ANNOUNCEMENT: The Car Book 2018 is now online!

Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
106,200 miles
Total Complaints:
306 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new radiator and transmission rebuild (89 reports)
  2. replaced radiator and transmission (50 reports)
  3. not sure (41 reports)
  4. replace transmission (35 reports)
  5. new radiator, transmission, and flush fluids (34 reports)
  6. replace radiator and transmission (28 reports)
2005 Nissan Xterra transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 2 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #286

Aug 132016

Xterra 4,0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,500 miles


Transmission cooler failed and caused anti-freeze to mix with ATF in the transmission causing the tranny gears to slip and mis shift and fail. Quoted $5,200 to repair

- beauchampmark, Spokane, WA, USA

problem #285

Jul 162016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,790 miles

I bought my 2005 Xterra brand new in January 2006 and didn't really have any significant problems with it for the next 10 year, having driven it 101,800 miles. However, a week ago I noticed my service engine light came on and my car was having difficulty accelerating out of first gear, but once it got to the higher speeds it seemed fine.

Took it into the Nissan dealership to have a diagnostic done, and they came back with a total bill of $10849 worth of repairs! The car is only worth about 6K, so of course this seems ridiculous. When they explained to me what was wrong, they said the main things you really need to focus on is replacing the transmission and the radiator because there was a leaky hose in the radiator and the fluids from your radiator have now been cross contaminated with your transmission and both systems must now be replaced. They also said, but we will updated the radiator with a newer version.

When I did some research on the problem, I found out about it being a known design defect with the radiator, the class action lawsuit because of it and the extended warranty. When I asked the dealer about it (since they failed to mention any of that to me) they said, well yes it is a known issue with those radiators and there was an extended warranty - but I was 6 months out of the window.

They recommended I take it up with Nissan Corporate and file a claim, to which Nissan corporate did an investigation and came back completely un-empathetic saying - basically saying sorry, you are sh*t out of luck because you are outside the extended warranty window. Needless to say, I'm super pissed at the fact that they didn't do an actual recall on this known defective part (especially considering how dangerous it could be when the transmission actually goes out) and when you bring it up, they don't give two sh*ts about you as a customer. I thought I loved Nissan and that my next car would have been to upgrade to their luxury line (an Infiniti SUV), but now I will never buy a Nissan again. Very clear that this is totally unfair for Nissan consumers and I hope that the investigation that is going on will result in another class action law suit that makes Nissan pay for what is really their fault.

The local dealership ended up negotiating with me to at least replace the radiator for free, but I still have to pay over 5K out of pocket to get the transmission replaced.

- Rhea F., Seattle, WA, USA

problem #284

Jun 202016

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Nissan has the worst customer service. I have a 2005 xterra with 67000 miles. Back in March of this year while driving it felt like I was driving over rumble strips. Of course I find out about the manufacture defect concerning the radiator & transmission. I currently have my car at the local Nissan dealer having the transmission & radiator replaced. I contacted Nissan to ask for some assistance with the cost. I am out of the warranty time period. Nissan informed me they wouldn't help me with this. Nissan should put out a recall for this manufacture defect. I will never buy another Nissan & will tell everyone I can to stay away from Nissan. I hope the NHTSA will force Nissan to recall these xterra's.

