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 8 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #189

Nov 042013


  • 97,000 miles


Transmission started slipping in high gear, because of a leak from a known faulty radiator letting coolant into transmission.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #188

Nov 282012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
Transmission kept slipping from 4th gear to 3rd, then back to 4th. It was brought in for transmission service and learned the radiator was leaking fluid into the transmission. The radiator needs to be replaced and the transmission rebuilt. Nissan is aware of the issue occurring in 2005-2007 models, but have done nothing to correct it, nor have they notified owners of this serious problem.

- Haydenville, MA, USA

problem #187

Nov 122013


  • miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan model Xterra. The contact stated that he replaced the radiator as a precaution to avoid radiator fluid from mixing with the transmission fluid. The contact had not experienced a failure. The current mileage was 83,000.

- Stuart , FL, USA

problem #186

Nov 082013


  • 79,200 miles


I was slowing down at an intersection to prepare to stop when I heard a clunking sound from under my car and then service light came on. When I pressed the gas pedal to go, I heard my engine rev but only got very little acceleration before it moved forward. It happened again at another intersection so I drove home carefully. Speculating that it had to do with the transmission, my husband and I did the research and found that there was a class action lawsuit regarding to engine coolant in the transmission. We were surprised that I was never alerted to this serious problem by Nissan. We called the dealership to see what could be done. At first they lied about the problem but when confronted with the knowledge that we knew about the lawsuit, then they acknowledged there was problem. Then they weren't going to help us because they claimed that my VIN was not part of the recall. My husband told them that the class action lawsuit, did not say it was for select VIN numbers. We were told to bring it in, which we did and then they informed us we still had to pay $2500. If I had been informed of the problem, I would have had it fixed before it became serious. This website gives the best info to what happened: We were never told about this issue even when we had the dealership do the oil change previously. The worst part is that they knew about the issue but did nothing to help fix the problem before it became a serious issue. This type of negligent practice should be investigated and Nissan should be held accountable and the victims should not have to pay at all since it was preventable and is dangerous for the driver, passengers and all vehicles on the road should it stall in traffic. Thank you for your time and consideration.

- Kaneohe, HI, USA

problem #185

Oct 282013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 85,500 miles
We have learned that sometime in late 2007 Nissan motor corporation issued a warranty extension for the transmission oil cooler / radiator assembly for the subject vehicles to 8 years, 80000 miles ? up from the standard 3 year, 36000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Nissan motor corporation, to our knowledge, has not been conducting any preventative inspections of the subject vehicles to help consumers prevent catastrophic transmission failure. Consumers report that Nissan motor corporation is denying their warranty claims and as a 'courtesy measure' will offer to replace the failed oil cooler at a discount. The additional two years or 20,000 miles with a $3000 deductible is, at most, a sad joke at the expense of consumers. Nissan has been aware of this problem since 2007 and has undertaken no preventive measures to protect consumers from failure.

- La Habra, CA, USA

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problem #184

Jul 072013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 10,000 miles
Just bought auto from used car dealer day before. Drove it 30 miles pulled in visited then went out to start auto. Would not start traced back to blown fuse, changed fuse tried starting again, blew fuse again, one more time then when auto started smoke came out from under hood. After 3 months of replacing electrical wiring from frying narrowed down to radiator and transmission (fuse that blew) the coolant had backed up and tore up transmission. If it had been on the road there would have been a full blown fire on a highway with possibility of human damages.

- Hamersville, OH, USA

problem #183

Oct 202013


  • 95,825 miles


This is a common problem where the radiator leaks into transmission and destroys transmission. I just learned of this issue last week, and have an appointment with Nissan dealer tomorrow. My Xterra is starting to shift erratically. I fear it has been compromised. I don't see how they can get away with not recalling this. It is irresponsible and unethical. Please help.

- Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #182

Jul 172013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
The car began to vibrate at 40 mph. I took it to two mechanics who could not figure out the problem. I tried regular maintenance and tire rotation and balance but the vibration continued. Finally, while I was out of town, a mechanic dropped the transmission pan and discovered the engine coolant had entered the transmission system. He discovered that this is a problem with the Nissan Xterra 2005 - 2010. Nissan even has a bypass part to be installed. This piece was installed and the transmission flushed and new transmission fluid put in. The radiator appears to be fine, no cracks as often reported with this problem. Now, three months later, I have serious transmission problems. The car jerks violently at 40mph on acceleration and deceleration. The mixing of engine coolant with the transmission has obviously caused serious damage to my transmission. I am devastated. I love this car but have no financial means to fix this problem.

