Notes: In a very limited selection on small pickup trucks, the Frontier is one of the best options except -- and I cannot emphasize this enough -- for one problem that makes it an avoid-at-all-costs pain in you know what: the radiator ruptures and leaks coolant into the transmission, killing it. Such a buzzkill.

This problem affects most 2005-2008 (and maybe beyond) Frontiers.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
103,743 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 Frontier drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Nissan Frontier Owner Comments (Page 6 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #97

Aug 312007

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 107,400 miles


At the time of the transmission failure I had no prior signs of a problem. As I was merging on to the 4 lane at a speed of about 45-50 mph the truck began shaking violently. I thought I had gotten some bad fuel because I had just filled the fuel. The shaking somewhat smoothed out at about 60 mph, though the truck was lacking normal power, and would shudder when pulling a grade. I drove the truck about 10 miles and stopped to get some fuel treatment because I still thought I was having fuel problems. At this point the truck began to act as if the transmission was in neutral, then the transmission would grab and jar the truck violently. At this time I was in heavy traffic and nearly hit. I barely got the truck to my mechanic. Further inspection by my mechanic showed antifreeze in the transmission. I had to have the transmission totally rebuilt and replaced the radiator, at a cost of about $4,000. About a year prior I had the transmission flushed, replaced filter and fluid as preventative maintenance. The truck has been maintained properly because I planned to keep the truck for long term. My truck is past the warranty so total cost is incurred by me.

- Webster, NC, USA

problem #96

May 252011

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
My truck first started shuddering on acceleration in 2011 at 68,000 miles. I checked it out and found foamy coolant and strawberry like milk shake in my transmission. Since it was out of warranty I tried to save it by changing the fluid and doing the bypass which worked for a while. Soon after I received a notice that they extended the warranty on this issue (making it within warranty). I then took it to the Nissan dealer to have them check it out, they said they checked the pressure on the radiator and said everything was fine. Now 2 years later at 100,000 miles my truck can't shift into overdrive. This is very upsetting and I feel you guys should be responsible for fixing this problem. All these vehicles should be recalled!

- Stockton , CA, USA

problem #95

Aug 202013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 90,780 miles
Started it up... hardly moved. Squeaking sound under the hood. Looks like the infamous radiator leak into the transmission....

- North Wales, PA, USA

problem #94

Aug 182013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


The truck lurched ahead while at a stop light, just missing a pedestrian. Took the car to the Nissan dealership today. Was told that coolant from a cracked radiator had ruined the transmission and repair would be $5700. Car was in perfect condition and always dealer maintained. Dealership said they could do nothing as far as warranty. They gave me Nissan North America's number. They refused to do anything. This is a defect. Not a worn out part. This vehicle should be recalled. Not safe.

- Cape Elizabeth, ME, USA

problem #93

Feb 122013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • miles
I was driven @ 45 mph I fell the roughness of the truck, I took the truck to the dealer the technician said that the transmission got mixed up w/ the coolant and they told me that it need to replace the transmission and radiator. Anyway I purchased outside extended warranty for my truck last year and I cannot used it because their policy that it doesn't cover cooling system. I call North Nissan they said they give us extended warranty for me is not the warranty it is manufacture defect pls. Help me that Nissan will fix the problem.

- Waianae, HI, USA

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problem #92

Aug 062013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • miles
Sudden loss of power/stalling. Check engine light came on as well as anti-slip light. Took vehicle same day to Nissan dealership. Truck actually stalled on the way to the dealership however I was able to get it started again. Diagnosed the problem as a bad cam shaft sensor. Sensor was replaced. They also mentioned that transmission fluid was contaminated with engine coolant. Suggested repair was to replace the radiator and the transmission-$4800. I chose to just replace the cam sensor. Three days later, 8/9, lost power at highway speed. Radiator and hoses leaked and had to be towed to dealership. Again dealership suggested replacing the radiator as well as the transmission. Replaced radiator and hoses, flushed transmission twice. I plan to dispose the truck. There were no warning signs prior to these two incidents. My opinion is that this is definitely a manufacturing/engineering defect.

