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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
113,600 miles
Total Complaints:
16 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace timing chain, tensioner (6 reports)
  2. replace timing chail, tensioner, etc (4 reports)
  3. replaced engine. damage due to timing chain issue (3 reports)
  4. not sure (1 reports)
  5. replace guides and timing chains (1 reports)
  6. replace tensioners and timing chains (1 reports)
2005 Nissan Xterra engine problems

engine problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments

problem #16

Dec 012007

Xterra SE 4.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 22,000 miles


The car began making noise at about 20,000 miles (we bought it brand new). The dealer told me it was a belt tensioner (that had been listed as a recall) so they insisted it was the problem even though you could obviously tell that it wasn't. At that time I told them that the oil pressure gauge always ran high (top of the gauge). Eventually they replaced the timing chain tensioners and chains and insisted that they had put in upgraded parts. The dealer (Lithia Nissan in Eugene Oregon) said I was the first person to ever have this problem in their shop. At that time I told them that the oil pressure gauge always ran high (top of the gauge) and they said they verified that it was ok with a manual gauge (I don't believe they ever checked), It took a week to fix that time.

At approximately 45,000 miles the chain/tensioners failed again... with the same noise. They insisted we drive it for several thousand miles while they were "getting parts". They were able to turn it around in 2 days this time and it did appear that the parts they installed were different (black plastic rub rails VS white plastic rub rails) than the parts that came out ... but the parts that came out appeared identical to the original parts. I spoke with the mechanic at this time and he said he had replaced timing chain tensioners on more than 20 Nissan V6 motors of different displacements. The service manager assured me that they would cover this fix for as long as I owned the car because by now, I was pissed and insisting that all of this plastic and metal circulating through my engine could not be good for it... BUT they would not put their assurances in writing.

NOW at about 90,000 miles (out of warranty) same noise. I'm going to have to pay for the repair myself because Nissan USA (after over a week of calling more than 5 different people) has Officially told me that they will do nothing (not even provide parts) and do not care if I am lost to them as a future Nissan customer (our family has had 5 Datsuns or Nissans in the past). I also apprised them of the fact that I was aware of the class action law suits that they lost for this very problem in other states and wondered why, just because I live in Oregon, they refuse to compensate me. I'm sorry but they should be able to design a timing chain system that can last longer than a 45,000 mile interval. I AM DONE WITH NISSAN.

Lithia Nissan has basically told me the same thing and has proven that they do not stand behind their product. I would suggest that NO ONE EVER PURCHASE A VEHICLE FROM Lithia will be sorry if you do.

- Scott S., Eugene, US

problem #15

Feb 022020

Xterra 4.0L, V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

click to see larger images

timing chain failure

The engine in my Xterra was completely restored along with the exhaust system before the timing chain guards failed. The radiator should have been an instant trade-in for a new vehicle, but no... Nissan knew they were responsible for these engineering failures. Yet, Nissan offered nothing to console customers. My completely restored vehicle, fitted for the outback, camping gear and fishing pods, needs a new engine due to your secretive, sabotaging endeavors. I've spent thousands restoring and outfitting my ride. Now, the only safe repair is a new engine. The cost of the engine and labor is almost seven thousand dollars. The discount coupon for another vehicle is a slap in the face as well. Shame on you, Nissan!

- Wen W., The Dalles, OR, US

problem #14

Aug 082017

Xterra SE S-V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,250 miles

I feel that Nissan should be partly responsible for this issue. I put in a claim and was informed that they would not cover this problem. I even asked them to give me all the parts for free and $800.00 towards labor and I would cover the rest and still denied.

I purchased this vehicle brand new in December 2005 as my retirement gift to myself and figured that this would be my last car purchase since I do not drive the car that often and it is garage kept.

Nissan just passed that off as it is now my problem and that the car is over 10 years old they are not responsible. I know they knew about this problem back in 2002 and kept quiet about this and just sold their poor ass cars to the general public and was only looking out for their bottom line and to get rid of the cars. It comes to a point that they need to face the fact, that people are getting tired of this bullshit of not stepping up to the plate and taking ownership that they sold cars with bad parts and to work with customers in resolving this issues.

