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 4 of 11)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #143

Jan 022015

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles


Upon turning a corner after coming to a complete stop at a stop sign in my neighborhood, I went to accelerate and match the speed of oncoming traffic. The gear failed to shift appropriately (transmission) and giving the car gas simply revved the engine. Luckily the approaching car responded well and slowed to avoid a rear collision while I eased off the pedal and then gently accelerated again to my local mechanic. Upon his examination of my 2006 Xterra, he determined that the transmission fluid and coolant were mixing and destroying both my radiator and transmission. A quick search on the internet revealed that this dangerous problem is common among Nissan owners! when I purchased the vehicle from smithtown Nissan in 2010 and subsequently, there was absolutely no notification or recall regarding this dangerous hazard. This is unacceptable and life-threatening. There settlement of a class action lawsuit is insufficient (a $2500 - $3K) co-pay to replace the transmission and potentially have the same defect again! my wife and kids rely on my car every day and I feel fortunate that I did not wait any longer to have the car examined, but I am extremely disturbed by Nissan's negligence.

- Kings Park, NY, USA

problem #142

Dec 082014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 149,000 miles
The initial incident was failed timing chain tensioner guides. As indicated earlier Nissan knowingly redesigned the parts since the originals were found to wear through, causing the timing chain to rub directly on the metal post of the tensioner and contact the housing cover. During the repair the Nissan service department confirmed the failed radiator coolant contamination addressed in ODI NHTSA action number: DP12004. The timing chain and guides were replaced; the radiator was replaced; coolant was flushed; transmission was drained, flushed, and filled. The service department also confirmed Nissan, N.a. would not offer any amount of repair assistance. Total cost was $2200. The day after the vehicle was repaired it suddenly decelerated from 55mph to 30mph and the RPM's increased to 4K+ while traveling on a multi lane dark country highway at 11pm. The section of highway did not have an emergency lane or shoulder. A vehicle was in the left lane and a semi-truck was quickly approaching from the rear in the right lane. Once crossing the bridge the vehicle was jerked to the shoulder, avoiding a rear collision from the approaching semi-truck. The vehicle was turned off and restarted. The RPM's returned to 1K, the transmission was in neutral, and the check engine was illuminated. The following day Nissan service confirmed it was a failing valve body as a result of the coolant contamination. The wholesale repair cost was quoted at $1400. Again, Nissan, N.a. would not address the failure. At this time the repair has not, and will not, be completed.

- Sanford, NC, USA

problem #141

Sep 022014


  • 133,200 miles
Check engine light came on, took to mechanic for a check and found that we were leaking radiator coolant into the transmission fluid. Had to replace parts and flush transmission at a pricey cost.

- Lakeview, OR, USA

problem #140

Aug 212014


  • 98,500 miles


The radiator cooling water got into the transmission fluid. This caused strong vibration that we had to get off the road in the middle of a highway. The damage was required to replace the radiator and flush the transmission. It started other problems with the transmission safety switch that caused engine trouble alert. After few weeks the car stalled altogether and we now had to tow it to a garage. This is a problem that was reported before and I do not understand why Nissan does not fix the problem and repair the damaged units.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #139

Oct 072014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 117,350 miles
Vehicle suddenly stopped changing gears while on a main road where speed limit is 55 mph. Turned onto a smaller country road, could not accelerate more than 20 mph, and slowly descended from there until finally coming to a complete stop. Cracked radiator caused coolant leak into transmission fluid causing many systems to fail. In turn, had to replace radiator and completely rebuild and flush transmission several times ($4400 expense). Had I been on a major highway or interstate when this happened, there would have been a much more serious out come.

- Madison Heights, VA, USA

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problem #138

Jul 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
While driving the vehicle at 40-45 mph and 1200 rpms or 60 mph and 1500 rpms, a vibration as if running over rip bars on the side of a highway happened. At first, it was thought to be a universal; however, after replacing the part, the vibration continued but happened at all speeds above 40 mph regardless of the rpms. Research showed that there was a problem with the transmission coolant system cracking, causing coolant to leak into the transmission but no recall had been issued. A local dealership said they had no report of this type of problem. They suggested turning off the overdrive and if the problem stopped, the transmission needed to be flushed. This was the case, but before we could have the transmission flushed, it started having a roaring noise. When the transmission fluid was checked, it looked like a strawberry milkshake and so did the coolant in the radiator. Both have been flushed but apparently when the initial leak happened, it also allowed coolant to leak into the computer for the transmission. While driving the car, up a steep hill, the rpms grew but the speed decreased. Shifting down showed that the gear had been lost because the vehicle performed normally in the lower gear. Another dealership out of the area said they had several hundred Xterra's brought in for the same problem and that we would lose one gear at a time until we lost them all. This is a $3,500+ repair and if we lose gears in high traffic, we will be possibly rearended or stranded on a highway, which is not acceptable. It is now October and nothing has been resolved. A recall is needed before someone is in a serious accident!

