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 15 of 17)

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problem #49

Mar 012012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


Vehicle vibrates around 40 mph, vibrates at certain rpms.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #48

May 282012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
Transmission locked up on highway. Evidently engine coolant had gotten into the transmission by way of failure of the radiator. Could have been killed...

- Mount Wolf, PA, USA

problem #47

Oct 092008


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the radiator fluid leaked into the transmission, causing the transmission to seize. In addition, the cooling system failed. The radiator and the transmission were repaired by a local mechanic but the cooling system was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 82,000 and the current mileage was 131,000.

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #46

Apr 222012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 129,637 miles


Nissan's 2005 Xterra has a major flaw in its cooling system and transmission. Apparently the coolant in the radiator leaks into the transmission causing the transmission to fail. This is very expensive as the radiator and the transmission have to be replaced. Flushing the system is not enough. This should have been recalled and repaired by Nissan before the problem became costly. Apparently Nissan has known about this for some time. This is disgraceful.

- Cypress, TX, USA

problem #45

Apr 172012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 113,998 miles
Driving on a busy road the X-terra stopped moving forward. Pushed the vehicle into a parking lot. Insurance company towed it to the dealership. They investigated and found a fluid contamination between the radiator and transmission. Spent $5300 to get it fixed. This is apparently a known problem. I expect the transmission to eventually fail, but not at 113K miles. But, I think this is something else - a design/flaw. The web is full of transmission complaints for a 2005 Nissan Xterra, as well as a class action lawsuit.

- Columbus, GA, USA

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problem #44

Apr 072012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 112,651 miles
My wife was driving home from the grocery store when her Nissan Xterra would not shift out of first gear (it's an automatic). She had to drive home in first gear and keep it under 15 mph. The dealership informed us that the faulty radiator leaked coolant into the transmission causing a transmission failure. This is apparently a widely known issue with Nissan, but we were unaware of it until this occurred. Nissan is aware that the radiators in this model have been known to leak into the transmission, but they never notified my wife (she's the original owner) or else we would've taken steps to prevent this from happening. Thank god she wasn't on the highway when this happened. This issue needs to be taken more seriously before someone ends up in a fatal collision as a result. Even though my wife suffered no physical harm, we're now facing a $6100 repair bill.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #43

Apr 022012


  • 104,000 miles


I've noticed recently that my Xterra started shuddering while cruising at highway speeds, and has been shaking while shifting between gears. Additionally, there was a specific occasion where my vehicle stopped accelerating while merging onto the highway. When I took it to a local Nissan dealership for to fix a separate recall notice, I was told that my transmission fluid had mixed with my coolant, which meant that I would need to replace both my transmission and radiator.

- Maryland Heights, MO, USA

problem #42

Apr 042012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 89,254 miles
Transmission failed while trying to accelerate across an intersection almost causing me to be hit by on coming cars. Nissan is aware of the problems with these cars and has not recalled. I feel this is poor business and will result in loss of life!

- Merritt Island , FL, USA

problem #41

Jun 072011


  • 99,000 miles
The contact owns 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact was driving 45 mph when the vehicle started to shake. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they confirmed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was contacted but the vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 99,000 and the current mileage was 110,000.

- Pooler, GA, USA

problem #40

Dec 202011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
While driving my Xterra I started to notice it shuddering and vibrating while driving to work. This was getting worse so I brought it in to be looked at and they new what it was from the moment I drove in. They told me it was my transmissions and they have fixed multiple Xterras with this problem. So naturally the warranty has expired so my cost is $3800.

- Ocala, FL, USA

problem #39

Feb 152012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


As with most of the 2nd generation Xterras, my radiator failed causing coolant to mix with transmission fluid. This causes the transmission to seize up and/or an inability to shift. I first felt shuddering while shifting into 4th (automatic transmission). I immediately recognized a problem and and began driving to my mechanic. I entered the freeway and found myself unable to get out of 1st or 2nd gear - I could not drive faster than 20 miles per hour with traffic traveling at 65+ and no shoulder. This is a serious safety issue. Nissan has acknowledged the problem and extended their warranty to 80,000 miles but apparently this issue happens between 85K and 100K typically (my issue came to light at around 95,000). I was in serious danger on the highway and this is not an isolated incident by any means.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #38

Feb 252012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 122,784 miles
Radiator fluid leaked into my transmission, which caused transmission failure.

