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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #42

Mar 152011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles


Radiator failed leaking coolant into transmission. Radiator had to be replaced and transmission rebuilt at an out of pocket cost of $3,800.

- Portola Valley , CA, USA

problem #41

May 282012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
Transmission locked up on highway. Evidently engine coolant had gotten into the transmission by way of failure of the radiator. Could have been killed...

- Mount Wolf, PA, USA

problem #40

Oct 092008


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the radiator fluid leaked into the transmission, causing the transmission to seize. In addition, the cooling system failed. The radiator and the transmission were repaired by a local mechanic but the cooling system was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 82,000 and the current mileage was 131,000.

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #39

Apr 242012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles


Radiator failed allowing antifreeze into the transmission.

- Monroe, NY, USA

problem #38

Apr 222012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 129,637 miles
Nissan's 2005 Xterra has a major flaw in its cooling system and transmission. Apparently the coolant in the radiator leaks into the transmission causing the transmission to fail. This is very expensive as the radiator and the transmission have to be replaced. Flushing the system is not enough. This should have been recalled and repaired by Nissan before the problem became costly. Apparently Nissan has known about this for some time. This is disgraceful.

- Cypress, TX, USA

problem #37

Apr 022012


  • 104,000 miles
I've noticed recently that my Xterra started shuddering while cruising at highway speeds, and has been shaking while shifting between gears. Additionally, there was a specific occasion where my vehicle stopped accelerating while merging onto the highway. When I took it to a local Nissan dealership for to fix a separate recall notice, I was told that my transmission fluid had mixed with my coolant, which meant that I would need to replace both my transmission and radiator.

- Maryland Heights, MO, USA

problem #36

Feb 252012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 122,784 miles


Radiator fluid leaked into my transmission, which caused transmission failure.

- Wakefield, MA, USA

problem #35

Feb 072012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 114,650 miles
Total transmission failure after engine coolant floods transmission, causing vehicle to lurch and stop. Incurred repair costs at dealership of $5,968.89. Nissan is aware of this problem on 2005 Xterras, but failed to inform owners to replace faulty radiators which causes the transmission failure. Nissan secretly extended the power train warranty to 80,000 miles because of this problem (owners not informed), but the transmission failure associated with this issue does not occur until after 80,000 miles. One website,, as 23 pages of complaints from 2005 Xterra owners documenting this issue. Ref: refuses to reimburse owners for the repairs. The Nissan Consumer Affairs file no. For my complaint is [xxx]. please help. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Anaheim Hills, CA, USA

problem #34

Mar 212008

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
There was a loud rumble and jerking while driving at 35mph. Fluid was leaking badly also. I took the car to Nissan on on April 21, 2008. They said they could not duplicate the problem. Again, the car started jerking and making loud rumbles. I took it back to Nissan and they said the U joints were bad and replaced them. As soon as I pulled out of their parking area, the car did the same thing. So, I took it back again. This time, they told me that the radiator was coming apart and leaking antifreeze into transmission. They charged me $1285.89 to replace the radiator and flush the transmission. It is now 2012 and the car is doing the same thing again. The problem was never fixed properly to begin with. I need a new transmission at a high price. Anyone reading this should phone me at so that we can start a class action law suit against Nissan. Lets inform everyone who has had this problem. From what I have been reading, thousands of people have had the same problem. This is a safety issue as well as a costly problem. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #33

Jan 122012


  • 2,007 miles
We have a 2005 Nissan Xterra that we had to have a transmission replaced on in 2007 because radiator coolant leaked into the transmission. Again, the same thing has happened. Recall these cars, please. They are dangerous and this repair is very expensive. I had read the complaint history and I am not the only one with this problem.

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #32

Jan 112012


  • 97,500 miles


While driving, the engine cuts off without warning causing all systems to shut down, including brake assist and power steering causing a near collision twice, once while navigating a curve at low speed with a ditch on the right side and once while navigating a curve at higher speed and nearly coasting into oncoming traffic. The issue is due to a known defect in the radiator causing coolant to spill into the transmission. This is a major safety concern that appears in vehicles without warning in any circumstance at any speed. Please initiate a recall asap for our safety!

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #31

Sep 142011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
Radiator corrosion leaking fluid into transmission. Replacing radiator and transmission. Replaced vaporizer solenoid and the ipdm unit (voluntary recall) which caused stalling while driving. Fuel sensor replaced. Mandatory recall on the ECM unit. No notification on voluntary or mandatory recalls.

- Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #30

Dec 172011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 116,000 miles
Radiator failed and allowed coolant to mix with transmission fluid. Both radiator and transmission need replaced at a cost of $6411 (includes labor).

- Crofton, MD, USA

problem #29

Jul 012011


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that he heard knocking coming from under the hood while driving approximately 30 mph. The contact also stated that the temperature gauge would display that the vehicle was overheating. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer, but they were unable to diagnose a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 80,000.

- Palm Harbor, FL, USA

problem #28

Dec 092011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
Vehicle failed during operation without warning secondary to faulty original radiator which leaked coolant into the transmission. Transmission and radiator destroyed and require replacing. Despite extensive documentation of this problem on consumer websites and a class action lawsuit, Nissan America and dealership denied any knowledge of this problem and did not accept any financial responsibility. Total repairs estimated at $5,000. Notifying consumer of and/or replacing faulty radiator could prevent a costly destroyed transmission.

