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 1 of 11)

problem #203

Dec 082016


  • 91,900 miles


While my wife and grandaughter were driving our 2006 Nissan Xterra on a highway, the transmission started to slip, not allowing the ability to maintain the proper safe posted driving speed. My wife had to pull over on the side of the road during heavy traffic, exposing both her, and my granddaughter to a safety hazard. The vehicle had to be towed, while they waited on the side of the road, getting picked up by a family member. Subsequently I learned of a known defect in Nissan radiators that fail, and leak into the transmission, causing it to fail. Reportedly, it has been recognized the failures commonly occur around 90,000 miles, or a little over 2000 more miles than when this incident occurred. We were never notified of this potential defect, which should have involved a recall/warranty repair, rather than subjecting me, and my family, to this safety risk. I would assume there are many more vehciles in this same unsafe state today, awaiting the same development that occurred to my family. This matter needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Thanks.

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #202

Jun 012014


  • 143,500 miles
Car overheated while driving on the highway and wasn't able to accelerate any more... took to the shop and they flushed the transmission multiple times to try and save. Radiator and hoses were replaced first. Ended up having to go back for a failed transmission. Costs were $5587.25 which I couldn't afford and had to take out a loan for.

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #201

Nov 252013


  • 94,673 miles
Coolant fluid has gotten into the transmission making it slip or is no longer working

- Broken Bow, OK, USA

problem #200

Oct 152016


  • 125,000 miles


Catastrophic transmission failure due to radiator defect (coolantt contamination)

- Myrtle Creek, OR, USA

problem #199

Sep 232016


  • 112,234 miles
The coolant leaked into the transmission, causing the transmission to fail. Vehicle was in motion on a highway. *recall transmission failure*

- Daphne, AL, USA

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problem #198

Sep 122016


  • 104,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Nissan Xterra. While driving 25 mph, the accelerator pedal was depressed, but the vehicle failed to respond. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the transmission failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 104,000.

- Woodhaven, NY, USA

problem #197

Sep 162016


  • 143,000 miles


Vehicle would not shift on busy rd. Coolant leaked onto transmission per Nissan dealer. Nissan has known about this issue. This could have a bad safety issue as I had to try to get vehicle to dealer. I Transport a handicapped chip ad well ad alzheimer/dementia clients and this could have been led to a very bad accident. Why had there not been a recall on this being Nissan has known of this problem?

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #196

Aug 152016


  • 122,000 miles
Radiator leaked coolant into the transmission. My truck is now sitting at aamco with 5200 dollars worth of transmission radiator and computer board damage.

- Brick, NJ, USA

problem #195

Sep 132016


  • 151,000 miles
I have transmission fluid in my anti freeze and anti freeze in my transmission. Im told by a mechanic that this is a known Nissan issue. Apparently something in the radiator rots and the fluids mix causing transmission failure. Mine hasn't failed yet, but my fluids are all contaminated as is the radiator and tranny?

- Bath, ME, USA

problem #194

Aug 012016


  • 84,000 miles
Coolant leaking into transmission. While driving, vehicle shuttering, shaking and overall unsafe for myself and my 5-year old son.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #193

Aug 012016


  • miles


Grinding noise - requested help from dealer but no avail. I am wandering why the department of justice is not stepping in especially that the problems has escalated to radiator leakage and destroying transmissions and Nissan bribed our lawyers in the class action. How about timing chains for gods sake. We're more hurt by Nissan than VW..

- North Port, FL, USA

problem #192

Aug 012016


  • 89,000 miles
Well known problem with the radiator coolant leaking into the transmission lines and thus into the transmission. Simple, inexpensive fix to replace the faulty radiator was not communicated to me and now it's too late to save the transmission. Nissan got away with murder and caused thousands of people money that they should not have had to pay for defective parts. These parts should have been recalled as they cause a major safety hazard while driving. Having your transmission fail on you while you're driving is a major safety concern. But because not enough people actually died from it a recall was not required.

- Union City, NJ, USA

problem #191

Jul 202016


  • 175,000 miles
Like countless others, I have the smod, or strawberry milkshake of death, on my 2006 Nissan Xterra S. the radiator failed, which allowed coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. This results in the failure of the transmission and the radiator. Nissan knew about this early on and did nothing to help owners until forced to by settling a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was useless to me as I was already past the period covered by the settlement. All I could do was wait and hope it didn't happen to me. That hope ended yesterday.

