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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
113,282 miles
Total Complaints:
21 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (8 reports)
  2. replace radiator, transmission, and transmission cooler (7 reports)
  3. not sure (6 reports)
2008 Nissan Xterra transmission problems

transmission problem

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2008 Nissan Xterra Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Aug 192017

Xterra S 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,400 miles


The transmission on my 2008 Nissan Xterra had issues with a loud thunk from the transmission in 3rd gear driving on inclines 3 times. Each time I took it to the dealer where I purchased it (and their extended warranty). Each time they claimed that there was no problem and couldn't find a code.

I had the radiator replaced by the dealer at 85,000 miles when I bought the Xterra because it had a leak that they didn't notice. That radiator had to be replaced 1000 miles later !! They also added a transmission cooler bypass.

At 100,400 miles the transmission went into limp mode at a stoplight. It would not go over 5mph. I had the Xterra towed to the dealership. They DROVE it to the nearest Nissan dealership, where it was discovered that the transmission had a major failure and there were metal fragments in the transmission pan. I had just had a transmission service done at the Colorado Springs Dodge dealership 2 months earlier !!

Nissan showed me that the transmission was black and it contained the metal fragments ! They said that there was no way that a transmission service had been done on this vehicle...

Do not buy a vehicle from Colorado Springs Dodge !!! They lie about their service, their service records, and they do not honor their warranties !

Nissan also advised me that Colorado Springs Dodge had erased the transmission problem codes before they drove the Xterra to their lot !!

An adjuster from Fidelity warranty is going to assess the damage on Monday 08-28-17. The initial estimate is $6100 to replace the transmission, radiator, hoses, and transmission cooler. I only paid $12000 for the piece of junk in April 2017...

- , Colorado Springs, CO, US

problem #20

Jan 122017

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I purchased my Xterra back in October of 2008. It hasn't given me any significant problems until now. I have taken it to the same certified Nissan Dealer/service center for just about ALL of the scheduled maintenance and so on. Even though this issue was known by Nissan, not once in all of my many visits to this service provider, was I warned or notified of this condition or the class action lawsuit that was in progress which has since been closed (October 2016). Also, being that my vehicle is just over the lawsuits agreed upon mileage allowed for any compensation from Nissan, I wouldn't qualify to receive anything at this point. So now, here I am with a vehicle, that I planned to keep for many more years, either having to basically junk it, or pay upwards of $7000 in repairs (according to the Nissan Service Center) to replace the transmission and radiator. I am between a rock and a hard place. I feel that I should be compensated in some way for this. If I were notified of this problem around the time that it first came to light, I would have at least had the chance to trade the vehicle in, instead of being stuck here with a vehicle that is essentially worthless. Not only could they have been considerate enough to notify me as 1 of many purchasers of a Nissan Vehicle with this issue, but you would think that during service visits they would keep an eye out for an impending issue such as this. After research of this problem, I found that my vehicle was displaying symptoms of this condition arising months ago (ie: the heat not remaining warm when in idol position). Also, I just had a oil change 2 weeks prior to having them check this problem out. I do know that this issue was already present then, because I had a couple of instances where it seemed that my transmission was slipping, and not only that, but the engine light was on. They didn't mention anything about possible damage to my transmission, that may have been prevented had they picked up on it then, but they actually told me that I needed a transmission fluid flush soon ("things that make you same hmm"). Doesn't this mean that they should have actually checked my transmission then!? I am very angry and disappointed in Nissan! I will NEVER purchase another Nissan in my lifetime, and will NOT recommend it to anyone!

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #19

Dec 292016

Xterra S/SE/X 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Just made 3rd car payment and my car won't start. Had it towed and needs new radiator ($? just put one in my other car it was $400), thermostat (?), transmission(?), spark plugs ($450), and all fluids ($500). Thanks for the money pit Nissan...

Update from Jan 5, 2017: Got a call from the Nissan Service Manager and my warranty will cover the replacement of the transmission and the radiator. Not going to do the other stuff, I am going to sell it!