- Keyser, WV, USA

problem #137

Sep 282014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 171,000 miles


While driving 70 miles an hour on the highway my car suddenly shot up to 4000 RPM and wouldn't go faster than 30 miles an hour. After my car was towed to a local mechanic friend of mine's shop he told me the radiator had cracked, leaked coolant into the transmission, fried the transmission and torque control valve, all valves and seals, as well as both catalytic converters. The cost to fix would be $6000. Nissan needs to pay for this because of their factory defect!!!

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #136

Oct 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,420 miles
My vehicle has just been diagnosed with a failed transmission due to the leakage issue described below. Nissan is stating I am responsible for repair costs up to $3000. Report date : October 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm NHTSA action number : DP12004 NHTSA action number : DP12004 NHTSA recall campaign number : N/a vehicle make / model: Model year(s): Nissan / frontier 2005-2010 Nissan / pathfinder 2005-2010 Nissan / Xterra 2005-2010 manufacturer(s) : Nissan North America, Inc. Component(s) : power train power train:automatic transmission power train:automatic transmission:control module (tcm, PCM) power train:automatic transmission:cooling unit and lines power train:automatic transmission:torque converter date investigation opened : June 11, 2012 date investigation closed : open summary: ODI received a petition requesting investigation of 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 radiator. ODI has received (512) five-hundred-twelve consumer complaints between August 2005 to May 2012 regarding transmission problems. A copy of the petition will be placed in the public file. ODI will review its content and related field data to assess whether a safety defect investigation is warranted. Referenced voqs are listed on a separate page.

- Broomfield, CO, USA

problem #135

Aug 162014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • miles
2006 Nissan Xterra. Consumer writes in regards to transmission issues. The dealer inform the consumer the radiator and transmission needed to be replaced, because coolant was leaking into the transmission. The consumer also stated it felt as though the tires were slipping when taking off from a stop.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #134

Sep 242014

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • 128,800 miles
Coolant from Nissan's defectively designed radiator leaked into my transmission. The transmission, valve body, computer, and radiator needed to be replaced at a total of $4,000. While driving my Xterra home up a steep grade it was having a problem shifting and its RPM was almost red lining so I stepped off the gas. The Xterra was at times bucking, shifting up and down rapidly making it very hard to drive it home. My vehicle couldn't go over 40mph and I had some people almost run into the back of me while limping it home. This is a major safety hazard and I pray no one has been severely injured or killed in an accident caused by this issue Nissan created. Shame on them!

- Anza, CA, USA

problem #133

Aug 012014


  • 170,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that when depressing the accelerator pedal, the vehicle failed to accelerate. The failure occurred on multiple occasions. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, who diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 170,000.

- Novato, CA, USA

problem #132

Sep 032014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 114,000 miles
This problem has been happening to my vehicle for awhile but I was unaware until last week. My truck was overheating and the antifreeze had a white substance in it. My mechanic told me it was mixed with transmission fluid. The radiator cracked and the trans cooler which is inside leaked. The two fluids mixed and has caused transmission problems. My radiator has to be replaced and the trans will be flushed several times. The extent of damage to the trans is undetermined at this time as it is still in the shop. I researched this problem and found it to be a very common problem with Nissan Xterras. The symptom's of others vehicles are exactly the same as mine. Nissan has had a very poor settlement in a class action suit but it is very poor. This shows that they are aware of the poor engineering design and/or parts. This problem is leaving people with several thousand dollars in repairs ($3800 and up) for a problem that Nissan is aware of. Even though you have maintained your vehicle routinely this problem will still occur due to Nissan poor design and parts. This problem should be covered under a recall and if an owner has fixed the problem they should be reimbursed for their expense to repair the problem.

