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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've experienced heating problems with my X for a couple of years and after bleeding the coolant system the problem was solved. However, recently, my mechanic found a small leak in the radiator. "Nothing immediate, but you will need a new radiator - $400" Helped explain why I had the same problem two years in a row. Have not replaced the radiator yet, but I did replace the fuel sending unit +/- $400. Replaced the front U - Joint - $400.

I also just finished paying off this beast two months ago. Me and my wife always told each other that the X was one of our best purchases ever. Ran great! Was a work horse for us. My dad had nissans and was a huge reason why I bought the X. They ran forever. I thought the Xterra would do the same.

Our truck is an automatic 2006 X 4wd with 135k miles on it. Regular oil changes, second set of tires, second battery. And for the first time I'm really starting to doubt the purchase as a good one. I recently found that the transmission is also starting to "go" and will need to be completely rebulit, sooner than later for $4200. I have gotten one diagnosis on the transmission and they have said it was not due to coolant in the tranny. I am going to get two more mechanics to look at it and specifically ask if they have experience with this issue. The symptoms seem to point to it.

Part of me is leaning towards rebuilding the transmission with the hopes that I will get another 100k miles out of the truck. Part of me is thinking to sell the x and buy a 4runner! I'm pretty upset to say the least. Any of you who have had to rebuild the tranny experience a reliable truck after that work was completed? My fear is that I will sink the money into the X and then a million other things will fail. Your insight is appreciated and thanks for this forum!
 

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Are you positive your transmission did not get any coolant mixed with it? I have not heard of a transmission going unless it had a mix of coolant, aka, SMOD. $400 sounds outrageous for a front u-joint change. I am at about 140k on an 05 OR model. The drivetrain has been solid. I just had a vibe and replaced my u-joints. Turned out to be the rear u-joint that was bad. Have you checked places like car-part.com for a used transmission?
 

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FYI - because of the SMOD, many used transmissions are, in fact, victims - any unsullied ones go fast to swap in and fix trucks ASAP.

Not saying you can't find good ones - just hard to verify that they are, in fact, "good."

I found this out when I repaired my truck.
 

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OP, you are dealing with the age old used car needs work vs. new car payments scenario. Should you keep her, is relevant to your threshold for maintenance, down time, and car payments.

Specific to the transmission, as others have mentioned I would get a second opinion. Its very likely its a SMOD (Strawberry Milk Shake of Death) issue, or what the coolant looks like when it mixes with transmission fluid. The transmission, by itself, rarely fails. Your other issues (over heating / radiator) lead me to SMOD.

If you search for 'SMOD' its alllll over the site and an issue for early model year (so far) Xterras. Symptoms include: vibrations (like going over a rumble strip), overheating, slipping out of gear, etc. A simple check would be to check the under side of your radiator cap (when cold!) and see if it has a foamy strawberry like substance on the underside. Checking the radiator cap isn't an end all diagnosis, but its a start and something you can easily do.

Assuming its SMOD and you can get it validated, Nissan may help with the costs, though your mileage is a bit over the allotment. I know under 80k was covered, between 80k and (I want to say) 100k had a deductible and over that I believe it was not covered.

So is it worth it? That's up to you. A new transmission and radiator are significant costs and would certainly sour me emotionally. Especially as I too have had Nissans and continue to purchase them for 'reliability'. But from a financial standpoint it makes sense to keep her if she still fits your life style. Even more so that you've paid the X off.

Worst case you are on the hook for all costs and its $5k for a new transmission, radiator, and labor. Do your research, but with that (and the U-joints) you've taken care of most of the major failures that occur with early Xterras. There's really no more 'shoes' to drop - BUT keep in mind you will have an almost 10 year old vehicle with 100k+ on it. Its not just oil changes and car washes at this point, more maintenance is required.

Let's say the average new car payment for you is $350. If you dropped $5k you would need the X to run relatively trouble free for 14 months. Highly likely. After that you are back into 'savings' and sweet no car payment land. There are plenty of Xterras on here with over and close to 200k - a guy just posted about his 300k X a few weeks ago.

