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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
105,981 miles
Total Complaints:
295 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new radiator and transmission rebuild (87 reports)
  2. replaced radiator and transmission (47 reports)
  3. not sure (39 reports)
  4. replace transmission (35 reports)
  5. new radiator, transmission, and flush fluids (31 reports)
  6. replace radiator and transmission (28 reports)
2005 Nissan Xterra transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 1 of 15)

problem #295

Jul 192015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,072 miles


Experienced problems accelerating and vibrations/noises similar to driving over rumble strips. Mechanic diagnosed as radiator coolant mixing with the transmission fluid. Vehicle was transferred to Nissan dealership and we opened a case with Nissan Consumer Affairs. Vehicle only had 75k miles however since it was 9 years old was subject to the $3,000 deductible on extended warranty. After three weeks of "reviewing" the case while our vehicle was sitting at the dealership, Nissan informed us that there was nothing they could do. They have been willing to work with us in the past, but this time we were punished for not putting a lot of miles on our vehicle. Because we needed to continue driving the vehicle, we paid the $3,000 deductible to have the transmission replaced. Nissan should be held accountable for this known defect that could cause significant accidents and injuries if the transmission fails while driving on busy roadways.

- , Minneapolis, MN, US

problem #294

Mar 142017

Xterra ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

From this website, I called Nissan Consumer Affairs and the young man I spoke to was no help at all. I told him that I had read where Nissan was taking care of this issue until 2016 with an extended warranty. He said that my vehicle was not involved in that. I asked: Is my car not a 2005 Nissan Xterra? He started replying with a scripted response. Nissan would have to examine and diagnose the vehicle to see if there is an issue that they may or may not handle.

- , Simi Valley, CA, US

problem #293

Feb 092017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

Nissan is a rotten company. Now I have a giant paper weight in my driveway.

- , Roselle, US

problem #292

Jan 082017

Xterra S Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 187,000 miles


STAY AWAY FROM ALL NISSAN'S!!! If you don't want nothing but problems...I have a 05 Nissan Xterra and I have had nothing but problems WITH IT!!! I have put thousands into it for problem's after problems, and now this. I can not afford another "$3,800" for a trans rebuild and kit a trans flush, a new trans inter cooler and new radiator, labor etc....Nissan's are nothing but pieces of sh*t as I have found out the hard way... STAY AWAY!!!

- , Essex Jct, VT, USA

problem #291

Feb 152010

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Purchased one year old Xterra with low miles from the Nissan dealer for my daughter for about $25,000. After about 4 years the radiator developed a small leak which was not perceptible but gradually leaked radiator fluid through a line that was connected to the automatic transmission which in short time completely destroyed the transmission as well as the radiator. Costs were about $4,800. This was a design defect which was acknowledged by Nissan and they eventually decided to make some refunds for repairs although not near enough to pay for the out of pocket costs. I believe my daughter received $1,000 but was still out the $3,800 in additional costs. This was not all, however. Not too long after the engine blocked cracked for no apparent reason and , no, the temperatures were not low. No one including Nissan could figure out why the block cracked and, of course by then, no warranty. She got back just pennies on the dollar when getting rid of this piece of junk. No more Nissans for us.

- , Bainbridge Island, WA, USA

problem #290

May 132016

Xterra XE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I purchased my 2005 Nissan Exterra almost 2 years ago. Wish I would have done the research on it beforehand!! This is my 4th owned Nissan and never again will I buy this product. I cannot believe that Nissan will not stand behind their defected radiator/transmission. What a shame!! Now I'm out of a vehicle and have a loan to pay off!! Thanks for nothing Nissan!!

- , Emerald Isle, NC, US

problem #289

Aug 312016

Xterra 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,465 miles


This is a vehicle that was known for this problem Leaking Antifreeze into Transmission and sold without making this buyer aware, The Radiator was replaced by Seller, but the problem had not been corrected. Now Told not under warranty.

- , Shirley, NY, USA

problem #288

Mar 012016

Xterra S 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,332 miles


I purchased this 2005 Nissan Xterra S with 132,000 in 2016. It is in good overall condition, good running and driving. The only things I did to it after I purchased it was put new brakes and rotors as well as change the fluids. I didn't have to replace the rotors but it was easier than getting them turned. Shortly after I bought it the transmission started making a whining noise on occasion, then it started slipping in reverse. Finally one day it would not shift out of first, then finally would not move. I check the transmission fluid and it still looked good, no water or antifreeze. I let it sit for a few hours then it would engage but the whining noise came back and I hade 2 codes come up, both were transmission solenoids.

I took it to a local transmission shop and when they dropped the pan it had fluid contamination. We've had some rain and flooding issues in Texas this year but the vehicle was never in standing water. The shop said it was antifreeze and not water. The shop asked me about the radiator and informed me of the Nissan contamination issue. The shop said the transmission was pretty much shot. We looked around for a used transmission but they are very pricey since it had to be a 2005. I bought a used transmission for $900 and a new Denso radiator for just over $100. My total bill was just over $2100 which seems like a lot but with a shortage or good used parts and the cost of labor this was a good deal.

