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 12 of 17)

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problem #109

Sep 082012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles


On September 8th, 2012, I got back from a 20 minute trip and was pulling into my driveway when my Xterra would not move. Transmission fluid was leaking all over my driveway. I had it towed to a service center where they estimated the cost to be between $2,500 and $2,800. When they realized the transmission and radiator had to be replaced the repair bill would have been much higher but they kept their promise and the final bill was $2,856. I am thankful that this did not occur on the highway. I should not have to pay for a defect that is not my fault and that is a possible safety hazard.

- Hummelstown, PA, USA

problem #108

Dec 032012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Transmission stuck in 4th gear doesnt shift. This is the result of the faulty radiator leaking fluid into transmission.

- New Port Richey, FL, USA

problem #107

Dec 272012


  • 106,716 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the radiator cracked and leaked fluid into the transmission. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and was informed that the radiator cap needed to be replaced. The failure recurred so the dealer replaced the U joints. The problem continued and the contact stated the vehicle began to shake while driving and the transmission failed. The dealer stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The failure mileage was 106,000 and the current mileage was 106,716.

- Fayetteville, AR, USA

problem #106

Dec 212012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles


Just started moving after stopping at a light, and the engine stalled. Would not restart immediately, but when it finally restarted it was missing. Every time I have driven this car since then it has stalled, usually but not always after I have stopped or slowed to make a turn. I took it to the dealer this week (1/5/2013) and was told the problem is the transmission and radiator. The transmission is leaking fluid into the radiator and they both need to be replaced. I was told about the extended warranty and the $3000 co-pay. I have to fix the car but I don't know where I'm going to get $3000. I don't understand why Nissan didn't recall the part that fails which allows the fluid to leak into the radiator. That would have saved hundreds of people and Nissan a lot of trouble and expense. There shouldn't be any co-pay since Nissan could have prevented this.

- Lake Worth, FL, USA

problem #105

Oct 192012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 119,000 miles
My wife was driving the vehicle during the afternoon on a sunny day. The incident occurred while she was exiting the entrance ramp onto I-75 North from business I-75. While accelerating to merge (approximately 60mph) the transmission began to fail, causing the vehicle to "jerk and hesitate" making it difficult to control the vehicle. The entrance ramp enters the freeway in the left lane, she was able to avoid the other cars and get her vehicle off to the right shoulder but there was a near miss. Upon contacting Nissan they informed me they are aware of the problem but they didn't feel they needed to report the defect to me, and therefore endangering me and my family, because NHTSA had not forced them to into a recall.

- Auburn Hills, MI, USA

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problem #104

Dec 232012


  • 158,000 miles
While driving transmission comes out of gear.

- Asbury Park, NJ, USA

problem #103

Feb 022012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,240 miles


Radiator leak, heater temp dropping, rough gear vibration from transmission.

- Buckley, WA, USA

problem #102

Aug 062012


  • 108,000 miles
A crack in radiator assembly causes a transmission failure.

- Itasca, IL, USA

problem #101

May 212012

Xterra 6-cyl Diesel

  • 121,000 miles
Transmission slipped while driving, then would not shift at all. Had to be towed. Transmission was rebuilt, but goes into "limp mode" after a few miles of driving, with a strong odor of hot fluid.

- Silver Creek, GA, USA

problem #100

Nov 272012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 93,000 miles
I recently had to replace my radiator and transmission due to the known 2005 Nissan Xterra radiator problem. The problem started off as heavy vibration when gears shifted, and the heater was noticeably not as warm as it had been. After a short amount of time with the vibration issues, the transmission got to a point where the vibrations would last longer, meaning the vehicle was not shifting gears reasonably. This became a serious safety issue when I was merging onto the interstate one day and my overdrive completely missed, leaving me in basically neutral at approx 50mph with no ability to accelerate with a car almost slamming into the rear of me since it could not move out of the lane to avoid me. For this not to be considered a safety issue is very ridiculous. A failing transmission is most certainly a safety issue when it fails while you are driving. Nissan may have agreed to have this repaired for free for vehicles under 80000 miles, but the likelihood of this problem occurring is past 80000 miles. Nissan should not only be responsible for the cost of this repair, but Nissan should also be responsible for letting owners know of the symptoms, problems, and associated safety concerns with a failing transmission. As far as I am concerned, Nissan has failed in every aspect of dealing with such a costly issue.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #99

May 152012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles


I was driving on the interstate at 45 mph and all of a sudden my car started slowing down. When I pulled over the car would not go into gear. I had to have the car towed to my house and it hasn't started since.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #98

Mar 022010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Like many other Xterra of this year, the radiator was faulty and leaked antifreeze into the transmission. Consequently I had to replace the radiator, have it serviced for $1177 dollars and then was told by the dealership that it was not covered because it was not a safety recall even with a high failure rate for this model. Thinking the radiator was the root cause of the vehicle driving problems I was assured nothing else was wrong with the Xterra. I continued to research this problem as I had continued trouble with the transmission and being towed several times. I was told that the radiator leaked antifreeze into the transmission rendering it inoperative and needing a full replacement. I then paid $3550 for a new transmission. Again, I was told by Nissan that this was not covered by any warranty and that they were aware of the problem with this model and year. After more research, I discovered there was thousands of people complaint of the same issue and Nissan telling their customers that it was out of there hands and not in high enough incidence for a recall. I understand that there is a class action lawsuit for customers to be repaid for these repairs and my family and I hope Nissan does the right thing and pay their customers back for their mistake and faulty parts.

