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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
104,097 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #78

Oct 032015


  • 107,333 miles


A leak inside the radiator has allowed radiator fluid into the transmission. Just driving a short errand near home when I felt a vibration at about 40-45mph, followed by erratic shifting. As I returned home, the car wouldn't even climb up my driveway. I was able to back out, and tried driving forward, but could only crawl a couple of mph. Luckily reverse still worked enough to safely move out of the street.

- Westminster, CO, USA

problem #77

Sep 112015


  • 96,600 miles
Chain tensioner has failed resulting in engine damage. Nissan has been aware for years that this part is a problem and has chosen not to remedy the defective part. Instead, it will cost me thousands in repairs.

- Longmont, CO, USA

problem #76

Aug 072015


  • 152,946 miles
My son was driving the car on a local road near home at night. He was accelerating up a small grade, when he said the car acted as if it had popped out of gear. It began to rev higher and made a higher pitched sound. He tried changing from being in "drive" to a lower gear, but it still did not engage the transmission. He had enough momentum to be able to coast onto our side street and park the car. Luckily there was no accident, but he was almost rear-ended as his car slowed suddenly and traffic ran up on him. The car would not start, nor turn over at that point. I had the car towed to the local Nissan dealer. They mentioned it was a known issue with the transmission and radiator and it would cost over 5K for just a new transmission, not including a new radiator or labor to install both. I was able to find another mechanic that purchased a rebuilt transmission, but the whole thing still cost over 5K to have the rebuilt transmission and radiator installed with no assurance that it would not happen again. This is a well documented issue with these vehicles and continues to cost people thousands of dollars for a very poor and dangerous design.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #75

Aug 132015


  • 162,000 miles


Was leaving parking lot onto main street and car just died....

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #74

Aug 102015


  • 130,000 miles
I just purchased my 2005 Xterra used from a lot, and only after seeing great reviews on and did I realize the terrible problems these cars have. There's a terribly high-pitched whine coming from the engine bay at all speeds, which my mechanic told me over the phone is likely the timing chain/chain tensioner system and that it's well known on this model year. He said very low-quality parts were used in the construction of the chain system and that it's prone to critical failure. That kind of fix is anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000. Apparently, just like the transmission and radiator failures, Nissan covered this problem up as best they could and preferred to endanger customers and hand out waivers when people asked specifically instead of owning up to the problem and fixing it outright. Appalling.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #73

Jul 122015


  • 143,200 miles
Was driving and vehicle transmission stopped moving vehicle. Engine was running and I could see the rpms increase as I gave gas but the drive train stopped working. Had the car towed to a transmission shop. The diagnosed the problem as transmission cooler problem. Explained that it is a common thing with this vehicle. Then discovered through the internet that this has been going on for years and Nissan has not recalled for the defect. Repair shop told me it will be $4500 to repair.

- Windham, NH, USA

problem #72

May 262015


  • 112,000 miles


Confirmed diagnoses of vehicle damage of radiator assembly & transmission are due to Nissan's defective radiator assembly which allows coolant to pass through into the transmission rendering the vehicle unsafe to operate. Nissan is unwilling to assist with the repairs of damage caused by defect. I was not notified of this manufacturing defect. This is a safety issue, a damaged transmission due to coolant entering it has rendered the vehicle unsafe to drive, a known defect, yet the manufacturer will not even compromise to assist with repair of this defect. A manufacturer should assist with repair of any defect that renders the equipment unsafe to operate - no matter when that defect decides to show up! Nissan should assist in all repairs due to their known defect to let the consumer operate the vehicle in safety.

- West Chester, PA, USA

problem #71

Apr 252015


  • 105,334 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 45 mph, the vehicle failed to shift gears and the service engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the radiator, transmission, and coolant heater hose needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacture was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 105,334.

- Maui, HI, USA

problem #70

Apr 282015


  • 84,765 miles
My Nissan has the defect that brought a lawsuit against Nissan motor for a failure in the oil cooler that caused my transmission and radiator to be completely rebuilt/replaced because coolant had leaked into my transmission. I ended up with a bill for $3941.46, and now, I can't even file a reimbursement form or get a hold of any one at Nissan to help because all 3 numbers listed in letters and paperwork are no longer in service.

- Reno, OH, USA

problem #69

May 042015


  • 87,150 miles
Vehicle had many times failed to gear itself properly causing a sudden jerking motion once gear finally set in. This caused poor acceleration and a check engine light appears. Mechanic says radiator was leaking into the transmission. Radiator was replaced and transmission fluids flushed. Problem still occurs and check engine light keeps appearing. Mechanic says he cannot fix stating the radiator is causing transmission failure somehow and suggests to bring it to the dealership.