- Acworth, GA, USA

problem #91

Feb 162011

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 86,496 miles


Three days after receiving the letter from Nissan regarding the "possible" problem with the radiator failing I was on my way to work and my truck started to shudder at about 45mph. I pulled off the road but could not see anything wrong. I then had it checked out and found out about the radiator failing and damaged the transmission resulting in a total rebuild! called Nissan and after 3 weeks of back and forth talks of "seeing what we can do for you" the end result was sorry theirs nothing we can do for you! if this problem would of happen on an interstate highway with my family along I hate to think what could have happened!

- Lake City, PA, USA

problem #90

Jun 032011


  • 147,230 miles
My slip started to go on and it would down shift and sometimes stall. I needed brakes so I went to tony Nissan to have my brakes done and the slip checked out and they called me and said that a transmission line inside my radiator cracked and was leaking into my transmission and I needed to replaced both ( $9000 dollars that I don't have.) Nissan has extended it's warrant to 10 years and 100000 miles, but my truck has over 147000 miles. This is not my fault as it is due to a faulty radiator that they knew about. It's just not right, I drive a lot do to my work. I don't know what to do. Please help.. I do not know the VIN number it is at the Nissan dealer having my brakes done.

- Waianae, HI, USA

problem #89

Jul 122013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
I started noticing my automatic Nissan Frontier having problems shifting gears around November of 2012. I eventually took the truck into a dealership to take a look at it after receiving paperwork in regards to a lawsuit Nissan is encountering due to radiator leaks. When I took the truck into the dealer they told me this did not have anything to do with radiator leak. They quoted me 5,000 in repairs. I did not have the money to fix the problem so I continued to drive it until July 12th it finally gave out. I was getting off of the freeway and as I was stopping at the red light to get off of the freeway the truck started to feel like it was going to give and it started shaking, it jerked suddenly and almost caused the car behind me to crash into my bumper, I put a little more gas into the truck and made it into the parking lot of the nearest place around. As I was going to park it finally gave out for good. I called a local towing company and they took the car back my house, I called up a mechanic to come to the house and examine the truck and he advised me of the radiator leak, the one the Nissan dealership denied having. I am very upset that they lied to me as well as Nissan only extending the warranty to 80,000 miles when most people are experiencing this problem after that. I have aprox 118,000 miles, I will look for a lawyer to file a class action lawsuit against Nissan.

- Lancaster , CA, USA

problem #88

Jul 092013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 102,251 miles
Took my Frontier to the local Nissan dealer for transmission flush. I was told by the service manager that this service could not be completed due radiator coolant leaking into my transmission. Through research, I have found many owners of Frontiers have reported the same transmission issue and have share this issue with Nissan. There were no warning signs and no support to owners like myself with trucks over a 100,000 miles. It appears Nissan has been aware of this transmission/radiator issue with this vehicle and their SUVS for some time. This defect is a major safety concern and very costly for owners to correct. Thank you for your time and support.

- Bartlett, TN, USA

problem #87

Jul 052013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 113,650 miles


Vehicle shuddered and lost acceleration when passing another vehicle. Vehicle following behind had to make panic stop in order to avoid collision with rear of my vehicle. Was advised by a mechanic that this vehicle has a known transmission failure issue.

- Huntersville, NC, USA

problem #86

Jul 022013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 86,852 miles
I brought my truck into the Nissan dealer after transmission problems. Nissan acknowledged that there is a known defect with the 2005 Frontier that causes cross contamination between the radiator and transmission. Despite only being 6K over the 80K free repair, I had to pay $2500 out of pocket for deductible. This seems unreasonable as it is a known defect affecting 2005-2009 Frontiers and xterras.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #85

Jun 252013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 121,000 miles
The radiator developed a crack and cause fluid to leak into the transmission lines causing a failure to both pieces of equipment. This could have been avoided if Nissan would have warned me about issues concerning this failure that is occurring in lots of similar models.

- Saint Joseph , IL, USA

problem #84

Jun 232013


  • miles
My 2005 Frontier has never given me any problems until 2 days ago. The transmission started messing up. I came upon a 4 way stop & when I went to cross the road it was like I had it in neutral. I pulled over & stopped then tried to start again & it did the same thing. I've since heard & read about all the problems involving the coolant & transmission. The quotes I have received to fix this are outrageous. Nissan should recall these vehicles because they know they have a problem with them. Not a happy customer anymore.

