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 5 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #249

Aug 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles


2005 Nissan Xterra. Consumer writes in regards to transmission and radiator issues. The consumer stated after he dropped the vehicle off at the dealer, he received a call from the service advisor, stating transmission fluid was leaking into the radiator and Nissan was aware of the defect and should cover the cost in replacing the radiator and transmission, because they extended the warranty. When the consumer contacted Nissan to confirm, he was informed the vehicle had over 80,000 miles and he would have to pay $3,000 if he wanted the repairs done.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #248

Jan 012013


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 55 mph, the vehicle started shaking and stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician stated a crack in the atf caused a cross contamination of the engine coolant into the transmission. As a result of the failure, the transmission would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 93,000.

- Mission, TX, USA

problem #247

May 052014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 102,594 miles
My truck felt sluggish. Upon diagnosis, there was transmission fluid in the radiator and the radiator was replaced on 5/7/14. Several weeks later, my truck stalled, and I had the intelligent power distribution module replaced. Several weeks later, the service engine light came on. This time, there were three transmission codes. The transmission had coolant in it, and was starting to fail. Nissan corporate only offers an extension over 100,000 on their powertrain warranty with a $3,500 deductible. With the transmission (rebuilt) being $3,500 and the radiator being $500. It was not worth it to go to the dealership to get a new transmission. Nissan failed to notify their customers in 2007 when they became aware of the problem. It would have been a lot less costly for Nissan truck owners to buy a new radiator before it failed, then to have also lost their transmissions. It looks like Nissan wanted to avoid a costly recall, which will cost them more in lost new car sales in the future. One CEO looks good, the next one will not.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #246

Apr 082014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 128,000 miles


Coolant enters into the transmission system from a defective radiator system and destroys transmission. Nissan manufacturer is aware of this, even lost a class action lawsuit, but has not recalled the vehicle. As a result, owners are not aware of the defect until transmission is ruined. Nissan only agreed to help repair vehicles, after the fact and only up to 100,000 miles - with the owner still having to pay $3,000 toward repair. Since we were not aware of the defect, we didn't do anything preemptive so we had to wait until our transmission was ruined. Since we are beyond the 100,000 mile mark, Nissan will not accept any responsibility for repair.

- Bloomburg, TX, USA

problem #245

Dec 112013


  • 142,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle shook. The failure occurred multiple times. The dealer stated that the transmission and radiator needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was not notified. The approximate failure mileage was 142,000.

- Hendersonville, TN, USA

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problem #244

Jul 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 177,700 miles
Purchased my '05 Nissan Xterra in the spring of 2012 with about 160,000 miles. For the past 2 months I had minor issues like shuddering/vibrations randomly when I accelerated and the heat not working when I was at a complete stop. It was not until the other day when I was at a complete stop and my car would not accelerate properly that I knew I had a problem with the transmission. I took my Xterra to 3 different mechanics and each one explained to me that I would need a completely new transmission and from there they would see if I in fact needed to change the radiator (which they were positive was the original issue due to similar issues with other Nissan SUV owners). The repairs will cost me well over $4,000 and unfortunately as a college student, there is no way I can afford to repair the transmission and radiator. What was appalling to me was when I researched the issue online. There are hundreds upon hundreds of complaints online on various websites about this issue and Nissan has yet to issue a recall. The extended warranty excluded many people and put many more at an unfair disadvantage. I personally bought my Nissan, because of their reputation, but the fact that they will not come to the aid of their consumers speaks volumes of this company.

- Bear, DE, USA

problem #243

Jul 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles


While driving vehicle vibrated as if it didn't know whether to shift or not. Found out later that I had water in my trans and trans fluid in my radiator.

- Montague, NJ, USA

problem #242

Jan 022014


  • 140,000 miles
2nd owner of 2005 Nissan Xterra. First had issues with heat not working when at a complete stop, then car would begin to vibrate on the hwy, and now car is having issues up shifting. 2 mechanics have told me the same thing, stating defective radiator was leaking fluid into transmission. Now I must replace both at about $4000. After doing some research online, I have found this is a common issue with this model and Nissan has not issued a recall. Jeopardizing the safety of many and being very costly to those who can not afford a major issue like this.

- Bear, DE, USA

problem #241

Jul 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 135,372 miles
The radiator leaked into the transmission causing the transmission to stop working. I had to have the transmission rebuilt and a whole new radiator system put in my truck. 5300.00.this is a common problem with this model. Tried to send in a claim but was told they are no longer excepting claims because of the problem. If they are aware of the problem then they should help those of us it happened to!!!!!!

- Sayreville, NJ, USA

problem #240

May 142014


  • 146,000 miles
I noticed the transmission 'slipping' when I pulled into work, especially in traffic on my commute. When I got back in my car 2 hours later, I could barely make it up a 2% grade in the parking lot. I immediately went to a reputable transmission shop who said I was lucky to make it there and not pay the towing charges (he pointed to another Xterra that came in the day before). My vehicle was past the (wimpy) extended warranty (mileage) for the class action lawsuit and the age was well past it. It cost me $3750 out of pocket with no hope of financial relief from Nissan. The transmission repair store owner said this whole situation (design and lawsuit) was terrible and could have been avoided. Lucky I wasn't on the interstate!