This is my 5th Nissan I've owned over the years, my last two were bought new. A 2001 Xterra and a 2013 Frontier SL. They have all served me well and I've been very happy with them. This situation is a little different since it was a known problem. Even if Nissan was not going cover the cost I think they had the responsibility to let their customer know so we could have changed out the radiators or went to the external trans coolers. What I paid for this issue was a high percentage of the value of this vehicle. Any help with the cost would be very much appreciated.

Thanks Tom

- , Conroe, TX, USA

problem #287

Jul 012016

Xterra SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Add me to the list of frustrated, frightened, and generally ticked off owners of a 2005 Nissan Xterra. My car, which I bought new in the fall of 2005, has 145,000 miles on it and has been the most fantastic car; never a problem in all this time. Only minor, expected service and typical replacement of various things like brakes and tires.

Then last month, I'm in a parking lot and suddenly the car will just not go over 10MPH. Just crawls. I managed to get it onto the freeway (only way home) and suddenly it speeds up and is normal. I got to my driveway, shut it off and gave it a rest. Went out a few hours later and yes, same problem. Will not accelerate. Took it to a mechanic who said the transmission is fine, but needed U joints and something about bushings--dunno, I'm not a car person. Anyway that was 400.00 and not a huge problem. Drove it home and it was great until the next day when I took it out for a ride.

This time car slowed to 10mph and on came these lamps: VDC off, slip, check engine light. Looked it up and there were instances of various sensors that effected this. The mechanic took it for a ride, did a diagnostic and determined it was actually the fuel sensor, so he replaced the fuel tank (the parts are one unit) for another 300.00. Again, he could not find a problem with the transmission. That didn't make total sense to me but I am aware that fuel tanks are not immortal and my gas gauge had been wonky.

Got the car back, drove it on the freeway and in traffic at fairly high speed, it lost power. I barely made it to the side of the road. Had it towed to a Nissan dealer and just as reported here--it was a cracked radiator that leaked fluid into the transmission.

Now, the car is old and I needed to buy a new one, but I could have been killed due to a problem the company knew about and for which they failed to issue a recall.

Never again with a Nissan and I plan on posting my experience everywhere I can.

- , Los Angele, CA, USA

problem #286

Aug 132016

Xterra 4,0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,500 miles

Transmission cooler failed and caused anti-freeze to mix with ATF in the transmission causing the tranny gears to slip and mis shift and fail. Quoted $5,200 to repair

- , Spokane, WA, USA

problem #285

Jul 162016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,790 miles


I bought my 2005 Xterra brand new in January 2006 and didn't really have any significant problems with it for the next 10 year, having driven it 101,800 miles. However, a week ago I noticed my service engine light came on and my car was having difficulty accelerating out of first gear, but once it got to the higher speeds it seemed fine.

Took it into the Nissan dealership to have a diagnostic done, and they came back with a total bill of $10849 worth of repairs! The car is only worth about 6K, so of course this seems ridiculous. When they explained to me what was wrong, they said the main things you really need to focus on is replacing the transmission and the radiator because there was a leaky hose in the radiator and the fluids from your radiator have now been cross contaminated with your transmission and both systems must now be replaced. They also said, but we will updated the radiator with a newer version.

When I did some research on the problem, I found out about it being a known design defect with the radiator, the class action lawsuit because of it and the extended warranty. When I asked the dealer about it (since they failed to mention any of that to me) they said, well yes it is a known issue with those radiators and there was an extended warranty - but I was 6 months out of the window.

They recommended I take it up with Nissan Corporate and file a claim, to which Nissan corporate did an investigation and came back completely un-empathetic saying - basically saying sorry, you are sh*t out of luck because you are outside the extended warranty window. Needless to say, I'm super pissed at the fact that they didn't do an actual recall on this known defective part (especially considering how dangerous it could be when the transmission actually goes out) and when you bring it up, they don't give two sh*ts about you as a customer. I thought I loved Nissan and that my next car would have been to upgrade to their luxury line (an Infiniti SUV), but now I will never buy a Nissan again. Very clear that this is totally unfair for Nissan consumers and I hope that the investigation that is going on will result in another class action law suit that makes Nissan pay for what is really their fault.

The local dealership ended up negotiating with me to at least replace the radiator for free, but I still have to pay over 5K out of pocket to get the transmission replaced.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #284

Jun 202016

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Nissan has the worst customer service. I have a 2005 xterra with 67000 miles. Back in March of this year while driving it felt like I was driving over rumble strips. Of course I find out about the manufacture defect concerning the radiator & transmission. I currently have my car at the local Nissan dealer having the transmission & radiator replaced. I contacted Nissan to ask for some assistance with the cost. I am out of the warranty time period. Nissan informed me they wouldn't help me with this. Nissan should put out a recall for this manufacture defect. I will never buy another Nissan & will tell everyone I can to stay away from Nissan. I hope the NHTSA will force Nissan to recall these xterra's.

