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 6 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #22

Oct 252011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles


I was picking up my children from school and my car just stopped driving in the middle of the intersection while I was making a left turn at a stoplight. I brought it to a trans shop and they said I have coolant in my transmission which caused it to fail. Repairs are estimated at $4326 and I am just angry and sick over this situation. Not only was it a scary situation to break down in the middle of the intersection with my kids in the car but I am very disappointed in all the reports I have been reading about in the 2005 Xterra. I can not afford to fix this problem and this is simply not fair that Nissan isn't taking responsibility for their negligence. Please help!!

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #21

Apr 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
Faulty radiator design allowed a crack that caused cross contamination of coolant and transmission fluid. Caused transmission to fail.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #20

Aug 312011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 78,200 miles
I was driving my son to a soccer game and could not get the car to go past 20 getting on the highway. I had the car in the dealer a few months earlier B/C I was having trouble getting past 45mph. They told me they could not properly diagnose and to continue driving. My car had 72000 at that point. They did not advise me of the potential radiator/transmission problem or let me know the warranty had been extened from 60000 to 80000 miles.

- Middletown, OH, USA

problem #19

Aug 202011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 81,150 miles


Driving vehicle when transmission dropped into lower gear and would not upshift. Cause found --- radiator cracked and leaked coolant into transmission-. which ruined the transmission.

- Webster, NY, USA

problem #18

Jul 112011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 129,000 miles
05 Nissan Xterra radiator leaked antifreeze into the transmission causing the vehicle to not move until RPM's reached a certain speed. Car had been vibrating prior to incident which was thought to be tires. Car was towed to transmission shop and at a cost of $4800 for repairs. I understand this is a problem that multiple owners have had and that Nissan is not accepting responsibility for. I was put at risk as I drive 35 miles each way to and from work and a majority of this driving is done on the highway. My drive time is very early in the morning and very late at night. If the car had broke down I would have been stranded on the side of the highway.

- Palm Bay, FL, USA

problem #17

Jun 032011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
Transmission failure caused by radiator leak, which causes vibration in vehicle which can be hazardous and costly. Internet comments suggest problem is known by manufacturer but warrantees have not been extended, and dealer quoted full price for repair: $5,000+ on vehicle worth $11,000.

- Saylorsburg, PA, USA

problem #16

Jun 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 64,500 miles


2005 Nissan Xterra. Highway driving and car began to shake violently. It was hard to stay in control for a bit there. Hard to figure out what it was but I have. Nissan Xterra's have a problem with the radiator failing and leaking coolant into the transmission, thereby ruining it. My car has been overheating and the transmission giving out while I'm traveling at highway speeds with my wife and two children in car seats. Nissan voluntarily extended warranty on the radiator. That is no help to the consumer as once the radiator fails you also have a bad transmission. Please make them accountable for their unethical dodging of a serious problem --- and a dangerous one! thank you.

- Burlington, VT, USA

problem #15

Feb 152011


  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign id number: 10V517000 (engine and engine cooling) and the vehicle was taken to the dealer for repairs. After leaving the dealer, the driver noticed that all the interior lights were flashing on and off abnormally as the vehicle stalled. The vehicle would not restart and was towed back to the dealer. The dealer then advised that they repaired the recalled component only and that they were not able to assist in any other way. The vehicle was not further repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 76,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #14

Sep 142010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated the transmission began slipping and the vehicle was taken to the dealer for a diagnosis. The dealer advised that anti-freeze was leaking into the engine because the intake valve gasket was bent. The dealer stated that the valve gasket was bending because the intake valve and radiator were made of plastic. The failure mileage was 86,000 and the current mileage was 95,000. Updated 05/03/11 the consumer stated due the defect with the radiator, anti-freeze leaked into the transmission fluid and caused the transmission to fail. Updated 08/04/11

