Nissan Trucks

My 2005 Nissan Frontier is in the shop now for a couple thousand dollar repair to the transmission and radiator. Evidently there are alot of us Nissan truck owners with damaged transmissions because the transmission coolers inside the radiator rupture and there is a co-mingling of transmission fluid and coolant which damages the transmission an/or other drive-train components. It’s obviously a design flaw and Nissan refuses to “man-up” to the problem and the harm it causes to families in this tough economy. I’ve loved the truck until now.

It’s a 7/8 year old vehicle. These kind of repairs are to be expected. Incidently, there are no recalls or TSB’s that mention this problem. Nissan isn’t the one who needs to “man up” here in my estimation.

Nissan did extend the warranty for that exact problem for an additional 3 years or 20 thousand miles.

How many miles do you have on yours?

I wish all manufacturers would own up to flaws like this. But sadly they don’t.

Many times the company they bought the part from. The only time I’ve seen companies own up to something like this…is if it’s a safety issue…or if they are forced to through some legal means.

FoDaddy…these types of repairs are not expected in any shape, form or fashion. Nissan has a defect in the 2005 model year radiators. NWestern was just showing a little frustration at the problem. I have attached a web address for a class action lawsuit and an article on the problem. Nissan could have handled the defect problem a little better but unfortunately they did not.

NWestern, I agree that having both use the same radiator is a design weakness, if the barrier fails it can take not only the cooling system out but the tranny too. But it’s actually a common arrangement.

In industry we used to do something called a “Failure Mode Effect Analysis”. It predicted the effects and magnitudes of various modes of failure on associated systems. It kept many a minor failure from becoming a catastrophic failure by preventing designs just like the one you’re referring to. When a minor failure in an integrated system could cause a catastrophic failure in an associated system, the design was reevaluated for the feisability of seperating the systems.

@missleman Still no TSB or recall that I can tell, we’ll have to see if the class action lawsuit gets anywhere. When it comes to premature transmission failures, my family has some experience with that. We owned no fewer than five Windstars (two 1995s, a 1998, a 2001, and a 2004 . One 1995 had the transmission fail at 38k miles, no warranty repair, the other 95 had the transmission fail at 46k miles (or there abouts), The 98’s transmission went out at 68k, and the 01’s transmission lasted until 86k miles. The 03’s made it until the minivan was retired (120k miles), each one, except for one of the 95’s) was used for business and saw about 50k miles a year of use. Not a single transmission rebuild was covered under warranty. The point is, sometimes you get a lemon, in our case several lemons, It happens. In this case Ford also knew about the shortcomings of the AX4S transmission. And that wasn’t the only problem these vans had, the headgaskets blew regularly. Ford did extend the warranty on those, but as far as I can tell, the number of Nissan trucks with transmission cooler issues is nowhere near the number the transmission failures the Winstars had and certainly nowhere near the number head gasket problems, so if Ford didn’t do anything for the Windstar transmissions, I would be surprised if Nissan does anything for the Titan owners.

Also the OP didn’t mention how many miles he/she had on the truck. If he/she is into six digits on the odometer, then a transmission/transmission cooler failure wouldn’t be shocking.

I just looked at complaints on 17 of 20 complaints for the engine cooling system were this failure. I doubt that it will result in a recall since recalls are for safety issues. None of the 15 trucks that experienced this problem had any personal injury. It seems to me that Nissan should do something for the owners that experienced this issue, but they don’t have to explain their lack of motivation to the Feds. The class action suit is probably the best option you have right now. If you are the original owner, you won’t have to do anything but have it repaired now. The lawyers will find you. But it wouldn’t hurt to let them know yo are another unhappy owner with this problem.

The truck is 8 years old and Nissan recommends changing the coolant about every 30k miles. If this was not done, as may be the case with other complaints, it could be that the cooler just rotted from neglect.

Personally, I’m not a fan of radiator coolers anyway and not just for the fact that they may leak internally. I just don’t see much fluid cooling going on when the transmission fluid is immersed in 190 degree engine coolant.

@OK4450, that’s an excellent point about coolant checks and changes. OTOH, wouldn’t it fit your dumb engineer hypothesis that they didn’t think about people not caring for their trucks properly and how it might reflect on Nissan?

I’m of the opinion that many automotive engineers are not forward thinkers based on past experience. :slight_smile:

The problem I have with class action suits is that at times a problem with a low failure rate is magnified by a suit and made to appear much worse than it really is. Unfortunately, every car maker has to contend with this problem and they’ve all been sued over just about everything in the book.
At times some suits are justified (the Ford TFI module for one) but most are not; at least in my humble opinion.

The radiator cooler failure problem could be prevented by the installation at the factory of an external cooler which would help things by leaps and bounds but that intrudes into the added weight and added production cost issues.
A few cars over the years actually came from the factory with external coolers. The Merkur XR4 I have is one of those although the location (inside the front bumper) leaves a bit to be desired. The engineers figgered that one out too!

Help! This issue is well documented but what do I do now! I haven’t had a failure at 121,000 miles and don’t want any. What do I do?

@Johnny D–
Don’t worry about it. The best thing you can do is replace the coolant on a regular basis to prevent corrosion from the inside of the radiator. The owner’s manual will give you guidance on this, but you may want to do it more frequently.

Johnny D. You could put an external oil cooler on your truck and plug the radiator holes.

I had a 2005 xterra that I sold in 2009 had a lot of problems with it, but not too long ago I did get a letter in the mail about the radiator failing. I didn’t save it because I sold the vehicle. A co worker of mine has a 2007 and she got the same letter.

Thanks Triedaq/oldtimer 11 for your comments. I went to the local Nissan dealer Sat afternoon and they told me the same thing basically…keep replacing the coolant every 30K and hope for the best. I went out Sunday morning and had it replaced! I’ve been keeping up with the interval maintenance. I guess I’ll just be especially aware and keep on top of it. I’m going to ask Pep Boys (where I get most of my work done) what they think about the external cooler idea.
Thanks again for your help!

" I’m going to ask Pep Boys (where I get most of my work done) what they think about the external cooler idea. "

If you have the guys at Pep Boys install the external cooler, you will likely go from the frying pan into the fire. Ask friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers for recommended independent mechanics in your area. The price will be similar, and the expertise is likely to be far better than what you would find at any chain operation.

Yikes!!! Thanks for the tip. I’ve had them do things like brakes and routine maintenance and haven’t had any problems but this issue is really freaking me out because I don’t want a 5K bill for a new tranny. I’ll go to my dad’s shop. He’s been dealing with them for 15 years and likes them.

You could just replace the radiator now before it fails.

Pep Boys isn’t necessarily bad, but they do employ less experienced mechanics to keep the pay low. I have had good work done at Pep Boys before, and I didn’t like a different PB shop at all. Any shop, even a chain store, can be good. If you have had good experiences at this PB, maybe they can install the external cooler there. Certainly VDCdriver offered good advice. You need to decide if a recommended shop you are unfamiliar with is better for you thank shop you appear to trust.