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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
103,982 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 11 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #129

Apr 142013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 78,000 miles


I initially noticed something was wrong when my Xterra would feel like it wasn't catching while driving between 40 and 70 mph. If I let off the gas and then hit the gas again, it was like the transmission was missing and the vehicle felt like I was rolling over a long road grate with a lot of vibration. Then I check the radiator and transmission to find that both had been mix together.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #128

Dec 012011


  • 81,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle shook violently and failed to shift past first gear. The contact also stated that the transmission seized in various gears. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was found that the transmission cooler had failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 81,000.

- Lehighton, PA, USA

problem #127

Apr 052013


  • 106,000 miles
Driving on freeway and transmission began to slip and within a matter of seconds had absolutely no power to wheels. Have researched and found issues with this vehicle regarding coolant line for transmission failing and leaking anti-freeze into transmission. Was wondering why it is that there is not a recall by Nissan for this issue as it is undetectable, unpreventable, and expensive.

- Nampa, ID, USA

problem #126

Apr 042013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


When leaving parking lot at work, Xterra lost all power when accelerator was depressed. Car would not go forward nor in reverse. Come to find out the coolant from the radiator tubing had leaked into the transmission compartment causing complete transmission failure. There were no warning signs or any other issues before complete failure. Costs to repair due to defect in coolant tubing is estimated to be $4100 - requiring transmission rebuild, torque converter and valve component to be replaced.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #125

Apr 042013


  • 88,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the vehicle shook. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection and they stated that transmission fluid had leaked into the radiator and both components needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was 88,000.

- Forest , VA, USA

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problem #124

Apr 012013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 117,770 miles
The trans cooler and radiator has busted. Almost caused us to wreck / vehicle started shaking badly. Was not made aware by Nissan that there could be a "mostly likely to occur" problem until this happened to us. Fuel guage also quit working a few months back. Nissan will not help because vehicle has over 100,000 miles. Their hotline (in the phillipines) was of no help or concern. Repairs, not including fuel gauge, are starting at $5600. Nissan should have told us years ago that the radiators were mostly likely going to be defected so we could have spent the $600 or so then to replace !!!!!

- Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #123

Dec 012012


  • 60,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds and shifting gears, the vehicle would grind and shake abnormally. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer or an independent mechanic. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance to the contact. The failure mileage was approximately 60,000. The current mileage was approximately 66,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Willow Grove, PA, USA

problem #122

Sep 042012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 132,198 miles
My daughter drives this vehicle to college about 5 hours from home. On 9-4-12 it overheated and she had trouble driving it but made it the the dealership in lubbock. They said the radiator needed to be replaced because the old one had internal transmission cooler failure. The service advisor said the fluid from the radiator got in the transmission and the transmission fluid got in the radiator. They said the transmission would be fine after they did a transmission flush on it. We paid the $814 for the repairs. Six months later as my daughter is driving home for spring break the Xterra started vibrating really bad. Luckily she was about 30 minutes from home so she could still drive it as long as she stayed around 40 mph. We took it to the dealership in arlington where it was purchased. The service advisor told us the radiator would have to be replaced again as well as the transmission. They said the lubbock dealership should have also replaced the transmission back in September since a transmission flush doesn't guarantee all the contaminants are removed. We have just paid $5600 more for repairs. Nissan has obviously admitted this is a widespread problem by agreeing to make partial reimbursements to customers whose vehicles have less than 100,000 miles on them. Unfortunately we are in the group of customers whose vehicles have over 100,000 miles who Nissan has chosen to ignore. Since Nissan has not stepped up to do the right thing we will not be future Nissan customers.

- Midlothian, TX, USA

problem #121

Mar 172013


  • 140,000 miles
The transmission suffered an apparent catastrophic breakdown that I have now been informed was caused by the breaking of the transmission cooler within the radiator. A mixture of coolant and transmission fluid destroyed the transmission and caused the car to become inoperable. I have since learned that this is a problem that Nissan is aware of but has chosen to do nothing about. They have extended the warranty to 100000 miles (which would not apply to this car) but have not disclosed to me the nature of the problem in order to prevent it. Repairs (aftermarket) are going to be approximately $3000 for a rebuilt transmission and new external cooler. I hold Nissan primarily responsible for this breakdown and am appalled at the failure of this company to work with their customers to safeguard the well being of their drivers. My daughter and granddaughter were left on the side of the road in the middle of the night because of their failure to act.

- Ramona, CA, USA

problem #120

Aug 172011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
The radiator has leaked many times which has caused the transmission to go out.

- Gladewater, TX, USA

problem #119

Feb 132013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


Antifreeze mixes with trans fluid rendering the trans broken repair replace trans and radiator =$7000 repair at dealer.