- , Ogden, UT, USA

problem #18

Oct 122016

Xterra E V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles


Replaced anti- freese at 59000 and at 120000, now the transmission is slipping and the coolant is milky

- , Fort Fairfield, ME, USA

problem #17

Oct 032016

Xterra SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

Unbelievable! Began leaking coolant, replaced the radiator and within a week the transmission went.

- , Portland, ME, USA

problem #16

Sep 072016

Xterra 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,145 miles

Transmission cooler in radiator failed. Had radiator replaced and trans flushed. Within weeks, the trans started to slip and finally failed. Replaced transmission assy.

- , Succasunna, NJ, USA

problem #15

Aug 052016

Xterra SE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


Very dissappointed in Nissan on this one when they know its an issue that they don't recall and make things right. We have owned 5 other Nissan cars and have loved each one. We have had little if any significant issues due to bad design like this one. When we bought this we specifically sought out a Nissan due to the quality experience we had in the past. Just very disappointing to find out that Nissan has chosen to not fix this issue. Makes me think twice about purchasing a Nissan in the future. We have one Nissan that we were looking to replace in the near future but likely we will choose something else after this experience. I have gone from a very satisfied Nissan owner to a very unsatisfied Nissan owner.

Its most disappointing because it doesn't sound like an isolated problem. It sounds like it happens a lot and its well known. If it was an isolated instance I would totally understand but when its obviously a defective design its very concerning.

- , Billings, MT, USA

problem #14

Jun 052016

Xterra Off Road 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,406 miles

Just found out from my service adviser this is a known issue with 2005-2010 Nissan Xterras but the vehicle was never recalled (also affects 2005-2010 Frontiers and Pathfinders). Based on the settlement of a class action lawsuit, Nissan agreed to provide an extended warranty up to 10 years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first, with a customer co-pay of $3000. When the failure occurs (internet search says after 95,000 miles on average) it is catastrophic. The potential for this problem was never disclosed to me by Nissan or their dealership and the problem was never recalled.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, US

problem #13

Dec 012015

Xterra SE 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

Need help. Truck will not move, left me stranded. Lucky I had AAA.

- , Farmingdale, NY, USA

problem #12

Sep 172015

Xterra 4.0L 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

My xterra has what I am finding to be a common problem, radiator cracks and leaks into transmission causing big problems. To fix costs over 3000. Nissan had a extended warranty problem but did not let customers know unless they brought their veh in for service. Well here I am at 118000 miles 18000 over warranty with an other wise very nice car that is paid for. Now I either sink 3000 or have to buy another car

- , Georgetown, MA, USA

problem #11

Oct 022015

Xterra V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Much like everyone else's issues about this car, my car started jerking when shifting gears. Next thing I know, there is this nasty slime looking substance in my overflow tank for coolant.

- , Mount Juliet, USA

problem #10

Jan 122013

Xterra S 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,000 miles

Had to replace transmission due to slipping torque converter from "pink slime of death" (coolant leaking into transmission fluid)

- , Canal Fulton, OH, USA

problem #9

Apr 202015

Xterra SW V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Poor design from Nissan on the coolant and transmission system. They should be held responsible for this mistake. It will take a large amount of money to fix this issue and it's all because of Nissan's bad engineering.

- , Bethel Park, PA, USA

problem #8

Feb 142015

Xterra S V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,991 miles

I currently have a 2008 Nissan Xterra with 146K miles. I took my car into Sutherlin Nissan at the Mall of Georgia as the Service Engine Soon Light was on and was told that the Radiator was cracked and leaking fluid into the transmission that both would need to be replaced. The dealer informed me that the cost would be over $4k to replace both.

I took it somewhere else and had the Radiator replaced. However, I’m still experiencing problems with the transmission. I took it to a Korean shop Votech where the owner Vo is very familiar with all types of cards. I explained to Vo what the issue was and he said that over 90% of the Nissan rear wheel drive trucks that come in have the same problem and that Nissan should be in a lawsuit or issuing a recall real soon on these vehicles.

I’m a single mother of two and I’m unemployed, so of course I can’t afford to pay $4k to replace a transmission. I have paid Nissan all of this money to purchase the vehicle and they are aware of this issue, then they should be held accountable for faulty parts in their vehicles regardless of how many miles are on the vehicle. I’m voicing my concern as a customer and I want people to know not to buy Nissan if they are not going to treat their customers unfairly.