I am not stopping with them and planning my next step in obtaining a lawyer and taking them to small claims court. It has come down to proving a point to large companies that when people spend their hard earned money with them and they are very quick to accept it, you need to stand behind your products and not try to turn a blind eye to your problems.

- Joseph H., Joppa, US

problem #13

Jun 062017

Xterra S 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles


This problem is very well known and has been under investigation. This is one of two serious problems I know of that Nissan deliberately hid from customers. That is unacceptable.

- Edward H., Nashville, TN, US

problem #12

Jan 012015

Xterra S 4.0L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 140,000 miles

So our 4.0L v6 in our Nissan Xterra has been making the timing chain noise for a while. After all the issues with the drivetrain we've had due to poor design, we are selling and buying a Toyota. It is ridiculous.

With only 160,000 we shouldn't be so worried about a timing chain going out, especially since these cars aren't cheap and we have maintained it meticulously.

- Jesse L., Gunnison, US

problem #11

Aug 132016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Second occurance of timing chain tensioner failure... replaced chain, tensioner and was without vehicle for 5 days

- Clint H., Clearwater, FL, US

problem #10

Feb 102016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


Timing belt tensioner part failure, needed complete replace including water pump and timing chain first of 3 repeat occurrences.

- Clint H., Clearwater, FL, US

problem #9

Jun 162016

Xterra LL 4.0L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 129,000 miles

This is a product failure issue with the Nissan 4.0 liter engine. Timing chain failure. A TSB was issued to dealerships but not to owners. This issue caused catastrophic failure of our engine.

- alovato, Missoula, MT, US

problem #8

Jul 132016

Xterra S 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I have just started to hear the whine coming from engine. I did some research and it sounds like the timing chain problem that a lot of people are having. When I discovered that Nissan knows about this problem and covered it up and sold me the vehicle anyway with defective parts, I got pretty angry.

I found out there is a class action lawsuit against them. Not sure how to get included. I need to get this repaired before it causes more damage, or breaks while I am driving and causes an accident.

Not sure if I should just pay for it myself or try and wait and see what happens with the lawsuit.

- Edward H., Nashville, TN, US

problem #7

Apr 302013

Xterra Off Road

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,529 miles

The original timing chain guides are plastic and wear out very fast. There is nothing in the service guide about ever needing anything done to the timing chain. Fortunately a friend of mine with a 2007 Nissan Frontier had her timing chain replaced under warranty when she took her truck in for an oil change, so I found out my 2005 Nissan Xterra also needed it. Of course my car was no longer under warranty so I had to pay for it. Supposedly the new guides are made of a tougher material and should last. If the guides had worn through my engine probably would have been destroyed.

- sritsch, Lake Forest, CA, US

problem #6

Jun 012015

Xterra SE 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


My timing chain is about shot on my '05 Nissan Xterra. I'm at the point where I likely need to just buy a new vehicle - not worth making the repairs at this point, probably cost more than half of what vehicle is worth. ($2-3K). Would prefer not to buy a new vehicle yet and continue driving my Xterra until it will go no further - I figured this would be at least 200k miles, likely 1-2 more years.

- dbollin, Pleasant Ridge, MI, US

problem #5

Jan 012016

Xterra S 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 158,000 miles

I've known about this issue for quite some time through forums that I was on pertaining to other issues that I have had, but I somehow made it to 160K miles before the timing chain whine reared it's ugly head towards me; my guess is because I've only ever used full synthetic oil. The noise extremely prevalent when the car first starts, but seems to go away once everything is lathered in oil. None the less, I have two options thanks to Nissan's lack of consideration for their customers - pay a mechanic (certainly not a Nissan service tech - they have enough of my money) a few grand to get it fixed, or buy the necessary parts and tools myself and follow along a how-to guide on one of the Xterra forums from the other poor saps who made the same terrible purchasing decision that I made.

