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 9 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

Jan 312012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 166,405 miles


Nissan has a known problem with the radiator and transmission. The date listed is merely the date we discovered the issue. Before Jan 31, 2012 we knew nothing about this problem. It is a safety issue. You don't know if this has happened to your truck until it overheats and you find out the fluids have mixed. Replace the radiator. Flush the fluids (3 or more times, since the fluid is now like purple soft serve ice cream). Then the real troubles begin.. it slips out of gear while driving at 70 mph and the only option is to pull over, turn the truck off, remove the key, then restart the truck and hope it works. This is really dangerous on the highway at the higher speeds but also unsafe on the side roads or in stop and go traffic. I take my kids to school 3.6 miles each way. I have to stop and restart the truck at least 3 times during the round trip. Speed doesn't matter. You stop at a red light and have know idea if it is going to go when you push the gas or not. Pulling out into traffic can be very dangerous since you have to go and you find out you can't. there have been several "warranty extentions" issued by Nissan on our truck that we were not aware of until after making the repairs on our own dime. There is a "warrany extention" for this issue due to a class action lawsuit but it does nothing for a lot of the owners since many are over the "extention mileage". I try to never drive the truck on busy roads without shoulders or turn lanes, I fear red lights and traffic but stop signs are the worst... I never know if the transmission is going to work or not. All because a known faulty radiator cracked and leaked fluid into the transmission. But, I'm over the extended mileage so I'm expected to pay over $5K to fix a known issue.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #36

Nov 302010


  • 140,000 miles
My 2005 Nissan Frontier with a 140,000 on it's been a good truck up till know. So it just sits in the yard collecting dust.going to cost about $6000 to fix. This is something they should fix, for they knew they got problems with these radiator in these trucks and SUV.and the transmission too help please now I am laid off so I do not have work or money to fix this truck so Nissan has to fixed for free help all those who pass the 80,000 miles and I still need to make 7 more payments on it.

- Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #35

Jul 242012


  • 54,000 miles
While driving at a speed of 60-65 on the highway my 2005 Nissan Frontier feels like the transmission slips out of gear and starts to grind. This occurs only under acceleration and I do not mean hard acceleration. I am simply at a cruising speed on the highway and trying to simply maintain a speed and the noise occurs daily. I am not positive that the noise is coming from the transmission because I am no mechanic, but the sound is a grinding sound which means it is a gear grinding somewhere. I took the vehicle to a Nissan dealer three times and all I was told is that the transmission is okay. I do not have a service engine light on so maybe that is the reason, but I was able to show the dealer the noise and still no help. All I wanted when I bought this truck is a reliable car and I do not have one. Nissan should be held responsible for putting out a subpar product. I know based on the online forums that I am not alone in these issues with the truck.

- Medford, MA, USA

problem #34

Nov 052012


  • 120,000 miles


Transmission stuck in high and slipping. I checked the dipstick and found that fluid was gray and watery. With metal shavings on the end of the dipstick..

- Boaz, AL, USA

problem #33

Nov 012012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
My transmission is slipping. I have been told by a dealer I have radiator fluid in my transmission fluid. Apparently, this is a known problem with certain model year Nissan vehicles, due to a break in a transmission line that runs through the radiator. Please force Nissan to recall and repair this issue!!!

- Miami Beach, FL, USA

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problem #32

Sep 262012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
In the month of September, 2012 I noticed my 2005 Nissan Frontier started stalling out at intersections and red lights. When I attempted to accelerate the vehicle would not go, I had to really press down on the accelerator to get it going. So this continued for about a week, then I began to hear a thumping sound coming from the transmission so I took it to a local maintenance shop and they ran a test on it and they said that the transmission was bad. Then I took it to another shop this was a recommended transmission shop and they ran test on it and they said they could not figure out what's was wrong with it. They recommended that I take it to an electrical shop so I did. The electrical shop told me that the computer inside the transmission was not working. I then took it to a Nissan dealership and had their service department check it out, the service manager told me that the transmission had radiator coolant in it and that it along with the radiator had to be replace. The total cost would be $4800. I was devastated and call Nissan Consumer Affairs office and reported the problem to them. They told me that they would look into and get back with me. Two days later they called me back and informed me that there was nothing they could do because the warranty had expired. This is a safety issue because it could cause in accident if the vehicle stalls out in traffic.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #31

