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 2 of 17)

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problem #309

May 042016


  • miles


Radiator fluid leaking into tranmission

- Beaver Falls, PA, USA

problem #308

Apr 042016


  • 116,000 miles
Transmission was rebuilt when I was unable to get it into reverse, costs $3850. A few days after work was done the vehicle starting running rough. Mechanic checked it out and let me know that transmission coolant line in the radiator was allowing coolant to get to the transmission and this voided any warranty on the transmission that he had given me and now the transmission as well as the radiator needed to be replaced. Since this happened, thru some research I see im not the only one and besides the thousands of people that have been ripped off be this obvious defect I'm sure there are at least twice as many that didnt bother to voice a complaint, due to the fact that nothing has been done, nor does it look like anything will be done about this no matter how obvious it is that there should of been a recall. I can only assume that someone or maybe more have been compensated to ensure this issue wasnt pursued by anyone that could make a difference.

- Seguin, TX, USA

problem #307

Mar 252014


  • 79,000 miles
Suddey I found my heat not working. Strange, I was low on coolant and no visible leaks. While researching this I came across all the complaints of transmission failure due to the defective welds on the atf cooler within the radiator. I immediately went to dealer and had everything checked out and pressure tested for leaks. They said all is fine and tested ok, we have no idea why you would be low on coolant. Mind you, at this point there is 79K on the odometer and we all know Nissan lame warranty extension is useless due to the convenient mileage cap completely and obviously is in their best interest. Appalling and 100% a safety issue and complete negligence. In an effort to be pro active I ordered an aftermarket radiator and installed it myself. I also flushed and refilled tranny fluid. I am now about to break 100K. I'm now worried about the timing chain issue Nissan also doesn't want to deal with. Anyone reading this should be pro active and change out your radiator and flush your transmission immediately, it's all you can do right now to prevent a bigger issue. It also cost me $400 to do myself. The quote from the dealer was $1500. Good luck to all, I argued and called and called and Nissan could care less and wouldn't even consider any help whatsoever. This was my wife and I's 5th Nissan. Never again!!!!!!

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #306

Apr 012014


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the transmission failed and the vehicle jerked. The vehicle was taken to an authorized mechanic who stated that radiator fluid leaked into the transmission, which caused the transmission to fail. The transmission was replaced. The contact also stated that the fuel gauge failed. The contact did not know if the fuel tank was full or empty. The fuel gauge was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 140,000.

- Boise, ID, USA

problem #305

Feb 012016

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving 60 mph, the vehicle stalled. The contact was able to restart the vehicle. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 100,000. Updated 06/15/16 the transmission was replaced on March 25, 2016. Updated 06/20/16.

- Easley, SC, USA

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problem #304

Feb 252016


  • 87,000 miles
Transmission fail due to defect in transmission cooling tank housed inside the radiator.

- Pittsfield, MA, USA

problem #303

Nov 112015


  • 108,000 miles


After a year of ownership at approx.. 108000 miles, the vehicle would not start. Had it towed to reg. Garage and subsequently another garage with better diagnostic system as the code would not hold/replicate easily. Code was for ECM, which was repaired at owners cost (unaware of recall). There was mix of antifreeze/oil due to leak in radiator. Flushed system and replaced radiator at owner's cost. Within weeks, vehicle was not accelerating correctly and code showing emissions issue and catalytic converter issue. Looking at thousands of dollars in repair costs which appear to simply be a band-aid until the issue begins again. Still paying on the vehicle and a new mom of twins. Now stuck with an unsafe vehicle riddled with repair costs for an issue that Nissan is well aware of and should have fixed. How frustrating that this issue is still in limbo after 2 years, how this cannot be seen as a constantly recurring problem which is extremely unsafe and be the responsibility of Nissan is beyond me. These issues occurred while in motion on a major highway and on side roads with hills.

- Dover, PA, USA

problem #302

Dec 292015


  • 75,222 miles
Radiator defect causing atf fluid to contaminate the transmission, leading to transmission failure, with extensive repairs, and extreme associated costs. This commonly known defect causes transmission to fail while driving, which can be a serious safety issue, and necessitates a full recall!

- Wheat Ridge, CO, USA

problem #301

Dec 142015


  • 135,000 miles
Transmission has failed at 135,000. Fuel gauge does not work.check engine light stays illuminated, therefore I am unaware of any additional issues, and cannot pass emissions in atlanta, ga, therefore I cannot renew my tag.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #300

Dec 052015


  • 140,000 miles
I purchased a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The vehicle's transmission is gone due to a fault in the manufacturing. This could have been a potentially dangerous situation - but luckily for me I was not driving or on the highway. I have contacted Nissan regarding this issue and was told that they are not going to assist me in repairing the problem because the vehicle warranty has run out. I bought this vehicle used - the dealer never mentioned anything about a recall or problem at the time that could be fixed by Nissan nor did I receive any correspondence from Nissan themselves. Now I am stuck with the financial burden of $5000 for the repair. I don't think this is fair - the used car dealers should be mandated by law to fix vehicles with recalls and inform car buyers that there is a manufacturing defect. Nissan also should be held accountable.

