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:
106,250 miles
Total Complaints:
307 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new radiator and transmission rebuild (89 reports)
  2. replaced radiator and transmission (51 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 1 of 16)

problem #307

Aug 312020

Xterra S

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles


Well I guess I am one of the luckier ones that my Xterra lasted until 133,000 miles before the Strawberry Milkshake of Death happened. What a way to start a Monday morning! On my way to work, felt a slight rumble as I tried to start up again after sitting at a traffic light and then lost all momentum. I knew right away it was the transmission. I was lucky enough to be one to get the Timing Chains (which is another big known problem with Xterras) switched before my warranty ran out but not with this problem.

I really wish Nissan would have recalled this mess knowing that the problem existed. I really love this vehicle, its a shame.

- Jen H., Seattle, WA, US

problem #306

Mar 162018

Xterra XSO V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

This is ridiculous that Nissan knows that there is a problem and fails to do anything about it! We have multiple vehicles with 100,000 to over 200,000 miles on them and this is the first one that has had this issue. This will be the last Nissan we ever buy!

- Kelley B., Jackson, US

problem #305

Jan 192017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

we had this problem with the coolant from the rad leaking into the tranny. we called Nissan and asked for help with it after finding out about the recall when we looked up recalls, because we never got anything in the mail about it. we were told that the case was closed and they were not going to help us out in any way at all and also that we were over the miles anyway. but since we were never informed about the problems we thought that they should have honored it as if we had been part of the recall. I will never buy another Nissan. our truck has only 136000 miles on it and we keep the service up on it and its falling apart. in just the past yr we have put over 7500 into it and now we have two more problems with it which we are told will run us another 3000. we now have a 13 year old truck that isn't worth what we have put into it and it only gets like 11000 miles a year. what a big mistake we made buying it.

- Keith N Deb T., Tully, US

problem #304

Feb 242016

Xterra 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


Nissan pulls this extended coverage stuff all the time with a $3000 deductible???? A major defect and NO ASSISTANCE!! Avoid buying a NISSAN, go Honda!!

- Linda N., Pittsfield, MA, US

problem #303

Nov 132017

Xterra SE 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Nissan, how about letting us know that we ALL need to change the defective radiator before this disaster strikes.

I heard about the Transmission/radiator issue and brought it into the dealer at 70K miles (under warranty) for a check. They checked it out and said my vehicle was not affected by the problem. 35K miles later my transmission has been destroyed by a coolant leak.

I specifically asked if I should change the radiator proactively and they said no. Nissan has instructed their technicians to lie to customers about this issue. Nissan should be notifying all impacted owners and recommending an immediate radiator replacement. This $4000 repair can be avoided with a $500 repair up front. I am not happy about this at all.

- davpav, Providence, US

problem #302

Dec 182017

Xterra 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Okay so, I bought the Nissan Xterra in 2005 and this is the first time it gave me such a big problem that will cost me thousands of dollars to get it fixed. The transmission has failed due to the leakage from the radiator coolant into the transmission. I saw roughly around 300 complaints from others about the transmission problem and this is a serious issue and I don't understand why the radiator coolant would leak into the transmission in the first place? I think this problem is most likely to occur if the mileage on your car has crossed over 100K because obviously at that point you are too late and the warranty has expired and you have no choice but to pay out of your own pocket. And the cost for this is insanely high, I was told the estimate to be around $6,000 and I don't think it makes any sense to pay such high amount for something that wasn't even your mistake. Nissan should list this as a subject of recall or at least they need to look over this and do something about the problem because it would be ridiculous and unprofessional to ignore such a big problem, especially when there are so many others complaining about this.