- Greenville, SC, USA

problem #239

Jun 232014


  • 85,000 miles


Complete catastrophic engine failure during rush hour traffic. Luckily I was approaching a red light and there were cars slowing ahead of me I was able to brake slowly to a stop while I was not able to be steer. I had to be pushed to the side of the road by the help of others. The vehicle was towed to the pinnacle Nissan dealership where they informed me that the transmission and the radiator has to be fully replaced due to a faulty valve. Nissan said the valve that connects the radiator and transmission broke allowing coolant and anti freeze to mix together and immediately catastrophically destroying both components. I was informed that their was a classaction suit for this very reason that was settled but this is very dangerous if I had been in a freeway situation. Nissan has had numerous complaints for this vehicle for this reason. I have had every recall part for this vehicle needed to be replaced due to faulty manufacturing, this is a very expensive repair and it has been known due to the # of complaints on this particular part being faulty but a recall needs to happen not at the expense of Nissan. I am expected to cover this with a deductible of $2500 at no fault of my own. I am lucky to be alive. I have maintained all necessary/reccomended service outlined by Nissan up till L this failure. Thank you

- Phoenix , AZ, USA

problem #238

Jul 152014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 72,630 miles
Luckily I was waiting in a drive thru when the known defect occurred. The radiator is known to crack and leak in to the transmission mixing both the coolant and transmission fluid requiring the replacement of both the radiator and transmission. The failure of the radiator also requires that the engine be flushed multiple times. I received a letter from Nissan a few years ago that this is a rare occurrence. It doesn't appear that they were telling the truth. Nissan settled a class action suit so I will have to pay $2560 to get the problem fixed. Because the parts have to be ordered it takes a week or longer to get the car fixed. This is a known problem that affects multiple Nissan models from 2005 through 2010. Nissan should be required to recall and fix everyone of the affected models.

- Reedley, CA, USA

problem #237

Jun 132014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Because of a failed radiator, coolant became mixed with automatic transmission fluid and the transmission stopped working in rush hour traffic.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #236

Jun 022014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 82,500 miles
The cooling system failed and mixed coolant with transmission fluid, transmission subsequently failed.

- York, PA, USA

problem #235

May 152014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 76,500 miles
Transmission failure because of coolant fluid leaking into it. A design flaw which brought a class action suit against Nissan. Nissan lost the suit, but did not recall these vehicles for repair. I was forced to pay $3000 deductible for the repair, but I may be lucky since many with this problem will not be covered at all. Very unfair of Nissan.

- Harahan, LA, USA

problem #234

Aug 012013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
Radiator defect causes leakage into transmission. Transmission fails and vehicle abruptly stops unpredictably on the freeway.

- Newport Beach, CA, USA

problem #233

Jun 022014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 99,635 miles
Monday June 2 my husband told me something was wrong with his 05 Xterra. He said it sounded like it was driving on rumble strips in the road. We went online to find that there have been several complaints brought against Nissan for folks experiencing the same issue. We contacted our local Nissan dealer. I spoke with [xxx] and he informed me that there is a known issue with 05 Xterra's where the radiator fluid leaks into the transmission which will in turn cause the engine to cease. He then indicated to me that there was a class action law suit that settled back in Jan 2013 that if the vehicle was under 100,000 miles all would be covered all but $3,000. That's what we would have to pay to have this fixed knowing that this is a defect on the vehicle that Nissan has known about as it effects 2005-2010 Xterra's, pathfinders and frontiers. Yet its us that has to pay out of pocket this astronomical amount of money. Anyone over 100,000 miles would have to pay in full which ranges $7000 - $10,000 depending on the state you live in. You can't tell me that this is how a company stands by their name. This was literally almost a total loss on this vehicle but luckily enough we were 300 miles under the 100,000 mark. How is this ok to charge folks these prices for something that is a defect on the company. To date, we were never notified nor was a recall ever put into place. There are thousands of folks filing complaints on this matter. We should not have to have this worry how we will come up with this amount of money and by all means we should not have to borrow from 401K's to afford what we rightfully did not damage ourselves. I will never, we will never purchase another Nissan again because they did not stand by their name. All we are asking is that something be done to return our money that we so rightfully shouldn't have had to put out. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #232

Jun 022014


  • 168,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated while driving 35 mph, the check engine warning lamp illuminated. The contact mentioned that the vehicle was making a loud knocking sound and was hesitating. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the technician diagnosed that the transmission was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage were 168,000.

- Irondale, AL, USA

problem #231

May 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,553 miles
Driving on highway and transmission failed. Nearly had accident getting car off of road. Problem exists do to factory defect of radiator leakage into transmission fluid. Requires new radiator and other repairs and new transmission. Estimated repair cost = $6,800.

- Quincy, IL, USA

problem #230

May 122014


  • miles
I was driving one morning and at the front of my neighborhood is a hill. I had to stop and wait for traffic so that I could go. Once I put my foot on the gas I couldn't go anywhere, the engine just revved. So I had to back all the back to my house. My husband is a mechanic and told me it was the transmission. We have now found out what the problem was being that the coolant is getting into the transmission and ruined it. Now, at the time I find that there was a settlement, my vehicle has over the 100,000 mile limit. From what I read, the majority of the vehicles are over the 100,000 mile limit when the problem occurs. Something needs to be done about this because it could cause a fatality if you are driving and suddenly can't go anywhere fast enough and get hit!

- Austell, GA, USA

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