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 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #58

Jul 212014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 135,372 miles


The radiator leaked into the transmission causing the transmission to stop working. I had to have the transmission rebuilt and a whole new radiator system put in my truck. 5300.00.this is a common problem with this model. Tried to send in a claim but was told they are no longer excepting claims because of the problem. If they are aware of the problem then they should help those of us it happened to!!!!!!

- Sayreville, NJ, USA

problem #57

Aug 012013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,000 miles
Radiator defect causes leakage into transmission. Transmission fails and vehicle abruptly stops unpredictably on the freeway.

- Newport Beach, CA, USA

problem #56

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 #55

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 #54

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 #53

Apr 072014


  • 103,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that radiator fluid was interchanging with the transmission fluid and causing failures. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the technician diagnosed that the radiator needed to be replaced. No repairs were made to the vehicle. The manufacture was not notified. The failure and the current mileage was 103,000.

- Rosemount, MN, USA

problem #52

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 #51

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 #50

Dec 292013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 79,103 miles
Driving with family on interstate 5 on the right lane going 60-62 mph. Without no light sensor warning from the Xterra or no other warning whatsoever, it slowed down drastically from 60mph to 30mph, and I can see fast moving vehicles passing me. There was a huge semi truck behind us, he started to flash his high beam on us from behind. I try to accelerate but it would not, it just make a very loud engine sound. The semi truck so close behind us, I got scared, I signal right to pull over to the shoulder and doing so we almost got hit by another car that was merging to the freeway because the Xterra was very slow. We pulled to the shoulder, put in park and the Xterra has a weird smell coming out of the engine front. I try to shift to drive but it didn't move. I try to shift to reverse to park the Xterra in a better position off the freeway but it didn't move. Two hours later, the tow truck arrive. I was extremely upset our entire family could have been kill because there was no warning light.

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #49

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 #48

Mar 132014


  • 106,000 miles


"service engine soon" light came on at 106000 miles. Immediately took it in to get it diagnosed (the next morning). They said that the radiator was leaking radiator fluid into the transmission, and therefore, I would need a new radiator and transmission. This apparently seems to be a problem with 2005-2010 Nissan SUVS and Nissan is doing nothing about it. The class action settlement does nothing for us.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #47

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 #46

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 #45

Jan 022014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
When I am driving on the highway doing 65 or 50 miles an hour the car would slow down and cars behind me would almost hit me. This car was on a recall for the transmission and was fixed. The same problem came back on the transmission and Nissan would not fix it. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Brockton, MA, USA

problem #44

Dec 302013


  • 118,000 miles
I was driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra down the highway around 65mph when I noticed the vehicle would not accelerate when pushing the gas pedal. I was able to maneuver the vehicle off the road just before the steering wheel locked up & the vehicle went dead. Had it towed into dealership, was told the transmission had failed & would have to be replaced. Issues caused from faulty radiator drainage into transmission fluid. I have read of countless other reports of this same issue. This year vehicle should be recalled by dealership to correct this recurring problem. It wont be long before someone loses control of their vehicle due to failed transmission & hits another vehicle or kills someone!

- Greenwood, MS, USA

problem #43

Dec 112013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 112,500 miles
The car had been driving fine and then all of a sudden it would not shift into a higher gear. The rpms would just increase. At times the car would not even go into any gear what so ever. Finally managed to get it to a dealership where they told me it was the transmission fluid mixing with the radiator fluid. Told me I needed both replaced and quoted over $6500 for the fix. Check engine light was on at the time, but I was also having a problem with the fuel gauge (also another known problem in Xterras).

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #42

Dec 052013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
When driving at various speeds I began to notice the engine bogging down when changing gears. Upon taking it to my mechanic I was told that there was a leak between the transmission and engine coolant systems. The fix would require a replacement of both systems totally approx. $6000! apparently this is a "known issue" with 2005-2010 Xterras. Upon contacting Nissan I was told that since my vehicle was over 100,000 miles that there was nothing that they could do for me. If this is a known issue, and a rather major one at that, I'm not sure why there hasn't been any recalls or some kind of fix.

- Fairfield, OH, USA

problem #41

Nov 142013


  • 105,000 miles
I had a complete loss of motive power and needing to be towed to a shop. The shop diagnosed the problem as a failed transmission fluid cooler located in the radiator assembly that allowed coolant to mix with and contaminate the automatic transmission fluid, resulting in damaged internal transmission components and a damaged internal transmission computer. There were no warning signs leading up to or just prior to the failures. The transmission and radiator now need to be replaced.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #40

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 #39

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

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