Notes: The 2005-2007 Xterra appears to have a widespread defect where coolant leaks into the transmission, causing transmission failure around 90,000 miles. Repair costs are typically upwards of $3,500.

The same defect exists in the Pathfinder & Frontier as well. And according to the New York Times & a class action lawsuit, the defect actually extends through 2010 model year. More info here.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
81,010 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 Xterra cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

Aug 182011


  • 87,575 miles


Transmission failed due to a a known defect in the Nissan cooling system for 2005 Xterra's - this defect allows anti freeze to leak into transmission and cause failure.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #22

Aug 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
Faulty radiator leaked antifreeze into transmission which rendered the transmission useless.

- Garfield Hts, OH, USA

problem #21

Jun 102011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
Radiator failed and leaked into transmission and problems with fuel system. Truck shook and would not speed up going on to highway. Family almost got hit by truck.

- Westtown, NY, USA

problem #20

Feb 162011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles


The car began to have a shaking feeling like you were driving over a rumble strip about 4 months ago. We took the car to dealer and they determined we had the issue that Nissan had reported may happen where the radiator fails and coolant gets into the transmission. The dealer said the entire cooling system and transmission would have to be replaced and the cost would be $6500. Nissan had sent us a letter last year stating they had extended the warranty on the radiator and all of its corresponding parts to 80,000 miles/96 months. Our vehicle has 94,000 miles on it. I called Nissan and they said they would do nothing. We are currently fixing part of the problem by fixing the radiator and flushing the transmission. When we have more funding we will have the transmission rebuilt because we cannot afford to purchase the new transmission.

- Churchville, MD, USA

problem #19

Sep 172010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
In September, 2010 I was driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra at 55 mph on a two lane highway when it the temperature spiked overheating the engine after pulling over and checking it I discovered I had transmission fluid in the radiator. Come to find out there is a known defect on 2005 thru 2010 Nissan Xterra's, pathfinders, and frontier's in which the radiators internally leak water into the automatic transmissions and causes the violent shaking at high speeds. Nissan is aware of the issue and has only chosen to extend the warranty on the radiators and not recall the vehicles. In fact the letter sent to the consumers doesn't even reference the transmission (in which it destroys). While my family and I were not hurt, it was a close call and could have easily been worse at the speed I was going and the effect the failure has on the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to a garage and the radiator replaced and transmission flushed. While servicing my vehicle the mechanic discovered that the engine head had cracked. I incurred over 2,400 dollars in repairs...using a used replacement engine. Nissan corporation after 9 weeks of waiting has informed me that they have opted not to assist in the repair of the vehicle nor provide reimbursement. On June 23, 2011, my transmission began to fail.

- Wyoming, PA, USA

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problem #18

Jun 212011

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • 152,000 miles
My 2005 Nissan Xterra suddenly developed a lack of acceleration nearly causing an accident at a stop sign. When taken to my mechanic I was told that the trouble code indicated the tcm and or the front brake solenoid, both of which are in the transmission and they would cost at least $2000 to fix. The dealer would not talk to me or return my calls after letting me know that a fix would cost @$5000+ I cannot afford to replace this and after finding that it happens with nearly all 05 Xterras I will not.

- Kill Devil Hills, NC, USA

problem #17

Jun 242011


  • 98,000 miles


2005 Nissan Xterra- routine maintenance found radiator full of transmission fluid. Transmission approx one quart low. Defective radiator known by Nissan for some time now. Only extended warranty to 80,000 miles from what I learned. My car has 90,000 miles. Received no notice or warning prior. Numerous owners complained. Some required transmission change costing thousands of dollars. In 2010 I bought another Nissan, frontier, it has the same radiator apparently. If I would have known earlier, I would have never purchased another Nissan. Why is there no recall on these Nissan, 2005 and subsequent? it is costing taxpayers millions out of pocket. I was lucky, I was spared a transmission change. I had the transmission fluid cooler in the radiator disabled and I installed a separate transmission cooler in stead. It did cost me a loss of my road trip vacation though.

