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:
103,445 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 9 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

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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

problem #169

Jul 252013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 121,000 miles
Driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra I purchased 8 months ago in January 2013, my air conditioner worked intermittently. Eventually in July of 2013, my car was not drive able. Had it towed to dealership I purchased it at, and they verified that my radiator was leaking coolant, which mixed with my transmission fluid. The resulted in the need to repair the radiator and transmission.

- North Richland Hills, TX, USA

problem #168

Jun 242013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 85,255 miles
Check engine light came up in my 2005 Nissan Xterra at 85,000 miles. Took it to the repair shop where I make oil changes, I was told transmission broke and radiator fluid contamination. Took it to the dealer, they confirm that the transmission failure, but they flat out refused the contamination, instead offer to replace both transmission and radiator for $5,500 to avoid future problems. I was not convinced. Immediately, another guy in the dealership offers to trade in for a new car. I took the car out and went to another transmission shop. Sure enough, they noticed radiation fluid contaminating the transmission fluid. Cost was around $3,750. Because, the deadline was early June'2013 and now is early July, they are telling me I cannot submit the claim. I hope the court does not approve the final settlement. Nissan should recall and pay for the repairs of defective transmission/ radiator.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #167

Jun 152013


  • 140,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the transmission failed as the vehicle shifted to neutral with the illumination of the check engine and slit warning lights. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was stated that the transmission needed to replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 140,000.

- Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, USA

problem #166

Jun 132013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 185,000 miles
While driving my 2005 Xterra SE noticed loud noise coming from front end - found out transmission fluid had become mixed with coolant from radiator. (I have a sample of the cloudy looking fluid). The problem rendered the SUV undrivable so was towed to dealer where spent $5,400 to have both transmission and radiator replaced, but do not know for sure if this a permanent fix or not.

- Emory, TX, USA

problem #165

Jul 072013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 111,400 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 10 mph, the vehicle would not accelerate as the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis. The technician stated that the transmission would have to be replaced because radiator fluid was leaking into the transmission. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 111,400.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #164

Apr 152013


  • 107,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the vehicle became hesitated and decelerated independently with the illumination of the check engine warning light. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis where it was advised to the contact that radiator fluid had leaked into the transmission fluid, causing the transmission to fail. The vehicle was repaired but the problem persisted. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 107,000.

- Humble, TX, USA

problem #163

Jul 302013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 133,242 miles
The vehicle was being driven, as normally, to work on the highway. The engine started to accelerate but the vehicle kept slowing down. There was very little power. The vehicle was brought to a Nissan dealer. The mechanic at the shop told me the transmission had been damaged due to a failure of the radiator. The radiator, transmission and trans computer would have to be replaced at a cost of $4500. He also mentioned that this is a problem Nissan knows about but will not cover the repair under a recall or warranty. I took the SUV for a second opinion to a reputable repair shop. He confirmed the findings of the Nissan mechanic and offered to repair the vehicle for $4,140.47. I agreed to have the vehicle repaired. The mechanic said I should look up a class action suit that has been generated. That is why I am posting this incident.

- Deltona, FL, USA

problem #162

Jun 262013


  • 130,000 miles
I have had my Xterra for 7 months when one day I was approaching a very busy and long intersection when my Xterra went into a safe mode and lost most power which had me hoping on coming traffic would not tbone me as I could not accelerate through. The local dealer told me that this was all electrical and I would need two wire harnesses and a ECM. This cost 3,800 dllrs. After replacing those parts they told me I needed more work due to my radiator and transmission having cross contamination due to a defect, bad weld on the radiator from the factory, but yet im still responsible. My new total bill is roughly 9,000 dlrs which is more then the vehicle is worth. They have mis diagnosed this from the get go and will not take any responsibilty or ownership. Nissan has been the worst to work with. They have had my vehicle for over a month and I have been told it was first my ECM computer then a fuel injector, ignition coil, then wire harnesses and now a new transmission and radiator. Basically if you go to a dealer and the tech has no idea what hes doing they will call a support line and make you pay for the parts until they can narrow down the problem. Now they are linking everything together with some bogus theory and im financialy responsible. Why is it up to me and my wallet to pay for parts when it should be on them to properly diagnose the issue for the get go. They told me ignition coil and injector were the problem. I have not since heard about those parts only because they didnt replace them in his blind search to pinpoint the real problem. I could have been seriousaly injured if other drivers were not paying attention. Im thankful that was not the outcome or Nissan would have been paying me a large sum all due to they will not recall this 600 fix. Its bound to injure or kill someon in the future. I will never buy another nnissan again. Horrible service and product.

- Las Cruces, NM, USA

problem #161

Aug 012013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 113,226 miles
I have about 113,226 miles on my 2005 Xterra. The other day I had driven my car to work with no issue and left for lunch again with no issues. However, when I got in my car to return to work from lunch, I had started the car with no issues, put in drive and when I pressed on the gas it felt as if though my car was stuck in neutral. I even checked to make sure it was not. I released the gas and pressed on it again and the went however every time I had to stop and go again I had to floor the gas in order to get it going. Once it got over 25mph it seemed to kick back into gear. I took my car to the Nissan dealership right away to find out what was wrong with my car, since it had been working fine up until lunch. Today I got a call from Nissan telling me it was an issue with a radiator fluid leak into my transmission and that the fluids had mixed and that I would now need to replace the transmission and radiator. The thing that gets me in that my car has been to Nissan twice in the last year for issues with my transmission, and with the first time it was in for repairs they told me there was a small leak with the coolant and yet said nothing to me about this issue nor about the extend warranty (10 years/100,000 miles) which if I had know about I would have had them check at that time to make sure the leak was not related, and if it was would have had them fix it. But instead they let me take my car and now I am faced with a estimated $6K repair job.

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #160

Jul 192013


  • 101,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated he took the vehicle for routine maintenance when the mechanic informed him that radiator fluid had leaked into the transmission. As a result, both components would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 101,000.

- Nappa, CA, USA

problem #159

Jul 172013


  • miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that after shifting into drive, the vehicle erroneously accelerated in reverse. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was not available.

- Henderson, NV, USA

problem #158

Jul 012013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
The transmission went out when radiator acted up.

- Lake City, FL, USA

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