- Lisa S., Havelock, NC, USA

problem #283

Jan 052015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,571 miles


In 2015, I was an 82 year old, divorced senior who just recovered from breast cancer surgery and wanted a newer car. with fewer miles. Did research on another brand car, found it at local used car lot but it was in bad condition, started to leave and saw the Xterra at same price, drove it, bought it on the spot. I have 812 credit rating and the car lot got a loan for me. Came home and looked up possible problems with the car. Found warning about transmission. Called and told car salesman that info. After I had a problem driving it home, the car practically stopped on the road, I took it back. They said they would work with me, Ha Ha. They did computer testing and said I should take it to a transmission shop. Did so, they found gunk and water in the transmission and advised a new transmission for $4,000 to 5,000. Went back to car dealer, Bee Back Motor. I bought the car without a warranty but bought a Vehicle Service Contract only to find it wouldn't cover before 90 days and 1,000 miles from Contract Purchase. I was screwed. I paid $2,000 down and had no car to drive. This car dealer, Bee Back Motors in Sonora California, sold me an Xterra claiming he didn't know about the transmission problem. He offered to pay for transmission repair, but only $1,500 at a transmission shop of his choice, I ended up paying an additional $1,000 for something inside the transmission that the dealer didn't tell me about. So, besides the down payment on the car of $2,000, the Service Contract cost and all the upset for several months, I ended up selling the car and paying off the bank but had to pay another $1,500 to do that. I sold it for $8,000 and told the new owner about the transmission. I paid $9,000 at the car dealer, plus all the bank costs and transmissions costs, so I lost a lot of money for an old lady on SS. I still have my old 1995 Ford XLT which has 210,000 miles on it that I bought in 1998....and runs like a top. I lost a lot of money on a used car and learned never to trust a used car dealer ever! I will drive my Ford for the rest of my life and would NEVER EVER look at a Nissan again.

- Sue T., Tuolumne, CA, USA

problem #282

May 062016

Xterra Offroad 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Add me to list of unsuspecting people that bought a used Nissan thinking it would be a reliable vehicle. Just bought a few months ago and now have a repair bill damn near what I paid for the truck all because of a faulty radiator...REALLY??? I have owned several Nissans over my years, but will never own another!!!!! It is borderline criminal that a car company is allowed to get away with such a problem....As of this complaint, SEVEN of the top twenty trending complaints on this site are of the same problem from various years of the Xterra, Pathfinder and Frontier. How many hundreds of thousand of people have to get screwed by this problem before someone forces Nissan to address it????? Probably not until some dies as a result.....I now tell EVERY person that I see in one of these vehicles about this problem and advise them to trade it in tomorrow to save them the A$$ RAPING that sooo many others have received from good old Nissan!!!!!!

- Neal C., Millsboro, DE, USA

problem #281

Apr 242016

Xterra Off Road

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,437 miles

I took my car in several times because it periodically felt like I was driving on the rumble strip when I was on a smooth road. Of course it never happened when they drove it and they found nothing wrong. Finally one day it acted like it was trying to start in the wrong gear and the check engine light came on. That is when I found out there was coolant in the transmission and both the radiator and transmission had to be replaced. I had less than 83,000 miles on my car, but it is 11 years old now so I had to pay for the whole thing. Since Nissan has known about this problem for a long time they should have come up with something to prevent the coolant from ever leaking into the transmission, there is no excuse for allowing this problem to continue occurring.

- sritsch, Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #280

Nov 302015

Xterra SE 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles



- Mijo P., Chicago, IL, USA

problem #279

Jan 042013

Xterra LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

We had just paid the car off. Then 2 months later the car overheated. A week later the Tranny failed. Nissan acted like this is the first time they had heard of this happening. My car had too many miles on it to be covered. It would cost about $7000.00 to repair. A complete loss. The NHTSA and Nissan are fraudulent in their handling of this issue.

- Scott S., Fullerton, CA, USA

problem #278

Mar 102015

Xterra ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,768 miles

My father got me a 2005 Nissan Xterra for my birthday then the transmission failed within 4 months of me having it. Still to this day it is sitting in my front yard and I have been saving up for a new car because that really put me back. Just would like for a recall or something to happen because that is bullcrap!

