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
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
159,149 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.

2006 Nissan Xterra drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2006 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 3 of 11)

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problem #163

Jun 242015


  • 116,500 miles


Cracked radiator hose caused coolant to mix with transmission fluid thereby ruining the transmission. Cost included radiator and transmission (used) replacement. This issue would have been proactively repaired / replaced the radiator prior to the issue occurring had Nissan notified me of it. Instead, it cost an extra $3500 to replace both radiator and transmission. A totally preventable situation, never mind the potentially hazardous situation had the transmission failed at highway speeds. No excuse for Nissan.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #162

Apr 182015


  • 118,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Nissan Xterra. While driving approximately 25 mph, the vehicle lost power and stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to the Nissan dealer where it was diagnosed that radiator coolant and transmission fluid mixed together and caused the transmission to fail. The manufacturer was notified and diagnosed the failure as "power transmission cross train". the failure mileage was 118,000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #161

Jan 202015


  • 131,500 miles
As I came up to stop at a red light, the Xterra began to shudder and the tachometer started rising and falling until I finally stopped, then the tachometer dropped below 500 RPM and the truck turned off. Restarted it fine, but it stalled again. I quickly figured out that although it is an automatic, I needed to drive it like a manual. So I put it in neutral, started it again, it did not stall, then I revved the engine to 2,000 RPM and put it into drive. Off I went, and it did not do it again that day. However, over the next month it became a growing problem, until it finally was occurring every single time I stopped unless I put it in neutral. I took it to the mechanic who spent 4 hours diagnosing it to be certain of the problem. Which they said was a failing torque convertor and plate. It failed due to coolant leaking into the transmission from a broken housing coming off of the radiator (apparently a very common problem for which Nissan refuses to take responsibility). Not hard to verify their findings due to the presence of pink milkshake looking liquid in the radiator. Final verdict, at best it needs a new torque convertor and plate, but with the amount of effort to install those and unknown further damage from the coolant leak, a new transmission was recommended.

- Powhatan, VA, USA

problem #160

Apr 212015


  • 196,052 miles


Driving down the road, vehicle RPM went up as the speed decease. I place the vehicle in the next lower gear to get to my location. Check the radiator later and it has a oily creamy thick mixture of radiator coolant and transmission fluid.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #159

Apr 282015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 159,650 miles
My transmission failed be cause of water entering through the cooling system account it is connected to radiator this has been a problem with this vehicle for some time.

- Blueridge, VA, USA

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problem #158

Oct 232014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
Transmission, radiator problems. Car is a lemon.

- High Point , NC, USA

problem #157

Mar 102015


  • 130,000 miles


I was on my way back from the mall when I heard my fan/belt start to squeal. Not thinking anything of it I kept on driving next thing I know I'm pressing harder on my gas peddle just to go faster. My rpms where going to high and I was only going 65. I was on the high when this happen so I didn't notice till I had to go up a bridge and that's when I really notice my engine struggling to get power, it sounded like it was doing a lot when it really wasn't. I knew I had to go to the mechanic to get it looked at they told me it was a lose bolt. Next thing I'm driving home and my car was doing the same thing again but this time it wasn't going into gear in drive, so I tried 3 gear still nothing so I went to 2 and it stuck. I parked it on a side street in ocean city and called trip a and had it towed to Nissan of atlantic city to see what was wrong. Couple days later they called and told me my radiator fluid leaked into my transmission and messed all the gears up. After hearing that I looked up that problem on Xterras apparently this is a pretty common occurrence on them. I was not notified of such problems by the dealer and apparently Nissan want reimburse me so I'm out 7,500 because my Nissan is sitting in my back yard.

- Ocean City , NJ, USA

problem #156

Nov 152014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Radiator, which was recalled and I was never notified about, cracked leaking coolant into the transmission ultimately causing the transmission to fail.

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #155

Mar 312015


  • 49,783 miles
I was driving 15 mph on the local street and the slip sensor light and vehicle dynamic control sensor light came on, then the transmission started to make a grinding noise. That's it, finished at 49K miles doa. Vehicle was always garaged. Radiator cracked leaked coolant into transmission nice truck, sorry to have to let Nissan go. Truck was like new.

- Elmhurst, NY, USA

problem #154

Feb 142015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 118,000 miles
When it turned cold Jan/Feb 2105 our daughter told us the heat was not working. But she knew we did not have the money to repair so we did not worry about it. We own a 2000 Chevy truck & the heat has not worked for years & we just live with we never thought about the radiator/coolant being the problem. Then something major happened-our daughter was driving home from auburn al to our home in opelika al & she called us saying the car would not go over 25-30 mph. We were out of town, it was 10 pm at night so we told her to keep driving and get home to a safe place (her life was more important than stopping on the side of the road--a young lady all by herself) she got home, parked it & when we returned home we took it to a local repair shop that we trust. He called us the next day & said I have devastating news. He told us about the service report put out on Nissan Xterras in regard to the major, well known to Nissan problem of when the coolant/radiator cracks because of a faulty when in manufacturing radiator is put in it is a known by Nissan bad one. It cracks & leaks into the transmission in which the coolant mixes with the transmission fluid & creates a toxic hell stew that destroys the transmission. He said your car is worth $5,000 but the cost to repair is $7,000. I called Nissan they told me I had to take it to a Nissan dealer for their diagnosis and the diagnosis is the same. My husband is very, very sick and we have huge medical, pharmacy, hospital bills and I have had breast cancer with chemo that has caused an autoimmune disorder (almost lost my left eye) and our 15 year-old daughter goes to children's hospital in birmingham al for rheumatoid arthritis. We thought we were buying a very dependable car for $14,000 only 3 1/2 years ago and now it is 4500 pounds of junk metal. If Nissan had told us about the problem, we could have been proactive.