- Leominster, MA, USA

problem #299

Aug 152014


  • 115,756 miles


Catastrophic transmission failure as a result of radiator fluid leaking into the transmission allowed by a design defect in the transmission/radiator. Had to pay $5,158 to fix this problem. Manufacturer seems to take no responsibility for this design defect when failure occurs over 100,000 miles. This is wrong.

- Brush Prairie, WA, USA

problem #298

Nov 172015


  • 115,712 miles
Engine coolant infiltrating in to the transmission which causes both the transmission and radiator to fail. Estimated cost to replace these items is approximately $4500. This problem happens and corrodes the valves, gaskets and seals. In my case will driving the vehicle the transmission completely failed causing the vehicle to be stranded on the side of the highway for 2 hours while a tow truck was enroute.

- Hillsborough, NJ, USA

problem #297

Oct 272015


  • 140,000 miles
Radiator has transmission fluid in it. Transmission has radiator fluid in it. Will have to replace both. App, $5000. Vehicle shifts hard then stutters, vibration

- Pace, FL, USA

problem #296

Oct 272015


  • 175,000 miles
Radiator fluids leaked into tranmission causing failure. This is a known problem on these vehicles and Nissan has not recalled them. They were in a class action lawsuit in 2012.

- Pascagoula, MS, USA

problem #295

Oct 132015


  • 144,350 miles
I bought a used Nissan Xterra last year that had 100K mile. Traveling from work warning lights come on. I took my vehicle to meineke for diagnostic. The warning code read transmission. Took it to the Nissan dealer knoxville tn the next day and tech diagnosed problem as a failed transmission fluid cooler located in the radiator assembly that allowed coolant to mix with and contaminate the automatic transmission fluid, resulting in damaged internal transmission components and a damaged internal transmission computer. That week my car produced slowing of vehicle and times where engine would not crank. I ended up paying $3010.35 (attached) to chip's transmission to get fixed. I contacted Nissan North America regarding the issue and was provided documentation that after reviewing my case; they were unable to offer financial assistance because the vehicle was outside the new vehicle limited warranty. (attached) I found out a class action lawsuit was filed regarding this matter and the fix was an extended warranty. Per document if you miles were over 90K miles you were out of luck. Well luck plays no part in this matter as I had bought this vehicle used over 100K miles and was never notified. I had a warranty for 1 yr or 12000 miles when I bought was never notified. I feel like regardless of the mileage. This was a defective part that was installed by Nissan dealership and was a known problem by consumers. This part should be replaced or recalled by Nissan and that an ongoing investigation on the behalf of those consumer who had these vehicles should not have to pay for such extensive repairs or damages being that it is Nissan's wrongful intentions. I have had to eat the cost of not only missing work but paying for rental car expenses for 14 days (attached) plus the parts/repair to this vehicle. F you would like to contact me regarding this matter.]

- Lenoir City, TN, USA

problem #294

May 032015


  • 100,000 miles
The transmission is damaged, because the cooland fluid got mixed with automatic transmission fluid. All of this because a bad Nissan design. Nissan does not take care of this problem, leaving the costumer with a mayor problem. People should not buy Nissan. This company does nothing for problems that they created. It happened in motion driving on a city street.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #293

Oct 022015


  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle jerked intermittently. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission and radiator needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 140,000.

- Lenoir City, TN, USA

problem #292

Oct 062015


  • 132,546 miles
I was driving my Xterra and it surged acceleration then just quit won't turn over nothing... I was on the deuce of clubs driving......

- Show Low, AZ, USA

problem #291

Oct 032015


  • 107,333 miles
A leak inside the radiator has allowed radiator fluid into the transmission. Just driving a short errand near home when I felt a vibration at about 40-45mph, followed by erratic shifting. As I returned home, the car wouldn't even climb up my driveway. I was able to back out, and tried driving forward, but could only crawl a couple of mph. Luckily reverse still worked enough to safely move out of the street.

- Westminster, CO, USA

problem #290

May 192014


  • 99,295 miles
Transmission fluid and coolant mixing. Poor and dangerous design. Took the car to the dealership several time with them like they never heard of the issues(shuttering when climbing on a slight incline, losing power, over heating) after complaining they change the radiator, rear axle, and transmission. This was at 99,295 miles on the odometer. The repairs took a month to complete. Now less then a year and at 128,000 miles on the odometer, it is happening again!!! also the extended warranty is over. The dealership is now saying that it is not their problem. Now I have to pay $1200 to change my radiator so I can drive this time bomb. And they suggested that I change the transmission again for $8,000!!! I will never buy Nissan again. I guess I will drive it until it dies. Searched online and found out that this is a known issue. NHTSA, what are you waiting for to call a recall"?"

- Benbrook, TX, USA

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