Notes: The 2003 Nissan Xterra doesn't seem to have any problem trends. The only thing prospective owners should be aware of are the less-than-perfect (but acceptable) crash test ratings.

There are a very few transmission complaints, but nothing like the huge defect that shows up starting in with the 2005 model year.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,782 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.

2003 Nissan Xterra brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments

problem #8

Sep 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 56,000 miles


Brakes failed and the ABS didn't work until I almost hit another car in front of me. The ABS triggers without any notice and has cause me to merge onto the other lane. Cause my car does not stop. The ABS light doesn't go on so the manufacturer Nissan told me they couldn't find any problems with it. And its sitting at a local trustworthy mechanic shop where it will be fixed for the service brakes air-antilock brake failure. Please help with a rapid recall so my family could get reimbursed for the huge expense of fixing a manufacturer problem.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #7

Apr 012009


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the brakes were applied and the anti lock braking system was engaged. The anti lock braking light also illuminated on the instrument panel during the failure. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer, where they were unable to diagnose a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure continued to occur whenever the brakes were engaged. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 50,000.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #6

Nov 212008


  • 54,000 miles
Steering inputs very slower to respond, huge noise, could not make turn easily, it is happening every year since 2008 even after I serviced the vehicle and changed the parts, previously problem started with U- turns and now wide turns, left and right turns also. Following it-up with Nissan Consumer Affairs since July 2009 ( file # 6541095 and [intr #1358858] ), they did not take it seriously and closing the case, now I got a recall notice about my steering input issue released by Nissan, however I feel this model or my particular vehicle is giving problems on turns and uncertain about braking condition. Last time dealer warned me that vehicle is in bad condition how could I managed to drive to his shop. Problem started again with noise and turns, suggest me what should be done, I will keep the vehicle in same condition until that time. Some times when I'm turning on left hand side I feel like complete vehicle weight on my left hand and chest causing pains.

- Montgomery, AL, USA

problem #5

Feb 082009


  • 75,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the brakes would lock abnormally whenever attempting to brake with the four wheel drive activated. The failure would also occur when driving in wet or inclement weather with the four wheel drive activated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to duplicate the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 75,000.

- Allentown , PA, USA

problem #4

Apr 142005

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 39,081 miles
2003 Xterra brakes failed to stop causing consumer to run a red light. The first failure occurred on may, 21, 2004. The dealer informed the consumer that the brakes were worn, the right inner pad came out of holder from metal contact with the rotor causing caliper piston to jam into inside of right front rotor. The dealer replaced the front brake pads and rotors and right front calipers. The second failure occurred on April 15, 2005. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the did a complete brake fluid exchange to remove contaminant from brake lines. The consumer has since moved with no forwarding address. Updated 07/03/06.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #3

May 212004


  • 24,473 miles
2003 Nissan Xterra developed problems with the brakes, headlights and tail lights. When the consumer attempted to apply the brakes, the vehicle did not stop.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #2

May 222004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving 45 mph, the driver applied the brakes, the brakes failed. The driver was unable to maintain control of the vehicle and collided with a tree and rolled over three times. Both frontal air bags failed to deployed. The driver sustained major injuries and was taken to the hospital. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection. The cause has not been determined at this time. Please provide any additional information.

- Hardy, AR, USA

problem #1

Oct 062003

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,700 miles
Driver side airbag failure in a front end collision at speeds of 30-40 mph. Drivers airbag did not deploy while the empty passengers did. Complete brake failure resulting in a three car accident. 2003 Nissan Xterra 3,700 miles.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

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