Nissan Xterra Problems: 9 Common Problems (Explained) (2023)

Versatility and ample cargo space have made SUVs a popular choice for automobiles since they were first introduced, and the Xterra has been an SUV that has captivated people since its introduction.

Xterra SUVs are a very popular vehicle, but like any other car, they can have some issues that owners need to be aware of.

We have already covered this how long does the nissan xterra lastand now we move on to some of the more typical problems of homeowners.


Nissan Xterra Problems: 9 Common Problems (Explained) (1)

Below we talk about the most common Nissan Xterra problems and the problems that people report.

Faulty fuel level sensor

Some Xterra owners have noticed inaccurate fuel gauges on their vehicles, which of course can be a big problem.

This is usually caused by a faulty fuel level sensor and can cause your car's engine to stall or your car to run out of gas.

(Video) Top 5 Problems Nissan Xterra SUV 2nd Generation 2005-15

While this doesn't seem like much of a problem at first glance, it can actually be quite dangerous if you're driving on the highway or in any other type of traffic where it might hit you.

This issue was reported on some XTerra vehicles manufactured between 2001 and 2011, specifically the 2006-2008 models that were recalled due to this specific issue. However, Nissan has fixed the issue on newer models, allowing drivers to hit the road with peace of mind.

Common causes of faulty fuel level sensors in cars

There are several different factors that can lead to faulty fuel level sensors on cars, including:

  • Exposure to extreme heat or cold:
    Extremely hot or extremely cold conditions can cause the sensor to become damaged and lose its accuracy. This is particularly common in areas with more extreme temperature fluctuations, such as desert or arctic environments.
  • exposed to corrosion:
    Fuel is generally highly corrosive and can slowly degrade the components of a fuel level sensor over time if not properly protected. Over time, this can lead to inaccurate readings and eventually complete sensor failure.
  • incorrect installation:
    If the fuel level sensor is not installed correctly, it may not work properly. This is usually due to a wiring or connector problem, but can also be caused by damage during installation.
  • electric problems:
    A fuel level sensor relies on electrical signals to function, so problems with the electrical system can cause problems. This includes things like electrical spikes, power surges, or short circuits.


In addition to faulty fuel level sensors, some 2005 Nissan Xterras owners have reported leaks in their radiators.

These leaks often persist even after the radiator fluid reservoir caps are tightened and owners have had to repair or replace the lower intake manifold to correct the problem.

Fortunately, if the problem is caught early enough, owners only need to repair this system to solve the problem. However, undetected radiator leaks can lead to engine overheating and even transmission failure.

What if your radiator has a leak?

Radiator leaks can cause a number of different problems for your car, from overheating to engine damage. Some of the most common problems are:

  • inaccurate fuel gauge:
    If coolant leaks, it mixes with your vehicle's fuel system. This can lead to incorrect fuel gauges on your dash, which may not be immediately obvious, but can cause problems for drivers down the line.
  • excessive heating:
    The radiator is responsible for keeping the engine cool by circulating water and antifreeze throughout the system. With less coolant flowing through the system, it can overheat and cause serious engine damage if left unchecked.
  • damage to other components:
    Depending on where the radiator leak is and how bad it is, it can damage other components. For example, if coolant comes in contact with belts or hoses, this can cause wear and premature failure.

transmission error

Transmission failure is another problem some 2005 Nissan Xterra owners face, usually caused by uncontrolled lower intake manifold radiator leaks.

When engine coolant mixes with transmission oil, it creates a discolored mixture that can't do its job properly. Mixed fluids accelerate corrosion in the transmission, causing it to slip or overheat.

Fortunately, homeowners who keep an eye on their radiator fluid level can avoid this problem, as it can be expensive.

(Video) Top Common Engine Problems 2005-2015 Nissan Xterra SUV

Signs of a Transmission Error

There are several warning signs that could indicate a possible gearbox failure in a Nissan Xterra. Some of the most common are:

  • Slipping or sudden shift between gears
  • Late engagement when changing gears, especially at higher speeds
  • Excessive noise or screeching when changing gears, even when the vehicle is moving slowly
  • Burning smell or visible fluid leaks near gear area
  • Erratic or unexplained engine behavior, including loss of power, sudden acceleration, stalling, or difficulty starting the engine

If you notice any of these symptoms in your car, it's important to have it inspected as soon as possible to prevent further damage and potentially costly repairs.

