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 1 of 3)

problem #52

May 112016


  • 105,000 miles


The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. While driving approximately 50 mph, the vehicle failed to accelerate. The contact maneuvered the vehicle to the side of the road to a complete stop. The vehicle was driven home. The following day, the vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that radiator coolant leaked into the transmission fluid chamber and the transmission failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 105,000. Updated 10/18/16

- Guaynabo, PR, USA

problem #51

Oct 222009

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Automatic transmission has gone out to soon for car that is this old!

- Lexington, NC, USA

problem #50

Aug 182011


  • 87,575 miles
Transmission failed due to a a known defect in the Nissan cooling system for 2005 Xterra's - this defect allows anti freeze to leak into transmission and cause failure.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #49

Dec 152011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles


The vehicle's automatic transmission disengaged without warning while traveling at highway speed. Immediate deceleration, forced us to cross lanes during period of heavy traffic with no ability to control the acceleration of the vehicle. Vehicle's automatic transmission would not engage. Transmission mechanic stated that failure was rusted internal transmission components. Follow up internet research revealed to us that this failure is common in 2005 Nissan Xterra's. a common component between the factory radiator and auto transmission cooler rusts and fails, causing transmission fluid to mix with radiator fluid. This destroys the radiator and eventually the automatic transmission. During a service call at a local Nissan dealership in May 2011, we were made aware of the radiator / transmission cooler leak, and we were advised that the radiator should be replaced. We replaced the radiator. The mileage at the time of this service was approximately 108,000. The potential transmission issue was never mentioned.

- Middleburg Heights, OH, USA

problem #48

Dec 272011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
Radiator cracked and leaked coolant into the transmission. Both radiator and transmission damaged. Estimated cost of repairs around $4700.

- Bessemer, AL, USA

problem #47

Aug 192011


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated the vehicle started making a rumbling sound after having the oil changed at the dealers. The contact took the vehicle back to the dealer and was told that the transmission was slipping and coolant was leaking from the radiator into the transmission. The vehicle would need both the radiator and the transmission replaced. The failure and current mileages were 85,000.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #46

Aug 012011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles


Faulty radiator leaked antifreeze into transmission which rendered the transmission useless.

- Garfield Hts, OH, USA

problem #45

Aug 262011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 121,835 miles
I seem to be having the same problem as everyone else with my 2005 Nissan Xterra. Started feeling a vibration around 40 to 60 mph. It felt like I was riding on a rumble strip except I was not. The radiator fluid leaked into my transmission which cased my transmission to go out. I have only had this vehicle for 2 months.

- Arcola, IL, USA

problem #44

Aug 242010


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph, she heard a rumbling sound. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnostics, where the technician stated that radiator fluid leaked into the transmission and the radiator needed to be replaced. There were also parts within the transmission that needed to be repaired, but the contact was unaware of the specific parts. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000. The VIN was not available.

- Bristol, CT, USA

problem #43

Aug 122011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 125,375 miles
Defective transmission cooling design causing 2005 Nissan Xterra leaking coolant into transmission resulting in transmission and radiator failure. Nissan has not corrected the design problem for consumers resulting in putting consumers risk of harms way and extreme costs to repair.

- Kansas, KS, USA

problem #42

May 282011


  • 100,000 miles


2005 Nissan Xterra transmission/ radiator. Radiator leaks into transmission and causes transmission to seeze. Nissan is aware of this issue they have not entered a recall on the part.

- Rocky Point, NY, USA

problem #41

Jul 272011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
I was entering onto the freeway about 60mph when the vehicle started vibrating violently. I wasn't sure if I blew a tire or hit something and I instinctively braked hard and drove onto the shoulder of the road. I inspected the front end and could not determine what had gone wrong. I drove at minimum posted speed to the next ramp and exited. On a dirt road on the way home the vibration and shaking started again at around 40mph. When I slowed down the shaking stopped. I nursed the car home. I learned later there is a defect in the transmission of this model caused by radiator fluid leaking into the transmission which corrodes the components. I never received a recall or other notice from Nissan. This is a dangerous condition because it causes the driver to take immediate and severe action as it feels like a catastrophic failure of some sort. At high speeds it could cause an accident.