Oct 202012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 118,434 miles


I took my Frontier truck in for a 120000 mile schedule maintenance check and oil change. The deal told me that the radiator coolant and transmission fluid had mixed together due to a problem with the radiator. I was told that they would flush the radiator and transmission and try to clean out most of the mixed fluid. I was informed that I need to replace the radiator and transmission might have to be also replaced. The cost for the replacement would be around $8400. I began to do some research into the problem and found out that Nissan know that there was a problem with the radiator and that the fluid could leak into the transmission and damage the transmission. I saw that Nissan would extend the warrant to cover the cost if you had less that 8 years and 80000 miles. This warrant would now help me, due tot the fact I have almost 119000 miles on my truck. I think if Nissan knew about this problem they would have a recall on all Frontiers, pathfinders and xterras from 2005-2010 and pay for them to be fixed. It will cost me over $6000 to have a new transmission put into my Frontier truck. My truck is a 2005 Frontier le. I am having the radiator assy replaced ($991.84) oil cooler assy replaced ($498.49) transmission and cooling system flushed ($421.52). The 120000 mile service A/T will cost me $400. I am going to search around to see how much a new transmission for my truck would cost. The dealer said the cost for replacing my transmission would be $6155.14. They would sell me the transmission for their cost which would save me $925. I think that Nissan should a lease help pay for half or 2/3 of the cost for me to get my truck fixed.

- Severn, MD, USA

problem #30

Sep 052012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
While driving my Frontier, the transmission starting making noise. It started slipping when I was taking off, after having stopped for a red light. Then the service light and indicator lights came on. I could tell that 2nd gear was gone. The truck was towed to a certified Nissan dealer. They informed me that the truck was not covered under warranty and gave me a $5190 estimate. This does not include the $300 for the rental I have had to get for this first week, or the $101 for the towing and diagnostic testing. I have since discovered that the coolant was leaked into the transmission and has caused it to fail. I have also learned that hundreds, if not thousands, have registered complaints that this was due to a radiator failure that was known by Nissan. I did not receive a recall notice or any other notification concerning this problem. I called Nissan Consumer Affairs and received a case number. After 24 hrs. They called to tell me that they had extended the warranties on the radiators up to 8 yrs. And 80,000 miles, but that they would not be able to help me with my case. I have since found out online that Nissan did not issue recalls on this. My truck had been properly serviced at my Nissan dealership, and both the radiator and transmission was flushed at 30,000 and 60,000 miles. The power-steering was also flushed at 60,000 miles. I believe my dealership should have made me aware of the problem when my truck was in for servicing, and then I could have had the radiator taken care of under the warranty period before all the transmission damage was done. And Nissan should have issued a safety recall, as my truck stopped at 35 mph; and was almost rear ended. I would have normally been on the highway, except once the noise started, I decided to take an alternate route in order to get my vehicle to a safe area. Nissan should have to pay for this period!

- Sellersburg, IN, USA

problem #29

Jan 012011

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
Had to replace radiator and transmission. Fluids leaked between the two.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #28

Jul 252012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Brought vehicle in to mechanic because of rough sound happening occasionally. It turns out it was the transmission, and that radiator fluid leaked into transmission which has caused transmission issues. Cost to repair will be approximately $4,000. This should not happen to a vehicle with 66,000 miles.

- Cranston, RI, USA

problem #27

Aug 242012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 84,000 miles


Stopped on hill behind another vehicle, they took off, I tried to pull up to stop sign but had no forward movement. Luckily no one was behind me so I backed down to a driveway to get out of the road. I had reverse at this time. After trying to figure out what happened, I put truck into gear and drove the five miles to work. Service engine soon light came on. Left work and had no problems until my driveway, steep incline and again no forward movement. No reverse this time. Had it towed to transmission shop and they have diagnosed that the radiator fluid was leaking into the transmission. Surprise! I did not receive a letter from Nissan last year. They should recall and pay for all the charges. They know there is a problem and don't want to own up to their failure to provide a safe vehicle. Hope the NHTSA looks into the problems with the Nissan vehicles. I was happy I wasn't on an inter-state. No indication of a problem until I had no forward movement! very dangerous for everyone on the road!

- Marshall, NC, USA

problem #26

Aug 072012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 95,994 miles
Was traveling at 55mph in my 2005 Nissan Frontier when it was as if the transmission was put in neutral. Had to stop in the highway, nowhere to pull off. As luck would have it was near my destination and managed to get there going about 10 to 15mph. It was at night so luckily not much traffic when it occurred. Towed to dealership next day and was told the radiator failed and coolant was allowed to enter transmission thus also causing transmission failure. Vehicle had exceeded the 80,000 mile warranty but also found out that warranty had been extended from the original 36,000 mile warranty because of problems. Only the radiator and transmission were issued the 80,000 extended warranty, but my vehicle had 95,994 miles thus no warranty coverage, and repair cost would run $6,900. Contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs but was denied reimbursement. Although dealership worked with me and got the price down to $4,800 this is a major expense to me on a vehicle that should have been taken care of by the Nissan Corp., due to the large number of complaints about this exact problem on vehicles with more than 80,000 miles. Have yet to find any consumer that has been compensated for this problem.