- hanthony, Powhatan, VA, USA

problem #277

Aug 012012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

It is absolute BULLSHIT that I had to pay the ENTIRE amount to get the problem fixed - and that was after Nissan acknowledged they had screwed up!! I don't have that kind of flippin money! And, Nissan STILL hasn't bothered to pay anything towards that $4k that I had to cough up. Offering to pay on it AFTER a $3k deductible was met FIRST....oh, and only if the problem occurred before a certain mileage was hit. SERIOUSLY!?!?!?! I used to think Nissan was great....NOT ANYMORE!!! Good Lord willing, I will NEVER NEVER NEVER buy another one!

- gerriwhite, Hertford, NC, US

problem #276

May 022012

Xterra SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


Transmission was shifting erratically. I took it to the Nissan dealer and they told me it was caused by a faulty radiator and it would be $3500 to fix it. I had to pay it and they gave no explanation that it was a design problem and that it was Nissan's fault. I was just screwed.

- Steve K., Leesburg, FL, USA

problem #275

Feb 252013

Xterra Off Road

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

The dealer paid half, I paid half. The warranty was 2 thousand miles expired. Petty. I should not have had to pay a dime for this repair of a defect and no one else should either. I urge the NTSB to complete this matter and instruct Nissan to refund all costs associated with the defective radiator and subsequent transmission failure to it's customers.

- laurawa, Gig Harbor, WA, US

problem #274

Apr 292016

Xterra X V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

Add me to the list of Nissan owners getting screwed by the company who knows there is a problem. Every time I reached the 60-70 mph range the Xterra would have a horrible shudder. Had it checked out and to no surprise there is coolant and transmission fluid mixing. So off to the shop to replace everything and have them put the bypass in so it doesn't happen again. I don't get how Nissan is not held responsible for this problem. I don't really care how many miles I have on the rig, it's still faulty!

- Lynn M., Jefferson City, MO, USA

problem #273

Feb 242016

Xterra S 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,852 miles

There seems to be a trend with this particular issue of the radiator bursting sending coolant into the transmission rendering it destroyed and sending you back several thousands of dollars in repairs. Please include me in any other law suits against Nissan. I will never, ever, ever buy another Nissan again.!

- jrodtaclet, Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #272

Mar 282016

Xterra Off Road Sport Utility 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,188 miles

We bought the Xterra from a used car dealer in North Phoenix last year and it has run great until last weekend when the Check Engine light came on. We took it to a certified mechanic on Monday morning (Today). We were told that the radiator has cracked a leaked water into the transmission and it will cost $3,000 - $4,000 to repair. Further we were told that the manufacturer (Nissan) knows of the problem and had issued a Recall that expired 2 months ago (January 2016) but even though our Xterra only has 77K miles on it we are out of luck. There was a class action law suit on this issue and we will likely be seeking remedies from both the Car Dealership and Nissan to help cover the cost of these repairs...

- toddjaz, Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #271

Jul 172013

Xterra S 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Yet another quality part used by Nissan in the mid-2000's - the radiator. They must've bought this part from the same place that sold them their timing chain guides and sensors. I was riding with some friends when it suddenly felt like I was driving on those rumble strips on the side of the interstate to let drivers know that they're drifting off the road. A quick acceleration made it go away and it didn't happen again for the rest of the weekend. Days later it reoccured and continued to happen every so often, each time with an deceleration or acceleration resolving the issue temporarily. I then took to the Xterra forums to find that it was a cheap ass radiator that Nissan had installed that was leaking into the tranny.

I promptly bypassed the radiator and had the tranny flushed by Nissan for $270, of whom were well aware of the issue, yet offered no break in price. That same day I had read that Nissan had a quasi-recall and offered to pay for half of the repair for those who had less that 100K miles and who had to get both the tranny and radiator replaced, which was still $3K out of pocket for something that Nissan should've paid the entire cost of. I wasn't about to do that - it was a slap in the face. I went ahead and bought my own radiator with a lifetime warranty (even if you nail a deer, they'll replace it) and installed it myself. Total cost of repair for me was around $500, which still sucked, but was far better than $3K.

I've said it before - never again will I buy a Nissan.