- New Port Richey, FL, USA

problem #181

May 122011


  • 99,000 miles
Was driving while my transmission went out. Dealer said the transmission and radiator fluid were mixed. My vehicle had 99,000 on it. Had it fixed then at 140,000 it happened again. Nissan wants me to pay $5500 but I refuse. This vehicle needs to be recalled.

- Wonder Lake , IL, USA

problem #180

Sep 272013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
My transmission just stuttered and stopped working while in traffic.turns out the radiator leaked coolant into the transmission causing it to fail. This is a known issue from Nissan, however the cost of the repair fell to me. Luckily, I did not incur any injury when the vehicle just stopped working during 5pm rush hour on a Friday.

- Missoula, MT, USA

problem #179

Sep 272013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 124,356 miles


While turning back into traffic my 2005 Nissan Xterra jerked as I began to accelerate over 20 mph. Once I got the vehicle to the speed of traffic it began to have troubles shifting gears and accelerating. While the vehicle was at a steady speed I didn't notice any other issues. As I slowed to an exit the vehicle started to jerk and not shift properly. It also had trouble accelerating. After having these issues I checked my fluids and found a milky like substance was in my transmission and my coolant. I researched the problems I was having with my Xterra and found that it was very common and realized that their is a crack in my radiator which is causing the contamination of my transmission and coolant. I have had this vehicle for just about two months and it is very upsetting to know that I may have to pay for a new transmission and radiator which is more then what I paid for the vehicle.

- Lock Haven, PA, USA

problem #178

Jul 152013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
Car was not running as it should. We thought it was tires and had the tires looked at. Then the service engine soon light came on but then went off. Cruise control stopped working. Then service engine soon light came back. Monday made appt for Nissan dealer (scheduled for Wednesday). By Tuesday morning, could only use 3rd gear so dropped off to dealer on that Tuesday. Nissan diagnosed: Radiator and transmission mixed and contaminated which damaged the tmc. Recommendation: Replacing transmission and radiator assembly (est $6600). We took to a transmission place who was well aware of the defect of this model and indicated that Nissan would be fixing the problem but they are just repeating the issue and the problem could occur again. A flaw in Nissan's design is what we have heard and read about. We didn't want to risk it with Nissan so we had repaired elsewhere. We only had 117,000 miles.

- Bear, DE, USA

problem #177

Sep 252013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 158,000 miles
Suddenly the car (automatic) was revving high and not shifting into next gear and starting making ahigher pitched noise and the service engine light then came on. I drove to a gas station and before fully pulling in, my car would not go into drive, revved high and started smoking. I had to get towed and my car is now going to need a complete transmission and radiator. Nissan is saying since I am passed the extended 10 year warranty or 100,000 miles, there is nothing more they will do about it. Currently am being transferred to see if someone else cares enough about Nissan image as well as their drivers to do something about this. I have been quoted it will cost $5100 to repair this Nissan known issue.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #176

Sep 252013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 118,830 miles
I was informed by the dealership service department that radiator fluid had contaminated transmission fluid in my 2005 Nissan Xterra. This defect in the radiator was known to occur in high mileage vehicles such as mine and was known to Nissan as they extended a service warranty to 100,000 miles. Unfortunately, my vehicle's mileage is over the extended warranty and I am now responsible for the cost of the repairs. This is a huge safety issue as the transmission plays a vital role in the ability for the vehicle to accelerate into and across traffic on busy highways and roads. The inability to do so properly with a defective transmission may lead to accidents. Not to mention that the contaminated radiator coolant may not accomplish the intended goal of cooling engine components leading to over heating and engine dysfunction. I feel strongly that Nissan new about the defect and did not take appropriate action to notify consumers to have the radiators replaced prior to having complications from the defective parts.

