my entire life. The second failure was at 52000 miles. Nissan told me it was out of warranty so I had it replaced elsewhere with oe parts. It just failed again at 78000 miles and again they said it was out of warranty. I will now have the fourth clutch installed and am looking at other than oem equipment.

- Arlington Heights, IL, USA

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problem #17

Sep 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Interior components of the radiators (internal transmission coolers) break down allowing coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. As a result of the contamination, the transmission and other drivetrain components are damaged and fail causing possible accident.

- Gatlinburg, TN, USA

problem #16

Jul 182011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 136,000 miles


Transmission shudders violently periodically between speeds of 40mph and 65mph. Brought truck to buckeye Nissan in hilliard, oh where all of my repairs have been completed over the entire life of my vehicle and they informed me that I had coolant in transmission and transmission fluid in radiator. This problem can lead to sudden and catastrophic failure of transmission while in motion which could have lead to a serious auto accident.

- Galloway, OH, USA

problem #15

Aug 042011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I noticed a vibrating noise when I would reach 40-50mph. It sounded like I was driving on a rumble strip but was not. One day I pulled out into traffic and my transmission slipped, had my gas pedle to the floor but I was barely moving. I had to swirve into the ditch to avoid getting rear ended! I took it to my Nissan dealship to have a diagnositc test done. They called and told me that there was a defect in the radiator causing fluid to leak into the transmission. The estimated cost will be about $1500, to replace my radiator and flush the fluids twice. They stated that this will be a 80-85% chance this would temporaraly fix the problem, but with them not really knowing how much damage there is to my transmission that if this doesn't correct the problem that I would need to replace my trasmission meaning an additional $5,000. I have searched on-line and found out on a website ( that there are many other people out there with my same problem. Nissan is very aware of this defect in the radiator and has done nothing about it. My warrenty ran out in April and the warrenty on the radiator ended at 80,000 miles. I am in a huge bind not knowing what to do. Being a single mom I am very tight on money. I would hope that there are enough complaints for Nissan to recall all Nissan Xterra 2005 for radiator defects. I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying for a miracle.

- Shelby, OH, USA

problem #14

Sep 022011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
I purchased my 2005 Nissan Xterra less than 2 months ago and noticed about a month after I bought it that it had a rumble when driving it, especially when accelerating over 40 mph or on an incline when driving over 50 on highways. I also noticed that upon starting the car there was a very loud thump in the rear end. About a week after these issues became noticeabe, my service engine light came on and when I went to accelerate the car did not move at all... I had to crawl to the side of the road and re start my car. I took it to my local repair show where I was told the code was in the transmission section and I should take it to a tranmission shop. The estimated repairs are very costly and it's obvious that so many other Xterra owners have experienced this same problem. It is my only vehicle and I travel 80 miles a day to and from work and am forced to pay for this repair or be without a vehicle that I just purchased and still owe money on. There has to be some responsibility on the part of Nissan to reimburse their purchasers for the costly repairs due to a problem that is evidently a design flaw in the radiator and transmission of the 2005 Xterra. If so many people are complaining why is nothing being done to aid the victims of Nissan poor design?

- Haskell, NJ, USA

problem #13

Sep 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
I first noticed a vibration in my 2005 Nissan Xterra like driving over speed bumps when letting off the accelerator the vibration stopped. I thought it was a problem with tires, driveshaft or rear end but found it would not happen if I turned off the overdrive. So I googled Nissan transmission problems and found that people were having the same issue and said it was due to coolant mixing with the transmission fluid and causing transmission failure. I continued to drive the vehicle not having the money to do the costly repair and debating whether to trade in the vehicle. Yesterday the car left me broke down alongside the road. The vehicle started jumping like it was going to stall the check engine like came on and the temperature went in the red I pulled over to the side of the road and seen coolant mixed with some other fluid all over the engine compartment and street something must have burst. Contacted Nissan they told me it was not covered due to being over the 80,000 mile extended warrant but to take it to a dealership to get a diagnostic to determine what the problem is to see what they can do to help.

- Reading , PA, USA

problem #12

Aug 022011


  • 87,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while accelerating, the vehicle hesitated and would not accelerate over 15 mph. A loud noise was also heard coming from the engine area. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer, who performed a diagnostic test and stated that the radiator fluid was leaking into the transmission. The dealer replaced the transmission, radiator, and drive shaft. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but denied assistance with the repairs because the warranty expired. The failure and current mileages were 87,000...updated 09/15/11

- Grandview, MO, USA

problem #11

Jun 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
I am writing to complain about my 2005 Nissan Xterra. Otherwise a very sound car, I have been informed by the dealership that the timing chain guide is wearing down and will eventually fail. The dealer informed me this is common in Nissan and my research concurs. My car only has 85,000 miles on it and this repair is estimated to cost me $1900. I feel this should be a safety recall item as there has already been numerous safety bulletins on this issue.