- Naperville, IL, USA

problem #131

May 292014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
5/29/14 check engine light came on, transmission slipping.diagnosed as radiator contaminated with transmission fluid, replaced radiator, drained coolant, flushed multiple times. 7/12/2014 on family vacation out of state engine light came on, transmission slipping, low transmission fluid.filled fluid by beach ready auto. 7/15/2014 check engine light again on interstate highway traveling at 60 mph total transmission failure. Rebuilt transmission put in out of state,8 days missed work, airline ticket home. My expenses for this defect in design by Nissan is $5900.the fact that there has not been a recall initiated by Nissan is completely unacceptable and dangerous. A failure on the company's part to stand behind their products wrong, but knowingly allowing their product to endanger people's lives is inexcusable.

- Stoneham, MA, USA

problem #130

May 062014


  • 169,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the gear would not shift into reverse. An independent mechanic noticed that the transmission fluid was mixing with the coolant and the coolant was leaking into the transmission. The contact was informed that the transmission and radiator needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 169,000.

- Cantonment, FL, USA

problem #129

Aug 012014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 132,500 miles
When driving the car at 40mph/around 1000rpms the vehicle began vibrating at the back end. Upon acceleration, the vibration ceased. This behavior became consistent. A mechanic independent from Nissan found that the transmission and radiator must be replaced per his conversation with the local Nissan dealership. Also advising independent mechanic that the dealership admits to having a floor full of transmissions that need repair. I investigated the class action suit filed in 2010 and already settled, but had no knowledge of this prior as Nissan did not alert me to the persistent problem since 2005 I should expect my car to develop.

- Daniel Island, SC, USA

problem #128

Jun 062014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 108,778 miles
Radiator fluid leaked into the transmission causing the transmission to fail and ruined the radiator. My Xterra had 106,000 miles on it at the time of the failure. The cost to replace the transmission and radiator was nearly $5,000. The cause of the failure is the same factory defect mentioned in previous complaints.

- Valley, NE, USA

problem #127

Jul 192014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 131,000 miles
The radiator leaks coolant into the transmission. Consequently both the transmission and the radiator has to be replaced.

- Conyers, GA, USA

problem #126

Aug 012012

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 104,000 miles
My car actually is 8 years old and has approx. 105,000 miles, hence, does not fall under the settlement of class action suit ordering Nissan to reimburse repairs. If I was under 100,000 mi, I would only have to pay a $3,000 deductible. Because I had passed the 100,000 mile before the failure happened, I'm no longer eligible for this extended warranty. As in my case the radiator busted and caused the coolant to leak into the transmission which means that I now need a new radiator and a new transmission which is going to cost roughly $5,000 dollars to fix in which I cannot afford. I replaced the radiator & had the transmission flushed twice (cost nearly $1K). This caused internal damage to transmission. I submitted a claim for out of pocket cost, never heard anything!! either way I would like to know if the problems are happening to vehicles until they go over 100K miles then why cap the assistance requirement??

- Pequea, PA, USA

problem #125

Aug 012013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 902,000 miles
2006 Nissan Xterra: I replaced the radiator & had the transmission flushed last August(cost nearly $2K). A couple of weeks ago after going about 60 miles the vehicle was not engaging to accelerate. It was a one time occurrence. Today after about 20 miles it did not accelerate as I was attempting to merge onto the highway. I could not get it to go over 20 mph but was revving at 4rpm. Now the check engine light is on.

- Springfield, MA, USA

problem #124

Jul 052014

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 98,721 miles
I'm the owner of a 2006 Xterra I was coming to a stop at a major intersection with no previous malfunctions of any kind. I have driven this vehicle across country 4 times and have meet all required preventative maintenance requirements and scheduled tune ups. Now back to the intersection we came to a stop when the light turned green I depressed the gas pedal and it hesitated for a second and approached 10 mph and then it just revved as if the transmission was no longer engaged and the check engine light illuminated on the dash. I turned on my foreways and naturally proceeded to investigate the situation. To my surprise their was no evidence of external damage or tampering with anything underneath the vehicle. A police officer came to the intersection to assist myself and my family I entered the vehicle and shifted from park to drive and it took off as if there was never a problem. I drove 2 miles to my place of residence and decided to investagate. I looked up some information online to see if other people are having transmission problems with this type of vehicle and found that their is a common rupture at the base of the radiator that allows coolant to mix with the atf. I decided to drain some coolant and verify my assumption. I made a video of the processes and there was a good amount of atf in my coolant and then I proceeded to remove the transmission drain plug to extract a sample atf and sure enough a pinkish tint and very watery atf was extracted from the transmission.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

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