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:
91,309 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #32

Apr 222011


  • 97,300 miles


My vehicle rumbled a little as if I was going over a rumble strip. Then after a little bit of time, I lost all gears with the exception of 4th, this became a safety issue in traffic as slowing down caused the car to almost stop completely in traffic situations. Following this, I have researched and found this to be the case for many of the same vehicles. The radiator leaks into the transmission causing transmission failure. Something needs to be done!

- Hinsdale, NH, USA

problem #31

Mar 212011


  • 84,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated was driving 30 mph when the transmission slipped. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the contact was advised that the transmission fluid abnormally mixed with the radiator coolant. The radiator initially malfunctioned and caused the failure and the dealer advised replacing the transmission. The contact called the manufacturer yet the manufacturer did not offer any further assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 84,000.

- Port Orchord, WA, USA

problem #30

Nov 282009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 77,529 miles
When getting to a speed of 55 mph and above I would start to hear a rumbling sound. I had my local Nissan dealership take a look at it and they told me it was the front right U-joint. I had them replace the U-joint and when I picked it up and was on my way home the same rumbling sound was still occuring. I took it back to the dealership and they kept it a two days and then told me the rear axial was causing the noise the it needed to be replaced. I had them replace it which cost me $2000. Again, when I picked it up and was on my way home the rumbling noise was still occuring. I went back to the dealership got the sevice manager to go for a ride with me so he could here the noise because no one at the dealership ever took the car out to hear the noise. He said they would have to keep it again to see if they could figure out the problem. They called me 2 days later and told me that a crack in the hose that runs through the radiator to the transmission was allowing antifreeze to get into the transmission and the transmission was causing the rumbling noise. They told me I needed to have the readiator and transmission replaced and it was going to cost me $4200. Needless to say I was not convinced they knew what was wrong with the car since they were wrong the first two times, so I took it to a local transmission repair shop and had them look at it. They said it was the radiator and transmission so I had them replace both at a cost of $3900.

- Gambrills, MD, USA

problem #29

Mar 172011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 78,000 miles


I have a 2005 Nissan Xterra, recently I have been experiencing a rumbling effect under the vehicle like the feeling of rumble strips, after looking around my vehicle and finding nothing wrong. Two days ago my vehicle suddenly stop going in/out of gear and after driving 3 miles to then gym and back I pulled my Xterra in the driveway then suddenly a pinkish fluid poured out from under the carriage of the vehicle around the transmission. This cannot be safe whether on the highway or rural road, what has Nissan done to mitigate this problem? I understand this is typical for 2005 Xterras.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #28

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 #27

Oct 112010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
I noticed in the spring of 2010 my 05 Nissan Xterra began to stall and sputter at various times. I began to notice a pink/rose colored substance on the ground underneath the front of my truck. In July car wouldn't drive at all and jerked when it finally did move. I took it to a shop and got a diagnosis of a faulty radiator. Had that replaced at a cost of $1200 was informed that the coolant and transmission fluid mixed causing the breakdown. I drove for another few months when the truck gave out in the middle of traffic had to have the truck towed to yet another shop for repair. I was informed that my transmission was toast due to the mixing of the fluids and would need to be replaced/rebuilt at owner's expense. Nissan has yet to admit that the 05 Xterra's have radiator faults and recall said vehicles. To get the transmission rebuilt at a cost to me of $2500 and yet I am still having issues with the truck. I received a recall notice for the ECM relay and had that corrected due to "can cause the engine to stop running while the vehicle is in motion, increasing the risk of a crash." My question is if the company can issue a recall for this matter then why not for the faulty radiators that lead to destroyed transmissions. I just got my truck out of the shop and just had the ECM replaced and yet my truck still stalls. When will Nissan admit their mistakes and own up to it and recall all said cars and trucks affected and reimburse the consumers for the monies that has been shelled out so far. This is a major safety hazard as I don't wish to be driving along when my truck stalls and I'm rear-ended by another vehicle or by a tractor trailer god forbid. I would like for a solution to this problem and to see that all Nissan Xterra owners are validated in their concerns regarding this issue. I do hope that in the near future there will be some resolution to this issue as I am not made of money and don't own another vehicle to use at my disposable. Thanks

