Worst Nissan Xterra Years to Avoid (Key Problems)

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The Nissan Xterra is a sturdy, rugged SUV you can take with you anywhere, including when going off-road! It is built for all roads and all weather conditions; this SUV is one of the sturdiest rides from the Japanese automaker, Nissan Motors.

Although Nissan has halted the Xterra production line, the SUV was quite good. With the discontinuation of this car, it is crucial you know the best and worst Nissan Xterra years to avoid or buy, which is what this article is all about!

Below, we will explain which Nissan Xterra years you should always avoid, as well as highlights the best model years to buy. But quickly, the commonest problem with Nissan Xterras is transmission failure.

Now, let’s discuss the rest!

Nissan Xterra Overview

The Xterra was a series of truck-based compact SUVs produced by the top Japanese automaker, Nissan Motors. It was produced over 16 years, spanning two generations. Before the Nissan Xterra was phased out completely, it was one of the considerable alternatives to the Toyota 4Runner.

Firstly, the Nissan Xterra was available in two trim levels, XE and SE, with 4- or 5-speed auto transmission and a V6 or I4 engine.

The first-gen Nissan Xterras were produced from 1999 to 2004, while the second-gen, which also became the last generation, was produced from 2005 (for the 2005 model year) to 2015.

Second-gen Nissan Xterras came with a more powerful V6 engine (4.0L) paired with a 5- or 6-speed transmission, producing up to 265 horsepower. After discontinuing the Nissan Xterra line, the company introduced “Terra,” a pickup-truck-cum-midsize-SUV debuted in 2018 in China.

See Also: Worst Ford Edge Years To Avoid

Nissan Xterra Years to Avoid and Why

Across the 16 years of its production lifeline, the Nissan Xterra has just four model years that are considered the “worst” because they received many complaints from the owners.

Put simply, many people who owned the below-mentioned Nissan Xterra model years allege that their SUVs were quite problematic.

Here are the years:

  • 2005 Nissan Xterra
  • 2006 Nissan Xterra
  • 2007 Nissan Xterra
  • 2008 Nissan Xterra

These Nissan Xterra model years reportedly are not as reliable as other models produced in later/former years.

Common Nissan Xterra Problems

Photo by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

1. Transmission Problems

  • Affected Models: 2005, 2006, and 2007 model years.

A higher number of complaints were recorded for 2005 thru 2007 Nissan Xterra models regarding the transmission system.

Commonly reported problems included radiator leaks that led to transmission failure, transmission jerking/shuddering, unable to move on to gear (car doesn’t accelerate), and transmission slipping.

Coolant leaks were the widespread defect – having over 1,000 complaints across the 2005 and 2006 model years.

Well, these problems reportedly occur after covering an average of 110,000 miles in the odometer, and the repair cost ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 (if you had to change the transmission system completely.

2. Engine Faults

  • Affected Models: Mostly reported on 2005, 2006, and 2007 Nissan Xterras.

Also, a seemingly high number of complaints were recorded regarding the V6 engines in 2005 thru 2008 Nissan Xterra models; however, the 2008 model received fewer complaints.

Reported problems included timing chain failure, whining noise, faulty tensioner, engine light(s) staying on, and rough acceleration (stalling).

These problems allegedly occur after hitting 85,000 miles with the Nissan Xterra, and the average repair cost is $1,800 – to replace the timing chain or blown head gasket with other surrounding components that may have been affected before you went for the repair.

3. Interior Accessories and Coolant System Problems

  • Affected Models: 2006 and 2007 model years.

Coolant leaks, cracked radiator, faulty fuel sensor/gauge, erratic readings on the dashboard, audio/navigation system failure, and headliner problems were the most common issues reported in the 2005 – 2018 Nissan Xterra model years.

The average mileage when these problems occur is 60,000 miles, and the repair cost is an average of $800.

4. Body and Paint Problems

Well, no model year had a tremendous number of complaints regarding this problem, but there were indeed a total of over 200 complaints regarding the body panel and clear coat paint used on most Nissan Xterra model years.

The common problems were painting peeling off and rust in the tailgate (and other sides of the SUV). Fixing this is to repaint the car or only the affected area, which costs an average of $700.

Best Nissan Xterra Years To Buy

The models from 2001 to 2004 are really good, but they can be considered “old” now. Hence, the very best Nissan Xterra years to buy are the newer models from 2009; hereunder is the list.

  • 2009 Nissan Xterra
  • 2010 Nissan Xterra
  • 2011 Nissan Xterra
  • 2012 Nissan Xterra
  • 2013 Nissan Xterra
  • 2014 Nissan Xterra

Frequently Asked Questions

What Nissan Xterras Had Transmission Problems?

Transmission problems were highly recorded for the 2005, 2006, and 2007 model years; the Nissan Xterra produced for those model years had the worst transmission problems (coolant leaking into the transmission, causing it to fail), so you should stay clear of these models.

Is Nissan Xterra a Good Car?

The Nissan Xterra takes home a 3.9 out of 5.0 reliability rating on RepairPal, and J.D. Power also rates it above-average in reliability and dependability. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Nissan Xterra is a good car for everyone that loves driving an SUV – just avoid the problematic years.

What Car Replaced The Nissan Xterra?

After the 2015 model year, Nissan stopped the production of Xterras and introduced a successor with the nameplate, Terra. The Nissan Terra starts as a pickup truck but later transforms into a midsize, compact SUV – sitting between the Nissan Rogue and Nissan Armada.


So, what are the Nissan Xterra years to avoid and why? The 2005 to 2008 model years are quite problematic, and it’d be best if you stay away from them when buying a used Nissan Xterra.

The Nissan Xterra is one of the sturdiest SUVs from the manufacturer, and even though it is discontinued, the SUV still ranks as one of the best alternatives to the Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler, and even its own sibling, the Nissan Pathfinder.

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