- kaurk, Hayward, US

problem #301

Apr 162016

Xterra SE 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


So, we bought this car just shy of two years ago. I am not one to buy the extended warranty but we did in this case. I became aware of the "intermixing" issue after researching the service engine soon light that had come on for bad sensor. I replaced two sensors and everything seemed fine...was crossing my fingers and hoping that my Xterra wouldn't fall victim to the radiator problem that so many others were having. Everything seemed okay and then we went to leave a relatives house and the car wouldn't start. I checked the starter, all of the electrical connections and the battery and they all checked out. A friend of mine jumped the starter and we were able to baby it home chugging all the way. I discovered the "milky" trans fluid not by the radiator overflow but by draining the fluid to look in to the TCM after talking to a mechanic. I took the car to the dealership that I bought it from and my issue was confirmed. Because of the cost of the repair, which is close to what the car is worth, an adjustor for the warranty company had to come out to inspect the car. His finding was that the radiator failed causing the transmission to fail...therefore making it not covered by the extended warranty. I am now stuck trying to figure out what I can do with a car that I owe more on than it is worth with a catastrophic issue that I can't pay Xterra has 87,000 miles on it roughly...I will never buy another Nissan after this and am very upset with the car lot that sold it to me....I wonder what they knew of this issue.

- jgraham509, Yakima, WA, US

problem #300

Jun 012016

Xterra 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,847 miles

Engine coolant/transmission coolant mixing -> engine coolant in transmission fluid -> transmission will die!!!

I want Nissan to fix my transmission and radiator without me paying for it or cut me a check for my used truck (current retail value and not their trade in value).

- Anton S., West Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #299

Jun 122017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

If an accident occurred I would not hesitate to pay, but to have to pay for a defect in the radiator/transmission is not acceptable. How was there no mechanism to prevent the fluid from the radiator from entering into the transmission? We had no warning about this problem. Transmission was working without issue. It took us completely by surprise and have not the money to fix it nor to buy a different car. Badly designed.

- Sean M., Elizabeth City, US

problem #298

Jun 102017

Xterra SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

This is the second time in 7 months that I had transmission problems. The first one was in November 2016 when I had to get a rebuilt transmission for $4,500.00. I even asked the dealer at that time if this was the radiator leaking into the transmission and they said "no." Now, 7 months later, the transmission went out again. This time they said the radiator leaked into the transmission, so I need another transmission (which is covered under the warrant from the last one) and a new radiator (another $850.00 out of my pocket!).

This has been a great SUV, but once it reached 10 years old, it seemed to go downhill. I have spent almost $8,000.00 in repairs since then and am tired of dealing with it. If Nissan is aware of this problem, then we need to be compensated for our expenses and anguish. I will never buy another Nissan again.

- haniegirl, La Verne, US

problem #297

Mar 172017

Xterra 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles


This is a know problem from Nissan and should be subject of recall. Dissappointed to find out that Nissan is aware of the problem and refuses to take ownership costing customers thousands of dollars for the repair.

- Brian M., CARLSBAD, CA, US

problem #296

Apr 302017

Xterra S 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

Stuck on the cross bronx expressway with cars flying passed us. we couldnt get out of the car. no where to go and had to wait there for over a hour. very scary situation that nissan put us through.

- Thomas B., East Rockaway, NY, US

problem #295

Jul 192015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,072 miles

Experienced problems accelerating and vibrations/noises similar to driving over rumble strips. Mechanic diagnosed as radiator coolant mixing with the transmission fluid. Vehicle was transferred to Nissan dealership and we opened a case with Nissan Consumer Affairs. Vehicle only had 75k miles however since it was 9 years old was subject to the $3,000 deductible on extended warranty. After three weeks of "reviewing" the case while our vehicle was sitting at the dealership, Nissan informed us that there was nothing they could do. They have been willing to work with us in the past, but this time we were punished for not putting a lot of miles on our vehicle. Because we needed to continue driving the vehicle, we paid the $3,000 deductible to have the transmission replaced. Nissan should be held accountable for this known defect that could cause significant accidents and injuries if the transmission fails while driving on busy roadways.

- Amanda I., Minneapolis, MN, US

problem #294

Mar 142017

Xterra ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

From this website, I called Nissan Consumer Affairs and the young man I spoke to was no help at all. I told him that I had read where Nissan was taking care of this issue until 2016 with an extended warranty. He said that my vehicle was not involved in that. I asked: Is my car not a 2005 Nissan Xterra? He started replying with a scripted response. Nissan would have to examine and diagnose the vehicle to see if there is an issue that they may or may not handle.