- , Havelock, NC, USA

problem #283

Jan 052015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,571 miles

In 2015, I was an 82 year old, divorced senior who just recovered from breast cancer surgery and wanted a newer car. with fewer miles. Did research on another brand car, found it at local used car lot but it was in bad condition, started to leave and saw the Xterra at same price, drove it, bought it on the spot. I have 812 credit rating and the car lot got a loan for me. Came home and looked up possible problems with the car. Found warning about transmission. Called and told car salesman that info. After I had a problem driving it home, the car practically stopped on the road, I took it back. They said they would work with me, Ha Ha. They did computer testing and said I should take it to a transmission shop. Did so, they found gunk and water in the transmission and advised a new transmission for $4,000 to 5,000. Went back to car dealer, Bee Back Motor. I bought the car without a warranty but bought a Vehicle Service Contract only to find it wouldn't cover before 90 days and 1,000 miles from Contract Purchase. I was screwed. I paid $2,000 down and had no car to drive. This car dealer, Bee Back Motors in Sonora California, sold me an Xterra claiming he didn't know about the transmission problem. He offered to pay for transmission repair, but only $1,500 at a transmission shop of his choice, I ended up paying an additional $1,000 for something inside the transmission that the dealer didn't tell me about. So, besides the down payment on the car of $2,000, the Service Contract cost and all the upset for several months, I ended up selling the car and paying off the bank but had to pay another $1,500 to do that. I sold it for $8,000 and told the new owner about the transmission. I paid $9,000 at the car dealer, plus all the bank costs and transmissions costs, so I lost a lot of money for an old lady on SS. I still have my old 1995 Ford XLT which has 210,000 miles on it that I bought in 1998....and runs like a top. I lost a lot of money on a used car and learned never to trust a used car dealer ever! I will drive my Ford for the rest of my life and would NEVER EVER look at a Nissan again.

- , Tuolumne, CA, USA

problem #282

May 062016

Xterra Offroad 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Add me to list of unsuspecting people that bought a used Nissan thinking it would be a reliable vehicle. Just bought a few months ago and now have a repair bill damn near what I paid for the truck all because of a faulty radiator...REALLY??? I have owned several Nissans over my years, but will never own another!!!!! It is borderline criminal that a car company is allowed to get away with such a problem....As of this complaint, SEVEN of the top twenty trending complaints on this site are of the same problem from various years of the Xterra, Pathfinder and Frontier. How many hundreds of thousand of people have to get screwed by this problem before someone forces Nissan to address it????? Probably not until some dies as a result.....I now tell EVERY person that I see in one of these vehicles about this problem and advise them to trade it in tomorrow to save them the A$$ RAPING that sooo many others have received from good old Nissan!!!!!!

- , Millsboro, DE, USA

problem #281

Apr 242016

Xterra Off Road

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,437 miles

I took my car in several times because it periodically felt like I was driving on the rumble strip when I was on a smooth road. Of course it never happened when they drove it and they found nothing wrong. Finally one day it acted like it was trying to start in the wrong gear and the check engine light came on. That is when I found out there was coolant in the transmission and both the radiator and transmission had to be replaced. I had less than 83,000 miles on my car, but it is 11 years old now so I had to pay for the whole thing. Since Nissan has known about this problem for a long time they should have come up with something to prevent the coolant from ever leaking into the transmission, there is no excuse for allowing this problem to continue occurring.

- , Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #280

Nov 302015

Xterra SE 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #279

Jan 042013

Xterra LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

We had just paid the car off. Then 2 months later the car overheated. A week later the Tranny failed. Nissan acted like this is the first time they had heard of this happening. My car had too many miles on it to be covered. It would cost about $7000.00 to repair. A complete loss. The NHTSA and Nissan are fraudulent in their handling of this issue.

- , Fullerton, CA, USA

problem #278

Mar 102015

Xterra ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,768 miles

My father got me a 2005 Nissan Xterra for my birthday then the transmission failed within 4 months of me having it. Still to this day it is sitting in my front yard and I have been saving up for a new car because that really put me back. Just would like for a recall or something to happen because that is bullcrap!

- , Powhatan, VA, USA

problem #277

Aug 012012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

It is absolute BULLSHIT that I had to pay the ENTIRE amount to get the problem fixed - and that was after Nissan acknowledged they had screwed up!! I don't have that kind of flippin money! And, Nissan STILL hasn't bothered to pay anything towards that $4k that I had to cough up. Offering to pay on it AFTER a $3k deductible was met FIRST....oh, and only if the problem occurred before a certain mileage was hit. SERIOUSLY!?!?!?! I used to think Nissan was great....NOT ANYMORE!!! Good Lord willing, I will NEVER NEVER NEVER buy another one!

- , Hertford, NC, US

problem #276

May 022012

Xterra SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Transmission was shifting erratically. I took it to the Nissan dealer and they told me it was caused by a faulty radiator and it would be $3500 to fix it. I had to pay it and they gave no explanation that it was a design problem and that it was Nissan's fault. I was just screwed.

- , Leesburg, FL, USA

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