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 3 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #289

Sep 292015


  • 120,000 miles


Transmission abruptly failed over the course of less than 10 minutes. The vehicle was moving at approximately 30 mph, starting making a whining noise, and then motive power stopped being transmitted to the wheels. Final diagnosis is still pending, but symptoms match other widely-reported failures due to mixing of engine coolant into the transmission fluid.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #288

Jun 012015


  • 170,000 miles
Radiator leaked fluid into the transmission effectively destroying it.

- Dripping Springs, TX, USA

problem #287

Dec 122014


  • 75,000 miles
The car shudders and wont accelerate. The transmission won't shift properly. I understand this was was a class action lawsuit and recall. I am outside the time frame. I was never notified and was deployed at the time.

- Portsmouth, RI, USA

problem #286

Feb 112015


  • miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving at any speed, the vehicle idled highly and made an abnormal sound. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the radiator fluid leaked into the transmission and the transmission fluid leaked into the radiator. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Greer, SC, USA

problem #285

Aug 072015


  • 152,946 miles
My son was driving the car on a local road near home at night. He was accelerating up a small grade, when he said the car acted as if it had popped out of gear. It began to rev higher and made a higher pitched sound. He tried changing from being in "drive" to a lower gear, but it still did not engage the transmission. He had enough momentum to be able to coast onto our side street and park the car. Luckily there was no accident, but he was almost rear-ended as his car slowed suddenly and traffic ran up on him. The car would not start, nor turn over at that point. I had the car towed to the local Nissan dealer. They mentioned it was a known issue with the transmission and radiator and it would cost over 5K for just a new transmission, not including a new radiator or labor to install both. I was able to find another mechanic that purchased a rebuilt transmission, but the whole thing still cost over 5K to have the rebuilt transmission and radiator installed with no assurance that it would not happen again. This is a well documented issue with these vehicles and continues to cost people thousands of dollars for a very poor and dangerous design.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

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problem #284

Jul 222015


  • 127,000 miles
My daughter was driving and the engine started to rev high. The transmission felt like it was slipping, the car would barely move. She was able to get it into a parking lot. The vehicle started smoking and fluid poured out of the bottom of the vehicle. We had it towed. The mechanic said the radiator leaked fluid into the transmission. He said he sees this all the time with Nissan vehicles, it is a know flaw. It will cost almost $4000 to repair, it is still in the shop. Update 9/15/15

- Waco, TX, USA

problem #283

Jul 122015


  • 143,200 miles


Was driving and vehicle transmission stopped moving vehicle. Engine was running and I could see the rpms increase as I gave gas but the drive train stopped working. Had the car towed to a transmission shop. The diagnosed the problem as transmission cooler problem. Explained that it is a common thing with this vehicle. Then discovered through the internet that this has been going on for years and Nissan has not recalled for the defect. Repair shop told me it will be $4500 to repair.

- Windham, NH, USA

problem #282

Jun 152015


  • 109,000 miles
My Xterra won't move when in gear, drive. I was coming out of my driveway and pulled out into traffic slowly, when I went to accelerate to pull in front of other cars coming my way the Xterra just stopped accelerating. The engine reved up high but the car would not move. Cars almost ran into me as I had to move to the shoulder with this dead car. I put the car in park and then drive again, stepped on the gas and the engine reved but did not move. I put the car in lower gear and then drive and was able to limp on back home very slowly with the engine reving high. I got in my garage, checked the tranny fluid and it was rusty looking with shards of metal in it, it almost was like scrapes of metal in it. The car is stuck in my garage and won't go anywhere but backwards.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #281

Mar 222015


  • 79,032 miles
Car has broken down 3 times in the past month. Cause: Radiator and transmission.

- La Quinta, CA, USA

problem #280

May 282015


  • 105,900 miles
Vehicle has unwanted vehicle acceleration up to 30 mph without pressing accelerator. RPM's suddenly increase and then decrease during gear change. Memphis wolfchase Nissan service center (901) 255-3800 advised radiator fluid leaked in automatic transmission and has corroded transmission.. transmission replacement repair bill will be in excess of $5,300.

- Cordova, TN, USA

problem #279

May 262015


  • 112,000 miles


Confirmed diagnoses of vehicle damage of radiator assembly & transmission are due to Nissan's defective radiator assembly which allows coolant to pass through into the transmission rendering the vehicle unsafe to operate. Nissan is unwilling to assist with the repairs of damage caused by defect. I was not notified of this manufacturing defect. This is a safety issue, a damaged transmission due to coolant entering it has rendered the vehicle unsafe to drive, a known defect, yet the manufacturer will not even compromise to assist with repair of this defect. A manufacturer should assist with repair of any defect that renders the equipment unsafe to operate - no matter when that defect decides to show up! Nissan should assist in all repairs due to their known defect to let the consumer operate the vehicle in safety.

- West Chester, PA, USA

problem #278

May 212015


  • 23,160 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving at 35 mph, the vehicle seized and smoke emitted from the engine. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, where it was diagnosed that the transmission, radiator, and another component needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 23,160.

