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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2005 Nissan Xterra:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 13 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #89

Oct 252012


  • 84,000 miles


Two years ago my 2005 Nissan Xterra began rattling, shaking and not heating when idling. I took it for diagnostics at my mechanic he thought it may be a U joint or tire problem. Recently, this problem is getting worse. I took it to the dealer after searching the Nissan website which has recently posted an extension of the radiator/transmission warranty due to the many reported problems of radiator fluid leaking into the transmission and destroying the transmission. My Xterra has 84000 miles on it. I was just told by Nissan that they will rebuild the transmission due to the defective manufacturing, however I must pay a co pay of $2500 dollars since I am over the 80,000 miles. This is ridiculous. They say it is dangerous for me to driver if I don't pay to replace it. Why isn't this a recall item " how can anyone justify not recalling a defective radiator/transmission on a car with less that 100,000 miles on it " this must be stopped. Nissan must be forced to make right the defective engineering used in it's automobiles. The customer who paid full price for a new car should not have to bear any of the cost for this defective and dangerous workmanship.

- Gig Harbor, WA, USA

problem #88

Sep 182012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
On September 18, I took my Nissan Xterra tot he dealership and made an appointment because it had a horrible shifting vibration and was jumping in between gears. However, after making the appointment for the next day, I was rear-ended and had to have body repairs made. I got the car back. The vibration was still there, of course, because the vibration had nothing to do with the body. I was in town where the dealership is located on October 18. I was pulling out of a drive onto a busy road. No power, the car only moved with gravity rolling toward the road and the engine revved with the gas. I stopped quick enough to avoid rolling onto the road which has a 45 mile an hour speed limit where I was. I shut the car off. I started it back up and with my foot on the brake I ran the shifter through the gears. When I tried to accelerate, it had some power, but it was clearly diminished. I headed for the dealership. The car was jerking so hard that it clunked my teeth together and made my neck and back hurt. I got to the dealership. It appears that my radiator rusted or cracked and leaked the fluid into my transmission causing it to destroy my transmission. All total, the repairs would be about $6,300. The car sits at the dealership because I am unemployed and cannot pay that on a car that I have managed while being unemployed since February to continue $482.58/mo payments on and having only 6 left!!! Nissan refuses to help me because I have over 100,000 miles on the car. How would they have liked it if I had rolled into traffic and gotten killed or hurt? and, the person from Nissan Consumer Affairs told me that they had just extended the warranty to 100,000 because of this problem. So, they even know it is a major problem.

- Onsted, MI, USA

problem #87

Oct 192012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 89,910 miles
Transmission failed due to leakage of coolant from radiator into the transmission. This appears to be systemic to this model and year of vehicle. Nissan has only taken action after the filing of a class action lawsuit. Nissan has clearly been aware of this isssue for at least four years and has only sent a vague letter regarding an extended warranty on the radiator, not noting the possibility of a catastrophic transmission failure, nor a campaign to fix the issue.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #86

Sep 052012


  • 137,000 miles


Having the same problem as the rest of the 2005 Nissan Xterra owners - transmission & radiator failed; coolant looks like chocolate milk....leaked into the transmission & I now have transmission failure! talked to Nissan about this, they only cover certain VIN numbers & mine was not one of them! seriously"!?!"! god willing, there will be no more Nissan's for my household!

- Hertford, NC, USA

problem #85

Jan 172012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
My problems started in November of 2010 with whistling noise coming from the engine. After taking the truck to Nissan dealer they said the timing chain needed to be replaced and Nissan has sent out a service bulletin to the fact that there is a defect in the timing chain that causes the noise. After contacting Nissan consumer affair for two weeks at the end, they ruled that since I was over the standard warranty of 60K, they were not to cover the cost of this repair even though they knew about this problem and never sent out notice to owners to have this fixed. So I had to spend the $1063 with I did not have to fix the repair. Again this last December, one morning I was driving at 55 miles on the freeway when out of no where lost total power. I stepped on the gas and my truck went from 55 to 10 miles an hour. Thank god it was close to a off ramp and I was able to get off the freeway and when straight to the dealer close by. The determined that the defect is the radiator the anti- freeze in leaking to the transmission and causing it to seize. After some research on-line, I found out that this problem is plaguing many other owners of Nissan Xterra, pathfinder from 2005-2010. Nissan has issued a recall on this and extended the warranty from 60K to 80K. However I have not yet found one owner that did not have this problem happening before 80K. As far as I see it is Nissan trying to hide the face that this is not a safety recall. I just came from Nissan dealer and they gave me an esteemed of $4925.73 to fix the tranny & the radiator. I have contacted Nissan and they have decided not to help me in this matter. So I have now have a truck that I can't drive or can afford to fix. I am going to look in to other options to deal with this problems. I will fight this to the end.

- Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Search for these popular complaint phrases...

problem #84

Oct 082012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 95,011 miles
My Nissan Xterra started vibrating violently while traveling at high speed on the interstate. I sent the vehicle to the dealership to have it fixed. The cause of the problem is a faulty transmission cooler that leaks water into the transmission. After some research I find that this is a common problem with this model vehicle. Here is the reference # DP12004.

- Townville , SC, USA

problem #83

Jan 132012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


In 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. He said that in a worst-case scenario, the vehicle?S transmission could seize causing an immediate stop and loss of control. 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.

- Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #82

Oct 012012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 126,000 miles
While out of town at a family wedding I noticed a shuttering noise while driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra. From time to time there was a loss in acceleration. Although we were not involved in any accidents we were lucky to have not been rear ended from losing speed on the freeway. After some research on this issue I have come across numerous reports on a problem with the radiator leaking into the transmission. I went to have my truck looked at and it was confirmed that I have the same problem. Nissan knows about this because of the numerous reports, but there has not been a recall. The only thing done was an extended warranty. From what I can tell - by the time you start experiencing these problems you are way over the warranty. This could have been a very dangerous situation, thankfully it wasn't. now we, the consumers, are left with paying for Nissan's faulty parts...that could pose a serious risk of an auto accident.

- Steens, MS, USA

problem #81

Sep 162012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Our daughter was driving home, late at night, when the engine began making strange sounds and lurching at about 50 mph. She was only a few blocks from home, so drove home very slowly. On later inspection, my husband found the radiator/transmission issue and looked on the internet to see if others had this problem. We were horrified to discover that many, many, many Nissan owners have the same exact problem of coolant in the transmission. (our Xterra has just over 100,000 miles.) this is obviously a well known issue with Nissan, but nothing has been done. We spoke with a regional manager with Nissan who listened politely, said she'd look into it, and had her assistant finally call us over a week later (she promised four days) to say nothing could be done. Something can be done! I encourage anyone with this same problem to write to Nissan, send a cc to your better business bureau, and submit complaints to consumer awareness groups to document this problem and get Nissan to act responsibly for their faulty radiator. This is a major, costly, potentially dangerous issue that should never have occurred in the first place. We love our Xterra, faithfully change the oil, and have recommended it to so many other people. It feels like a slap in the face that Nissan will not admit their role in this problem and do something about it! updated IVOQ 11/19/12

- Wasilla, AK, USA

problem #80

Sep 242012


  • 135,000 miles
Radiator broke down which causes the transmission fluid to be mixed with radiator fluid. This kills both the transmission and radiator. This was a well known and defined problem by Nissan and they never did anything about it. Total bill is well over $5K for transmission, radiator, labor.

- Ellington, CT, USA

problem #79

Sep 132012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


While driving down a busy los angeles street during rush hour, my car suddenly lost drivability. The engine RPM's increased, but the car would not engage. Nearly got into multiple accidents trying to get to the side of the road. Car was towed to a mechanic where a strawberry milk color liquid was found in the transmission. Was told coolant and transmission fluid mixing was the cause. Required to rebuild transmission, replace radiator and transmission control valve. Repair cost estimated at $5050 plus tax.

- Northridge, CA, USA

problem #78

Jul 012012


  • 110,000 miles
Car was acting funny so I took it to my mechanic. Coolant was leaking into the transmission. Replaced the radiator before it caused any major issues with the tranny but still cost me $1200. Now a check engine light came on indicating something with the tranny. I am afraid it will fail now and I will have to put more money. Nissan extended the warranty to 80K miles but this issues started happening after that.

