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 16 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #29

Dec 172011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 116,000 miles


Radiator failed and allowed coolant to mix with transmission fluid. Both radiator and transmission need replaced at a cost of $6411 (includes labor).

- Crofton, MD, USA

problem #28

Jan 032011


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact was driving 20 mph when the vehicle started to jerk violently and there was an abnormal increase in engine rpms before shifting into gear. The contact also mentioned that the air bag warning lamp was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the radiator and transmission fluids had mixed erroneously and both the transmission and the radiator would need to be replaced. In addition, the belt tension sensor would also need to be replaced in order to repair the air bag system. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who offered to waive the fee of diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 70,000 and the current mileage was 87,000.

- Los Angeles , CA, USA

problem #27

Dec 092011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
Vehicle failed during operation without warning secondary to faulty original radiator which leaked coolant into the transmission. Transmission and radiator destroyed and require replacing. Despite extensive documentation of this problem on consumer websites and a class action lawsuit, Nissan America and dealership denied any knowledge of this problem and did not accept any financial responsibility. Total repairs estimated at $5,000. Notifying consumer of and/or replacing faulty radiator could prevent a costly destroyed transmission.

- Forest Grove, OR, USA

problem #26

Nov 302010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


My husband and I purchased our 2005 Nissan Xterra, 17 miles young. Exactly one month after we purchased, the rear differential went out and was covered under warranty. No problems for a few years, until we noticed that the gas gauge was not giving accurate readings, we had to watch our odometer count to make sure we didn't run out of gas, which is a very scary thought when you have two young children. This happened when we had approximately 80000 miles on the truck and $600 to repair. Shortly after, the transmission was acting up and the heater wasn't working. No why wasn't that working? apparently, Nissan thought it would be a cool trick to have the radiator leak into the transmission.... brilliant business plan they have. Took the truck in and had to pay $5800 to have the transmission, radiator and computer all replaced. This financial hardship was in fact a hardship. One that shouldn't have had to happen had Nissan provided quality parts and provided stellar service. I will sue Nissan for this major safety issue, blog/facebook my little heart away about how insincere of a company Nissan is and never ever-ever-ever give them a positive recommendation.

- Castro Valley, CA, USA

problem #25

Aug 082011


  • 76,000 miles
My Nissan Xterra started making a vibration sound around August of 2011. It sounded like your vehicle was running over a "rumble strip". it was infrequent at first so I ignored it. I did notice some other warning signs of potential trouble (at hindsight). The vehicles heater would never heat the interior of the vehicle at idle, but would do it at speed. Nissan knows the issue is a defect but refuses to take responsibility. Several times while I have been driving the vehicle it would shudder and almost result in a accident. I have only narrowly avoided a collision on 3 separate occasions. Nissan extended the powertrain warranty to 80,000 miles because they know of the issue, but refuse to admit its a defect. Had I been informed about the warranty extension I may have been able to have it services while within the warranty period. My vehicle is currently at 83,000 miles, but within the 96 month portion of the warranty. I'm currently afraid to drive the vehicle on the highway because I'm worried the transmission will fail at high speed and result in a serious accident.

- Waterloo, IL, USA

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problem #24

Oct 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 129,000 miles
Started hearing a rumble strip sound while on smooth pavement. Vehicle started shifting harder, with slight vibrations. Before I could take it in, I was involved with a hit in run in a parking lot. Nissan said the upper and lower radiator hoses were soaked in transmission fluid. Manager said it had been leaking for some time. He said I needed a new radiator, and transmission cost of 6500. Nissan updated their radiators because they new it was a defective part, but refuse to take care of damage they have caused. See link