- Wakefield, MA, USA

problem #37

Feb 142011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,127 miles
Rattle shake feel at 45 mph. Loosened transmission drain plug. Transmission fluid has antifreeze mixed with it.

- Burlington, NC, USA

problem #36

Feb 222012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 113,000 miles
Went to pull out into traffic and experienced tranny slipping. I was very lucky not to be involved in an accident. Check engine light came on took my vehicle to the dealership and they told me what was wrong and that they have been seeing this problem more and more frequently. It would seem Nissan is aware of the manufacturing defect in the radiator which causes fluid to leak into the tranny thereby slowly destroying the transmission, they offered an extended warrant to 80,000 miles but thru research I have discovered that this problem does not manifest itself until around 100,000 miles. I was never contacted by Nissan about this issue and there is no recall but hundreds of complaints. It is obvious that if Nissan does not resolve this issue there are going to be accidents and maybe even deaths related to this manufacturing defect.

- New Port Richey, FL, USA

problem #35

Feb 072012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 114,650 miles
Total transmission failure after engine coolant floods transmission, causing vehicle to lurch and stop. Incurred repair costs at dealership of $5,968.89. Nissan is aware of this problem on 2005 Xterras, but failed to inform owners to replace faulty radiators which causes the transmission failure. Nissan secretly extended the power train warranty to 80,000 miles because of this problem (owners not informed), but the transmission failure associated with this issue does not occur until after 80,000 miles. One website,, as 23 pages of complaints from 2005 Xterra owners documenting this issue. Ref: refuses to reimburse owners for the repairs. The Nissan Consumer Affairs file no. For my complaint is [xxx]. please help. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Anaheim Hills, CA, USA

problem #34

Jan 292012


  • 150,000 miles
Radiator fluid leaked into transmission. Caused transmission failure. Had to replace radiator, electrical components, hoses, transmission, etc. Repairs cost over $3900. This is a known problem by Nissan and they refuse to recall, but they have issued bulletins.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #33

Jan 122012


  • 2,007 miles
We have a 2005 Nissan Xterra that we had to have a transmission replaced on in 2007 because radiator coolant leaked into the transmission. Again, the same thing has happened. Recall these cars, please. They are dangerous and this repair is very expensive. I had read the complaint history and I am not the only one with this problem.

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #32

Jan 122012


  • 84,000 miles
My 05 Xterra has a leak from the radiator in the transmission due to a defect in the lines. Now I have to replace the transmission and the radiator which will cost $6000. I filed a claim with Nissan to try and get this repair covered. I was denied because Nissan said this is not a problem other people are having. If you are also having this problem you need to open a claim with Nissan to show them there is a real problem here. The rep I talked to is named [xxx] and her personal work line is 615-725-7205. Please open your claim with her and prove to Nissan that there needs to be a recall for this problem. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Kingman, AZ, USA

problem #31

Jan 112012


  • 97,500 miles
While driving, the engine cuts off without warning causing all systems to shut down, including brake assist and power steering causing a near collision twice, once while navigating a curve at low speed with a ditch on the right side and once while navigating a curve at higher speed and nearly coasting into oncoming traffic. The issue is due to a known defect in the radiator causing coolant to spill into the transmission. This is a major safety concern that appears in vehicles without warning in any circumstance at any speed. Please initiate a recall asap for our safety!

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #30

Nov 042011


  • 80,000 miles
My 2005 Nissan Xterra with 85000 miles has a vibration which feels like driving on rumble strips that comes and goes. There is also the smell of antifreeze and the heat works sporadically at idle. Looking at everyone's else's post it looks like this is a known issue with the 2005 Xterra that Nissan is not fixing. There should be a recall on this so that Nissan can make the adequate repairs.

- Bristol, CT, USA

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