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 17 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #9

Jun 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 64,500 miles


2005 Nissan Xterra. Highway driving and car began to shake violently. It was hard to stay in control for a bit there. Hard to figure out what it was but I have. Nissan Xterra's have a problem with the radiator failing and leaking coolant into the transmission, thereby ruining it. My car has been overheating and the transmission giving out while I'm traveling at highway speeds with my wife and two children in car seats. Nissan voluntarily extended warranty on the radiator. That is no help to the consumer as once the radiator fails you also have a bad transmission. Please make them accountable for their unethical dodging of a serious problem --- and a dangerous one! thank you.

- Burlington, VT, USA

problem #8

Feb 172009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,367 miles
On my 2005 Nissan Xterra, radiator warranty extended from 36,000 miles/36 months to 80,000 miles/96 months in 2011. However, my radiator was replaced at 40 months/88,000 miles in 2009. 11 months later (2010) I had to replace my transmission because of their defected radiator. Why was my data excluded when Nissan extended their warranty? I have spent over $10,000 in repairs since I have bought my 2005 Xterra brand new.

- Marlette, MI, USA

problem #7

Jan 012006


  • 10,000 miles
While driving down a steep hill, I turned off the overdrive and the dashboard display showed the vehicle had shifted into 4th gear but in fact is was still in od (5th) gear. Upon activating the button to shift back to od, the vehicle now shifted down into 3rd gear but displayed that it was in od (5th) gear. I live in the san bernardino mountains of southern California and I need to downshift to slow the vehicle when going downhill and to avoid overheating the brakes with a possibility of brake failure. I have visited two different Nissan dealers on a total of four occasions to resolve the problem and they tell me that is the way the vehicle functions and there is nothing that can be done to fix it. Although I thought I was buying a vehicle with five gears, in fact when going down hill it does not have a 4th gear. Updated 02/14/11

- Big Bear City, CA, USA

problem #6

Jun 012009


  • 53,000 miles


First problem - when I had 53,000 mi on it, it was still under warranty, it started cutting out and wouldn't accelerate at all, had to have it towed to the dealer to find out that the transmission was bad. They said that he radiator leaked, flooding my transmission with coolant and ruined my transmission. They refused to honor the warranty stating that "the tranmission did not fail - the radiator did (which was not covered under warranty) therefore the transmission was not covered". I had to let them replace the radiator and flush the transmission 3 times - it cost me $1,400 out of pocket - now here I am 30,000 miles later and my reverse will not work at all, my transmission needs replaced. So I had paid 1,400 just to buy myself an year & a half and now I need a new transmission. 2nd problem - I have the fuel gauge/sensor problem, also. I filled up one day, got in my car and gauge read empty & check engine light was on. I had a rip-off mechanic charge me $170 to replace the sensor - nothing ever changed, gauge is still broke and light is still on. Nissan is so wrong for not handling their problems, consumers deserve to be treated fairly. There should be a class action suit against them - just read these complaint boards. Somehow I have both of the most common problems with these vehicles.

- Saltsburg, PA, USA

problem #5

Nov 162010


  • 124,000 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra 4WD--vehicle has vibration in steering and gear shift accompanied with a low rumble; mechanic reports problem is in front U-joint;-best to replace both U-joints; also being reported by Nissan service department -- most likely will be a recall; entire drive shaft must be replaced, not just the U-joint; additionally Nissan service department is reporting part is not available. I have a car with a problem in drive train that needs to be fixed, a manufacturer reporting a potential recall and no parts available. My options are--park car until parts are available (no eta on the parts), drive car with a potentially dangerous problem, or have a used part placed into the car.

- Stahlstown, PA, USA

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problem #4

May 012010

Xterra 4-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
2005 Xterra SE. When driving at 1.5 to 2 rpms truck rumbles underneath like it is going over the rumble strips on the side of the highway. Acceleration or deceleration stops the noise. Rear differential issues have been raised on many Nissan and truck forums discussing the later 2000 Xterra models. Nissan said I need the new rear differential. Curious if this is a wide range problem.

- Rocky Point, NY, USA

problem #3

Sep 262010


  • 58,500 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact was accelerating 5 mph from a traffic stop when the vehicle abnormally lost power and would not accelerate. The vehicle was parked and left. One week prior to the failure, the vehicle was taken to the dealer in regards to an unusual rumbling in the vehicle. The dealer advised that transmission fluid was leaking into the radiator. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure and current mileage was 58,500.

- Bloomfield, NJ, USA

problem #2

Apr 252010


  • 6,000 miles
I have a 2005 Nissan Xterra 4-wheel drive. While driving it in snow, ice, wet roads or simply stopping quickly, I hear a horrible grinding noise from the front end. It happens when I apply the brakes coming to a stop. It has to be a condition where the wheels may lock up. Also, the brakes let the vehicle "loose" for several feet and/or seconds before the grinding begins. I am used to the fluctuation of the brake pedal with an ABS system. However, I had never heard a sound that reminded me of grinding aluminum cans in a coffee mill. I took it to the service dept when this first happened (December 2005; last incident, April 2010) and they have assured me that this is how the ABS is supposed to sound, feel and work. My husband noticed the same feeling/sensation and asked what was wrong with the brakes. I told him Nissan says that is how they're supposed to work. It doesn't sound acceptable that an automobile company would produce a safety system that sounds/feels like your differential is being ground into little metal pieces.

- Dayton, NV, USA

problem #1

Nov 222009


  • 84,414 miles
I have a 2005 Nissan X-terra and the rear differential has burned up. This issue has actually been going on for about a year. I had to take the car in because I was having a transmission issue and the Nissan dealership did not think it was the transmission. The service manager rode in the back and thought it to be the wheel bearings. They switched that out but it did not fix the issue. Long story short at that particular time it ended up being an issue with the transmission which was replaced but ever since I got the vehicle back in 1/09 is had the whistling noise when going down the highway at higher speeds and when you let off the gas it whistles. Bottom line is there was an issue in January 2009 with the rear differential and it was blown off by the dealership and now it has blown and Nissan will not stand behind it. I will never buy another Nissan. Mine has had 2 transmissions replaced and now this all within a year. Rear-ends should not go out this easily.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

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