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #68

Apr 172015


  • 80,000 miles


I was informed by a friend who has the same make and model car that there is a defect in the radiator that causes radiator fluid to leak into the transmission, thus ruining the transmission. Therefore you need to then replace the transmission.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #67

Mar 122015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Driving on freeway at 65mph car started stalling and loosing speed, I stepped on the gas but car would not accelerate. I was a few yards from exit, so I exited and when I reached the bottom of the exit, car stopped and it accelerated in reverse. Very scary and strange. I pulled the emergency brake and turned the engine off even though it seemed to not be running. I towed the car to a mechanic and I found out that the problem was a design flaw in the car that Nissan has acknowledged but did not recall the vehicles. I find myself with a $6,000 repair estimate. I called the dealer after finding out what caused my car to die and they were aware of the problem as well and informed me that Nissan had extended the warranty on the car with a $3,000 co-pay. The problem is not only expensive to repair but a real danger if the car goes into reverse while on heavy, fast traffic. I'm completely aghast that Nissan and the dealers have known about this problem but have not notified car owners nor will they own up to the design defect and repair the vehicles which should not be needing new transmissions with less than 100,000 of driving. I don't know what you do with these complaints, but Nissan needs to do the right thing and repair the vehicles free of charge. The class action lawsuit that they settled is a sham. When we buy cars we expect them to run well, and not have major flaws that would render the cars useless if you don't have the huge amounts of money that it takes to repair them. What does the law allow Nissan to do in this case. They've already ripped us off by selling us faulty vehicles and now they want to rip us off by having us pay for repairs that should not have been incurred to begin with.

- Pittsburg, CA, USA

problem #66

Sep 092014


  • 119,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving at 35 mph, the vehicle made an abnormal noise without warning causing the vehicle to decelerate. The failure recurred several times. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who inspected the vehicle and stated that the vehicle was operating normally. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 119,000.

- Parkville, TN, USA

problem #65

Jan 122015


  • 61,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact stated the entire instrument panel illuminated. The vehicle failed to restart after numerous attempts. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the electronic control module needed to be replaced. The dealer informed that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 10V517000 (engine and engine cooling). The failure mileage was 61,000.

- Springdale , MD, USA

problem #64

Jan 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
Vehicle moving along interstate in heavy traffic at 60 mph when acted as if it was shifted into neutral. Almost got hit twice trying to coast to side of road. There was no response to trying to accelerate, shifter still in D position. Engine temperature rose quickly. Shut engine off engine, to prevent a fire. Sit there momentarily, restarted the engine, temp came down, transmission engaged, drove home. Husband investigated and found oily substance in radiator and transmission low in fluid that was a pasty looking material now on dipstick. Refer to the Nissan radiator defect class action lawsuit settlement case is in re: Nissan radiator/transmission cooler litigation, case no. 10-cv-07493, U.S. district court for the southern district of New York. We were never notified of a recall or the suit, when we would have qualified for assistance from Nissan. Does the state of New York decide reparations to the rest of the country while I am now poor and need a car and can't afford to repair it. How many more failures are out there? includes pathfinder and frontier models. Also discovered VIN number on top of dash was incorrect. Thanks.

- Satsuma, AL, USA

problem #63

Oct 062014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 106,403 miles
My car was running fine and normal but when I tried to start it, nothing happened. I tried to jump the battery and I replaced the starter. After those attempts I had the vehicle towed to a nearby dealership who told me that coolant from the radiator leaked into the transmission and mixed fluid, damaging both the transmission and ECM. Car will not start and the is no communications working. The Nissan dealership recommended I get a new radiator, ipdm module, and transmission which was estimated at a cost of $5,500 after parts and labor. I had the vehicle towed to a local repair shop for a second opinion and was told the same thing as the dealer had said.

- Killeen, TX, USA

problem #62

Aug 152013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
Cracked radiator causing coolant to leak into the transmission. Once mixed with the transmission fluid this lethal combination kills the valves, seals and torque converter -- rendering your entire transmission useless. My Xterra is not able to drive. Got quoted over three thousand to repair and my car is not even paid off yet.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #61

Aug 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 111,000 miles
Driving down road and car quits steering was difficult hit a curb. The car all of a sudden came back on? has done this to me several times until I parked it now. Dangerous situation. Lucky no vehicles were around me.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #60

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 #59

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

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