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I have 2008 frontier SE 4.0 liter with transmission cooler located in the radiator and it has failed 2 (2 x new radiators) leaking tranny fluid into the radiator and getting water in my transmission. had to buy a remanufactured transmission and putting an external transmission cooler on. :crying:
"parts & labor nearly $5,000"


Automatic transmissions in certain 2005-2010 Nissan SUVs and Trucks are under attack from their radiators. Leaking coolant is mixing with transmission fluid through the cooler lines to create a toxic hell stew that irreversibly damages everything around it.

The widespread issue has prompted the North Carolina Consumers Council (NCCC), a consumer protection group, to plead that everyone avoid the 2005-2010 Frontier, Pathfinder, and Xterra at all costs.

The Strawberry Milkshake of Death

Ruptured radiator cooler tanks are forcing coolant into the five-speed automatic transmission through the cooler lines. Not only does the radiator stop cooling the transmission, but the resulting slurry of coolant and transmission fluid eats valves, erodes seals and speeds up corrosion.

The liquid is known as the strawberry milkshake of death (SMOD) and it’s not because it tastes good (please don’t taste it).

In June 2012, NHTSA was petitioned by the NCCC to investigate the issue. The key to the petition was proving a safety defect existed, something Nissan has continually denied. NHTSA only forces automakers to issue recalls when there’s a safety risk involved.

NHTSA found that the radiators are defective without a doubt.


“When examined under a microscope, cracks and fractures were observed at the lead points. The other three non-leaking transmission fluid cylinders were inspected under the microscope and five of the six transmission fluid port areas were cracked.”

However, they didn’t find that the majority of complaints represented a safety risk and closed their investigation. That means the only hope for a recall is up to Nissan. Cue the sad trombone.

The Warning Signs of Transmission Failure

Some articles online claim that being aware of the proper warning signs may help prevent your Nissan from needing a rebuilt transmission. These warning signs are:
•Heavy Vibration While Shifting
•Heavy Vibration While Accelerating
•Abrupt Stalling
•Shuddering Noises
•Car Doesn’t Warm Up When Sitting

Owners who have had their radiator crack are claiming that even if you catch it early, your transmission is still doomed trouble due to this engineering / manufacturing defect. You can read their stories over at CarComplaints.com for the three Nissan models that are showing the defect:

Perhaps even more troubling is owners who have already had their transmissions “repaired” by an authorized Nissan dealer are still reporting catastrophic transmission failure. Through no fault of their own, Nissan owners who are out of warranty are left to cover the hefty repair bill, which can be over $4,500 when all is said and done

Yes we are aware of this. there is 110 , now 111 pages on it.
 

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Wow, great thread, I actually read 50 pages of it. So much conflicting information.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Bought my 05 Xterra with 186K put 4K miles on with no probs. Stock rad.

Rad and fluids look fine but my last mech said I should replace the rad. Rad looks fine so I'm thinking of just bypassing with 2nd cooler. Someone said mounting 2nd cooler behind stock cooler is useless. Is that true? What's the general consensus at this point?

Would the 7-flat style cooler work better? Will it fit in there somewhere?
 

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. . . Rad and fluids look fine but my last mech said I should replace the rad. . . .

Rad looks fine so I'm thinking of just bypassing with 2nd cooler. Someone said mounting 2nd cooler behind stock cooler is useless. . . .

What's the general consensus at this point?

Would the 7-flat style cooler work better? Will it fit in there somewhere?
The determining factor is not whether a radiator "looks" fine, but whether it has a part number from the list of radiators associated with SMOD. See, http://www.thenewx.org/forum/11-powertrain-driveline/220778-list-calsonic-radiator-part-numbers-associated-smod.html

The Nissan Factory Service Manual calls for radiator replacement at 120,000 mile intervals. They don't last forever. If you still have the original radiator it is long overdue for replacement.

Your mechanic is a professional. If he thinks the radiator should be replaced you should listen carefully to what he has to say.

The factory external cooler is quite efficient. Adding a second cooler in front if it will reduce airflow to the factory cooler and thereby reduce its efficiency. There really isn't room to sandwich a second cooler behind it. Bottom line is that adding a second external cooler will not add much to the total cooling capacity to the ATF cooling circuit.

The "bypass" is a band-aid. So is adding a second external cooler. The proper fix for a suspect radiator is to replace it, not work around it.

My opinion, based upon my experience and the experiences of others, is that the correct approach is to replace the radiator with a quality aftermarket unit, keep the existing factory external cooler intact, and if one tows a trailer or travels mountain roads or does a lot of slow speed work in 4WD low range then add an electric "pusher" fan in front of the factory external cooler controlled by a thermostatic switch that turns it on when the ATF reaches 185* and off when the temperature drops back below 165*.

I am partial to the Koyo P/N A2807 radiator and I use a Derale 8" 450 cfm thermostatically controlled fan in front of my factory external cooler.
 