Timing chain issues

Some 2005 Nissan XTerra units also experienced timing chain problems that caused drivers to experience howling engine noises, followed by component failure.

Problems with the Xterra's timing chain tensioners, guides and shoes can cause engine noise and acceleration issues if left unchecked. At worst, they can even contribute to engine damage.

Signs of Supply Chain Problems

If you notice any of the following symptoms on your Xterra, it's important to have your vehicle serviced as soon as possible to prevent further damage and potentially costly repairs.

  • Howling or screeching noises are coming from the engine
  • Difficulty starting or reduced acceleration
  • Reduced power output or unexpected vibration
  • When accelerating it smells like burnt rubber, oil or fuel

While this issue was widespread on the 2005 Nissan XTerra model, the company fixed the issue on newer models and it is no longer considered a common problem for this SUV.

fuel injector failure

Some model years Nissan XTerra also struggle with drivability problems caused by faulty fuel injectors.

This problem can cause engine misfiring resulting in decreased engine power, hesitation in acceleration, and excessive vibration.

Fuel Injector Failure Symptoms

There are a few different symptoms that may indicate that a Nissan Xterra is experiencing fuel injection failure.

  • Reduced fuel consumption
  • inactive
  • engine misfire
  • bad acceleration
  • Excessive jolts or vibrations while driving
  • hesitation when accelerating

While these symptoms may seem minor, they can have a significant impact on your vehicle's performance and fuel economy. If ignored, the problem could worsen over time and lead to more serious problems such as engine damage.

(Video) Top High Mileage Issues 2005-2015 Nissan Xterra SUV

clogged EGR valve

Some early 2000 and 2002 Nissan XTerra models also had problems with clogged exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves. A carbon buildup was causing misfiring while the car was accelerating, but luckily cleaning the EGR valve and valve ports turned out to be an easy fix for this problem.

Despite these shortcomings, the Nissan XTerra is widely recognized as a reliable and popular SUV model, and the Nissan team has strived to improve this car year after year.

As long as you are aware of potential problems you may encounter with your Xterra, buying an Xterra, even a used one, should involve some risk.

General Pros and Cons of the Nissan Xterra

The Nissan Xterra is a sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by Nissan Motors from 2000 to 2015.Throughout its life, the XTerra has been praised as an attractive and reliable vehicle, performing consistently well in both safety and performance ratings.


  • Rock-solid reliability:
    The Nissan Xterra is known for its reliability, making it a great choice for anyone who doesn't want to worry about unexpected problems or repairs.
  • Functional design:
    Xterra is packed with functional features that make it easy to get around town, no matter what kind of adventure you're on.
  • Excellent off-road performance:
    If you love to hike and explore the great outdoors, the Xterra offers the perfect blend of durability and comfort to make your rides even more fun.
  • Strong security features:
    Xterra comes standard with a host of safety features, including airbags and stability control, to keep you and your passengers safe on the road. Despite being an older car, this SUV has safety features that help it stand up to today's modern cars.
  • attractive design:
    The Xterra has a sleek and rugged design that is sure to turn heads as you drive down the street. Whether parked at the trailhead or at the office, this SUV always cuts a fine figure.


  • Faulty fuel level sensor
  • Kühlerlecks
  • transmission error
  • Timing chain issues
  • fuel injector failure
  • clogged EGR valve

What do the comments say?

Nissan XTerra owners cannot praise this vehicle enough, even after it has been discontinued.

“I have almost 200,000 on my Xterra and have only had about $100 in repairs. Maybe I'm lucky, but it was the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. Virtually everything on the truck is still original.”


While repairs can be expensive when they occur, many drivers find that if you keep up with your maintenance, your car will always serve you well.

“The 2005 Nissan Xterra was truly one of the best decisions we ever made. GREAT vehicle. Yes, it handles/drives more like a truck, but that's really what I wanted. It has the BEST ground clearance. We take it camping and on dirt roads a lot in the summer and it handles and stores very well.”