- Saint James, NY, USA

problem #16

Sep 152010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 70,006 miles
Car overheating, wouldn't run on highway, jerking, couldn't catch speed, radiator blew due to coolant problem which went into transmission needing new transmission. Holding up traffic, had to keep my hazards on. Extremely dangerous driving conditions. Radiator reimbursed by Nissan but wouldn't pay for transmission despite clear documentation that it was due to a recall. Had to pull over several times on highway to get out of harms way.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

problem #15

Mar 212011


  • 84,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated was driving 30 mph when the transmission slipped. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was advised that the transmission fluid abnormally mixed with the radiator coolant. The radiator initially malfunctioned and caused the failure and the dealer advised replacing the transmission. The contact called the manufacturer yet the manufacturer did not offer any further assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 84,000.

- Port Orchord, WA, USA

problem #14

Mar 172011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
My 2005 Nissan Xterra SE with 82K miles had the radiator fail, leaking coolant into the transmission. This is a common problem with Nissan SUVS and trucks for at least 2005-2007 model years. Nissan voluntarily extended their warranty to cover this type of issue to 80K miles, but it seems typical form the many online message boards addressing this issue that the problem arises after 80K miles. Nissan refuses to cover any of the costs of repair.

- Westminster, CO, USA

problem #13

Mar 112011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


Radiator failure causing fluid to drain into transmission. This caused damage to the transmission and torque converter. I was left stranded without warning in the middle of an intersection. The transmission was rebuilt, the torque converter was replaced, an external transmission was installed. Cost of repair: $2,852.

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #12

Jan 042011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I just recently started experiencing a 'shudder' under mild acceleration between 40-60 mph with my 05xterra, V6 4X4 (~120K miles). Feels like my rear wheels are going over a rumble strip and only lasts a few brief moments. Took my Xterra back to dealer and they indicated possibility of transmission cooler leak allowing antifreeze to enter torque converter and transmission causing slippage; although they checked my fluids and no cross contamination was evident. They recommended replacing torque converter, transmission and the tune of ~$5000...there's got to be better answer...and accountability on their part...I searched on line and found that I'm not alone with this issue... a number of folks have experienced the same issue...Nissan has even acknowledged a problem and has extended their warranty on the radiator, but not the torque converter, but my mileage exceeds the extended period; if they know of the issue, why isn't there a re-call...if the torque converter fails while driving, it will most certainly cause an accident...problem is getting worse and more frequent...there needs to be action by Nissan to correct this condition before someone is seriously injured due to a known problem...

- Bloomsburg, PA, USA

problem #11

May 142010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
My 2005 Nissan Xterra had just under 100,000 miles on it. The transmission began to slip and there would be no power. I had it towed to Nissan and the radiator had leaked coolant into the transmission, destroying the transmission for about a 5,000 $ repair. Nissan offered no explanation other than "it happens", and after further research, found that I'm not the only case of this happening. Luckily for me, I was on a secluded state road when my transmission first slipped. Had I been on a freeway, I would have lost all power in a busy and unsafe location.

- Running Springs, Ca, CA, USA

problem #10

Dec 292010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
My 2005 Xterra with 82K miles started vibrating badly when accelerating over 50mph. It felt like I was driving over rumble strips. I called Nissan assist on 12/29/2010 and was told my radiator had failed, leaked into the transmission and totally destroyed it. My only option was a $4600 replacement of the radiator and transmission. The Nissan assist guy then told me that Nissan knew about the problem, but instead of issuing a recall, they simply extended the warranty from 60K to 72K miles (this was an error on his part, because the extension was actually to 80K miles). Regardless, it didn't apply to me because I was at 82K miles. Nissan is trying to ease the pain with extending the warranty however, they make no attempt to contact you about it. You either need to find it yourself or your screwed.