- Oxford, NJ, USA

problem #118

Jan 152012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 78,423 miles
Due to a cracked radiator line coolant leaked causing major transmission and electrical failure. This causes the car to shut off randomly or shake violently ( this happen to me on the freeway and I was stuck with cars zooming pass me at 70 mph) and transmission to jolt and shake when going through the gears.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #117

Mar 272011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,150 miles
In March 2011 my wife was driving my son home and the Xterra began to shake as if she was driving on rumble strips. I quickly scheduled an appointment at a Nissan dealer and in anticipation of the scheduled appointment, I googled 2005 Nissan Xterra, rumble strip. Literally dozens of web pages popped up revealing that a defect in the radiator was causing coolant to leak into the transmission, thereby ruining the transmission/radiator. The testimonials detailed my exact experience and also described instances where transmissions would lock-up while driving. I raised my suspicions to cochran Nissan in pittsburgh, pa, and they performed a full service check which confirmed that coolant had leaked into my transmission. Cochran explained that the transmission was salvageable, but that the radiator needed replaced which I later found out had its warranty extended to 80,000 miles. The problem was, however, that my Xterra currently had 101,000 miles, making me a victim of circumstance and the extended warranty of no benefit to me. Cocharan replaced the radiator and flushed the transmission at a cost of approximately $830. Now in February 2013 again as my wife was driving (our two kids), the transmission slipped causing the Xterra to stall and lock up and again I am looking at a substantial repair costing well above the $830 previously paid. Nissan has known about the problem with the radiator/transmission for years (possibly 2007) and has done nothing about it. Damage resulting from a design defect is not something for which preventative maintenance from the owner could rectify. Selling a product with design and/or manufacturing defects to unsuspecting buyers that places persons in danger is unethical and Nissan should be forced to stand by their product and to do the right thing. Please help and protect the consumer.

- Brownsville, PA, USA

problem #116

Feb 142013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
I was driving my vehicle to work in the morning and I was about to get in the highway when suddenly I lost power of vehicle and I pulled over to the side shoulder and checked it out I didn't see anything but my car didn't move when I put it in drive so I called a tow truck he took it into the shop and the shop told me it was the transmission fail he said something about the radiator fluid has gone into my transmission and it cause to fail he told me that Nissan Xterra have this problem from year 05-10 but they haven't issue a recall or have done anything about it. Now I have a $3,860 expense that I don't have I hope someone reads this and helps we would appreciated if a investigation is done and it would help other people from this problem.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #115

Dec 162011


  • 101,000 miles
I was driving on the highway around 70 mph. Experienced a loss of power followed by my car running hot. I pulled over and had the vehicle towed to my repair shop. Diagnosis was the radiator was leaking coolant into the transmission. The radiator was replaced and the transmission was flushed. Total costs $900. Possible damage to the transmission unknown at the time. The car is now back in the shop with the same issues slipping/grinding at highway speeds. Looking online it seems that a number of people have the same problems with a leaky radiator hose. I spoke with a Nissan dealership and Consumer Affairs and they said that nothing can be done.

- Del Mar, CA, USA

problem #114

Oct 142010


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that when driving 50 mph, the steering wheel would shake violently. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer for inspection and they advised her that transmission and radiator fluid had mixed, and both needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was notified but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was 90,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Pawmee, IL, USA

problem #113

Feb 032013


  • 143,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving at unknown speeds, the vehicle lost power then erroneously accelerated. The contact was able to stop the vehicle by applying the emergency brake and shifting the vehicle into park. The vehicle was towed to a mechanic where the contact was informed that the transmission had failed due to coolant from the radiator mixing with the transmission fluid. The transmission was replaced. The failure and current mileages were 143,000. The VIN was not available.

- Hilo, HI, USA

problem #112

Jan 182013


  • 80,625 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40-50 mph, the vehicle began to shake without warning. The contact also stated that the radiator was cracked and caused fluid to leak into the transmission. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician advised that the radiator and the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance due to the vehicle not being included in any recall. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 80,625. The VIN was not available.

- Nashville , TN, USA

problem #111

Apr 102012


  • 101,985 miles
I have a 2005 Nissan Xterra which over the years my engine light would come on for all periods of time and then go off. The first time it came on I ran to the dealership because I could not afford to be broke down. No diagnosis was found (phantom light - $300 to tell no there was no problem) so after that I did not run to the dealer everything the light come one which was most of the time. Starting in January 2012 my 2005 Xterra would seem to have a difficult time changing over at certain speeds especially 40-45 and 55-60 mph. I mainly drive highway so I knew this was not normal for my car. Since the car was still running and I had a state inspection coming up in March-April 2012 I wanted to wait because I cannot be without a car. The engine light remained on from January until April when I went to the dealership. Finally in early April 2012 I realized that the heats was not working. At the April 10, 2012 inspection the dealership told me I needed a new radiator ($999.45). They told me the radiator leaked into the transmissions but they were able to fix the problem. The car seemed to work fine after the repair, no difficultly changing over at certain speeds until October 18, 012 when I left work and the car would not start. Aaa came and tried to jump it to no avail. Towed to local mechanic (not going back to dealership again) and found out about the transmission cooling problem ($1,950.98) and two weeks without a car and $100 towing bill. Now I get a letter from about lawsuit with Nissan but my vehile's diagnosis occurred 1,985 miles after the allotted mileage (100,000). So, I am out $2950.45 plus the cost of towing and rent a cars with the vehiile that I am never going to be able to trade in because no dealer would purchase it from me knowing the problems with 2005 Nissan Xterra. I will never buy Nissan again.

- Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #110

Jan 282013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 80,600 miles
Transmission shakes vehicle while shifting going 40-55 mph. Dealer evaluated vehicle and stated that a new radiator and transmission is needed.

- Nashville, TN, USA

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