- Whiteman Afb, MO, USA

problem #97

Nov 082010


  • 105,236 miles
Left and right rear axle seals blew out and leaked differential fluid. Differential fluid leaking on rear brake rotors which could cause brake failure, which was a major safety concern to me. At time of failure no suspension modifications had been done to vehicle. Also, the rear differential oil will slowly leak and cause the rear differential to lose fluid and fail. The leaking differential fluid has also contaminated the parking/emergency brake shoes and they will not hold or slow vehicle.

- Alexander, NC, USA

problem #96

Jan 122012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 97,500 miles
January 2012 one morning I was driving at hwy speed on the freeway when out of nowhere lost total power. I stepped on the gas and my truck went from 60 to 10 miles an hour. Thank god it was close to an off reap and I was able to get off the freeway. I took the car to nearest auto repair shop. After examination of transmission they found large amount of white subtend in the transmission fluid but they could not determine what that was. Next day I drove the truck to Nissan dealer and they told me that because of the defect in the radiator the anti-freeze was leaking to the transmission and causing it to seize and both components need to immediate replacement. The mechanic told me that the failure is a known problem and that is occurs with no warning, no engine light, no noticeable deterioration of performance, it just happens. Since I was not in any position to pay for this repair, I took my truck home and try to contact Nissan for help. On January 16, I contact the Nissan Consumer Affairs again and requested an exception to the 80K miles limitation. Nissan Consumer Affairs took 2 weeks to review my case before denying it. The failure of Nissan to stand behind their products, particularly when the problem represents a serious safety concern and attributable to a design flaw, is inexcusable. Nissan denies that there is a safety concern, whereas they should have acknowledged responsibility for their error and issued a recall. How many accidents or fatalities need to occur over the coming years before Nissan is held accountable for their negligence" my local Nissan dealer estimated it would cost $5368 to repair my Xterra. This represents a significant financial burden and hardship -- especially on a vehicle with just over 100K miles. How many Nissan owners have to experience this type of financial hardship before Nissan is held accountable"

- Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #95

Oct 222009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Automatic transmission has gone out to soon for car that is this old!

- Lexington, NC, USA

problem #94

Jun 132012


  • 95,000 miles
Radiator assembly failed causing antifreeze to leak into the transmission.

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #93

Oct 302012


  • 127,607 miles
While driving on the 73N freeway in orange county, my car started shuddering. The temp gauge was ta the max so I pulled over. I was towed in to a Nissan dealership where the master mechanic told me that the problem was caused by the transmission cooler in the radiator failing causing radiator fluid and transmission fluid to mix rendering both inoperable. He also told me that this is a growing problem with Nissan and he has personally seen many such cases. He said that Nissan is using defective radiators which is the main cause of this.

- San Marcos, CA, USA

problem #92

Oct 302012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
On October 30, 2012 while driving at highway speeds the transmission on our 2005 Nissan Xterra gave out. We took it to a transmission shop who informed us that Nissan's had an inherent problem with the cooling system leaking into the transmission. We were informed it would be 6K to fix the vehicle. We have contacted Nissan and have been told that a warranty extension has been granted to 80,000 for full restitution and under 100,000 for 50% restitution. Even though we have barely over 100,000 miles, if it had not been for the pure negligence of Nissan not doing a recall on these vehicles when they became aware of the rampant problem, our vehicle would not have suffered a complete transmission/coolant system failure which has resulted in significant financial loss. We request that Nissan change their extension of the warranty to a complete recall and reimburse us for any loss. We feel this is fair based on the fact they knew of the problem and negligently failed to act upon it.

- Madisonville, LA, USA

problem #91

Oct 302012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
Vehicle started making a jerking while shifting into moderate speed of 65 or lower. Vehicle was taken to a transmission repair shop where the technitian informed me that there was transmission oil in the radiator, causing the proper engaging of gears. Extended warranty is expired and the extended warranty of the radiator issue is also expired. Nissan was made aware of the malfunction and denied assistance unless I wanted to pay out of pocket. Transmission repair shop offered to fix problem at a cost of $5000! car is still being paid for until 2015!

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #90

Oct 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
I bought the Nissan Xterra brand new in April 2005. My Xterra began to have minor issues since buying it, (bad battery, fuel sending unit, oil pressure gauge, defective radio). As of October 2011 the catalytic converters went bad causing my "service engine" light to come on. My local Nissan service center will not offer any help with the issue. Their cost to replace the converters exceeds $1800. Now I'm facing a new major issue with the transmission. My Xterra only has 120,000 mile and the transmission needs to be replaced. I've been reading a lot of reviews from fellow Nissan Xterra owners facing the same extremely expensive issue as I am at this moment. I'm hoping that Nissan will soon offer a recall for these issues. I've had several quotes on having both issues repaired and the cost exceeds $5000. Again Nissan will not offer any help with the parts or labor. I think this is a issue that is effecting a lot of Nissan owners and something needs to be done to correct these issues.

- Greenwood, SC, USA

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