- Elkridge, MD, USA

problem #26

Jan 042011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


I just recently started experiencing a 'shudder' under mild acceleration between 40-60 mph with my 05xterra, V6 4X4 (~120K miles). Feels like my rear wheels are going over a rumble strip and only lasts a few brief moments. Took my Xterra back to dealer and they indicated possibility of transmission cooler leak allowing antifreeze to enter torque converter and transmission causing slippage; although they checked my fluids and no cross contamination was evident. They recommended replacing torque converter, transmission and the tune of ~$5000...there's got to be better answer...and accountability on their part...I searched on line and found that I'm not alone with this issue... a number of folks have experienced the same issue...Nissan has even acknowledged a problem and has extended their warranty on the radiator, but not the torque converter, but my mileage exceeds the extended period; if they know of the issue, why isn't there a re-call...if the torque converter fails while driving, it will most certainly cause an accident...problem is getting worse and more frequent...there needs to be action by Nissan to correct this condition before someone is seriously injured due to a known problem...

- Bloomsburg, PA, USA

problem #25

Feb 072011


  • 88,000 miles
On February 07, 2011 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.

- Molalla, OR, USA

problem #24

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 #23

Jan 152011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
Just bought a 05 Xterra for my wife for X-mas. Needed 4-wheel drive due to the area we live and kids to be safe. 3 weeks after buying it has started to rumble and not shift to od. At aprox. 40-60 mph it is constant when keeping and steady speed or while cruise control is on and at a slight acceleration. Read thousands of complaints with same issues and all have had radiator and trany fluid mixing problems causing both needed replaced. Mine has 70,000 miles on it. Nissan recommended a trany flush like the thousands of complaints I have read. This just temporarily stops the problem. Pretty much till ur warranty is up and they can steal ur money.

- Howard, OH, USA

problem #22

Jan 202011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles


Driving of vehicle has resulted in the failure of the automatic transmission. There appears to be a design flaw in the cooling system to leak onto the transmission causing failure. The only option is replacement of the transmission.

- Venice, CA, USA

problem #21

Dec 292010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles
My 2005 Xterra with 82K miles started vibrating badly when accelerating over 50mph. It felt like I was driving over rumble strips. I called Nissan assist on 12/29/2010 and was told my radiator had failed, leaked into the transmission and totally destroyed it. My only option was a $4600 replacement of the radiator and transmission. The Nissan assist guy then told me that Nissan knew about the problem, but instead of issuing a recall, they simply extended the warranty from 60K to 72K miles (this was an error on his part, because the extension was actually to 80K miles). Regardless, it didn't apply to me because I was at 82K miles. Nissan is trying to ease the pain with extending the warranty however, they make no attempt to contact you about it. You either need to find it yourself or your screwed.

- Bohemia, NY, USA

problem #20

Nov 152010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Beginning summer 2010 2005 Nissan Xterra (purchased new in 2005) began making rumbling noise (as if going over rumble strips) while driving. Incident occurred frequently at differing speeds for the next several months. No other problems were evident at that time. In November 2010 while driving on freeway vehicle began overheating, blowing hot air through air conditioner, and registering hot on gauge. Vehicle was immediately taken to local mechanic who was unable to determine problem. The next day vehicle was taken to dealership where car was purchased and told that the transmission needed to be replaced due to radiator fluid leak. After research and finding that this is a common occurrence the owner decided not to have the vehicle fixed at her expense and is not driving the vehicle until an agreement is made with Nissan. While there were no injuries or accidents in this incidence research shows that there have been numerous reports of transmission failures in traffic either causing or almost causing accidents. Nissan's failure to alert 05 Xterra owners of this problem that they are well aware of is negligence and risks health and safety. Further, it can be found that the problem cannot be fixed by simply replacing the original parts as the parts and design were defective to begin with. Research has shown that after being "fixed" by the dealership the problem has occurred again.

