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:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
87,245 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments

problem #11

Dec 022015


  • 142,000 miles


I was driving to work one day and while I was turning corners I felt it was getting harder to steer. I stop at the red light and when drove off again I was going maybe 5-10 mph, I turned left and I was going to straighten the car up the car started to swurve and bear to the left. I tried to regain control but the car would not respond I ended up crashing into a pole.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #10

Dec 302013


  • 117,520 miles
When I bought the car the adjuster for the steering wheel lever to lower or lift up the wheel is stuck in the down position & won't move. The wheel is hard to move but the steering fluid is full.

- Anchorage, AR, USA

problem #9

Jan 172014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Driving 30 mph on street and hit a pothole and the car geared towards the right and was very difficult to control the steering wheel. I had to hold the steering wheel with two hands with constant pressure to hold it in a straight position. I arrived at my brothers house after ten minutes but I was unable to park in their driveway. The car would not turn left and the steering wheel was very stiff. About two months prior my husband checked the power steering fluid cause I could park on the left of any street. Because of the stiff steering wheel and cranking noise coming from the bottom of the vehicle. I feel like I will be losing control of the car soon. So I will be taking it to our mechanic on Monday.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Jun 022012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,175 miles
I was negotiating a curve with around 45 mph and suddenly lost steering control. The vehicle started turning to the right side, I panicked and tried to steer it to the left, and the vehicle took a U turn and came to a stop facing the inbound vehicles. Luckily there was no other cars and I managed to take drive it again. It never happened before and I have no idea what causes it. It was really scary and I am not sure what to do about it. Please advice. Thanks

- Langhorne, PA, USA

problem #6

Mar 162010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
I drove the vehicle on a freeway under construction with one finished new pavement lane. When I was changed the other old lane to the new one, the wheel suddenly got out of control and spun from one lane to the other and ended in the midium bumped into barriers. Lately I contacted with Nissan and question if this is associated with the recall R1037. They denied.

- Allen, TX, USA

problem #5

Jul 232011


  • 101,000 miles


When I was driving on freeway, the steering wheel of my car got hard to maneuver. I pulled very hard. I had to take my car to the dealer and they said they have to replace the hose from the steering wheel, the steering liquid is poured. And it costs me $ 500 to repair my car. I think it's a manufacturer's defect in the steering fluid hose.

- Baldwin Park, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 182011


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that after having the repairs under NHTSA campaign id number: 10V554000 (steering:column), the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the battery and the starter system were defective and needed to be replaced. The parts were replaced but the failure persisted. The manufacturer was not contacted and the vehicle was not further repaired. The failure and current mileage was 110,000.

- Mendham, NJ, USA

problem #3

Mar 252011


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Nissan Xterra. The contact received notification on NHTSA campaign id number: 10V554000 (steering:column) and took the vehicle to the dealer for repairs. After repairs, the contact was attempting a turn when the steering wheel became resistant and almost impossible to maneuver. The dealer advised the contact that there was nothing that they could do and offered no additional assistance. The current and failure mileage was 130,000.

- Lincreek, MO, USA

problem #2

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 #1

Mar 262010

Xterra 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
While driving home my 2003 Nissan Xterra jerked to the left, taking me into oncoming traffic.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

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