- Clermont, FL, USA

problem #277

Apr 152015


  • 108,321 miles
I was starting to drive my Nissan Xterra 2005 and heard a noise like metallic rattling. The mechanic told me the transmission oil is mixed with coland fluid. I was told, to fix will cost $5000 to replace the transmission and the radiator and cooling system. In the internet I found out many complains about Nissan's cars for this catastrophic failure. This is a manufacturer defective product. Damage to the transmission as a result of the defective car. Nccc (North Carolina consumer council) has received a number of complaints from consumers in regards to sudden, catastrophic transmission failures in 2005-2010 Nissan pathfinder, frontier and Xterra vehicles. All of the vehicles experiencing these failures are not within the time period specified by the extended warranty, but are often beyond the mileage limit. So, why should I pay for somebody (Nissan) mistakes and never try to correct them? I never get from Nissan an advise on this potential failure of my car. Nissan has been aware of this problem since 2007 and has undertaken no preventive measures to protect consumers from failure. Nissan didn't warn consumers that the transmission could fail. Any honest company will at least warn consumers of the consequences to the transmission defect. But this rip of company do not care about their products nor their customers. I do not recomend to buy a Nissan car ever !!! Nissan motor corporation is a rip of company that lacks honesty !!!

- Durham , NC, USA

problem #276

Apr 192015


  • 182,367 miles
Transmission coolant line cracked inside the transmission, causing the transmission to be destroyed. Was quoted a repair cost of 5,500, because the vehicle is 4X4 and the repair they would have to make to the coolant system. The vehicle is not repaired at this time due to the fact the vehicle is only worth 3,500.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #275

Apr 202015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle vibrated and shifted gears. The vehicle was diagnosed by an independent mechanic who stated that the failure was caused by a mixture of transmission and radiator fluid that affected the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Elyria, OH, USA

problem #274

Apr 252015


  • 105,334 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 45 mph, the vehicle failed to shift gears and the service engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the radiator, transmission, and coolant heater hose needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacture was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 105,334.

- Maui, HI, USA

problem #273

Apr 282015


  • 84,765 miles
My Nissan has the defect that brought a lawsuit against Nissan motor for a failure in the oil cooler that caused my transmission and radiator to be completely rebuilt/replaced because coolant had leaked into my transmission. I ended up with a bill for $3941.46, and now, I can't even file a reimbursement form or get a hold of any one at Nissan to help because all 3 numbers listed in letters and paperwork are no longer in service.

- Reno, OH, USA

problem #272

May 012015


  • 148,000 miles
My car oveheated and began to buck -- mechanic stated transmission and radiator have failed - I still owe 1 year on this car and Nissan wont fix it - can you help in any way published on Apr 18, 2013 video of what happens to the radiator/transmission fluid when the transmission fluid radiator fails and a cross connection happens between the two fluids that don't belong together. Nissan settled a class action lawsuit in January of 2013, but this doesn't mean that you still can't file a complaint with the national transportation safety administration. If you have experienced this problem or no someone that has, file the complaint. Also call the state attorney general and the federal trade commission and file a complaint against Nissan. We bought the car used, but there is no way to check for this problem. If we had known the problem existed, I assure you we would not have purchased the vehicle. If I knew there was a potential problem after we purchased the vehicle, we could have replaced the transmission coolant radiator with the safer replacement type to prevent this from happening. I think it should have been the federal government's responsibility to notify the public of the problem and they should force Nissan to address the issue. They made Toyota step up with recalls and Toyota did to my recollection. Should have purchased a Toyota.

- Lowell, MA, USA

problem #271

May 042015


  • 87,150 miles
Vehicle had many times failed to gear itself properly causing a sudden jerking motion once gear finally set in. This caused poor acceleration and a check engine light appears. Mechanic says radiator was leaking into the transmission. Radiator was replaced and transmission fluids flushed. Problem still occurs and check engine light keeps appearing. Mechanic says he cannot fix stating the radiator is causing transmission failure somehow and suggests to bring it to the dealership.

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #270

May 152007


  • 500 miles
I purchased a brand new 2005 Xterra 1/2006 with 10 miles!!!! I paid 28,000 for this vehicle and worst vehicle I never had!!! I only service this vehicle at the dealership!!!! I had so many issues with this new truck!! the check engine light keeping on at from the very beginning and when I took it to the dealership said nothing was wrong! over time, this was a complete lemon!! the vehicle had to replace a radio, 6 batteries, 3 alternators, hoses leaking, oil leaking within 3 years purchasing a new truck, fuel sensor replaced, fuel pump replaced, 1 cal.conventor replaced, and worst of all transmission issues!! the truck will not go up hills and when I took it to 2 different places said that the radiator was leaking into the transmission and Nissan knew about this and never said nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I only took my truck to the dealership and they never said a thing! I could replaced the radiator long time again to avoid the transmission going out!! 5,500 repair job!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is poor quality truck with all the issues I had since I brought it brand new !! my Acura have 241,000 and never had any of these issues that I purchased used!! I contact the Corp office and they will never do anything! the Nissan dealerships around the country knows the issues with these Nissan cars and never say a thing!! I will never purchase a another Nissan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they will not stand behind their product!! 4 of my friends with Nissan (Xterra, pathfinder, and maxima) the transmission went out within 6 months of each other!!!

- Charlotte, NC, USA

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