Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Xterra transmission slipping?

In 2006 I purchased a 2004 5-speed manual shift Nissan Xterra 4x4 with 19k miles on it, it looked and ran like new.
I live in Florida, during the Summer of 2010 I noticed that when I accelerated from a standing start (like at a traffic light) as I shifted through gears 1-4, at some point the RPMs would rev up but the car was accelerating very slow. The only time this doesn’t happen is in 5th gear or in 4WD-high or 4WD-Low. This problem is not consistent, it happens occasionally but enough times that I’ve had to alter the way I accelerate to avoid this problem, ie accelerate very very slowly.

I have taken my Xterra to my local Nissan dealer, twice, they cannot replicate this problem no matter what they do; drive it cold, drive it hot, fast, slow, cold weather, hot weather, no matter, they can’t replicate the problem.

I have read here and there on the 'net (we all know the 'net never lies) that the transfer case on 4WD’s can act squirrelly or could even be a simple case of replacing the transfer case fluid.

Anyone have any idea why this “slippage” is happening and how can it be fixed?

This is of concern only because if I have to accelerate hard (like when a locomotive is looking to T-bone me) I’d like the Xterra to get up and go rather than pause and reflect over the lilies of the field while Thomas the train is bearing down on me.

Bob in FloRiDuh

It’s NOT the transmission that’s slipping…it’s either the clutch is slipping…or you’re NOT driving correctly. Is the clutch all the way out when the engine is revving???


The symptoms that were described are definitely characteristic of a slipping clutch.
Assuming that the OP is not inadvertantly keeping his left foot on the clutch pedal between shifts, it certainly sounds like the clutch is worn out.

As to why the dealership didn’t detect the problem, I can’t say, but it certainly does make driver error more of a possibility.

I forgot to mention that Fall of 2008 I had the timing belt and bearings replaced as well as the water pump. Then in March 2009 I had the manual clutch totally replaced by the same Nissan dealer that had done the test drive; since they could not replicate the problem they said the clutch acted fine.

As far as not driving correctly, I’ve been driving cars/trucks with manual transmissions since the 1970’s, so I know what I’m doing. Yes, the clutch is all the way out when this slippage occurs; I’ve made triple sure that my foot was off the clutch and this was happening. No, I don’t race the truck or speed shift it or double clutch it. Matter of fact I’ve been off-road with it only once and even then it was just on thin snow or off on a rutted dirt road.

The one year warranty date on their clutch-job is past but I have a receipt from them for when they test-drove it and it’s dated prior to the warranty expiration date, to add as evidence that maybe they don’t know what they’re talking about.


Timing belt and bearings??? What bearings??? I’m very familiar with that engine and how to replace the timing belt…What bearings are you talking about?? But either way that has NOTHING to do with the clutch.

The ONLY reason I mentioned about driving incorrectly…is because there are only two things that could be the problem…1) the clutch is slipping…2) you’re not driving it correctly…

I’d take it a independent mechanic. The dealer that replaced the clutch is also telling you that it’s fine. Gee do you think they might be lying.

My best guess is that the “bearings” is a reference to the bearings in the tensioner and/or the idler pulley for the serpentine belt, and that as a result of bad bearings in the tensioner and/or idler pulley, those parts were replaced when the serpentine belt and timing belt were replaced. But, as Mike stated, this could not possibly be related to a clutch problem.

And, as Mike also stated or implied, the dealer does have a vested interest in denying that there is a clutch problem until after their 1 yr warranty has expired.

Take the vehicle to a well-reputed independent mechanic!

MikeInNH, if you’re familiar with my engine, or any car engine for that matter, everyone knows when you replace the timing belt (mine had over 80k miles on it) that you should go ahead and replace the bearings… and when folks say bearings in as far as its related to the timing belt, everyone knows I meant tensioner/idle pulley bearing… not the main bearings of the engine. The ONLY reason I brought up the timing belt replacement was to indicated I have had more than one dealings with this Nissan dealership… THAT’s the ONLY reason I brought it up.

I wasn’t looking to get my head removed when I posted this problem, sorry to have offended you all.


Bearings have different meanings for different cars…I’ve NEVER heard the belt tensioner called a bearing before. And if you go to a parts counter and ask for a bearing cause you’re replacing your timing belt you’re going to get that Deer-in-headlight-look.

Nobody is beating you up…We’re just trying to get clarification of the problem before we can offer assistance. It’s OBVIOUS you don’t too much about cars…otherwise you’d know that a manual transmission doesn’t slip…the clutch does.

If you say you’re driving the car correctly then it’s the clutch…

You’ve had good advice…Take it to an independent mechanic to get it checked out…

Here’s a good test to see if the clutch is slipping.

Slowly drive the xterra up against an immovable object. Put it in 4th gear and with the engine running slowly let-up on the clutch. If the engine doesn’t stall out…it’s the clutch.

I remember all those years working in/out/about/under my and my dad’s cars.
I even helped him rebuild a 6 cylinder engine for my sister’s Ford Maverick, not watched, actually dug in and rebuilt the engine. My 1970 Nova was a wonderful car to learn repairs with, so was my dad’s '67 Plymouth Valiant with its slant six engine.
1967… you’re right, its obvious I know nothing about automobiles.

I’m pretty much done with this forum, first and last day on it.
Don’t bother responding to this, I won’t be back to read it.