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 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
100,717 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 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #62

Sep 042012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 132,198 miles


My daughter drives this vehicle to college about 5 hours from home. On 9-4-12 it overheated and she had trouble driving it but made it the the dealership in lubbock. They said the radiator needed to be replaced because the old one had internal transmission cooler failure. The service advisor said the fluid from the radiator got in the transmission and the transmission fluid got in the radiator. They said the transmission would be fine after they did a transmission flush on it. We paid the $814 for the repairs. Six months later as my daughter is driving home for spring break the Xterra started vibrating really bad. Luckily she was about 30 minutes from home so she could still drive it as long as she stayed around 40 mph. We took it to the dealership in arlington where it was purchased. The service advisor told us the radiator would have to be replaced again as well as the transmission. They said the lubbock dealership should have also replaced the transmission back in September since a transmission flush doesn't guarantee all the contaminants are removed. We have just paid $5600 more for repairs. Nissan has obviously admitted this is a widespread problem by agreeing to make partial reimbursements to customers whose vehicles have less than 100,000 miles on them. Unfortunately we are in the group of customers whose vehicles have over 100,000 miles who Nissan has chosen to ignore. Since Nissan has not stepped up to do the right thing we will not be future Nissan customers.

- Midlothian, TX, USA

problem #61

Feb 132013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Antifreeze mixes with trans fluid rendering the trans broken repair replace trans and radiator =$7000 repair at dealer.

- Oxford, NJ, USA

problem #60

Jan 152012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 78,423 miles
Due to a cracked radiator line coolant leaked causing major transmission and electrical failure. This causes the car to shut off randomly or shake violently ( this happen to me on the freeway and I was stuck with cars zooming pass me at 70 mph) and transmission to jolt and shake when going through the gears.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #59

Mar 272011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,150 miles


In March 2011 my wife was driving my son home and the Xterra began to shake as if she was driving on rumble strips. I quickly scheduled an appointment at a Nissan dealer and in anticipation of the scheduled appointment, I googled 2005 Nissan Xterra, rumble strip. Literally dozens of web pages popped up revealing that a defect in the radiator was causing coolant to leak into the transmission, thereby ruining the transmission/radiator. The testimonials detailed my exact experience and also described instances where transmissions would lock-up while driving. I raised my suspicions to cochran Nissan in pittsburgh, pa, and they performed a full service check which confirmed that coolant had leaked into my transmission. Cochran explained that the transmission was salvageable, but that the radiator needed replaced which I later found out had its warranty extended to 80,000 miles. The problem was, however, that my Xterra currently had 101,000 miles, making me a victim of circumstance and the extended warranty of no benefit to me. Cocharan replaced the radiator and flushed the transmission at a cost of approximately $830. Now in February 2013 again as my wife was driving (our two kids), the transmission slipped causing the Xterra to stall and lock up and again I am looking at a substantial repair costing well above the $830 previously paid. Nissan has known about the problem with the radiator/transmission for years (possibly 2007) and has done nothing about it. Damage resulting from a design defect is not something for which preventative maintenance from the owner could rectify. Selling a product with design and/or manufacturing defects to unsuspecting buyers that places persons in danger is unethical and Nissan should be forced to stand by their product and to do the right thing. Please help and protect the consumer.

- Brownsville, PA, USA

problem #58

Apr 102012


  • 101,985 miles
I have a 2005 Nissan Xterra which over the years my engine light would come on for all periods of time and then go off. The first time it came on I ran to the dealership because I could not afford to be broke down. No diagnosis was found (phantom light - $300 to tell no there was no problem) so after that I did not run to the dealer everything the light come one which was most of the time. Starting in January 2012 my 2005 Xterra would seem to have a difficult time changing over at certain speeds especially 40-45 and 55-60 mph. I mainly drive highway so I knew this was not normal for my car. Since the car was still running and I had a state inspection coming up in March-April 2012 I wanted to wait because I cannot be without a car. The engine light remained on from January until April when I went to the dealership. Finally in early April 2012 I realized that the heats was not working. At the April 10, 2012 inspection the dealership told me I needed a new radiator ($999.45). They told me the radiator leaked into the transmissions but they were able to fix the problem. The car seemed to work fine after the repair, no difficultly changing over at certain speeds until October 18, 012 when I left work and the car would not start. Aaa came and tried to jump it to no avail. Towed to local mechanic (not going back to dealership again) and found out about the transmission cooling problem ($1,950.98) and two weeks without a car and $100 towing bill. Now I get a letter from about lawsuit with Nissan but my vehile's diagnosis occurred 1,985 miles after the allotted mileage (100,000). So, I am out $2950.45 plus the cost of towing and rent a cars with the vehiile that I am never going to be able to trade in because no dealer would purchase it from me knowing the problems with 2005 Nissan Xterra. I will never buy Nissan again.

- Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #57

Aug 062012


  • 108,000 miles
A crack in radiator assembly causes a transmission failure.

- Itasca, IL, USA

problem #56

Nov 272012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 93,000 miles


I recently had to replace my radiator and transmission due to the known 2005 Nissan Xterra radiator problem. The problem started off as heavy vibration when gears shifted, and the heater was noticeably not as warm as it had been. After a short amount of time with the vibration issues, the transmission got to a point where the vibrations would last longer, meaning the vehicle was not shifting gears reasonably. This became a serious safety issue when I was merging onto the interstate one day and my overdrive completely missed, leaving me in basically neutral at approx 50mph with no ability to accelerate with a car almost slamming into the rear of me since it could not move out of the lane to avoid me. For this not to be considered a safety issue is very ridiculous. A failing transmission is most certainly a safety issue when it fails while you are driving. Nissan may have agreed to have this repaired for free for vehicles under 80000 miles, but the likelihood of this problem occurring is past 80000 miles. Nissan should not only be responsible for the cost of this repair, but Nissan should also be responsible for letting owners know of the symptoms, problems, and associated safety concerns with a failing transmission. As far as I am concerned, Nissan has failed in every aspect of dealing with such a costly issue.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #55

Mar 022010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Like many other Xterra of this year, the radiator was faulty and leaked antifreeze into the transmission. Consequently I had to replace the radiator, have it serviced for $1177 dollars and then was told by the dealership that it was not covered because it was not a safety recall even with a high failure rate for this model. Thinking the radiator was the root cause of the vehicle driving problems I was assured nothing else was wrong with the Xterra. I continued to research this problem as I had continued trouble with the transmission and being towed several times. I was told that the radiator leaked antifreeze into the transmission rendering it inoperative and needing a full replacement. I then paid $3550 for a new transmission. Again, I was told by Nissan that this was not covered by any warranty and that they were aware of the problem with this model and year. After more research, I discovered there was thousands of people complaint of the same issue and Nissan telling their customers that it was out of there hands and not in high enough incidence for a recall. I understand that there is a class action lawsuit for customers to be repaid for these repairs and my family and I hope Nissan does the right thing and pay their customers back for their mistake and faulty parts.

- Whiteman Afb, MO, USA

problem #54

Jun 132012


  • 95,000 miles
Radiator assembly failed causing antifreeze to leak into the transmission.

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #53

Sep 052012


  • 137,000 miles
Having the same problem as the rest of the 2005 Nissan Xterra owners - transmission & radiator failed; coolant looks like chocolate milk....leaked into the transmission & I now have transmission failure! talked to Nissan about this, they only cover certain VIN numbers & mine was not one of them! seriously"!?!"! god willing, there will be no more Nissan's for my household!

- Hertford, NC, USA

problem #52

Jan 172012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


My problems started in November of 2010 with whistling noise coming from the engine. After taking the truck to Nissan dealer they said the timing chain needed to be replaced and Nissan has sent out a service bulletin to the fact that there is a defect in the timing chain that causes the noise. After contacting Nissan consumer affair for two weeks at the end, they ruled that since I was over the standard warranty of 60K, they were not to cover the cost of this repair even though they knew about this problem and never sent out notice to owners to have this fixed. So I had to spend the $1063 with I did not have to fix the repair. Again this last December, one morning I was driving at 55 miles on the freeway when out of no where lost total power. I stepped on the gas and my truck went from 55 to 10 miles an hour. Thank god it was close to a off ramp and I was able to get off the freeway and when straight to the dealer close by. The determined that the defect is the radiator the anti- freeze in leaking to the transmission and causing it to seize. After some research on-line, I found out that this problem is plaguing many other owners of Nissan Xterra, pathfinder from 2005-2010. Nissan has issued a recall on this and extended the warranty from 60K to 80K. However I have not yet found one owner that did not have this problem happening before 80K. As far as I see it is Nissan trying to hide the face that this is not a safety recall. I just came from Nissan dealer and they gave me an esteemed of $4925.73 to fix the tranny & the radiator. I have contacted Nissan and they have decided not to help me in this matter. So I have now have a truck that I can't drive or can afford to fix. I am going to look in to other options to deal with this problems. I will fight this to the end.

- Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #51

Oct 082012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 95,011 miles
My Nissan Xterra started vibrating violently while traveling at high speed on the interstate. I sent the vehicle to the dealership to have it fixed. The cause of the problem is a faulty transmission cooler that leaks water into the transmission. After some research I find that this is a common problem with this model vehicle. Here is the reference # DP12004.

- Townville , SC, USA

problem #50

Sep 162012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Our daughter was driving home, late at night, when the engine began making strange sounds and lurching at about 50 mph. She was only a few blocks from home, so drove home very slowly. On later inspection, my husband found the radiator/transmission issue and looked on the internet to see if others had this problem. We were horrified to discover that many, many, many Nissan owners have the same exact problem of coolant in the transmission. (our Xterra has just over 100,000 miles.) this is obviously a well known issue with Nissan, but nothing has been done. We spoke with a regional manager with Nissan who listened politely, said she'd look into it, and had her assistant finally call us over a week later (she promised four days) to say nothing could be done. Something can be done! I encourage anyone with this same problem to write to Nissan, send a cc to your better business bureau, and submit complaints to consumer awareness groups to document this problem and get Nissan to act responsibly for their faulty radiator. This is a major, costly, potentially dangerous issue that should never have occurred in the first place. We love our Xterra, faithfully change the oil, and have recommended it to so many other people. It feels like a slap in the face that Nissan will not admit their role in this problem and do something about it! updated IVOQ 11/19/12

- Wasilla, AK, USA

problem #49

Sep 242012


  • 135,000 miles
Radiator broke down which causes the transmission fluid to be mixed with radiator fluid. This kills both the transmission and radiator. This was a well known and defined problem by Nissan and they never did anything about it. Total bill is well over $5K for transmission, radiator, labor.

- Ellington, CT, USA

problem #48

Jul 012012


  • 110,000 miles
Car was acting funny so I took it to my mechanic. Coolant was leaking into the transmission. Replaced the radiator before it caused any major issues with the tranny but still cost me $1200. Now a check engine light came on indicating something with the tranny. I am afraid it will fail now and I will have to put more money. Nissan extended the warranty to 80K miles but this issues started happening after that.

- Monroe, CT, USA

problem #47

Jun 022012


  • 108,000 miles
Just as I was about to enter the 405 freeway in long beach, my Xterra would not accelerate. The garden grove Nissan dealer said it was due to a leak in the radiator that caused the transmission to give out. I was charged $5,000 to repair. I filed a claim with the dealer and that's when I first learned that I had been given an extra 20,000 miles warranty back when my Xterra only had 60,000 miles. I was never notified of the extended warranty and I've been taking my Xterra to the dealer for all maintenance since I bought it from the dealer.

- Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #46

Aug 092012


  • 112,000 miles
Coolant leaking into the transmission ruined both the radiator and transmission.

- Grand Bay, AL, USA

problem #45

Jul 022012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 177,000 miles
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.

- Westlake, CA, USA

problem #44

Jul 172012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
I was driving along and check engine light came on. Checked internet and found out that many people had this happen around 50,000 miles. This is supposed to be guaranteed for 50,000 miles and in practice most last a lot longer, but not in the case of the Xterra. Nissan has noticed the large number of incidents but although they have completely redesigned the system they refuse to recall it. Many of the posts here take about the engine conking out at speed which is an unsafe condition. The dealer admitted today that they have seen 4 this month, its becoming a real problem and should be recalled. Dealer quoted me $70 for the quote, $590 for the canister, and $90 for labor. I can't believe that Nissan would know about the bad design, engineer a fix for it, and withhold the fix from the customer, unless they are willing to cough up almost $800 to fix their mistake. This scares me as SUV accidents are usually pretty bad with far more rollovers than regular cars. Please take the appropriate action before someone is seriously hurt.

- Great Falla, MT, USA

problem #43

Jun 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Radiator failure causes transmission and engine coolant to mix causing catastrophic transmission failure. Nissan knows about this problem but has decided to turn their backs on their responsibilities and hope fending off class action lawsuits will be less expensive than fixing the issues they have caused. This is ignorant and arrogant on their part. Not only will this hurt those of us who are scraping by, but it will hurt Nissan in the long run, as nobody who is experiencing what I and many others are going through currently through will ever, ever but their products again. I submit that the president of Nissan usa be forced to attempt to drive my Xterra to and from work or school with his family. When he about causes a wreck or endangers his family, maybe he will see then the fatal errors of his faulty money hungry calculations. This is absolutely ridiculous that our great country hasn't forced these people to do the right thing, since they obviously cannot do it on their own.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

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