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 6 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #229

Jan 112011


  • 44,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated there was a loud noise heard from the front of the vehicle intermittently. The authorized dealer was unable to replicate or diagnose the failure on several occasions. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where the timing belt was repaired however, the failure recurred. The contact was also advised that there was a leak in the engine. Additionally, when the hood was opened the cap to the transmission overflow was missing and was replaced by the dealer. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer for further inspection and diagnosis. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 44,000. The current mileage was 65,000.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

problem #228

Jan 112011


  • 44,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated there was a loud noise in the front of the vehicle intermittently. An authorized dealer was unable to replicate nor diagnose the failure on several occasions. The vehicle was taken back to an authorized dealer again who diagnosed that the timing needed to be reset. The timing was reset and the failure recurred. The vehicle was also leaking fluid; the hood was opened and the cap to the transmission overflow fluid was missing however, the dealer replaced the cap. The contact continued to hear a loud noise intermittently. The vehicle was taken back to an authorized dealer for further inspection and diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 44,000. The current mileage was 65,000.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

problem #227

May 022014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 160,000 miles
Manufacturing defect in radiator caused transmission failure that could have been quite dangerous under some circumstances. This has been widely reported by huge numbers of Nissan owners of various year models and styles. Nissan refuses to be accountable for the failure and denies acceptable service to their customers on this issue.

- Arthur City, TX, USA

problem #226

Aug 012013


  • 102,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while traveling various speeds, the vehicle suddenly lost acceleration power and would not exceed 25 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was found that the transmission had failed due to being contaminated by coolant. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 102,000.

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #225

Apr 142014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 95,550 miles
When driving at highway speeds, vehicle would start to shudder and thud into gear. Had vehicle checked out and told there was a defect in which the connection between radiator and transmission malfunctioned and coolant mixed with transmission fluid, thereby destroying the transmission and radiator. I have found that this is apparently a very common problem of Nissan Xterras from 2005 to 2010 that I had no idea about. This really should be recalled on all affected vehicle, because it is such a common problem and if one has over 80K miles they still pay half for the repair and if over 100K miles there is no warranty coverage from Nissan. The warranty extension was the result of a class action suit but is not enough when full repair can be $6000 and there has been no warning from Nissan that this is a potential problem to look for.

- Fort Thomas , KY, USA

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problem #224

Dec 312013


  • 10,000 miles
Transmission has a jerk, and it turned out to be due to the oil and coolant mix in the transmission. This has been an ongoing issue and several complains have been filed, no extended warranty, dealer or anybody is covering the cost. It is a very expansive repair and I can not afford to fix on this financed vehicle. Nissan must pay for the repair.

- Rochester Hills, MI, USA

problem #223

Feb 032014


  • 120,000 miles


I was driving on an interstate highway where the speed limit is 70mph. Car begins have a large rumble. Can't tell if it the rear end, the drive shaft or transmission. There is no pattern to the rumble and it continues for several weeks, so I take it to an auto repair shop. They tell me that I have water in my transmission fluid, which was caused by a cracked line in the radiator. I am told to check on the internet, because this is a big problem that lot of Nissan Xterra owners are facing. So, I check it out and the issue is huge. I bought the Xterra about 2 years ago and during that time was never contacted by anyone warning me of this issue. 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. My vehicle still will drive and only get the rumble occasionally, but I now know it's fate. It's ashamed that I could not have been warned by Nissan before facing costly repairs. Nissan could have saved us lots of headache and money if we had know and been able to be pro-active before the damage was done.

- Angier, NC, USA

problem #222

Apr 012013


  • 145,000 miles
Transmission locked up intermittently, then stopped shifting all together. Replaced transmission, but quit again after only a week of driving. Turns out the cooling system was leaking into transmission and causing parts failure. Had to replace radiator, and, multiple transmissions parts for 2nd time.

- West Monroe, LA, USA

problem #221

Apr 012010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 72,890 miles
Transmission failure while merging into traffic almost causing a crash.vehicle was running fine then suddenly would not accelerate. Vehicle has no indications of problems prior to this incident. Transmission fluid was contaminated with engine coolant according to the shop that repaired it.

