The Nissan Xterra is a popular rugged truck-based SUV that was first introduced in 1999 and ended production in 2015. It’s a great choice for families or individuals who need a vehicle with plenty of space and good off-road capabilities.
However, there are certain years of the Xterra that should be avoided if you’re looking to purchase one. In this guide, we run down the Nissan Xterra years to avoid so that you can make a wise decision when purchasing a used SUV.
2000 Model Year Nissan Xterra (1st Generation)
The first-generation Xterra was produced in 2000. These models are best avoided as they tend to have a number of mechanical issues, such as transmission system problems and engine failures.
According to 2000 Xterra owners, the biggest issues reported are engine troubles and faulty interior accessories. Owners have reported the engine stalling while in operation. Others even reported sudden unintended acceleration happening with their vehicles.
While this model year isn’t the worst, it’s definitely not the best, either. For the reported engine issues, we recommend avoiding the 2000 model year if you’re looking to purchase a used Nissan Xterra.
2004 Model Year Nissan Xterra (2nd Generation)
Overall, the 2004 Nissan Xterras are much better choices than the 2000 model year. However, there is one concerning issue, and that has to do with the vehicle’s safety rating.
There aren’t too many complaints for this model, which isn’t bad compared to other model years. The most common issue reported outside of the safety rating is a cracked radiator and coolant leaking. When this happens, it can cause the engine to overheat, which can lead to serious engine damage. At its worst, you could be looking at a repair bill exceeding $4,000. Be sure to check the radiator carefully for any cracks or leaks before making a purchase.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that many drivers report the transmission going out after hitting 80,000 miles. Fixing a transmission can easily cost you over $3,000, so it’s something to keep in mind if you’re considering purchasing a 2004 Xterra.
2005 to 2008 Model Year Nissan Xterra (2nd Generation)
The 2005 to 2008 model years of the Nissan Xterra are generally not good choices. There are over 400 complaints on CarComplaints.com just for the 2005 Nissan Xterra. And there are more than 220 complaints for the 2006 Xterra, including five recalls, one of which was for the timing chain tensioner.
Once again, faulty radiators plague the 2006 model year. Others complain regarding the engine and transmission, with many owners noting difficulty shifting into gear, the engine hesitating or stalling, and a complete loss of power.
2007 was another year with recalls. The problems were so bad that many experts advised avoiding this model year at all costs. In addition to the recalls, there are over 215 complaints about the 2007 Xterra.
The 2008 model year is notably better than the 2007, as it has fewer complaints. But there’s a significant problem that persists, and that has to do with coolant leaks getting into the transmission fluid. This is a death knell for transmissions, and it’s a problem that generally costs around $5,000 to fix. In addition to this serious issue, there are still enough complaints to warrant total avoidance of the 2008 Nissan Xterra.
2010 Model Year Nissan Xterra (2nd Generation)
Overall, the 2010 Nissan Xterra is a solid vehicle that performs well. But there’s one issue that puts it on the watch list, and that’s a recall that Nissan issued for the airbag. This involves the gear box assembly in the front passenger seat, which can fail and cause the airbag to deploy improperly.
It’s a serious safety issue, and one that should be taken care of immediately if you own this model year Xterra. The cost to repair this issue can run you upwards of $2,000, so it’s not a cheap fix by any means if you’re left to address the issue on your own.
Given the expense to fix this issue, the 2010 model year gets knocked out of contention as one of the better years to buy. And as a result, it lumps it among the worst Nissan Xterra years to avoid.
As you’ve seen, the Xterra isn’t without its problems. In fact, there are three really big common Nissan Xterra problems that seem to pop up on many model years. These issues include:
Transmission Failure: This is a really big one. Many Xterras have had transmission failure, especially in earlier model years. This can be a very expensive fix, so it’s definitely something to watch out for. The cost to fix or repair a transmission can range anywhere from $1,400 to $4,000, making it one of the most expensive problems on this list.
Defective Fuel Level Sensor: This is another pretty big problem. The fuel level sensor is responsible for telling you how much gas is in the tank. However, many Xterras have a defective sensor, which can lead to inaccurate readings or even complete failure. This can be a pretty big problem if you’re trying to gauge how much gas you have left and end up running out because the sensor says you have more than you actually do. If you need to fix this problem, the repair bill will likely be between $200 and $400.
Leaky Radiator: This is another common problem with the Xterra, especially in older model years. A leaky radiator can cause your engine to overheat, which can lead to some pretty serious damage. Fixing a leaky radiator will usually cost between $100 and $200.
If you’re thinking about buying one, definitely keep these issues in mind. With a little bit of research and luck, you should be able to find a model year that doesn’t have any of these major problems.
Which Years Are Best?
The Nissan Xterra had some good years, too. The 2014 and 2015 models in particular are great choices. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, go with a 2015 Xterra. It’s the perfect blend of everything that makes this compact SUV great.