- Hillsville, VA, USA

problem #25

Nov 152011

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
The problem began with a growling noise accompanied by a shuddering sensation. I had the problem diagnosed at the dealership as transmission fluid contamination. They advised me to take the vehicle out of service for repairs at an estimated cost of $6500. I could not afford this so I had my local asme certified mechanic replace the radiator and power flush the transmission at a cost of $900. The problem persists and I expect a catastrophic transmission failure at any time.

- New Holland, PA, USA

problem #24

May 102012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 109,535 miles
This problem is in the automatic transmission. Due to Nissan producing a faulty and very poorly engineered cooling system for the 2005 Nissan Frontier, pathfinder, and xterra automatic transmissions they eventually get contaminated with radiator coolant and makes the transmission slip and clunk during shifting. Mine slips from 2nd into third and when I accelerate in any gear. There is no power unless I baby it along. This has been hazardous twice now when entering the freeway and changing lanes. A semi-truck was in the lane I needed to get into and I could not accelerate enough to merge properly. Nissan refuses to admit the problem is theirs even though the consumer complaints are numerous. If you are not already aware of this just go online and you will find horror stories from people with the same problem.

- Yuba City, CA, USA

problem #23

Mar 302012


  • 145,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Frontier. While driving approximately 45 mph up an incline, the transmission failed to down shift. There were no prior warnings. The failure only occurred when driving up an incline. The contact replaced the radiator and there was no longer a malfunction with the transmission. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 145,000.

- Camden, AR, USA

problem #22

Feb 062012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 100,865 miles
Transmission cooler failing and contaminating the transmission, repaired transmission cost was more that I can paid, fixed anyway but still not 100% good, haven't bought a new radiator, don't want the same problem again. I hope this will be a recall so I can have my transmission repair by Nissan and a radiator replace.

- Calexico, CA, USA

problem #21

Jul 052012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
Transmission oil cooling lines inside radiator failed, contaminating the transmission, radiator, and engine. Transmission and radiator need replaced, engine needs flushed, $6,000 estimate. Nissan refuses to help with payment even though they are aware of a rampant problem. They increased the warranty to 80,000 miles, but I have 88,000 miles on the vehicle.

- Leechburg, PA, USA

problem #20

Apr 262012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
I was traveling back from a trip in my 2005 Nissan Frontier. Coming over a mountian pass I let up on the gas to coast and the rear end of the vehicle starting shacking so bad that I almost drove off the road. I had to decrease my speed because I could not travel the posted speed limit safetly. I have not driven this vehicle on the freeway since because I am concerned for the vehicle and that it could seize up and cause and accident.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #19

May 262012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 107,384 miles
I notice there was a milky substance in the radiator of my truck. After doing some research on line it looks like a lot of Nissan Frontier owners have the same problem. I called two Nissan dealers near my house (garden grove and costa mesa) and they are well aware of this problem. I also called about seven independent transmission repair shops and most of them are aware of this problem. Nissan dealers say they would charge me around $7000 to make the repairs. The independent shops said they would charge me anywhere from $2000 to $3500 to rebuilt the transmission. I cannot afford to have my truck fixed at this time and am looking to make Nissan usa responsible for this. I called Nissan and they said I need to have the truck inspected at the Nissan dealer and the chances of them taking liability for a faulty radiator are slim. My truck has a little over 107,000 miles on it which is over the 80,000/8 year warranty. I would like to make others that are facing the same situation aware of Nissan's negligence. Nissan as lost a customer and many others as I am working hard to let as many people as I can avoid making a Nissan purchase. If Nissan does not take responsibility for this I will be looking for others like me to boycott Nissan automobiles!

- Midway City , CA, USA

problem #18

Apr 222012

Frontier 6-cyl

  • 95,634 miles
Nissan has a know radiator problem. Internal leakage into the transmission cooler. Causes catastrophic transmission failure. Pulling away from stop sign. Transmission shifted hard twice. Then had no forward motion, engine would rev up, but not move the vehical. Truck has 100,000 mile Nissan extended powertrain warranty. Was first told by the dealer. 100% covered. Less than an hour later, was told not covered. Cost $5000 plus. Contacted Nissan customer service. Gabby at Nissan siad they would look into it. Took a week for them to finally call back. They asked me to cover $2000. They would not cover the whole bill, even though it is a known defect. And the truck has the extended warranty. I paid $2192.43 to have the transmission and defective radiator replaced. Asked if the radiator was an updated part. Waiting on a call to find out if it is a better radiator or just a new one with the same defect. Right now. Its a ticking time bomb, if the failure occured in traffic on an interstate, a major crash could have happened.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

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