- Stevenson, AL, USA

problem #23

Nov 092011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles


It has come to my attention during a recent horrific event that my transmission has seized due to a failure of the radiator cracking and mixing coolant into the transmission. I had bought an extended warranty plan through my dealer when I purchased this vehicle in 2009. They had an adjustor from carefree car protection come out to look at the vehicle on Friday November 11, 2011. With that being said; they stated they do not cover the radiator issue; and since it was the faulty radiator that caused the entire transmission to fail and ultimately seized, they will also not cover that or any other of the repairs. Upon a bit of research on my own this is a known failure with this particular year/make/model of Nissan. There are hundreds if not thousands of documented cases of consumers with the very same issue. There has been no recall made on this at all. Yes, Nissan extended the radiator warranty up to 80,000 miles but not the transmission. Guess what; this happened in my vehicle at 89,000, so not only can I not fix the radiator issue but the transmission is also the same. The worst part of all this is; on Wednesday November 9th my four year old daughter and I were almost killed due to this known malfunction. We were traveling on a very busy highway in mid-day traffic when the entire transmission seized in the middle of the highway. I have to say, if it were not for my extensive training in emergency vehicle operations by the state of Massachusetts, I honestly do not believe my daughter or I would be alive today. The vehicle seized right on that stretch of highway and I had to veer into a ditch avoiding other vehicles, trees, guardrails and jersey barriers. I am thankful that we did survive that horrific even. Now I am looking to Nissan to do the right thing and make this right. Updated IVOQ 12/01/11

- North Adams, MA, USA

problem #22

Nov 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Recently I experienced a sudden loss of acceleration as I attempted to merge onto a highway. I was also very lucky that I didn't cause a serious accident. The problem was intermittent at first and then increased. Nissan acknowledged a radiator design flaw and extended the basic warranty to lessor of 96 months or 80K miles. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to inform them my Xterra was affected by the same problem. While under 96 mos, my vehicle has 89K miles. I requested an exception which was denied. Nissan's failure to stand behind their products, particularly when the problem represents a serious safety concern and attributable to a design flaw, is inexcusable. Nissan denies any safety concern. This problem (referenced by Nissan in the radiator assembly customer satisfaction program description) pertains to 2005-2010 Xterra, pathfinder and frontier vehicles equipped with auto transmissions. Corrosion within the radiator leads to a crack and contamination of engine coolant with trans fluid, damaging radiator & transmission corrosion develops over time and most vehicle owners will likely exceed the 80K limit before problem presents itself. An internet search revealed 15 dedicated web threads to this problem and they are mostly 2005 vehicles. If Nissan didn"T correct the design flaw before 2010, the # of failures will significantly increase over the coming years as model yr 2005-2010 cars age. How many accidents or fatalities need to occur during this period before Nissan is held accountable for their negligence? the dealer estimate to repair my Xterra is $6,760. This is a significant financial burden and hardship on any vehicle with just over 80,000 miles. How many Nissan owners have to experience financial hardship before Nissan is held accountable?"

- Maple Grove, MN, USA

problem #21

Oct 252011


  • 89,000 miles
I was driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra at 55 mph on a two lane highway when it began to shake violently as if I had ran over spilled lumber or rumble strips. I braked hard as I thought I had ran over something. I hadn't, so after pulling over and checking for loose tires or driveline I continue on perplexed as to what happened. A few miles later it did it again. 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.

- North Adams, MA, USA

problem #20

Oct 252011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
I was picking up my children from school and my car just stopped driving in the middle of the intersection while I was making a left turn at a stoplight. I brought it to a trans shop and they said I have coolant in my transmission which caused it to fail. Repairs are estimated at $4326 and I am just angry and sick over this situation. Not only was it a scary situation to break down in the middle of the intersection with my kids in the car but I am very disappointed in all the reports I have been reading about in the 2005 Xterra. I can not afford to fix this problem and this is simply not fair that Nissan isn't taking responsibility for their negligence. Please help!!

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #19

Apr 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles


Faulty radiator design allowed a crack that caused cross contamination of coolant and transmission fluid. Caused transmission to fail.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #18

Nov 162006

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 2,800 miles
The clutch first failed at 2800 miles. Nissan replaced it but told me it was bad driving. I have had a clutch my entire life. The second failure was at 52000 miles. Nissan told me it was out of warranty so I had it replaced elsewhere with oe parts. It just failed again at 78000 miles and again they said it was out of warranty. I will now have the fourth clutch installed and am looking at other than oem equipment.

- Arlington Heights, IL, USA

problem #17

Sep 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Interior components of the radiators (internal transmission coolers) break down allowing coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. As a result of the contamination, the transmission and other drivetrain components are damaged and fail causing possible accident.

- Gatlinburg, TN, USA

problem #16

Jul 182011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 136,000 miles
Transmission shudders violently periodically between speeds of 40mph and 65mph. Brought truck to buckeye Nissan in hilliard, oh where all of my repairs have been completed over the entire life of my vehicle and they informed me that I had coolant in transmission and transmission fluid in radiator. This problem can lead to sudden and catastrophic failure of transmission while in motion which could have lead to a serious auto accident.