- Bohemia, NY, USA

problem #9

Nov 152010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Beginning summer 2010 2005 Nissan Xterra (purchased new in 2005) began making rumbling noise (as if going over rumble strips) while driving. Incident occurred frequently at differing speeds for the next several months. No other problems were evident at that time. In November 2010 while driving on freeway vehicle began overheating, blowing hot air through air conditioner, and registering hot on gauge. Vehicle was immediately taken to local mechanic who was unable to determine problem. The next day vehicle was taken to dealership where car was purchased and told that the transmission needed to be replaced due to radiator fluid leak. After research and finding that this is a common occurrence the owner decided not to have the vehicle fixed at her expense and is not driving the vehicle until an agreement is made with Nissan. While there were no injuries or accidents in this incidence research shows that there have been numerous reports of transmission failures in traffic either causing or almost causing accidents. Nissan's failure to alert 05 Xterra owners of this problem that they are well aware of is negligence and risks health and safety. Further, it can be found that the problem cannot be fixed by simply replacing the original parts as the parts and design were defective to begin with. Research has shown that after being "fixed" by the dealership the problem has occurred again.

- Encinitas, CA, USA

problem #8

Sep 152010


  • 70,000 miles
Problem as described by Nissan service tech: Xterra was towed to us with the concern "my Xterra is slipping, will not go backwards, will not drive in drive, only drive in 3rd, hooked up to computer and came up P1716". we confirmed the car would not move in reverse, as it was towed in and parked so that backing up was the only option. The code P1716 is related to the transmission turbine circuit not functioning properly. Upon further diagnosis, we removed the radiator cap to find the radiator filled with the milky combination of coolant and transmission fluid. The radiator is a sub-level radiator, where the top portion is for coolant and the bottom portion is for cooling the transmission fluid. The radiator cracked internally causing the fluids to mix. The transmission and radiator need to be replaced to rectify the problems. New transmission is $3215.71 with the estimated arrival date of Tuesday, September 21. The new radiator is $538, currently in stock. The labor estimate is $1442.70. The estimated completion of work is Wednesday, September 22, with estimated total bill coming to $5560.16 tax included.

- Millstone, WV, USA

problem #7

Aug 162010


  • 76,800 miles
Radiator cooling system for transmission fluid causes malfunction of transmission causing unpredictable shifting and acceleration / deceleration Nissan dealership charging customers over 900 dollars for repairs......knowingly this engineered defect exists with most 2005 Nissan Xterra vehicles.

- Manalapan, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jun 182010


  • 69,000 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra with 69000 miles began shuttering every now and again when driving around town. It started getting progressively worse during the next few weeks. Thought it might have been the tire balance and had it checked. Balanced the tires, the shuttering was still there and began to get worse when driving at higher speeds I.e. 60mph. The rear end would shutter very hard to the point where we couldn't drive it any longer. Taking it to the shop revealed that the transmission had radiator fluid in it which was caused by cracked radiator lines leaking into the transmission. The fluid was into all the transmission gears. Come to find out that this is a common problem with Nissan and the only way to get around this problem is to place an external cooler to the transmission. Since the 5yr/60K power train warranty ran out, Nissan has no interest in assisting a well known problem of theirs. There complaint dept takes the info and places it into a database. Well the damage has already been done to the transmission and had to be replaced and an external cooler was installed which we had to go out of pocket on ($4100).

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #5

Jun 162010


  • 86,660 miles
Faulty radiator leads to transmission failure Nissan has know of this problem and done nothing about it cost of repair 5000 to 6000 many 2005 Nissan Xterra and pathfinders owners I know have had this problem please help!

- Cape Neddick, ME, USA

problem #4

May 032010


  • 82,000 miles
I have a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The transmission had vibration intermittently. Transmission finally went out due to a faulty radiator. This vehicle is equipped with two coolers one air and one water cooled. I have read of many complaints for this. Nissan knows of the problem and should recall it. I bought this vehicle used from pat peck Nissan with a warranty. At 6mos I received a letter that the warranty was not valid on this vehicle and they reimbursed the cost of the warranty. I feel that they knew this was a problem.

- Grand Bay, AL, USA

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