- Ripley, MS, USA

problem #83

Jun 152013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 120,856 miles
To whom it may concern: I own a 2005 Nissan Frontier SE. On Saturday, June 15, 2013 the vehicle failed while I was approaching an overpass in a downpour of thunderstorms. It appeared the vehicle's transmission failed. I had to steer my vehicle off the road as the transmission seemed to have slipped into neutral. Thankfully, no injury or accident occurred. After speaking with a Nissan of North american customer service representative, I had it towed into pat fisher Nissan in titusville on Monday morning, June 17th. In the meantime after researching on the internet (, I learned Nissan is in litigation due to a 'design flaw' in the radiator; causing cross contamination of fluids (radiator to transmission) resulting in major damage to the vehicle. This results in replacing the radiator and having the engine flushed ($1097); and an additional fee ($4524) for replacing the transmission. After a class action law suit, Nissan has agreed to pay partial payment for the repairs if your vehicle falls under their specific guidelines (year of vehicle and odometer reading). Unfortunately, my vehicle did not. My concern: Since this malfunction is a 'design flaw' (told this by a Nissan employee) by the manufacturer, how do customers get Nissan of North America to accept responsibility? there should be no limitations or guidelines to meet. All vehicles with this problem should be repaired by Nissan of North America before death or a serious accident occurs. This is a safety issue. The vehicle shifts itself into neutral while engaged in drive. This should be a safety recall and the expense of repair be reimbursed by Nissan of North America corporation to the consumer. Thank you for your consideration and review. I look forward to a response. Sincerely

- Cocoa, FL, USA

problem #82

Jun 142013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 129,104 miles
Driving on freeway, felt a vibration in the vehicle, and then a rapid decrease in speed as the transmission seemed to shift out of gear and loose power. Luckily, was able to make it across three lanes in heavy traffic to safety. Vehicle would not shift into gear, and had to be towed to my local dealer. Luckily I was driving the truck instead of my wife or son, and was able to maneuver the vehicle out of this dangerous situation.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #81

May 302013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
Automatic transmission began stumbling and then I lost 5th gear. Took to durabuild transmission shop and was told that engine coolant had gotten into the transmission from the radiator transmission cooling lines. Transmission had to be cleaned & repaired. The valve body assembly had to be replaced along with the solenoid. Repair bill came to $4100.

- Litchfield , NH, USA

problem #80

Jun 052013


  • 115,000 miles
At highway speed of 70 mph and in a rainstorm, Nissan Frontier 2005 seemed to slip out of gear and never re engage. Was left on the roadside unable to shift into any gear. Motor would start and when shifted into any gear, would rev with no transmission engagement. Vehicle towed to a transmission shop who pulled the pan and found radiator fluid in the transmission. Told me that this was a common problem with Frontiers, pathfinders, and xterras, but Nissan was not taking responsibility for the design flaw. I am now left with a $6000 dollar repair on a truck the is only worth about $6000.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #79

May 212013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
Took my truck in for air-conditioning service. Nissan dealer found transmission fluid in my coolant. They stated I needed a new radiator due to transmission cooler in radiator failure. They changed out the radiator, the cost was over $1200. Once radiator was fixed they stated they found a small amount of coolant in my transmission. They flushed the transmission twice (additional 250.00) but could not tell me if there was any damage to the transmission. They also stated they have never had this failure at this dealership in fredericksburg, va before the new Nissan extended warranty expires (90000 miles or 9 years). Nissan has known about this issue for a long time.....

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #78

May 222013

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
I was driving the Nissan Frontier about 50 mph when the RPM shot up then dropped and the transmission quit causing the vehicle to stop. I had to cross two lanes of traffic to avoid a major accident. I managed to get the truck to the dealer and was told it was a problem with the transmission leaking fluid into the radiator causing the transmission to fail with out any warning. I was told the fix would cost me around $5,500 dollars. Nissan is aware of this problem and really should correct it before some one is killed by this obvious major malfunction in the design of there product.

- Maineville, OH, USA

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