- Rosharon, TX, USA

problem #175

Sep 182013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,689 miles
Driving Xterra on highway when SUV started to hesitate when moving forward in traffic....SUV would hesitate, rev...and not shift out of gear easily upon acceleration. Took SUV to mechanic and found out the radiators engine coolant was leaking into the transmission fluid causing the problem. I lucked out and did not damage the transmission, however; I am having to replace the radiator due to the Nissan known defect. I was never given any letters or notified about this mechanical problem and now will be paying under a $900 for fluid flush, new radiator and new fluids. This is not ok for Nissan to not notify the vehicle owners!!!! I expect repayment from Nissan on their faulty mechanical equipment.

- Pantego, TX, USA

problem #174

Sep 132013


  • 149,000 miles
When I drove it to work, there were a few delays while shifting gears. After half hour driving it, I heard water splashing sounds. I turned off the radio and I heard the splashing sounds even more clear. In the same time, I smelled electronic burnt like smells. Since I was on the express way, I couldn't stop right away. Then, 15 minutes later or a total of 45 minutes driving it, there were smokes from the front. I was so shock and worry if the car was going to blow up. I felt panic because I couldn't just stop in the middle of the driving lanes. Thankfully, other cars slowed down for me and let me passed. I pulled up in the nearby dairy depot's parking lot, but I was 20 minutes away from my workplace's city. It was so cold and windy, but since I was worry if the car would blow up, I got out and stood in the cold. Also, the tow truck was delayed for 2 hours and I had to missed work. The car shop told me that the radiator causes the transmission issues and all fluids are mixed together. When I researched this issue, I came across many others who had the same issue. I am shocked that it's very common. I feel so discourage to ever trust Nissan again. This car was my investment as I have $7000 loan remaining on it and I just fixed all four shafts for $1000. I have always done comprehensive maintenance to it. So, where did I go wrong" how can Nissan does this? why there was no recall that would have regained customers' trust that it is safe to drive Nissan??? why Nissan has to wait for a mountain of complaints before agreed to extend the warranty and even that was only for those under 100K mileage? does it mean that Nissan can't make a car that last more than 100K??" not only Nissan jeopardizes my safety and others, now my investment in Nissan has turned into a chunk of debt for me. This is so wrong!!!

- Sandusky, OH, USA

problem #173

Sep 082013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 146,000 miles
Due to a faulty design by the manufacturer, transmission fluid leaked into the radiator and caused complete failure of the radiator and transmission. Because my vehicle had over 100,000 miles it is not covered in any way by warranty and there was no recall issued. I am now facing a car that is worth $7000 or so and needs more than that in repairs. My vehicle is totaled thanks to a faulty design that has been well documented by the manufacturer, but they will do absolutely nothing to help. If they had simply issued a recall on the radiator when the problem first became known, this would have been and easy $500 fix, instead I am left with a worthless vehicle and insufficient funds to repair it or get a new one. I could not be more angry and disappointed with Nissan and their handling of this situation. Needless to say I will never be buying from them again and I will suggest the same to anyone who will listen.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #172

Aug 292013


  • 112,000 miles
Our radiator and transmission broke, causing our car to stall, on vacation, in the middle of Utah. Apparently Nissan is aware of this problem but the warranty is too limited to cover Nissan Xterras suffering from the exact same problem! it's not just us!!! we use our Xterra for off roading (as its intended for!) and a busted transmission put all of us at risk! we did not do anything crazy but you need a safe transmission on hills. After over $1000 in towing expenses we got to a Nissan dealership where we were informed that there is nothing we could have done to prevent this. Later we researched and found out it is a common defect in cars like ours.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #171

Jul 312013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that, while the vehicle was at the dealer for routine maintenance, he was advised that the radiator fluid entered the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 94,000 and current mileage was 95,000. Updated 9/24/13 updated 09/25/2013

- Corona , CA, USA

problem #170

Jul 312013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
I took my 2005 Nissan Xterra to dealer to get serviced. The service department person told me my transmission fluid was leaking into radiator. They told me do to my miles on car at that time I had 94000 miles it would be a 3000 dollars co pay due to the extended warranty Nissan had authorized. I ask why wasn't I told when Nissan was aware of problem to do prevented maintenance. The service rep. Said since it was no recall he was not obligated to tell me. I don't know about most people but I don't have 3000 dollars laying around to use I live paycheck to paycheck. I take my car to dealer only for service thinking its getting the right service but I found out I was wrong. If I was advised early I may of found this problem earlier and got it replace free. Now what do I do?

- Corona, CA, USA

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