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:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
33,267 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments

problem #6

Oct 142016


  • 160,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Xterra. While driving 55 mph, the contact crashed into the rear of another vehicle. The air bags failed to deploy. The contact sustained neck and back injuries, but did not require medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to a towing lot. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 160,000.

- Sunter, SC, USA

problem #5

Jan 212013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
I was driving along a slightly snow covered road with a little bit of ice. My speed was low about 15-20 miles per hour. The car stared sliding sideways toward another car heading toward me. My four-wheeled drive was engaged while driving. I managed to steer the car out of the way of the other car but I could not gain control of my vehicle. The brakes did not help and the steering would not respond. I traveled at least 80 feet hitting trees and bushes until a set of trees stopped my car. The crash totaled my car.

- Auburn Hills, MI, USA

problem #4

Jan 042007

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
- the contact statedon the 2003 Nissan Xterra the air bag did not deploy on the driver's side. The car was being driven at 40 mph in fog, at night, when itbstruck a dear. The air bag on the driver side did not deploy, but the passenger side air bag deployed, but there was no one on the passenger's side. The police filed a report.

- Silver Creek, MS, USA

problem #3

Jan 292004

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles


While driving 50 mph driver lost control of the vehicle. A technician determined that upper ball joint on driver's side broke. The air bags did not deploy during this accident. The technician indicated that he had never seen ball joint fail this way before.

- Smithville, OK, USA

problem #2

Jan 292004

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles
Product defect. No summary listed (Nissan). While the consumer was driving down a smoothly paved road she suddenly lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle veered sharply across the yellow lines and flipped end over end at least twice. The vehicle landed upside down on the opposite side of the road facing in the opposite direction. The air bags did not deploy. The manufacturer's sent an employee of an engineering firm as an unbiased third party. The engineer determined that there was no impact to the ball joint to cause a failure. The manufacturer ignored his findings and denied the consumer's claim. The vehicle was totaled.

- Smithville, OK, USA

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problem #1

Oct 062003

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,600 miles
Brake pedal faded to the floor, while trying to stop for a red light.resulting in a three car accident.when I made contact with the car in front of me my airbag did not deploy although my empty passanger seats did.although there were no skid marks and the officers that responded did not ticket me for failure to stop, Nissan insists that everything checks out and that it must have been operator error.since this accident I have had my stereo replaced under warranty I have had work done on my steering column due to grinding noises and both motors in my rear windows are failing and need to be replaced, and this is just with 7200 miles on this vehicle, not to mention that every time I get out of the car the brakes smell hot after ashort or long drive and when I get in it the squeal and grind until they get nice and hot and start to smell.and all this is operating within normal limits.I would just like to know is the 12.5 miles per gallon that I'm getting considered to be normal also? I'm happy to see that there is a web site like this that protects people like me and the others that purchased these all togather low quality, overpriced, not to mention dangerous cars.and just have to live with the fact that there is no recourse, it makes my day!!

- Vancouver, WA, USA

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