What really gripes me, and it's not just Nissan, is that all car manufacturers weigh the costs of a recall verses a few lawsuits, and ultimately unless there is death involved and major bucks on the line because of it, then they usually just ride out the lawsuits and screw the customers. There is no 100% trust worthy automaker, which is sad, but one thing that I can say for sure after all of the issues that I've had with this (including the transmission/radiator leak), and along with my wife's Nissan Sentra and her issues... never again will my hard earned money find it's way into Nissan's hands.

- Aaron J., Leander, TX, US

problem #4

Sep 112015

Xterra 4.0L V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 96,600 miles

Plastic chain tensioner has failed resulting in additional engine damage. Nissan has been aware of this for years and has not done the right thing to remedy the problem. They chose not to do the right thing and now it is going to cost me thousands in repairs.

I've owned the vehicle since new and have been diligent in maintenance.

- Paul G., Longmont, CO, US

problem #3

Jul 092015

Xterra S 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,400 miles

Last year, I had to shell out my "copay" of $3K for the ridiculous radiator/transmission issue that Nissan so kindly paid for half of THEIR issue. Now, I'm waiting to hear the estimate on the timing chain issue. How can they continue to do this? I'm sure others can ill afford the money it takes to have these things fixed!

I do not yet know if I have to take my Xterra to the Nissan dealership to get financially raped for their labor and parts rates as yet. At some point, isn't SOMEONE with the authority to do so going to step in and help out the unknowing consumer? I have faithfully maintained my Xterra, and I am not at fault for these costly issues that Nissan insists on denying liability for.

This is ridiculous, and at this point, I don't know how I will even pay for another $3K for a repair. When is someone going to help? I don't have the money for a new vehicle.

Update from May 19, 2016: Well, after learning that the timing chain issue basically destroyed some internal stuff (I'm not a mechanic, so I have no idea what my mechanic was really saying), I had to REPLACE my engine. Luckily, a wonderful, reputable engine mechanic next door to my mechanic got me a rebuilt engine. Cost: $4200 Total for the radiator/transmission and engine: $7200. I basically now have a newish car in terms of major internal parts. I will be selling it and getting a new vehicle at the end of this year. I will NEVER, EVER have another Nissan vehicle. This company obviously cuts corners and fails to take any responsibility. I can only hope for karma at this point. Buyer Beware! I wouldn't trust even a 2017 Nissan.

- Dusti S., Missoula, MT, US

problem #2

Jan 242015

Xterra Off Road V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

timing chain making noise

So the same day I learn that my Xterra is a victim of the defective radiator that Nissan refuses to recall, I learn of another example of faulty parts on the Xterra that are prematurely failing. Seems there is another class action law suit in the works to address the premature failure of the timing chain guides and tensioners.

Not sure if limited to Xterra or not. While the repair for that is ONLY $3K, on top of the $7K they want for the radiator/transmission replacement, not getting it fixed anyway.

- Mischelle H., Fairfax, VA, US

problem #1

Jun 022014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,635 miles

So our vehicle was in the shop for the famous Radiator leaking into the transmission which cost us a whopping $3,000 copay for something that was not our fault but the fault of a defect from Nissan corp. yet they were still collecting money from their consumers. Only to get a phone call stating that the timing chain needed to be replaced or our motor would be done. Cost now adds another $1700. Only to find that there is now an investigation pending for another Civil Action Lawsuit against Nissan for the timing chains.

What the hell is going on? How much more is Nissan going to bleed out of their consumers. I am begging everyone on here that is making complaints, make them everywhere from Nissan Consumer Affairs Dept. to the Better Business Bureau to the Trade Commission and to all vehicle safety websites. We must be heard. I have contacted our Attorney because I will not sit back and let a company do this to people. This is not little money, this just down right stinks and Nissans will never be allowed in my household again. Now I have to worry about the Nissan Altima that I have which is known to encounter transmissions issues as well

- mmaszon, Baltimore, MD, US

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