Personally I would keep her. But I get where you are coming from, especially if this is the first time you are hearing about SMOD. A transmission failure would lead me to want to unload a potential 'ticking time bomb', especially with a crucial part failing that early on. But being on this board, knowing the good and the bad of the truck and that this problem (solved with the right parts) will reward you with a reliable truck I would keep it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks again for all your responses. Update. Had it looked at by another tranny guy and he told me the transmission fluid was bone dry. Thinks it was a combination of a clogged filter and a stuck valve. $3-400 to tune up tranny and if no damage was done that will be the end of it. He is familiar with Xterrra's and the SMOD and he said this was the opposite where the tranny fluid was getting into the coolant and the leaking radiator and the tranny probblems didn't appear to be related. If the tune up didn't work then it would be $2500 for a new transmission with a credit for work already paid for.

Two days before I took it into him, the service engine light came on. Had him check this as well and he's telling me one of two cats are clogged. Parts for left cat, $600 and labor $200. I thought his prices were reasonable until he quoted me for the cat change. I've found direct fit cats online for $150. Am I missing something here?

Thanks again for your assistance.
 

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I'm in the same boat, I need $6k worth of work on mine. The only difference is that mine isn't paid off yet. I'm looking at new but keeping my options opened
 

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Thanks again for all your responses. Update. Had it looked at by another tranny guy and he told me the transmission fluid was bone dry. Thinks it was a combination of a clogged filter and a stuck valve. $3-400 to tune up tranny and if no damage was done that will be the end of it. He is familiar with Xterrra's and the SMOD and he said this was the opposite where the tranny fluid was getting into the coolant and the leaking radiator and the tranny probblems didn't appear to be related. If the tune up didn't work then it would be $2500 for a new transmission with a credit for work already paid for.

Two days before I took it into him, the service engine light came on. Had him check this as well and he's telling me one of two cats are clogged. Parts for left cat, $600 and labor $200. I thought his prices were reasonable until he quoted me for the cat change. I've found direct fit cats online for $150. Am I missing something here?

Thanks again for your assistance.
then just buy the cat and have him install it... If you don't have the tools or the place to do the work yourself, for that job, 200 is definitely reasonable. If that is the actual nissan part and he gets a deal on it then it is a deal too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So the transmission issued has reared its ugly head and I've gotten two new diagnostics on the problem. Imagine my surprise when they tell me that coolant has leaked into the transmission. I just passed 150k miles and the $4-6k estimate to repair the transmission has me thinking new truck.

I was researching a 2011 Pathfinder and noticed that someone complained of coolant leaking into the transmission. What the hell? Are all nissan trucks pieces of ****? Has the company done anything to improve this ****ty design? Please tell me I've been misinformed... or maybe that's why I can afford a pathfinder and not a 4runner.
 

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So the transmission issued has reared its ugly head and I've gotten two new diagnostics on the problem. Imagine my surprise when they tell me that coolant has leaked into the transmission. I just passed 150k miles and the $4-6k estimate to repair the transmission has me thinking new truck.

I was researching a 2011 Pathfinder and noticed that someone complained of coolant leaking into the transmission. What the hell? Are all nissan trucks pieces of ****? Has the company done anything to improve this ****ty design? Please tell me I've been misinformed... or maybe that's why I can afford a pathfinder and not a 4runner.
Should have bypassed. Several people here told you it was most likely SMOD, find a better mechanic also.

You could have changed the radiator and bypassed when you first had rad problems and could have avoided this whole issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your insightful response. As a "dumb" driver of cars.. how was I supposed to know that Nissan trucks had a serious issue with radiator coolant leaking into the transmission? It wasn't broadcast on the radio. Nissan sure as hell didn't tell me. By the time I figured out the radiator needed to be replaced, it was probably already in the transmission. When I found the issue on this website, not even a year ago, I did have the radiator replaced, but the transmission was already damaged.

In retrospect, the transmission flush was done because it was all I was willing to pay for. So back to my question. Has Nissan fixed this problem? And if so beginning with what model year?
 

