Notes: While the 2008 has fewer reports of coolant leaking into and killing the transmission than years past, the problem still exists. And for that reason alone, this SUV is not worth your time.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
86,798 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.

2008 Nissan Xterra engine problems

engine problem

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2008 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments

problem #10

Sep 012016


  • miles


The timing chain tensioners in the engine of this car began making a loud whining sound, which is a typical problem with these engines. Nissan was aware of these faulty tensioners back in 2004, when they issues a technical service bulletin.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #9

May 112016


  • 60,000 miles
I was told the timing belt tensioners needed to be replaced. It only has 60,800 miles on it. The dealer quoted me $1400. There is a high pitched whine from the engine, most noticeable at low speeds. The vehicle runs ok but I'm afraid if the tensioners fail, so will the timing belt and so will the engine.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #8

Jun 052016


  • 109,000 miles
Cracked radiator leaked coolant into the transmission cooler destroying the transmission, transmission cooler, and radiator at about 109,000 miles in traffic. Apparently, this is a know issue with 2005-2010 Nissan Xterras, frontiers, and pathfinders. As part of a settlement to a class-action lawsuit, Nissan offered an extended warranty up to 10 years / 100,000 miles, whichever comes first (although an internet search says the average mileage at which this problem occurs is 95,000 miles). Nissan nor its dealership never notified me of the defect or the extended warranty so now I'm trying to decide if I fork out $6100 for the repairs or trade-in the vehicle.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #7

May 252016


  • 159,000 miles


Cracked radiator leaking fluid into transmission. I was driving when I felt a slip I parked the car and with in minutes a creme colored fluid was leaking from underneath the vehicle. Took car to mechanic who told me it was a good thing I took it then because if it would have continued to leak it would have damaged my transmission. I now have to have new radiator put in thermostat put in and engine flushed this does not guarantee I will not have any more problems. Voicing this complaint because there have been so many people with this issue and dealer ships and manufacturers do not do much about it. They take our money but don't care what happens after the fact. I love this vehicle but will never buy a Nissan again very sad.

- Pottstown, PA, USA

problem #6

Mar 252015


  • 90,000 miles
Was driving Xterra 4X4 on the street when all of a sudden the vehicle shut itself off. Was able to luckily turn the vehicle back on but when we arrived home the vehicle would no longer start. Had it towed to Nissan who discovered the car has a defective ECM unit. This could have been very very dangerous and I believe many other Nissan Xterra/frontiers/pathfinders have been affected as evident by searching google regarding this issue. Nissan would not repair the vehicle free of charge and wanted 1400 dollars to replace ECM. This day and age an ECM should last much much longer and should not shut down the vehicle nor, impair its ability to drive.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #5

Jan 052013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 102,975 miles
Car's heater blows cold air when car is idling. Nissan service technician advised that this was caused "by an air pocket" forming in the cooling system? the air pocket has to be removed - which of course costs money. We own two 2008 Xterras. This also happened with our other 2008 Xterra.

- Charles Town, WV, USA

problem #4

Oct 222013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 77,000 miles


Timing chain.I would like to send out a letter of complaint on my 2008 Xterra. I'm one of the hundreds with the premature wear of the timing chain shoe and tensioners mentioned in your 2009 service bulletin EM09-007; ntb09-128; Nov. 16, 2009. Substandard parts. Your customer service was no customer service.

- Roanoke , VA, USA

problem #3

Apr 132013

Xterra 6-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
Cross contamination on transmission/radiator coolant causing transmission slippage. I will join the class action suit currently on going....I hope Nissan gets hit with a huge penalty for this travesty.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #2

Apr 072013


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Nissan Xterra. The contact stated that the vehicle shifted out of gear independently. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for a diagnostics, who stated that there was a cooling fluid leak and a transmission fluid leak, which caused contamination of the transmission. The failure was reported to the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 82,000. The current mileage was 83,000.

- Brooklyn , NY, USA

problem #1

Mar 252013

Xterra 4WD 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Nissan X-terra. The contact stated that the transmission shifted out of gear independently. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic, who found a cooling fluid leak in the radiator and a transmission fluid leak. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure was not reported to the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 105,000. The current mileage was 105,357. Updated 7/1/13 updated 07/17/2013

- Quincy , WA, USA

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