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Installed this bypass a year and a half ago, as soon as I bought my X and I've had no problems at all in the last 12k miles. Even after I install my new CSF Rad I will keep this mod installed. Thanks to the OP for this one is a gem!
 

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Wow, great thread, I actually read 50 pages of it. So much conflicting information.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Bought my 05 Xterra with 186K put 4K miles on with no probs. Stock rad.

Rad and fluids look fine but my last mech said I should replace the rad. Rad looks fine so I'm thinking of just bypassing with 2nd cooler. Someone said mounting 2nd cooler behind stock cooler is useless. Is that true? What's the general consensus at this point?

Would the 7-flat style cooler work better? Will it fit in there somewhere?
I thought the same thing until about 6 hours ago. My 06 with 180K finally fell victim. I thought mine had been by passed by the previous owner but I was wrong. Do the bypass, it is a matter of time. $6500 is what a full rebuild and cooling system replace will cost. Spend the 15 min. and bypass.
 

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The "bypass" is a band-aid. So is adding a second external cooler. The proper fix for a suspect radiator is to replace it, not work around it.
I thought the same thing until about 6 hours ago. My 06 with 180K finally fell victim. I thought mine had been by passed by the previous owner but I was wrong. Do the bypass, it is a matter of time. $6500 is what a full rebuild and cooling system replace will cost. Spend the 15 min. and bypass.
I agree with what Mr. Bills said; the bypass is a band aid and should be considered temporary.

I bypassed mine shortly after getting it. It worked fine, until the day the transmission got too warm and it went into limp mode, temporarily stranding us on the beach... as the tide was rising. That was an eye opener and could have gone very badly. The very next thing I did after getting home from our trip was to get a new radiator and undo the bypass to restore the transmission cooling.
 

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I agree with what Mr. Bills said; the bypass is a band aid and should be considered temporary.

I bypassed mine shortly after getting it. It worked fine, until the day the transmission got too warm and it went into limp mode, temporarily stranding us on the beach... as the tide was rising. That was an eye opener and could have gone very badly. The very next thing I did after getting home from our trip was to get a new radiator and undo the bypass to restore the transmission cooling.
Curious, were you driving slow in 4hi for an extended time?
 

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Curious, were you driving slow in 4hi for an extended time?
Yes, we were driving around 20-30MPH (IIRC the Oregon beach speed limit is 25) in 4HI for several miles. I know better now, but at the time I was in "D" rather than selecting a gear, so that contributed to it I'm sure.

That said, I had previously spent plenty of time driving at those speeds in 4HI in much warmer conditions here in Utah with no issues. But we had never before driven on the beach in that type of sand.

There's also some more info in these posts if anyone is curious:
https://www.thenewx.org/forum/3401241-post30.html
https://www.thenewx.org/forum/3400129-post23.html
 

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So now that I am in rebuild mode. I have a new radiator coming, the Koyorad. Do I also need a new transmission cooler? Does anyone have a parts list, not including the transmission of what I would need to replace post SMOD?
 

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The Nissan Factory Service Manual calls for radiator replacement at 120,000 mile intervals. They don't last forever. If you still have the original radiator it is long overdue for replacement.

Your mechanic is a professional. If he thinks the radiator should be replaced you should listen carefully to what he has to say.
OK well that mech quoted me 650 to replace radiator. I bought the AM autoparts radiator for 100 and Brakemasters charged me 225 to put it in. Do I need to get a transmission dip stick and keep checking it or do you think I'm safe now?
 

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OK well that mech quoted me 650 to replace radiator. I bought the AM autoparts radiator for 100 and Brakemasters charged me 225 to put it in. Do I need to get a transmission dip stick and keep checking it or do you think I'm safe now?
You don't need to get a transmission dipstick, there's already one there, passenger side of the engine bay, near the firewall.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using Tapatalk
 

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thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread so far. I just bought a 2008 4x4 offroad auto with 67k original miles on it from a member here and after reading 75% of this thread I spent 15 minutes doing the bypass. fluid that dribbled out looked and smelled correct. I texted the seller to see if he installed an aftermarket radiator or not. I've got a Koyorad A2807 loaded in a shopping cart awaiting his response. Wealth of knowledge here, can't wait to read and research more (and ask plenty of dumb questions)
 

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I would HIGHLY recommend replacing or rinsing throughly the radiator overflow tank, hoses, etc. in addition to the radiator to insure no further cross contamination. Better to invest the money and time now, than $4000 later.
 

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I did the bypass after i replaced the radiator and flushed the system, now the same transmission issue I had when smod was happening is happening again. Anyone experience this or have advice on what could be the issue?
 

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I did the bypass after i replaced the radiator and flushed the system, now the same transmission issue I had when smod was happening is happening again. Anyone experience this or have advice on what could be the issue?
Why did you bypass, after replacing the rad? There's no need to do that with a newer rad. If you had issues prior to replacing the rad, the damage was already done and replacing the rad probably won't do anything to to fix your trans. Plus, if you bypassed and didn't add another source of cooling, you could've overheated your trans.
 
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