- Unionville, CT, USA

problem #13

Feb 202009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Multiple complaints: At approx 55K miles, engine would rev out before shifting gears, at approx. 72K miles started vibration when at steady speed (approx 45 mph), so purchased new tires. At approx. 76K miles temperature gauge would fluctuate and vibration and gear slam increased. At approx. 79K miles blower stopped working and temperature gauge would go up and down. At 80,532 mi. Had radiator replaced and coolant flushed and two transmission flushes done, as coolant and transmission fluids mixed due to radiator leaking. Transmission continued vibration and began slamming again 3 mos. Later. 6 mos. Later engine overheated, had towed. Engine was bad due to overheating from radiator assembly fault Nissan describes. Rebuilt engine, new timing chain and timing control valve, and new radiator. Still cannot drive vehicle- severe transmission slamming gears, vehicle stalls when you take foot off gas, oil pressure gauge goes to bottom when foot off gas and up when you depress. Since, Nissan has extended warranty to 80K for radiator assembly can crack and internal leakage of coolant mixes with transmission fluids. I am not covered they say, but if I had been notified of this 2 years ago I would have been. Their letter specifically states that it can occur at "higher mileages". I want Nissan to reimburse me costs incurred and fix my transmission. I have been without a vehicle on and off for 8 mos. Of the past two years, and do not think this vehicle will ever run properly due to their negligence to notify owners of the potential problem. I've seen hundreds of complaints. Also have had engine light go on and off for last 2 years- due to fuel sending unit problem, Nissan has extended warranty for this to 72K. I now have 94K - these issues need to be recalls and owners reimbursed- please investigate warranty extension issue! also had squeaks, battery issue, no start even w/new battery, cleared electronics/radio blown, cds don't eject, driver window won't go up unless pulled.

- Wallkill, NY, USA

problem #12

Feb 172009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,367 miles


On my 2005 Nissan Xterra, radiator warranty extended from 36,000 miles/36 months to 80,000 miles/96 months in 2011. However, my radiator was replaced at 40 months/88,000 miles in 2009. 11 months later (2010) I had to replace my transmission because of their defected radiator. Why was my data excluded when Nissan extended their warranty? I have spent over $10,000 in repairs since I have bought my 2005 Xterra brand new.

- Marlette, MI, USA

problem #11

Sep 012010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving approximately 60 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning causing the fuel pressure to fluctuate abnormally. The vehicle was towed to a private mechanic where they informed the contact that the fuel level sensor needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but shortly after repairs, the vehicle would not start and was taken back to the dealer. The dealer informed the contact that the ipdm was defective and would need to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired yet the failure recurred twenty minutes after repairs with the illumination of the check engine warning light. The dealer then advised that because the ipdm failed, it also caused the catalytic converter to fail and that would also to be replaced and advised the contact that there was no guarantee that the repair would remedy the failure. The manufacturer advised the contact to trade the vehicle in. The vehicle was traded in November 2010. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #10

Jan 312011


  • 131,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated while driving 40 mph the vehicle suddenly shut off. She pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and had it towed to a dealer. The dealer inspected the engine and stated the timing chain broke and the entire engine needs to be replaced. The contact had the vehicle towed to a local mechanic for a second opinion. The local mechanic informed the contact the engine does need to be replaced. The failure mileage was 131,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Tempe, AZ, USA

problem #9

Feb 062011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Twice in the last day the car has accelerated in an uncontrolled manner. First was in moderate traffic about 30 mph after driving for about 40 minutes. Stepping on the brakes with full force barely slowed the car. Went to breakdown and just missed another car. Second time this am. Started the car put it in reverse and the engine took off at 3000 to 4000 RPM. Fortunately it was on snow in driveway and no one was behind. Could not stop the wheels from spinning. Eventually got it into park. Only work on this engine was recall work done 2 weeks ago involving the engine control module. This is extremely dangerous.

- West Newbury, MA, USA

problem #8

Feb 252009


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled and the service engine soon light illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technicians stated the ECM filter needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. After the repairs were made the contact received a recall notice NHTSA campaign id number: 10V517000 (component: Engine and engine cooling). The manufacturer was contacted in regards to reimbursement and informed the contact the VIN was not included in the recall. The approximate failure mileage was 75,000.

