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 1 of 17)

problem #329

May 102013


  • 99,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle lost power and stalled. The vehicle was pulled over to the side of the road and restarted, but the failure recurred. The vehicle was towed to a mechanic who diagnosed that the radiator fluid mixed with the transmission fluid. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 99,000.

- East Bridgewater, MA, USA

problem #328

Feb 162016

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 114,804 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra - complete transmission failure at approx. 102,000 miles, caused by faulty radiator that leaked water into the transmission, which Nissan knew about but refused to recall. I never received any notice about the radiator issue from the manufacturer or dealer!! it would cost approx. $300 for Nissan (or the consumer) to replace the radiator, as opposed to $3800 to completely rebuild the transmission and replace the radiator upon failure; therefore, Nissan let their customers drive dangerous vehicles in which the transmission could - and did - fail at any moment. This is an extremely dangerous situation. I was in rush hour traffic, stopped at a light downtown headed to the freeway entrance ramp. When the light turned green, I accelerated and the engine roared beneath my foot. I could not even travel through the stop light. The Xterra would not go forward or backward. Had I made it to the freeway and been traveling at 50 - 60 mph in heavy traffic, and accelerated to find I had no power - no acceleration, I (and others) could have very easily been injured or killed. When my Xterra was towed to the transmission repair shop, they were very familiar with this issue and informed me that a class action had been filed and won, (and was already concluded) over this exact issue; however, the consumers in the class received a very small portion of the proceeds (approx. $800 at the high end). I am contemplating filing an action in small claims court against Nissan and the local dealer in jackson, ms, from whom I have bought 3 SUVS in the past 20 years. I tell everybody I see driving a Nissan about this issue and have spread the word on social media. This is completely unacceptable, fraudulent, reckless endangerment by Nissan, and something needs to be done about it to make the consumers whole. I will never buy another Nissan.

- Brandon, MS, USA

problem #327

Nov 012014


  • 160,000 miles
Transmission failure due to coolant leak into automatic transmission. Engine overheating was what brought my attention to any issue, the overheating was a result of the transfer of transmission fluid into the coolant system as well. After making attempts to address the overheating issue the transmission began its quick decline, learning about the issue I was able to start attempting to have it repaired but with its high cost I have yet to be able to have it repaired completely.

- Chubbuck, ID, USA

problem #326

Oct 072016

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles


Dear NHTSA, hope you are doing well. The reason of my message is to call to your attention an issue regarding Nissan's radiator -transmission problem that has been reported before by other Nissan drivers. I own a 2005 X-terra and it wasn't until this year that I had a serious problem with my car. It started earlier this year when my car simply stalled in a parking lot. After spending more than $200 in towing plus $1500 in fixing the transmission computer I thought the problem was fixed. In may, driving back from tampa to miami, the car started to act again but then it went away. About a month ago my car had another episode of żloosingż power. I brought my car to a Nissan dealer in miami for them to take a look and they suggested taking it to a transmission specialist as their protocol for cases like this calls for an expensive transmission change. The weekend of October 7th, I was headed towards my parents home and my car stalled again. I took it to a transmission specialist in coral springs and $4,600 later, I have a new transmission and radiator. He gave me the explanation about the radiator leaking into the transmission. My brother pointed to my attention that there was some sort of settlement with Nissan regarding this same issue. I will like to know which are the next steps as it is my understanding that NHTSA continues to investigate this case. Thank you for your attention regarding this matter. Kind regards,

- Doral, FL, USA

problem #325

Oct 052016


  • 127,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving 45 mph, the vehicle stalled and the check engine warning indicator illuminated. The contact was able to restart the vehicle after some time. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who was unable to diagnose or repair the vehicle. The vehicle was also taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that there was contamination of coolant in the transmission and that the transmission needed to be replaced. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 127,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

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problem #324

Oct 082016


  • 136,000 miles
Radiator coolant leaking into automatic transmission causing transmission failure. Started noticing issue around 136K at highway speed. I hear there was a class action lawsuit but the settlement is unacceptable. Nissan needs to step up and take responsibility for their design failure.

- Ogden, UT, USA

problem #323

Aug 012016


  • 89,000 miles


Antifreeze leaked into transmission causing irreparable damage to transmission and radiator replacement

- Shirley, NY, USA

problem #322

Sep 092016


  • 149,000 miles
Has 149 K mileage and has started to have vibration at speeds over 50 mph. Radiator fluid has oil in it. Was told by mechanic it is transmission fluid.