- Opelika, AL, USA

problem #153

Mar 042015

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • 104,684 miles


The Xterra began overheating and driving in an unsafe manner at highway speeds. Diagnosis at a Nissan dealer was a failed cooler line allowed coolant in the radiator and that both the radiator and transmission would have to be replaced at a cost of $5800. There was no prior warning to the failure. The vehicle is just outside of an extended 10K warranty/$3000 copay Nissan offered as a result of a class action lawsuit for this issue.

- Phoeinx, AZ, USA

problem #152

Jan 252015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 121,772 miles
Defective radiator leaked engine coolant into automatic transmission fluid (atf), causing cross-contamination of fluids that will ruin the re5R05A transmission. The engine coolant water contamination can short-circuit the low current electronic computer located on the valve body. This transmission was used in Xterra; frontier; pathfinder and armada vehicles manufactured between 2005 and 2010. Fixing the radiator and replacing the contaminated fluid with fresh fluid does not alleviate the problem, as the transmission computer has been permanently damaged. The only way to fix a damaged transmission computer is to replace it with a new one, and they are only available from Nissan as part of a new valve body assembly. ( numerous consumer reports online show that the vehicle can suddenly lose power, or even lock up the driving wheels while driving the vehicle in traffic; therefore, this is a serious safety defect issue. Suburban transmissions of gaithersburg, md 20878 (ph. 301-362-4040 or 800-353-3477) reports that: "for most trucks and SUVS, fixing the radiator problem and replacing the transmission fluid might correct this problem. However, on the Nissan pathfinder and Xterra and other models that use the re5R05A transmission?(w)E also recommend (along with radiator & transmission replacement) bypassing the radiator with an external transmission cooler to prevent this from happening again as replacing the radiator issue is likely to happen again." [web source: Link shown above.]

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #151

Feb 252015


  • 144,800 miles
Radiator coolant leaked into transmission fluid and ruined the transmission. Known issue.

- Deland, FL, USA

problem #150

Feb 102015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
The power steering fluid entered into the transmission causing a sudden loss of power of vehicle. Nissan recognized this a problem.

- Ogden, UT, USA

problem #149

Nov 032014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
Faulty radiator and transmission Nissan will not cover for damage, vehicle suddenly dies while driving, very much known problem.

- Conway, NH, USA

problem #148

Jan 302015


  • 112,056 miles
Driving home from work my vehicle started to tremble and shudder at speeds above 30-40 mph. Eventually after much hesitation and loud engine revving I decided to pull over and turn the vehicle off. Turned it back on and got about a few hundred feet down the road when the same problem occurred. The transmission wasn't responsive with the engine causing me to cut someone off just to pull of the road safely. I have heard the common issue with Nissan's transmission/coolant contamination and decided to look further into the issue after getting towed home. $100 down the drain. Sure enough my coolant reservoir and radiator cap were smothered in a thick goop known as the infamous "smod". there is trans fluid mixed into my coolant and more than likely, coolant in my transmission. This is design flaw in Nissan. This problem should be resolved completely by Nissan with no fault to their dedicated customers. Warranties need to be extended past 100K because that's when the issue is occurring in most Xterra, pathfinder, and frontiers. I'll be damned if Nissan only partially cover my cost repair leaving the bulk to me. I am a student working a full time job trying to pay for their education bit by bit. This is not what others in similar situation need to deal with and neither do I. remember, Nissan is only successful and wealthy because of us, the consumer. Give back to those who helped you build a reputable auto manufacturer.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #147

Jan 282015


  • 121,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Nissan Xterra. While driving at approximately 40 mph, the transmission failed and the vehicle would not accelerate. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the radiator and the transmission failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failures. The failure mileage was 121,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Soddy Daisy, TN, USA

problem #146

Jan 152015


  • 115,000 miles
For a cracked radiator the coolant leak into the transmission destroying it. The cost of repair is around $ 6,000. The Nissan dealer to not want to assume that it is a manufacturer defect.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #145

Jan 082015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
Transmission going out due to a problem that many others seem to be having as well. See link below for more information regarding coolant leaking into the transmission.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #144

Dec 102014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Transmission damage attributed to contamination by engine coolant. The source of the contamination is a cracked atf line that runs through an engine coolant chamber in the 2006 Xterra has had same issue.trans and radiator had to be replaced.

- Algonquin, IL, USA

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