- Galloway, OH, USA

problem #15

Aug 042011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
I noticed a vibrating noise when I would reach 40-50mph. It sounded like I was driving on a rumble strip but was not. One day I pulled out into traffic and my transmission slipped, had my gas pedle to the floor but I was barely moving. I had to swirve into the ditch to avoid getting rear ended! I took it to my Nissan dealship to have a diagnositc test done. They called and told me that there was a defect in the radiator causing fluid to leak into the transmission. The estimated cost will be about $1500, to replace my radiator and flush the fluids twice. They stated that this will be a 80-85% chance this would temporaraly fix the problem, but with them not really knowing how much damage there is to my transmission that if this doesn't correct the problem that I would need to replace my trasmission meaning an additional $5,000. I have searched on-line and found out on a website ( that there are many other people out there with my same problem. Nissan is very aware of this defect in the radiator and has done nothing about it. My warrenty ran out in April and the warrenty on the radiator ended at 80,000 miles. I am in a huge bind not knowing what to do. Being a single mom I am very tight on money. I would hope that there are enough complaints for Nissan to recall all Nissan Xterra 2005 for radiator defects. I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying for a miracle.

- Shelby, OH, USA

problem #14

Sep 022011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
I purchased my 2005 Nissan Xterra less than 2 months ago and noticed about a month after I bought it that it had a rumble when driving it, especially when accelerating over 40 mph or on an incline when driving over 50 on highways. I also noticed that upon starting the car there was a very loud thump in the rear end. About a week after these issues became noticeabe, my service engine light came on and when I went to accelerate the car did not move at all... I had to crawl to the side of the road and re start my car. I took it to my local repair show where I was told the code was in the transmission section and I should take it to a tranmission shop. The estimated repairs are very costly and it's obvious that so many other Xterra owners have experienced this same problem. It is my only vehicle and I travel 80 miles a day to and from work and am forced to pay for this repair or be without a vehicle that I just purchased and still owe money on. There has to be some responsibility on the part of Nissan to reimburse their purchasers for the costly repairs due to a problem that is evidently a design flaw in the radiator and transmission of the 2005 Xterra. If so many people are complaining why is nothing being done to aid the victims of Nissan poor design?

- Haskell, NJ, USA

problem #13

Sep 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
I first noticed a vibration in my 2005 Nissan Xterra like driving over speed bumps when letting off the accelerator the vibration stopped. I thought it was a problem with tires, driveshaft or rear end but found it would not happen if I turned off the overdrive. So I googled Nissan transmission problems and found that people were having the same issue and said it was due to coolant mixing with the transmission fluid and causing transmission failure. I continued to drive the vehicle not having the money to do the costly repair and debating whether to trade in the vehicle. Yesterday the car left me broke down alongside the road. The vehicle started jumping like it was going to stall the check engine like came on and the temperature went in the red I pulled over to the side of the road and seen coolant mixed with some other fluid all over the engine compartment and street something must have burst. Contacted Nissan they told me it was not covered due to being over the 80,000 mile extended warrant but to take it to a dealership to get a diagnostic to determine what the problem is to see what they can do to help.

- Reading , PA, USA

problem #12

Aug 022011


  • 87,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while accelerating, the vehicle hesitated and would not accelerate over 15 mph. A loud noise was also heard coming from the engine area. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer, who performed a diagnostic test and stated that the radiator fluid was leaking into the transmission. The dealer replaced the transmission, radiator, and drive shaft. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but denied assistance with the repairs because the warranty expired. The failure and current mileages were 87,000...updated 09/15/11

- Grandview, MO, USA

problem #11

Jun 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
I am writing to complain about my 2005 Nissan Xterra. Otherwise a very sound car, I have been informed by the dealership that the timing chain guide is wearing down and will eventually fail. The dealer informed me this is common in Nissan and my research concurs. My car only has 85,000 miles on it and this repair is estimated to cost me $1900. I feel this should be a safety recall item as there has already been numerous safety bulletins on this issue.

- Gig Harbor, WA, USA

problem #10

Jun 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the vehicle would jerk while shifting gears. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the transmission and radiator fluids were mixing, causing the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but would not offer any further assistance due to the mileage being above 80,000. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 86,000. Updated 09/20/2011

- Richmond , VA, USA

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