- Aaron J., Leander, TX, US

problem #270

Oct 062015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

In 2012, I absolutely fell in love with my Xterra. When I bought it, on my way home that day the car would shutter at 40mph. I turned around and they told me it was the torque converter. Okay fine, its under warranty, supposedly they fixed it. Got it back, once again, at 40 mph, shuddered. Took it back and the dealership told me that it was the exhaust heat shield. Once again, I got it back, and ONCE AGAIN at 40 mph, it shuddered. I am beyond annoyed at this point. I bought a car that I LOVE, and i can't even drive it home yet. That should of been a red flag for me. They finally towed it to Nissan dealership and they had to replace the radiator because of coolant mixing in there. Present day, Oct 2015. I move to Texas from SC. I drive my car, no problems. The next week, my transmission goes out. completely. It loses all power and goes in the failure mode. The mechanic tells me that he has to replace the transmission with nearly a 3500.00 dollar price tag. I took out a loan and paid for it ( i had to, I don't have any other way of getting around. I get it back from the mechanic, a week later, it goes out again. I have had my car back for about two months now. Now, I am feeling the same shudder at 40 mph that I felt when I initially bought the car. I am SICK of this car! Nissan needs to DO something about this! When you have multiple after multiple complaints of the SAME exact problem, it needs to be addressed and fixed. I will never buy a Nissan AGAIN

- texalina, Grapevine, TX, USA

problem #269

Apr 042015

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

I should have know to run when I bought the car at 86,000 miles from NISSAN OF RENO - and went to buy an extended warranty, specifically asking about this problem, and they said there was no warranty that covered transmission at that mileage, but that it was up to date with all RECALLS, and there was no problem with the radiator/transmission. 2 years later and I'm screwed, even though I had taken it in before it had any symptoms of failure (a fellow Xterra owner warned me, but it was too late).

I had to replace the radiator and rebuild the transmission because like so many others have said, THE DAMN RADIATOR LEAKS INTO THE TRANSMISSION AND RUINS IT. How a company is able to get away with this is outrageous, as is the stupid settlement which doesn't cover the car through the mileage when they KNOW the radiator is going to fail. LESS THAN A YEAR LATER, AND I HAVE MORE PROBLEMS TOO, but that's another complaint file. AVOID THE 2005 LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT - your wallet definitely does. LAST NISSAN EVER.

- Meredith S., Truckee, USA

problem #268

Jan 222016

(reported on)

Xterra SE 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,725 miles

I believe that Nissan is negligent in not doing a recall on these vehicles because of the faulty radiator leaking coolant into the transmission fluid. Although Nissan added an extended warranty for the radiator, they did nothing to resolve transmission problems resulting from the leaky radiator. An extended warranty did nothing to warn me, buying secondhand, that there were problems with this vehicle, in fact, I thought good! the guy bought an extended warranty! I asked the mechanic what happens if the transmission goes after I replace the control valve assembly. He said he would advise customers to get the whole transmission replaced. So now I'm faced with paying $7,000.00+ to replace the transmission, meaning I will spend over $20,000 for a 2005 vehicle...or trade it in for much less than it would be worth if it didn't have these factory flaws...if anyone wants it that is. I can't afford either of these scenarios. I realize that buying secondhand I am SOL, that it is BUYER BEWARE, but if Nissan had assumed responsibility for their mistakes in the first place, I wouldn't be in the position I am now. I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER NISSAN AND WILL TELL EVERYONE I KNOW OF THEIR CORPORATE IRRESPONSIBILITY. I suppose someone will have to die because of transmission failure before something is done!

- Wendy E., Prince George, BC, Canada

problem #267

Jan 112016

Xterra S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

Radiator cracked causing mixture of fluids-strawberry milkshake. Replaced radiator, flushed system. Twp months later, transmission is going out. This is not what an expectant mother of twins should have to worry about.

- Allison F., Dover, USA

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