(Video) 2003 Nissan Xterra 3.3L common problems and diagnose with MaxiSys

This SUV knows how to adapt to any situation, whether you want to drive it on the road or take it camping. No matter what adventure you desire, XTerra is sure to be up to the challenge.

What is the resale value of the Nissan Xterra?

MODELAGAINodometer reading (km/h)PRICES ($)
SUV Nissan Xterra2008170.3585.995 $
Nissan XterraS2014152.41514.985
Nissan Xterra PRO-4X201119.08712.466 $
Nissan XterraX201463.58517.995 $
Nissan XterraS2015155.61212.995

final thoughts

Overall, the Nissan XTerra is a great vehicle that offers many benefits and features.

Despite some common issues with this SUV, such as radiator leaks and increased timing chain issues, it remains a popular choice among drivers looking for an off-road vehicle that can take them anywhere.

Whether you're tackling the streets or exploring rough terrain, XTerra has you covered. So if you're looking for versatility and performance in one package, the Nissan XTerra might be for you.




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(Video) A FREE Transmission FIXED My $750 Nissan XTerra

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We would love to hear your opinion! (PS: We read ALL the comments)


What is wrong with Nissan Xterra? ›

Again, the radiator defect is the main culprit of failed transmission systems in the Xterra. Rebuilding or replacing the transmission is very expensive. Fuel injector failure – Several Xterra models have struggled with bad fuel injectors.

Which year Xterra is the best? ›

The 2015 model is the best year for the Nissan Xterra. It's not that any of the other second-generation Xterras aren't worth looking at, but this one has the most technology and the least amount of problems.

What are the common problems in a 2004 Nissan Xterra? ›

Top 2004 Nissan Xterra Problems
  • Check Engine Light Due to Faulty Fuel Level Sensor. ...
  • No Start, Engine Stalls. ...
  • Noise From the Front of the Engine. ...
  • Coolant Outlet on Lower Intake Maniflod May Leak. ...
  • Pink Coolant in Radiator and Transmission Problems. ...
  • Fuel Injectors May Fail and Cause Drivability Concerns. ...
  • Check valve clearance.

How long do Xterra engines last? ›

It depends on regular servicing and following the proper maintenance schedule. With the Nissan Xterra, you can expect up to 200,000 miles in mileage. Based on our research, an auto dealer reported that a lot of Xterras that come into his shop for repair have an average of 225,000 to 300,000 miles.

Why did Nissan stop making Xterra? ›

The Xterra had a good run between 1999 and 2015, but was discontinued due to declining sales, poor fuel economy and the need for costly upgrades to its safety and emissions systems.

What does Xterra stand for? ›

X-TERR-A [eks-tare-uh] noun; adjective;verb. 1. beyond or more than an Olympic distance triathlon; a 1500m swim, 30- 40 km mountain bike leg, 10-12 kilometer run in variable environments –adjective (an XTERRA experience) 2.

Are Xterras good in snow? ›

Driving the Xterra in a snowstorm was a good test. The 4WD driveline is solid; the thing never wavered in the snow. It was solid and confidence-inspiring.

Which is better Pathfinder or Xterra? ›

Though both the vehicles are comfortable for long journeys, the pathfinder offers more comfort in long journeys. When talking of cargo size, the pathfinder has more room for your luggage than the Xterra. Another big difference that can be noticed between the two is in its body.

Why does the Xterra have a bump in the back? ›

But the Frontier's rear axle and leaf spring design meant engineers had to lift the Xterra's rear seat by 75 millimeters. As a consequence, the roof had to be raised by an equivalent amount, giving the Xterra its unique rear bump.

How fast can you go in 4 Xterra? ›

The highly capable Xterra 4WD system features shift-on-the-fly 4-Wheel Drive with a 2-speed transfer case, so you can go from 2WD to 4H at speeds up to 62 mph.

How long does an Xterra clutch last? ›

Similar to brake pads, clutches do not have a recommended replacement mileage. They do wear out, but some will last over 100,000 miles.