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Once they became aware of the problem changes were made and so far appear to work (or the post-change vehicles haven't been driven enough yet, who knows).
Some searching and reading the SMOD threads will provide lots of information for you and answer most of your questions.
 

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It was supposedly fixed around 09-10 (they changed radiator manufacturers), at least that's when there have been little to zero cases of SMOD happening. 05-07 are the worst having most of the issues, with significantly less cases in 08-09, and then steadily going down to nearly zero after 2010. There still are fluke cases though throughout 2010 and on, but this is common among all cars and manufacturers that use this style of a trans cooler, there is a risk of contamination regardless of brand or model.
 

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Thanks for your insightful response. As a "dumb" driver of cars.. how was I supposed to know that Nissan trucks had a serious issue with radiator coolant leaking into the transmission? It wasn't broadcast on the radio. Nissan sure as hell didn't tell me. By the time I figured out the radiator needed to be replaced, it was probably already in the transmission. When I found the issue on this website, not even a year ago, I did have the radiator replaced, but the transmission was already damaged.

In retrospect, the transmission flush was done because it was all I was willing to pay for. So back to my question. Has Nissan fixed this problem? And if so beginning with what model year?
In your first post it says you still have not changed the radiator.

Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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I wrote a pretty comprehensive response back in July. Its the devil you know vs. the devil you don't know, used vs new(er) senerio.

$4-6k on a transmission certainly sucks. You have a 2006 w/150k on it. In your first post you said you love the truck. I too would be pissed on the transmission issue - but think about this logically.

If the truck still fits your needs and is in good condition otherwise get a new transmission and run the truck well past 200k. Like I said before, whatever your next monthly car payment is, divide that into the repair and you'll get how many months you need the X to run for to breakeven. Likely your X has years of life left in it and though this big repair sucks, you'll save money in the long run.

Or you could NOT repair it, take a hit on what its worth as a trade / private sale because the transmission is dead and put yourself in debt with another SUV. Personally, I'd only consider that a viable option if your current X has not been maintained and has many other issues beyond the transmission.

Last gen pathfinder, current gen-frontiers and Xterras all have the same radiator design. The good news is, as long as we've been tracking data on the site (there is a SMOD hit list sticky) nothing from 2009+ has been effected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My bad. In post #5 when I had the tranny tuned up, they also replaced the radiator. That was only nine months ago, I am assuming that the damage was already done at that point.
 

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It was supposedly fixed around 09-10 (they changed radiator manufacturers), at least that's when there have been little to zero cases of SMOD happening. 05-07 are the worst having most of the issues, with significantly less cases in 08-09, and then steadily going down to nearly zero after 2010. There still are fluke cases though throughout 2010 and on, but this is common among all cars and manufacturers that use this style of a trans cooler, there is a risk of contamination regardless of brand or model.
Can I ask where you've seen 2010s and 08-09 models effected? I've been trying to keep a list and have not seen anything for those years. Are there users on the Frontier board from those model years reporting in?
 

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Thanks for your insightful response. As a "dumb" driver of cars.. how was I supposed to know that Nissan trucks had a serious issue with radiator coolant leaking into the transmission? It wasn't broadcast on the radio. Nissan sure as hell didn't tell me. By the time I figured out the radiator needed to be replaced, it was probably already in the transmission. When I found the issue on this website, not even a year ago, I did have the radiator replaced, but the transmission was already damaged.

In retrospect, the transmission flush was done because it was all I was willing to pay for. So back to my question. Has Nissan fixed this problem? And if so beginning with what model year?
I almost didn't respond to this because it is dripping with sarcasm, but I will anyway. You should have received information from Nissan in the mail about the problem and the warranty extension. Unfortunately, you are well beyond the warranty extension.
 

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Can I ask where you've seen 2010s and 08-09 models effected? I've been trying to keep a list and have not seen anything for those years. Are there users on the Frontier board from those model years reporting in?
Yep, there were one or two cases on Club Frontier for the 08-09 and I saw a 2010 get hit with it on a consumer reports article (but I think that may be unrelated). If you search around on there they should come up. I think they are in one of the "BYPASS NOW" threads.
 
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