- Vickie S., Simi Valley, CA, US

problem #293

Feb 092017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

Nissan is a rotten company. Now I have a giant paper weight in my driveway.

- Martha M., Roselle, US

problem #292

Jan 082017

Xterra S Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 187,000 miles

STAY AWAY FROM ALL NISSAN'S!!! If you don't want nothing but problems...I have a 05 Nissan Xterra and I have had nothing but problems WITH IT!!! I have put thousands into it for problem's after problems, and now this. I can not afford another "$3,800" for a trans rebuild and kit a trans flush, a new trans inter cooler and new radiator, labor etc....Nissan's are nothing but pieces of sh*t as I have found out the hard way... STAY AWAY!!!

- meinvt05452, Essex Jct, VT, US

problem #291

Feb 152010

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Purchased one year old Xterra with low miles from the Nissan dealer for my daughter for about $25,000. After about 4 years the radiator developed a small leak which was not perceptible but gradually leaked radiator fluid through a line that was connected to the automatic transmission which in short time completely destroyed the transmission as well as the radiator. Costs were about $4,800. This was a design defect which was acknowledged by Nissan and they eventually decided to make some refunds for repairs although not near enough to pay for the out of pocket costs. I believe my daughter received $1,000 but was still out the $3,800 in additional costs. This was not all, however. Not too long after the engine blocked cracked for no apparent reason and , no, the temperatures were not low. No one including Nissan could figure out why the block cracked and, of course by then, no warranty. She got back just pennies on the dollar when getting rid of this piece of junk. No more Nissans for us.

- James K., Bainbridge Island, WA, US

problem #290

May 132016

Xterra XE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I purchased my 2005 Nissan Exterra almost 2 years ago. Wish I would have done the research on it beforehand!! This is my 4th owned Nissan and never again will I buy this product. I cannot believe that Nissan will not stand behind their defected radiator/transmission. What a shame!! Now I'm out of a vehicle and have a loan to pay off!! Thanks for nothing Nissan!!

- Tonya R., Emerald Isle, NC, US

problem #289

Aug 312016

Xterra 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,465 miles

This is a vehicle that was known for this problem Leaking Antifreeze into Transmission and sold without making this buyer aware, The Radiator was replaced by Seller, but the problem had not been corrected. Now Told not under warranty.

- franklin3321, Shirley, NY, US

problem #288

Mar 012016

Xterra S 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,332 miles


I purchased this 2005 Nissan Xterra S with 132,000 in 2016. It is in good overall condition, good running and driving. The only things I did to it after I purchased it was put new brakes and rotors as well as change the fluids. I didn't have to replace the rotors but it was easier than getting them turned. Shortly after I bought it the transmission started making a whining noise on occasion, then it started slipping in reverse. Finally one day it would not shift out of first, then finally would not move. I check the transmission fluid and it still looked good, no water or antifreeze. I let it sit for a few hours then it would engage but the whining noise came back and I hade 2 codes come up, both were transmission solenoids.

I took it to a local transmission shop and when they dropped the pan it had fluid contamination. We've had some rain and flooding issues in Texas this year but the vehicle was never in standing water. The shop said it was antifreeze and not water. The shop asked me about the radiator and informed me of the Nissan contamination issue. The shop said the transmission was pretty much shot. We looked around for a used transmission but they are very pricey since it had to be a 2005. I bought a used transmission for $900 and a new Denso radiator for just over $100. My total bill was just over $2100 which seems like a lot but with a shortage or good used parts and the cost of labor this was a good deal.

This is my 5th Nissan I've owned over the years, my last two were bought new. A 2001 Xterra and a 2013 Frontier SL. They have all served me well and I've been very happy with them. This situation is a little different since it was a known problem. Even if Nissan was not going cover the cost I think they had the responsibility to let their customer know so we could have changed out the radiators or went to the external trans coolers. What I paid for this issue was a high percentage of the value of this vehicle. Any help with the cost would be very much appreciated.

Thanks Tom

- Tom C., Conroe, TX, US

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