- Rancho Cordova, CA, USA

problem #7

Jun 012009


  • 53,000 miles
First problem - when I had 53,000 mi on it, it was still under warranty, it started cutting out and wouldn't accelerate at all, had to have it towed to the dealer to find out that the transmission was bad. They said that he radiator leaked, flooding my transmission with coolant and ruined my transmission. They refused to honor the warranty stating that "the tranmission did not fail - the radiator did (which was not covered under warranty) therefore the transmission was not covered". I had to let them replace the radiator and flush the transmission 3 times - it cost me $1,400 out of pocket - now here I am 30,000 miles later and my reverse will not work at all, my transmission needs replaced. So I had paid 1,400 just to buy myself an year & a half and now I need a new transmission. 2nd problem - I have the fuel gauge/sensor problem, also. I filled up one day, got in my car and gauge read empty & check engine light was on. I had a rip-off mechanic charge me $170 to replace the sensor - nothing ever changed, gauge is still broke and light is still on. Nissan is so wrong for not handling their problems, consumers deserve to be treated fairly. There should be a class action suit against them - just read these complaint boards. Somehow I have both of the most common problems with these vehicles.

- Saltsburg, PA, USA

problem #6

Nov 272010


  • 121,000 miles
Engine stopped while moving causing instant decelaration, cars following had to take evasive action found defective ECM unit by Nissan dealership

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #5

Oct 052010


  • 50,100 miles
I own a 2005 Nissan Xterra 4X4 off-road SUV (VIN#[xxx]), around 50,300mi. The incident occurred on Nov. 5, 2010 around 11pm. My Xterra started to stall on the freeway and I was able to pull over to the side of the road safely where the engine died. I tried re-starting it and the engine ran rough, so I turned it off. I tried re-starting it after 30 seconds this time the engine ran smooth, waited for a minute and then started driving back onto the freeway heading home. About a mile later the engine started to stall again and I had to pull off to the side of the road right away almost nearly hitting another vehicle because my engine had no power to speed up because it was dying. Luckily no accident, just a near miss. I was able to re-start my Xterra again and was able to make it home safely. I had to tow my Xterra to the Nissan dealership. From their diagnosis. The dealership service rep told me that I would need to replace my ipdm. He was checking to see if this part would fall under my powertrain warranty. He called me back later and told me it would cost $550 to replace it. I asked what about my powertrain warranty, he told me he have to get back to me because the warranty specialists was sick. Just my luck. I will have to wait till Monday to see if I was covered under the warranty. They didn't even offer me a loaner car over the weekend. I informed him about the recall on the ipdm Nissan put out on Oct. 28, 2010. The service rep said there was no recall on the ipdm. Go figure! I'm going to bring him a copy of the recall notice from your website. As of right now nothing is being done to my car. Very unsatisfied customer information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #4

Oct 272010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
Nissan Xterra engine stalled on the highway abruptly two times on Oct 27th 2010. Car towed to dealer for repair on Oct 28th, 2010. Complete intelligent power distribution module replaced after a 10 day long wait with no feedback from dealer or manufacturer about recall of this part. Manufacturer not returning calls to consumer regarding covering complete cost of services in spite of the condition clearly being a recall issue (campaign id 10V517000).

- Athens, OH, USA

problem #3

Jun 152010


  • 125,000 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra has a part which allows the transmission fluid to pass through and be cooled in the radiator. This part breaks, allowing the transmission fluid and radiator coolant to mix. This ruins your radiator, but more importantly, it burns up your transmission, because the coolant released into the transmission through the busted line does not have the constancy to lubricate the transmission parts properly. Over a very short period your transmission is ruined. This leads to slipping, shifting late, and can lead to the car not taking off at the anticipated speed from a stop sign or light, possibly causing an accident, because of being stranded in the intersection. Other symptoms can be temperature gauge reading hot when stopped, A/C blowing warm when stopped. I know this is not an isolated incident. By simply doing a google search for "2005 Nissan Xterra radiator transmission". the top results contain links with titles such as "2005 Nissan Xterra faulty radiator destroys transmission" and "2005 Nissan Xterra radiator causes transmission failure". I know there are others (many) out there. We need to organize and get results for this issue. My mileage may be relatively high, but many others were in the 50,000 mile range when the failure occurred. I have already spent $500+ on this issue. Now that I have to replace my transmission, it could be $5,000! help!

- Santa Fe, TX, USA

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