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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #38

Jul 012013


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the transmission failed, causing the vehicle to decelerate while the contact was attempting to accelerate. The contact's personal mechanic inspected the vehicle and found the radiator smoking. The mechanic also noticed that the radiator fluid had mixed with the transmission fluid. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 100,000 and the current mileage was 149,000.

- Stone Mountain , GA, USA

problem #37

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 #36

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 #35

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 #34

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 #33

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 #32

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 #31

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 #30

Jul 062013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated while driving 45 mph the vehicle stalled and failed to shift gears. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic, who stated the transmission failed because cooant mixed with the transmission fluid. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure was not reported to the manufacturer. The failure and current mileage was 108,000. Updated 08/20/13

- Fountain Inn, SC, USA

problem #29

Jul 082013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
Fortunately I was simply attempting to back out of my driveway when the vehicle would not move. I read numerous horror stories of others who had this issue in the middle of the highway so I am very thankful that this did pose any further risk of injury especially since I am 9 months pregnant and was on my way to an ultrasound. After taking my SUV in, we learned that anti-freeze was leaking into the transmission causing complete transmission failure and ultimately requiring a full transmission replacement. The cost is closing in on $4,000. Never did I receive any notification from Nissan that this was possible and my Xterra did not show any signs of concern. I started researching this problem online only to learn that I am one of many who have experienced this issue and at a hefty price with no help from Nissan. I read online that Nissan's answer to the problem was to extend the warranty to 80,000 miles but I have just recently passed that threshold. Furthermore, I have learned that this problem more often begins to present itself after 80,000 miles. I am appalled that this issue has not been investigated and more importantly been recalled since it could cause serious injury if not death. One thing is for sure, my husband and I will never purchase another Nissan vehicle. I strongly feel that the NHTSA should analyze the way Nissan is doing their business not to mention find a way to compensate every single customer who has suffered from this problem. Nissan should be ashamed of themselves and hopeful that no one gets seriously hurt should it occur in the wrong circumstances.

- Haddon Heights, NJ, USA

problem #28

Jun 272013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


A radiator failure caused the cooling system fluid to mix with transmission fluid causing transmission failure.

- Colchester, VT, USA

problem #27

Jun 272013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
I have experience what many other owners of a Nissan Xterra have experienced with a defective radiator. A leak in the radiator has allowed coolant to mix with and contaminate the automatic transmission fluid, resulting in damaged internal transmission components and a damaged internal transmission computer. In less than a week since noticing loss of power in my vehicle it became inoperable. Due to the high number of these incidents involving the Nissan Xterra transmission parts have become impossible to find to rebuild the transmission. As a result they only recourse to resolve this problem is a costly $6000 replacement of the transmission.

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #26

May 302013


  • 115,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to a dealer for diagnosis and the contact was informed that the transmission and the radiator would need to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure and current mileage was 115,000.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #25

Apr 272013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 94,200 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the vehicle shook violently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was found that the torque converter, radiator and the transmission had failed. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 94,200. Updated 06/18/13 updated 06/21/2013

- Troy, AL, USA

problem #24

Apr 292013


  • 115,000 miles
Radiator leaked onto transmission. Learned about their faulty radiators just today. Now I'm in a $6200 bind to get a new radiator and transmission. I take good care of my Xterra and I am so appalled with Nissan I don't know what to do with myself. A $600 fix turned into a $6200 fix.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #23

Jan 312013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
My car started shaking and I lost power. I had the car in for repairs for 10 days and it cost $3,700.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #22

Apr 142013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 114,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 45 mph, the vehicle began shaking as the check engine warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they advised the contact that transmission fluid had leaked into the radiator and both components would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 114,000.

- Marrow , OH, USA

problem #21

Apr 042013


  • 88,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving 50 mph, the vehicle shook. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection and they stated that transmission fluid had leaked into the radiator and both components needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was 88,000.

- Forest , VA, USA

problem #20

Aug 172011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
The radiator has leaked many times which has caused the transmission to go out.

- Gladewater, TX, USA

problem #19

Dec 162011


  • 101,000 miles
I was driving on the highway around 70 mph. Experienced a loss of power followed by my car running hot. I pulled over and had the vehicle towed to my repair shop. Diagnosis was the radiator was leaking coolant into the transmission. The radiator was replaced and the transmission was flushed. Total costs $900. Possible damage to the transmission unknown at the time. The car is now back in the shop with the same issues slipping/grinding at highway speeds. Looking online it seems that a number of people have the same problems with a leaky radiator hose. I spoke with a Nissan dealership and Consumer Affairs and they said that nothing can be done.

- Del Mar, CA, USA

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