- Aledo, TX, USA

problem #321

Sep 072016


  • 145,000 miles
Please see attached uploaded document.

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #320

Aug 172016


  • 111,326 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving 4 mph, the transmission failed and the vehicle stalled. It was diagnosed that the radiator fluid leaked into the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of this issue. The failure mileage was 111,326.

- Benicia, CA, USA

problem #319

Jul 192015


  • 75,000 miles


Vehicle was not driving well, we were having problems accelerating, and were hearing noises similar to when you drive over rumble strips. Our mechanic diagnosed the problem as radiator coolant missing with the transmission fluid. Vehicle was transferred to Nissan dealership and we opened a case with Nissan Consumer Affairs as vehicle only had 75K miles, however it was 9 years old and therefore subject to the $3,000 deductible. After reviewing our case for almost three weeks, we were informed that Nissan could not help us. We paid the $3,000 deductible to have the transmission replaced, however feel that Nissan should be held accountable for fixing the known defect with this vehicle that could have caused significant accidents and injuries if the transmission failed while we were driving on a busy roadways.

- St Louis Park, MN, USA

problem #318

Jul 052016


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving 30 mph, the vehicle failed to shift into third gear and the vehicle decelerated. The check engine light illuminated. The dealer diagnosed that the coolant was leaking into the transmission and the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 110,000.

- West Islip, NY, USA

problem #317

Jul 202016


  • 125,000 miles
125K much like several other customers the transmission started slipping and have been informed that the vehicles contains a defective radiator cooler tank that ruptures and forces coolant into the transmission through the cooler lines. When the coolant mixes with transmission fluid it creates a frothy liquid that eats valves, erodes seals and causes corrosion. Waiting to see what cost would be to replace system but have been told its around 5K and the car is not even worth that!!

- Galloway, NJ, USA

problem #316

Jun 292016


  • 105,000 miles
Transmission failure (atf contamination). ODI received a petition requesting investigation of transmission damage attributed to contamination by engine coolant. The source of the contamination is a cracked atf line that runs through an engine coolant chamber in the radiator.

- Mckinney, TX, USA

problem #315

Jul 012016


  • miles
Radiator crack and mix radiator fluid w transition fluid, transition problems, not change gears when I driving.serious safety problem when I'm slow dawn on intersection I can't go forward and I stuck on the center of intersection. Possible crush accident

- Arlington Hts, IL, USA

problem #314

Mar 242016


  • miles
The well known leaking radiator issue that has leaked into the transmission and has destroyed my transmission. Both must be replaced. But of course it is beyond the warranty covered dates. Since this is a known issue. It should be covered 100%, shame on Nissan for ignoring the issue. When sites are posting "avoid at all cost", should become a federal investigation. I will not purchase another Nissan.

- Livermore, CA, USA

problem #313

May 192016


  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While pulling out of the driveway, the vehicle surged, hesitated, and lost acceleration. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the radiator fluid was leaking into the transmission and the transmission needed replacement. The contact also stated that a humming noise was present for approximately three months every time the vehicle was driven. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 66,000.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #312

Apr 162016


  • 87,000 miles
A crack in the radiator occurred allowing coolant in to the transmission mixing with the transmission fluid causing catastrophic failure of the transmission. Thankfully, the car was parked and would not start. However, we did "jump" the starter and the car crept home with very little acceleration capabilities.

- Yakima, WA, USA

problem #311

May 042016


  • 68,400 miles
I purchased this car used from a dealer with approx 64,000 miles. After 2 days and less than 200 miles the car started shuddering as if I was driving over rumble strips and the check engine light came on. The next morning when I went to take it to the dealer there was a horrible rattling sound coming from under the hood that softened as the car warmed up. Needless to say that both of the more common complaints about this car raised their ugly heads at the same time: Transmission and timing chains!! I took it to my local Nissan dealer for evaluation and repair and was told that the cost would be between $8-9,000. Thank god for aftermarket warranty. Anyway... if Nissan does not intend to issue a recall, there should be a disclosure on carfax/autocheck/etc for these significant problems.

- Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #310

Jan 032015


  • 109,000 miles
My radiator broke and leaked radiator fluid into my transmission ruining the whole transmission in the radiator transmission fluid in it and so did the engine result $2600 transmission bought.

- Unionville, CT, USA

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