Are Xterras good vehicles? ›

Overall Reliability Ratings: Is The Nissan Xterra Reliable? Overall the Nissan Xterra reliability is 59 and that makes it very reliable. The chart below illustrates exactly how this ranks compared to some other cars, but the average overall rating is 57 as some comparison.

How much does it cost to replace a Nissan Xterra engine? ›

Advance Auto Parts has 6 different Remanufactured Engine for your vehicle, ready for shipping or in-store pick up. The best part is, our Nissan Xterra Remanufactured Engine products start from as little as $3,672.99.

Are Xterras good offroad? ›

The Nissan Xterra Off Road has a ground clearance of 9.5 inches, which makes it more than suitable to take off the road.

Are Nissan Xterras expensive to repair? ›

The average total annual cost for repairs and maintenance on a Nissan Xterra is $514, compared to an average of $521 for compact SUVs and $652 for all vehicle models.

Does a Nissan Xterra have a timing belt? ›

The Nissan Xterra uses a timing chain instead of a belt. The timing chains can go on for the lifetime of the car and need no replacement after regular intervals as in the case of timing belts. The timing chain avoids potential damage caused to the engine by the failure of timing belts.

Are Nissan Xterra good on gas? ›

Gas mileage is a not-so-hot 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the open road.

What replaced Xterra? ›

Nissan Xterra
Body style5-door SUV
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel-drive Front-engine, four-wheel-drive
SuccessorNissan Rogue Nissan Murano Nissan Terra (China)
9 more rows

Is a Nissan Xterra built on a truck frame? ›

As it should be, the Xterra is a proper separate body-on-frame, pickup-based SUV.

Is Nissan better than Toyota? ›

Even where Toyota comes out on top, Nissan is usually not far behind. That being said, Toyota does come out as a better all-around brand, while Nissan tends to perform better as more of a specialized manufacturer for people looking for sportier vehicles or innovative SUVs.

Does the Xterra have a skid plate? ›

2005-2015 Nissan Xterra ONLY

The skid plate is made of 3/16" thick steel CNC plasma cut and bent to specification to add strength and to reinforce the edges. It does mount solidly to the trucks frame and is designed for easy bolt-up installation.

What is the difference between the Xterra SE and XE? ›

The Xterra XE is black around headlights and the grille. It also has silver features, such as the roof rack, wheels, step rails and lower front fascia. On the other hand, the Xterra SE trims come with a dark titanium finish on the exterior, wheels and accessories.

How much gas mileage does a Nissan Xterra get? ›

Find and Compare Cars
2015 Nissan Xterra 4WD
Personalize Find a car6 cyl, 4.0 L, Manual 6-spd Compare
Fuel Economy
EPA MPGRegular Gasoline 17 combined city/highway MPG 15 city 20 highway 5.9 gals/100 miles
10 more rows

Can you sleep in the back of an Xterra? ›

The Xterra is great for sleeping in. The link below will show you a few pics of me and the wife on our first overnight trip with it last year. If you haven't heard yet the 8 gallon action packers are the perfect size to fill the hole behind the front seats so you have a nice level sleeping area.

Do Xterra seats fold flat? ›

The Xterra offers fold-down rear seating for 65.7 cubic feet of cargo space, but the rear seat bottom still needs to be flipped up for the folded seatback to lay flat.

Is Xterra a 4WD? ›

The Xterra is one of the few vehicles on the market that is genuinely built for off-roading. This robust SUV is derived from the enormous Titan pickup truck and is powered by a 4.0L 261-hp engine.
Vehicle type / Category
Vehicle typeSUV
67 more rows

What platform is the Xterra built on? ›

The second generation of the Xterra was based on the proven Nissan F-Alpha platform, which used a ladder-chassis with front independent suspension and a solid rear axle, or an independent suspension depending on the car.

How many speakers are in a Nissan Xterra? ›

The factory stereo system. The Xterra offered two stereo systems to choose from. The base package offered an AM/FM/CD receiver driving six speakers. All systems carried tweeters in each corner of the dash, with oval 6"x9" woofers mounted in the lower front doors, and circular 6-3/4" woofers located in the rear doors.

Is Terra and Xterra the same? ›

Yes, it says X-Terra on the plate and badges, but it is essentially the Terra for the region. It's not a new name either since the X-Terra name has been previously used for the North American market.