- Gig Harbor, WA, USA

problem #10

Jun 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the vehicle would jerk while shifting gears. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the transmission and radiator fluids were mixing, causing the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but would not offer any further assistance due to the mileage being above 80,000. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 86,000. Updated 09/20/2011

- Richmond , VA, USA

problem #9

Jun 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 64,500 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra. Highway driving and car began to shake violently. It was hard to stay in control for a bit there. Hard to figure out what it was but I have. Nissan Xterra's have a problem with the radiator failing and leaking coolant into the transmission, thereby ruining it. My car has been overheating and the transmission giving out while I'm traveling at highway speeds with my wife and two children in car seats. Nissan voluntarily extended warranty on the radiator. That is no help to the consumer as once the radiator fails you also have a bad transmission. Please make them accountable for their unethical dodging of a serious problem --- and a dangerous one! thank you.

- Burlington, VT, USA

problem #8

Feb 172009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,367 miles
On my 2005 Nissan Xterra, radiator warranty extended from 36,000 miles/36 months to 80,000 miles/96 months in 2011. However, my radiator was replaced at 40 months/88,000 miles in 2009. 11 months later (2010) I had to replace my transmission because of their defected radiator. Why was my data excluded when Nissan extended their warranty? I have spent over $10,000 in repairs since I have bought my 2005 Xterra brand new.

- Marlette, MI, USA

problem #7

Jan 012006


  • 10,000 miles
While driving down a steep hill, I turned off the overdrive and the dashboard display showed the vehicle had shifted into 4th gear but in fact is was still in od (5th) gear. Upon activating the button to shift back to od, the vehicle now shifted down into 3rd gear but displayed that it was in od (5th) gear. I live in the san bernardino mountains of southern California and I need to downshift to slow the vehicle when going downhill and to avoid overheating the brakes with a possibility of brake failure. I have visited two different Nissan dealers on a total of four occasions to resolve the problem and they tell me that is the way the vehicle functions and there is nothing that can be done to fix it. Although I thought I was buying a vehicle with five gears, in fact when going down hill it does not have a 4th gear. Updated 02/14/11

- Big Bear City, CA, USA

problem #6

Jun 012009


  • 53,000 miles
First problem - when I had 53,000 mi on it, it was still under warranty, it started cutting out and wouldn't accelerate at all, had to have it towed to the dealer to find out that the transmission was bad. They said that he radiator leaked, flooding my transmission with coolant and ruined my transmission. They refused to honor the warranty stating that "the tranmission did not fail - the radiator did (which was not covered under warranty) therefore the transmission was not covered". I had to let them replace the radiator and flush the transmission 3 times - it cost me $1,400 out of pocket - now here I am 30,000 miles later and my reverse will not work at all, my transmission needs replaced. So I had paid 1,400 just to buy myself an year & a half and now I need a new transmission. 2nd problem - I have the fuel gauge/sensor problem, also. I filled up one day, got in my car and gauge read empty & check engine light was on. I had a rip-off mechanic charge me $170 to replace the sensor - nothing ever changed, gauge is still broke and light is still on. Nissan is so wrong for not handling their problems, consumers deserve to be treated fairly. There should be a class action suit against them - just read these complaint boards. Somehow I have both of the most common problems with these vehicles.

- Saltsburg, PA, USA

problem #5

Nov 162010


  • 124,000 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra 4WD--vehicle has vibration in steering and gear shift accompanied with a low rumble; mechanic reports problem is in front U-joint;-best to replace both U-joints; also being reported by Nissan service department -- most likely will be a recall; entire drive shaft must be replaced, not just the U-joint; additionally Nissan service department is reporting part is not available. I have a car with a problem in drive train that needs to be fixed, a manufacturer reporting a potential recall and no parts available. My options are--park car until parts are available (no eta on the parts), drive car with a potentially dangerous problem, or have a used part placed into the car.

- Stahlstown, PA, USA

problem #4

May 012010

Xterra 4-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
2005 Xterra SE. When driving at 1.5 to 2 rpms truck rumbles underneath like it is going over the rumble strips on the side of the highway. Acceleration or deceleration stops the noise. Rear differential issues have been raised on many Nissan and truck forums discussing the later 2000 Xterra models. Nissan said I need the new rear differential. Curious if this is a wide range problem.

- Rocky Point, NY, USA

problem #3

Sep 262010


  • 58,500 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact was accelerating 5 mph from a traffic stop when the vehicle abnormally lost power and would not accelerate. The vehicle was parked and left. One week prior to the failure, the vehicle was taken to the dealer in regards to an unusual rumbling in the vehicle. The dealer advised that transmission fluid was leaking into the radiator. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure and current mileage was 58,500.

- Bloomfield, NJ, USA

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