- Milton, FL, USA

problem #220

Apr 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 1,000,750 miles
The vehicle doesn't move, despite acceleration, no engine light. Went to the dealer and after diagnosis they said the radiator was cracked and the transmission was leaking. The cost comes to $7500. Contacted Nissan they say its not within warranty. Theses is a defective design on the radiator. Updated 05/01/14

- Shoreline, WA, USA

problem #219

Mar 292014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 112,800 miles


Internal radiator transmission cooler cracked leaking coolant into the transmission and destroying it, rendering it useless. The transmission failed on me while I was driving and the vehicle gave me absolutely no warning lights or any indication of an issue occurring with the transmission. I had no advance notice so I was unable to avoid any damage to my transmission.

- Poplar Branch, NC, USA

problem #218

Mar 292014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Transmission failure due to a problem well known by Nissan. Coolant entered through a failed radiator and causes failure of the automatic transmission. Timing chain failure also well known by Nissan.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #217

Mar 282014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I took my car into the shop because of a rumbling noise and shake that was happening while driving. It feels like hitting the safety strips on the edge of the road by the shoulder. The mechanics pulled things apart and identified that there was radiator fluid and engine coolant leaking into my transmission. There were also metal shavings mixed in with the fluids.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #216

Mar 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
Radiator coolant and oil mixture and due to that, the transmission makes the car vibrate to an undrivable point affecting the driver ability to conduct a safe operation on the road including busy highways.

- Gautier, MS, USA

problem #215

Jun 202013


  • 103,000 miles
I was driving down a mountain in Tennessee on a family vacation, when my transmission failed because the coolant was leaking into the transmission fluid. In order to get to a safe location I had to drive in reverse to a driveway which could have caused me to be in an accident with a young child and my fiance in the car. Upon further research I realized that Nissan has over 500 complaint on the same issue and it was never resolved. I paid 4800 dollars out of pocket in order to replace the transmission and radiator.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #214

Feb 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 131,000 miles
The transmission became stuck in 3rd or 4th gear and would not accelerate. Then it worked for a few days. After that it got stuck in 1st and would not shift. It is currently stuck in 3rd or 4th again. The transmission fluid is a red brown foamy color. It is giving a code of P1754.

- Newnan, GA, USA

problem #213

Mar 142014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
There is a manufacturer's defect with the radiator in which it cracks and leaks fluid into the transmission, which then destroys the transmission. When we called Nissan to ask if they were going to stand by their product, they told us there was nothing they could do for us.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #212

Jan 242014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 117,045 miles
My 16 year son was driving home at 11:00 pm on the interstate when, with no warning, the car lost all acceleration power. He was able to get the car to the side of the road and turn the car off and on and got it into 3rd gear. It would not work in drive. He proceeded very slowly for a short distance until he would lose acceleration power. He had to continue to turn the car off and on the highway multiple times to get it home that evening. He continued very slowly with his flashing lights on. It subsequently had to be towed. Thankfully, it did not result in a crash on the interstate. The car is black and it was very dark. It would've been very difficult for someone immediately behind him to react on the interstate. My son's safety was severely compromised. The problem turned out to be the radiator/transmission problem Nissan is already being investigated for (NHTSA action number DP12004). It required a new radiator, a new transmission and a new transmission computer as this was all ruined with the catastrophic failure of the radiator. The cost of repairs was $4632.97 including the tow charge. Nissan has been aware of this problem for quite some time and even settled a class action lawsuit for this very issue a few years ago. Had they voluntarily recalled the vehicle and fixed the problem, my son would not have been put in this dangerous situation and the costs would have been minimized. I desire for Nissan to be held liable for this - you have received literally hundreds of the very same complaint. Please conduct a recall on the Xterra, pathfinders and frontiers you know are impacted. We were fortunate not to have a crash resulting in injury or death; the next family may not be so lucky.

- Brentwood, TN, USA

problem #211

Jan 022014


  • 97,000 miles
I started to notice a problem while driving on the highway and thought it may be a engine oil issue. I knew there was something wrong because it did not feel right when driving the car it on the highway. Attaining the speeds on the highway was difficult and slow. When braking it was also slower to react. I took it too Nissan thinking it an easy fixed, I paid $700 dollars to fix whatever they could analyze. I thought the problem was solved, but no. Then I was hit with a $3000 to replace the transmission and radiator, which was known about back in 2010. What a rip off Nissan, you knew there was an issue and you neglect to inform your customers. I hope you go bankrupt now!

- Plainsboro, NJ, USA

problem #210

Feb 182014


  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 60 mph, the transmission began to slip gears before becoming inoperative. The engine was turned off and upon restarting, the vehicle resumed normally. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who informed the contact that the transmission fluid had turned into a dark brow, almost black color. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 125,000.

- Hamilton, TX, USA

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