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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
115,667 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments

problem #3

Jun 122016


  • 131,000 miles


June 12 2016 at the tri-par in slinger, wi I was filling up the gas tank, when gas began spilling out of the vehicle's wheel well. I immediately stopped it after I noticed it. The station along with the slinger fire department estimated a gallon was spilt. It appears the vehicle's gas tank neck has rusted out. They deemed the vehicle not safe to drive and recommend we have it towed home, which we did.

- Richfield, WI, USA

problem #2

Jan 082016


  • 98,000 miles
Nissan Xterra frame rusted beyond any safety justification. Oil leaks from engine up two 2 quart a day lead to engine seized up without warning.

- Long Valley, NJ, USA

problem #1

Apr 202014


  • 118,000 miles
During a drive home from a weekend in the country, my Xterra began to overheat. A faint pop, like a backfire, happened. After I heard the noise, a consistent ticking or pinging sound started coming from the right front side of my Xterra. The sound is consistent with the acceleration. Once I got home, I started to research the issue online. Found that 2000-2004 Xterras have a very common problem with the exhaust manifold cracking due to weak material. I am an active member on and many other members report the same issue. This is quite a set back for most people and can cause serious damage to the engine if it is not taken care of in a timely manner. Nissan should recognize that this is a manufacturing fault and issue a recall. Everyone I know that owns an Xterra has or had this issue.

- Fayetteville, AR, USA

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