Why does my Xterra smell like gas? ›

The most common reasons a Nissan Xterra smells like gas are the gas cap, the fuel system, or the emissions control system.

What is the last year Nissan made the Xterra? ›

The Xterra was discontinued in 2015 after sales steadily fell following a redesign in 2005. The Xterra, and particularly the Pro-4X model, was a rugged SUV that offered a rear locking differential, all-terrain tires, and skid plates.

Which Nissan Xterra has locking differential? ›

The Nissan Xterra 4x4 does not have a locking rear differential, but the Xterra Pro4-X does have a locking rear differential.

Does the Xterra have a supercharger? ›

It generates 180 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 202 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. Top-line SE S/C models provide supercharged power for that added bit of excitement. Their engine is a 3.3-liter supercharged V6 with 210 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 246 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm. The Xterra can also tow things for you.

What does PRO-4X mean Xterra? ›

Available on Nissan's all-new, 2022 Frontier and 2021 Titan XD, the PRO-4X off-road package is an assemblage of hard parts and interior treatments that make both pickups competitive in their respective segments when it comes to maneuvering off pavement.

Did Xterra come supercharger? ›

In 2002, Xterra added a supercharged version of its powerful V6 engine and refined front end styling – raising the bar yet again against the competition.

What are the signs of a burnt out clutch? ›

You are most likely to notice this when putting the car in reverse and first gear.
  • Slipping. This is exactly what it sounds like. ...
  • Burning smell. A burning smell many times goes hand-in-hand with a failing clutch. ...
  • Noises. ...
  • Sticky or stuck pedal.

At what mileage should a clutch be replaced? ›

A clutch should last you between 50,000 and 100,000 miles before you need to replace it. When their lifespan comes to an end, it's vital to change your clutch as soon as possible as its vital to maintaining healthy performance of your vehicle.

What are common problems with Nissan? ›

Here's a quick rundown of the most common Nissan problems across all models:
  • Flawed/faulty transmissions.
  • Frequent oil leaks.
  • Backup cameras not functioning properly.
  • Defective Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems.
  • Faulty airbags and airbag recalls.
  • Leaking brake fluid.
11 May 2022

How much does it cost to replace timing chains in Nissan Xterra? ›

The average cost for Nissan Xterra Timing Chain Replacement is $1269.

How much does it cost to change a timing belt on a Nissan Xterra? ›

Nissan Xterra Timing Belt Replacement Cost Estimate. The average cost for a Nissan Xterra timing belt replacement is between $436 and $579. Labor costs are estimated between $262 and $330 while parts are priced between $175 and $249.

What Nissan to avoid? ›

Used Cars to Avoid Buying
ModelYear(s) to Avoid
NissanPathfinder2013-2015, 2017
NissanSentra2013, 2015, 2017
118 more rows
4 Jan 2021

At what mileage do Nissans start having problems? ›

Nissans can last between 250,000 and 300,000 miles. However, most dealers and buyers consider 75,000 or 100,000 miles to be high-mileage. Remember that mileage is not necessarily a defining characteristic. The maintenance record is equally, if not more, important when examining a car.

What years did Nissan have transmission problems? ›

Generally, the issues have been reported between 2012/2013 and 2018. There were some problems in 2003 when Nissan first began using this transmission and in the 2007-2012 CVT generation. Specific models include the Murano, Sentra, Altima, Rogue, Versa, and Versa Note.

Are Toyotas more reliable than Nissan? ›

When comparing Nissan vs Toyota's reliability, Toyota was ranked by Consumer Reports as the second most reliable out of all car brands for 2021. Nissan ranked a lot lower in sixteenth place. Toyota's are known to be very reliable, lasting their owners decades with few significant problems.

Is Nissan reliable than Toyota? ›

Toyota beats Nissan to produce more reliable Compact and Full-Size Pickup trucks, Midsize SUVs, hybrid and electric SUVs, subcompact, compact, midsize, large, hybrid, and electric cars. This includes minivans and sports cars. Toyota boasts a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking 8th out of 32 car brands.


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2. 2001 Nissan Xterra SE Review - Everything You Need, Nothing That You Don't
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