- Encinitas, CA, USA

problem #19

Dec 182010


  • 90,200 miles
On Saturday December 18, 2010 I noticed a vibration in my 2005 Nissan Xterra. The following Monday I took it to a dealer for service. I was told that my radiator had failed and that it had leaked coolant into my transmission, causing both components to need immediate replacement. The mechanic told me that the failure is a known problem and that it occurs with no check engine light, no noticeable deterioration of performance, it just happens. He said that in a worst-case scenario, the vehicle's transmission could seize causing an immediate stop and loss of control. When the problem occurred on my Xterra, I was on the interstate traveling 60-70mph. Nissan knows about this problem and has extended the warranty on the radiator by 20,000 miles (to 80K from 60K) but they refuse to issue a recall even though this problem affects all of their mid-sized trucks and SUVS manufactured in 2005. Furthermore, Nissan issued this extension to dealerships and not directly to consumers. I was never notified of the change or any potential problem. As such, I have been driving a ticking time-bomb that luckily did not go off and harm myself or my family.

- Charlottesville, VA, USA

problem #18

Nov 262010


  • 70,000 miles
The engine in my 2005 Nissan Xterra (4WD) began making a slight whining noise. I was notified that the noise was a drive belt. After replacing that item, a slight knocking could be heard. As I was traveling along a major highway my vehicle shut off and forced me to avoid a collision and coast off the roadway. I learned that the noise was from a timing chain inside my engine. The mechanic advised multiple Nissan vehicles had been getting the timing chain replaced, and that this was very unusual for a vehicle like mine with only 70,000 miles. The repairs for this cost over $1000 including a tow charge, rental car etc.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #17

Jun 222010


  • 62,100 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra 4.0. the contact stated that the check engine light illuminated on the instrumental panel indicating that there was a problem with the transmission. The vehicle was inspected by a independent mechanic who informed the contact that he needed a new transmission. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 62,100.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #16

Oct 032010


  • 105,000 miles
2005 Nissan Xterra- transmission failure due to leakage of radiator fluid from transmission cooling line infiltrating into transmission and causing it to fail. Transmission when fails will cause severe vibrations or will seize up. Dealership has no specific information about technical bulletins but service persons (off record) confirm increasing number of units being presented for repair.

- Noblesville, IN, USA

problem #15

Sep 152010


  • 70,000 miles
Problem as described by Nissan service tech: Xterra was towed to us with the concern "my Xterra is slipping, will not go backwards, will not drive in drive, only drive in 3rd, hooked up to computer and came up P1716". we confirmed the car would not move in reverse, as it was towed in and parked so that backing up was the only option. The code P1716 is related to the transmission turbine circuit not functioning properly. Upon further diagnosis, we removed the radiator cap to find the radiator filled with the milky combination of coolant and transmission fluid. The radiator is a sub-level radiator, where the top portion is for coolant and the bottom portion is for cooling the transmission fluid. The radiator cracked internally causing the fluids to mix. The transmission and radiator need to be replaced to rectify the problems. New transmission is $3215.71 with the estimated arrival date of Tuesday, September 21. The new radiator is $538, currently in stock. The labor estimate is $1442.70. The estimated completion of work is Wednesday, September 22, with estimated total bill coming to $5560.16 tax included.

- Millstone, WV, USA

problem #14

Aug 162010


  • 76,800 miles
Radiator cooling system for transmission fluid causes malfunction of transmission causing unpredictable shifting and acceleration / deceleration Nissan dealership charging customers over 900 dollars for repairs......knowingly this engineered defect exists with most 2005 Nissan Xterra vehicles.

- Manalapan, NJ, USA

problem #13

May 202007


  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. When the vehicle stopped the contact tried to shift the vehicle into park and was unable to do so. He was unable to remove the keys from the ignition and was forced to shift into neutral gear. The contact stated that the failure was intermittent at first but know the failure had become progressively worse. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they were unable to duplicate the failure. The failure continued to occur and the vehicle was taken back to the dealer who stated that there was nothing they could do about the failure. The contact was unable to provide a VIN. The failure mileage was 20,000 and the current mileage was 31,000.

- New York Mills, NY, USA

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