- , Duluth, GA, US

problem #7

Jun 222015

Xterra 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 181,776 miles

We, Rebecca & I, financed this 2008 Nissan Xterra on November 10th 2012. We are the second owner's. I read in a blog that the original owner was notified of this transmission problem on 08/2012. He(the orig. owner) brought this Xterra to Lander's McLarty, where Rebecca and I financed it. (No one informed us of this transmission problem or we would have passed)--Landers McLarty sold me a warranty for $1,380 called The Superior Protection Plan.

The sales man, Robert Holley, told us that since our vehicle had 98,000 miles, under 100,00 miles, we would also be covered by a power train warranty for as long as we own our vehicle. Well, I called and Landers is no longer there along with Mr.Holley.

The problem with the Xterra is that it will not move when you push the gas pedal.--We pay $384 per month to credit acceptance. We have never been late or missed a payment. We are both disabled and had to show Mr.Holley our award's letters. I think we were taken advantage of by being lied to about the life time power train warranty and not being told about the recall on these Xterras.They all got together to get our money that took us so long to save.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #6

Apr 302015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I was just informed by the Nissan dealer that my Nissan must have transmission replaced as well as radiator due to a defect and engine coolant that leaked into transmission. Brought it in because of rough shifting and jerking during driving when automatic transmission shifts upwards. after researching I found this: NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2008 Nissan Xterra

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2008 Nissan Xterra, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

Transmission Failure (ATF contamination)NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP12004 Status: OPEN

Date Opened:June 11, 2012 Date Closed:Pending Recall:possible recall

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

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.

NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #DP12004 »

GOING ON 3 YEARS AND STILL RESEARCHING ??????????????????????????????????????

- , Kenosha, WI, US

problem #5

Mar 012012

Xterra 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I noticed some shuddering when the xterra would shift into overdrive. The problem was intermittent. Hind sight revealed the engine not warming up while idling. Turns out the radiator had a leak and the coolant was mixing in with the transmission fluid. Local dealer said I had to replace both the radiator and transmission. I was 6,000 miles out of warranty. I called Nissan and asked for an extension on the drive train warranty. After several weeks I was denied coverage based on my lack of loyalty ( I only have one Nissan) and I don't frequent the dealer service center on a regular basis. I then find out that this is a common problem with 2005 Xterras. I don't think I'll be buying a Nissan after this.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #4

Jun 102013

Xterra 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Okay so I am sick to my stomach sitting here reading everyone's post. I am a 20 year old student who is fresh out of school who purchased a 2008 Xterra to try and build my credit. I thought I had a great car and all and now after I have had my car not even a YEAR Nissan dealership is telling me it will cost $9,000 altogether to fix it with me paying 3,000. I "politely" told them to shove it up theirs. I am hoping to fix the problem by dropping a new radiator in it and flushing the transmission. You would think the dealership would warn you of this when you make a purchase. I work hard for my money where in the hell do they think I can pull 3,000 bucks from. That is all...just ranting about it. My advice is AVOID NISSAN AT ALL COST. that is all.

- , Lilesville, NC, USA

problem #3

May 012013

Xterra X 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,200 miles

I just found out that I am a victim of the dreaded manufacturing defect where the transmission cooler leaks and the fluids mix, killing the transmission. I took apart the old radiator and was able to blow bubbles with it through the leak into some water. Nissan needs to extend the mileage for this problem soon.

- , Spokane, WA, USA

problem #2

Jan 012013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I have a 2008 Xterra, with 75,000 miles and a few months ago, I noticed it was overheating, Took it to mechanic, he said it was the Thermostat, so we replaced it. Recently, I have noticed that I don't have the same acceleration power I used to, and the car has started to overheat again. It shudders while idling and while accelerating, the heater doesn't work, and after being parked for a while, I notice a brown fluid on the ground under radiator. I had been unaware of Nissans problems until yesterday, when I received the class action letter. I am wondering if this could be what is wrong with my xterra, as most of what I am reading seems to be older models. Can anyone tell me if they experienced these symptoms before their cars were so severely disabled?

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

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