- Monroe, CT, USA

problem #77

Jul 042012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
Radiator coolant leaked into transmission causing overheating. Replaced radiator $1200 now required to replace transmission for $3510 parts, $1450 labor, and $100 fluid at tischer Nissan laurel Maryland. Transmission feels like riding over rumble strips.

- Elkridge , MD, USA

problem #76

Apr 112012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 118,214 miles
I was noticing a difference in the shifting of my vehicle and took it to a transmission specialist who discovered I had radiator fluid mixed in with my transmission fluid. I was told my radiator needed to be replaced and the transmission flushed, which may or may not solve the problem. There was hope this would work as I caught the problem early and never had a service code pop up. I paid $1110 for this work. Subsequently I contacted my Nissan dealer who told me it was related to the radiator problem that Nissan had extended the warranty on. I contacted Nissan and made a claim for reimbursement and for the problem to be rectified completely. Nissan advised me to take the vehicle to the dealer at my own expense for a diagnosis. The Nissan dealer verified that indeed my problem was due to the radiator issue and my transmission needs to be replaced. I contacted the manufacturer again and when I told them this I was told my vehicle had surpassed the extended warranty of 80,000 miles and they would not assist. During my research, I have discovered that most of the people with the same problem were also over the 80,000 miles granted by Nissan. My transmission completely stopped shifting and is parked in my driveway. I feel the extended warranty notice sent by Nissan was very misleading. It stated a "radiator issue" which in no way identifies that is only the culprit and not that the transmission will be impacted and rendered useless. It would have been such an easier option to replace a radiator and continue to have transportation, then to have a lawn ornament. By the way...why was there never a service code light that alerted to the problem?

- Novato, CA, USA

problem #75

Sep 032012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
Nissan is well-aware of a design flaw that allows radiator fluid to cross-contaminate transmission fluid. They jokingly (at least their dealers) refer to it as a "strawberry milkshake". the antifreeze degrades transmission parts and causes transmission failure. A quick web search shows over 300 such cases.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #74

Aug 142012


  • 104,324 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While parked, the contact attempted to start the vehicle but the engine would not start. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnostics. The technician stated that the radiator and transmission would have to be replaced due to coolant from the radiator leaking into the transmission, causing an electrical shortage. There was an investigation under NHTSA action number: DP12004 (power train:automatic transmission:cooling unit and lines power train:automatic transmission:torque converter power train:automatic transmission:control module (tcm, PCM)) that could have been related to the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 104,324.

- Imperial, MO, USA

problem #73

Aug 012012


  • 90,000 miles
Transmission locked in one gear which caused dangerous circumstances on well traveled roads. Subsequently, it operated normally, but the problem recurred. The occurrences were intermittent, and if occurred on a highway in heavy traffic could have resulted in an accident and injuries. Nissan has admitted there is a problem/defect by extending the warranty to 80,000 miles. However, this defect affects vehicles beyond 80,000 and is a significant safety concern. I understand the defect has to do with a cooling system in the transmission which is prone to cracking resulting in the mixing of radiator fluid and transmission fluid, ultimately rendering the transmission inoperable.

- Kingston, NY, USA

problem #72

Jun 022012


  • 108,000 miles
Just as I was about to enter the 405 freeway in long beach, my Xterra would not accelerate. The garden grove Nissan dealer said it was due to a leak in the radiator that caused the transmission to give out. I was charged $5,000 to repair. I filed a claim with the dealer and that's when I first learned that I had been given an extra 20,000 miles warranty back when my Xterra only had 60,000 miles. I was never notified of the extended warranty and I've been taking my Xterra to the dealer for all maintenance since I bought it from the dealer.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #71

Aug 092012


  • 112,000 miles
Coolant leaking into the transmission ruined both the radiator and transmission.

- Grand Bay, AL, USA

problem #70

May 182012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 116,151 miles
After driving to a remote fair ground facility, the transmission failed due to a leak allowing coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. After leaving the driver and passenger stranded waiting for help, the passenger lost consciousness due to high outdoor temperatures and lack of near by facilities. Paramedics were called to the scene.

- Flagstaff, AZ, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?