- Troy, IL, USA

problem #190

Jul 012016


  • 140,000 miles
Purchased vehicle in November 2015. Dealer stated vehicle had been serviced and new radiator installed. In June 2016, transmission fluid was drained as regular maintenance and fluid was contaminated with engine collant, therefore, transmission fluid had not been fully flushed and replaced. Flushed transmission with new transmission fluid to remove contaminated fluid. In July 2016, the vehicle was stationary and would not start due to a blown fuse. Determined that contaminated fluid had corroded the transmission control module, causing the blown fuses and would need to be replaced at a cost of $3000. The vehicle has 140,000 miles on it therefore, does not qualify for the class action lawsuit settlement or the extension ( Nissan motor corporation was aware of the issue with the transmissions oil cooler / radiator assembly yet chose to not address the design defect by issuing a recall or extending the warranty to cover the transmission issue. Will not be purchasing another Nissan product due to the handling of this issue.

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #189

Jun 132016


  • 109,000 miles
Radiator leaking fluid into transmission, destroyed the transmission. Have to purchase a new one and add an external cooling system so it does not happen again. $4800. Mileage is 109K. Nissan's forced extended warranty expired so no help from them. This is a known issue by Nissan due to faulty design. Nissan also said "it might happen to certain transmissions", but in fact happens to all Xterra transmissions at least for 2006. Nissan has had too many engine/drive train issues on the many Nissan's I have purchased over the years. I will not be purchasing another Nissan.

- Herriman, UT, USA

problem #188

May 122016


  • miles
Transmission failure. I purchased this vehicle with 75,000 miles in October 2015. At 84,000 miles, I noticed a clunk and vehicle slowed all the way down when the automatic transmission was shifting into drive at about 45 miles an hour. I was driving in rush hour traffic and the vehicle slowed way down even though I was trying to accelerate. I was nearly reareneded due to the sudden stall due to the transmission. I took it to the Nissan dealership only to find out that the transmission was contaminated with radiator fluids. There's was a deductible of $3,000, what a savings (sarcasm). It was explained that it was a known problem. How could I be responsible for something that easily could have been prevented, especially if nissa knew about this very common problem. Nissan really has let me down. I will never buy another Nissan unless I am reimbursed for most of whati paid. I am also extremely upset that I very easily could have been in a serious accident due to the sudden failure of the transmission, especially as I was trying to accelerate when just entering the interstate where the speed limit was 70 mph and I suddenly slowed down due to the failing transmission.

- Davisville, WV, USA

problem #187

May 042016


  • 130,000 miles
While driving, average speed 40-50 mph the vehicle started shaking violently, RPM fluttering. Also going from park to drive, it will slam into gear. Checking the coolant, it is a milky white color.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #186

May 032016


  • 144,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Nissan Xterra. While driving 50 mph, the vehicle shook violently. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the transmission and radiator failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 144,000.

- Chesterfield, VA, USA

problem #185

May 052016


  • 127,000 miles
The transmission is damaged because of a faulty radiator that leaked coolant into the transmission causing it to fail. My car was a standstill and I was pulling into traffic and my car barely moved causing the oncoming car to swerve and slam his brakes to avoid hitting me. This a a safety concern, especially when you have kids in the car.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #184

Oct 262015


  • 112,000 miles
In October 2015 I noticed that my Xterra was overheating and the transmission was slipping at times. When I removed the radiator cap to check the coolant, it looked foamy and milky, like a lime smoothie. I thought I might have a blown head gasket and took the vehicle to my mechanic, who told me about the issue with Nissan radiator and transmission cross-contamination. He told me that flushing the systems would not help and the entire cooling system and transmission would need to be replaced to the tune of about $6500, which I didn't have. He told me to contact Nissan. Unfortunately, at the time my Xterra was diagnosed, it had 112,000 miles on it, which was beyond the scope of Nissan's extended warranty which came about as a result of the class-action lawsuit. The only thing they did for me was give me a refund on a recall item for which I'd paid before the recall came out. They also offered me a "business associate's" discount on another Nissan--as if I'd buy one after this! because I am mobility challenged, I must have a vehicle to get to work, doctors' visits, etc. I was forced to buy another vehicle. The payments have me so strapped for cash that once I get my bills paid there's nothing left for groceries or pet food, much less putting gas in my car! I am so disgusted with Nissan for putting me in this position I can't even put it into words.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

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