- Lakeville, MN, USA

problem #40

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 #39

Jul 122011


  • 109,000 miles
I purchased a new 2005 Nissan for my daughter six years ago.....I have the exact problem that everyone else seems to have....a faulty radiator caused coolant to ruin the transmission now Nissan wants thousands to replace the transmission and radiator. Also the Cadillac converter needs replacing and experiencing the same fuel gauge problem....since I have 109000 miles it is out of warranty....I have not received any recalls in the mail and I have always been the titled owner since I purchased it brand new. I am disgusted that Nissan is aware that there was a faulty radiator, this is not caused by wear and tear....but intends on doing nothing. They charged me $100 just to diagnose the problem. My daughter doesn't have thousands for these kind of repairs and the car slips out of gear while driving which is dangerous. It seems Nissan should be forced to make these specific repairs since they are aware of the defect.

- Mississippi, MS, USA

problem #38

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 #37

Sep 172010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
In September, 2010 I was driving my 2005 Nissan Xterra at 55 mph on a two lane highway when it the temperature spiked overheating the engine after pulling over and checking it I discovered I had transmission fluid in the radiator. 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. The vehicle was towed to a garage and the radiator replaced and transmission flushed. While servicing my vehicle the mechanic discovered that the engine head had cracked. I incurred over 2,400 dollars in repairs...using a used replacement engine. Nissan corporation after 9 weeks of waiting has informed me that they have opted not to assist in the repair of the vehicle nor provide reimbursement. On June 23, 2011, my transmission began to fail.

- Wyoming, PA, USA

problem #36

Jun 212011

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • 152,000 miles
My 2005 Nissan Xterra suddenly developed a lack of acceleration nearly causing an accident at a stop sign. When taken to my mechanic I was told that the trouble code indicated the tcm and or the front brake solenoid, both of which are in the transmission and they would cost at least $2000 to fix. The dealer would not talk to me or return my calls after letting me know that a fix would cost @$5000+ I cannot afford to replace this and after finding that it happens with nearly all 05 Xterras I will not.

- Kill Devil Hills, NC, USA

problem #35

Jan 082011


  • 95,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that while driving approximately 45 mph, the transmission began to shake excessively. The failure recurred whenever the vehicle was in motion. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the transmission was flushed. The mechanic also stated that the radiator was cracked and leaking transmission fluid into the engine. As a result, severe damage was being done to the engine. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 95,000.

- Red Hill, PA, USA

problem #34

May 142011

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
On or about May 14th 2011 I observe fluid leaking from my Nissan 2005 Xterra. I sought professional advice. It was mandatory that I replace the radiator, thermostat and flush the engine and transmission. It became very apparent that this was a manufacture defect. I then contact five towns Nissan, who indicated that my vehicle was out of warranty (80,000). I did receive an undated ¿warrant notification¿ from Nissan North America Inc which did compromise any extended warranty especially if it is a manufacturer defect. Nissan North America Inc did acknowledge that there was a manufacturer defect on the radiator assembly that will cause leakage of the engine coolant (antifreeze) to mix with the transmission causing the transmission to be rebuilt. This will cost over $6,000 to repair. What became obviously suspicious is that Nissan sent the ¿warrant notification¿ after the fact knowing that all and or most of the affected vehicles were out of warranty. It became apparent that Nissan was fully aware of the defects, hence, being liable for their negligence. Amidst all the complaints Nissan refuse to recall and or fix the defects. Secondly, I do have problems with the emission system of the said Nissan 2005 Xterra, of which, I did reported to Nissan. In June 2009 it was determine upon paid inspection by Nissan service center, that both #1 and #2 catalytic convertor, fuel level sensor and gas gauge were all defective. I had the gauge replace, but both #1 and #2 catalytic convertor, fuel level sensor will cost over $4,000 to repair. It now has a manufacturer defect of the timing chain that can be disastrous, and will cost $2,500. I am most respectfully asking your office to launch an immediate investigation about the manufacturer defects that I have listed, and would like Nissan to fully compensate me for the repairs. I would like you to take into consideration of all the consumers who are frustrated by this dilemma, and have no possible alternative.

- Springfield Gardens, NY, USA

problem #33

Sep 152010

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 70,006 miles
Car overheating, wouldn't run on highway, jerking, couldn't catch speed, radiator blew due to coolant problem which went into transmission needing new transmission. Holding up traffic, had to keep my hazards on. Extremely dangerous driving conditions. Radiator reimbursed by Nissan but wouldn't pay for transmission despite clear documentation that it was due to a recall. Had to pull over several times on highway to get out of harms way.

- New Rochelle, NY, USA

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