- Forest Grove, OR, USA

problem #27

Nov 302010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
My husband and I purchased our 2005 Nissan Xterra, 17 miles young. Exactly one month after we purchased, the rear differential went out and was covered under warranty. No problems for a few years, until we noticed that the gas gauge was not giving accurate readings, we had to watch our odometer count to make sure we didn't run out of gas, which is a very scary thought when you have two young children. This happened when we had approximately 80000 miles on the truck and $600 to repair. Shortly after, the transmission was acting up and the heater wasn't working. No why wasn't that working? apparently, Nissan thought it would be a cool trick to have the radiator leak into the transmission.... brilliant business plan they have. Took the truck in and had to pay $5800 to have the transmission, radiator and computer all replaced. This financial hardship was in fact a hardship. One that shouldn't have had to happen had Nissan provided quality parts and provided stellar service. I will sue Nissan for this major safety issue, blog/facebook my little heart away about how insincere of a company Nissan is and never ever-ever-ever give them a positive recommendation.

- Castro Valley, CA, USA

problem #26

Aug 082011


  • 76,000 miles
My Nissan Xterra started making a vibration sound around August of 2011. It sounded like your vehicle was running over a "rumble strip". it was infrequent at first so I ignored it. I did notice some other warning signs of potential trouble (at hindsight). The vehicles heater would never heat the interior of the vehicle at idle, but would do it at speed. Nissan knows the issue is a defect but refuses to take responsibility. Several times while I have been driving the vehicle it would shudder and almost result in a accident. I have only narrowly avoided a collision on 3 separate occasions. Nissan extended the powertrain warranty to 80,000 miles because they know of the issue, but refuse to admit its a defect. Had I been informed about the warranty extension I may have been able to have it services while within the warranty period. My vehicle is currently at 83,000 miles, but within the 96 month portion of the warranty. I'm currently afraid to drive the vehicle on the highway because I'm worried the transmission will fail at high speed and result in a serious accident.

- Waterloo, IL, USA

problem #25

Nov 092011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
It has come to my attention during a recent horrific event that my transmission has seized due to a failure of the radiator cracking and mixing coolant into the transmission. I had bought an extended warranty plan through my dealer when I purchased this vehicle in 2009. They had an adjustor from carefree car protection come out to look at the vehicle on Friday November 11, 2011. With that being said; they stated they do not cover the radiator issue; and since it was the faulty radiator that caused the entire transmission to fail and ultimately seized, they will also not cover that or any other of the repairs. Upon a bit of research on my own this is a known failure with this particular year/make/model of Nissan. There are hundreds if not thousands of documented cases of consumers with the very same issue. There has been no recall made on this at all. Yes, Nissan extended the radiator warranty up to 80,000 miles but not the transmission. Guess what; this happened in my vehicle at 89,000, so not only can I not fix the radiator issue but the transmission is also the same. The worst part of all this is; on Wednesday November 9th my four year old daughter and I were almost killed due to this known malfunction. We were traveling on a very busy highway in mid-day traffic when the entire transmission seized in the middle of the highway. I have to say, if it were not for my extensive training in emergency vehicle operations by the state of Massachusetts, I honestly do not believe my daughter or I would be alive today. The vehicle seized right on that stretch of highway and I had to veer into a ditch avoiding other vehicles, trees, guardrails and jersey barriers. I am thankful that we did survive that horrific even. Now I am looking to Nissan to do the right thing and make this right. Updated IVOQ 12/01/11

- North Adams, MA, USA

problem #24

Nov 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Recently I experienced a sudden loss of acceleration as I attempted to merge onto a highway. I was also very lucky that I didn't cause a serious accident. The problem was intermittent at first and then increased. Nissan acknowledged a radiator design flaw and extended the basic warranty to lessor of 96 months or 80K miles. I contacted Nissan Consumer Affairs to inform them my Xterra was affected by the same problem. While under 96 mos, my vehicle has 89K miles. I requested an exception which was denied. Nissan's failure to stand behind their products, particularly when the problem represents a serious safety concern and attributable to a design flaw, is inexcusable. Nissan denies any safety concern. This problem (referenced by Nissan in the radiator assembly customer satisfaction program description) pertains to 2005-2010 Xterra, pathfinder and frontier vehicles equipped with auto transmissions. Corrosion within the radiator leads to a crack and contamination of engine coolant with trans fluid, damaging radiator & transmission corrosion develops over time and most vehicle owners will likely exceed the 80K limit before problem presents itself. An internet search revealed 15 dedicated web threads to this problem and they are mostly 2005 vehicles. If Nissan didn"T correct the design flaw before 2010, the # of failures will significantly increase over the coming years as model yr 2005-2010 cars age. How many accidents or fatalities need to occur during this period before Nissan is held accountable for their negligence? the dealer estimate to repair my Xterra is $6,760. This is a significant financial burden and hardship on any vehicle with just over 80,000 miles. How many Nissan owners have to experience financial hardship before Nissan is held accountable?"

- Maple Grove, MN, USA

problem #23

Oct 252011


  • 89,000 miles
I was driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra at 55 mph on a two lane highway when it began to shake violently as if I had ran over spilled lumber or rumble strips. I braked hard as I thought I had ran over something. I hadn't, so after pulling over and checking for loose tires or driveline I continue on perplexed as to what happened. A few miles later it did it again. Come to find out there is a known defect on 2005 thru 2010 Nissan Xterra's, pathfinders, and frontier's in which the radiators internally leak water into the automatic transmissions and causes the violent shaking at high speeds. Nissan is aware of the issue and has only chosen to extend the warranty on the radiators and not recall the vehicles. In fact the letter sent to the consumers doesn't even reference the transmission (in which it destroys). While my family and I were not hurt, it was a close call and could have easily been worse at the speed I was going and the effect the failure has on the vehicle.

- North Adams, MA, USA

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