Usually when there is a transmission failure, it is something internal that, after many years of dutiful service, is expected to start breaking down. However, Nissan has announced that some of their best selling trucks and SUVs (2005-2010 Nissan Frontier , Xterra , and Pathfinders ) are experiencing radiator leaks that are finding their way into the components of their automatic transmissions. This leak is causing premature wearing of the automatic transmission that warrants replacement often at less than 100,000 miles. The New York Times reports that even after Nissan extended warranties on the effected models by 5 years/50,000 miles (for a total warranty coverage for 80K miles/8 years) owners still reported that "the radiator issues have affected the vehicles transmissions, causing premature failure...Lance Wiggins, Technical Director of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association points out ’what’s happening is the radiator cooler tanks are rupturing, forcing coolant into the five-speed automatic through the transmission cooler lines." Motor Trend also points out that for many of the owners of these vehicles (particularly the older models) are beyond the extended warranty. If the transmission fails, they will have to put forth a substantial investment for a new one. Nissan says they "would cover transmissions damaged by coolant, as long as they met the extended warranty guidelines." No warranty, no fix.
Although Nissan says "only a small proportion of models are affected," we are perplexed by their actions. They seem to be doing enough to belay a lawsuit, yet don’t seem to be real concerned about maintaining a loyal customer base, which is a real pity because we love the ruggedness and the utility of the Nissan trucks and SUVs.