Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Nissan X-Trail 4x4?
While Nissan has a good reputation for reliability, the first-generation X-Trail suffers from a number of recurring problems.
The paint on most versions is prone to stone-chips and developing a cracked 'orange-peel' appearance. Also, the alloy wheels can corrode and flake, and often have to be reconditioned or replaced entirely.
Some parts of the interior are also rather fragile. While Nissan's decision to mount the instruments centrally freed up a lot of storage space in the car (including 330ml can-sized storage ports, cooled by the air conditioning, mounted in the dashboard), the boot is on the delicate side and can be easily scratched and damaged by carrying large, heavy items.
What are the most common problems with a used Nissan X-Trail 4x4?
A number of cars built during August 2001 had issues with their airbags. The combustion rate of the airbag propellant could be too fast, causing excessive internal pressure during deployment. In extreme cases this can lead to a scattering of metal fragments.
Less seriously, the CD players seem to give quite a lot of trouble, mostly through jamming, while the X-Trail’s electrical system is prone to corrosion.
Is a used Nissan X-Trail 4x4 reliable?
The 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrols seem to be reliable, but the 2.2-litre diesel suffers from some quite serious issues. Mostly, they are to do with the turbocharging system; if you spot leaking oil around the engine block, it’s usually coming from the turbo’s intercooler, which will need replacing, and that is quite an expensive job.
Black smoke or a whistling noise when you rev the engine is also a bad sign – it means that the turbo itself is on the way out, and again it will need replacing, although it’s generally a more affordable task than the intercooler.
The engine’s timing chain tensioner can jam, which usually doesn’t result in the failure of an engine, but it does mean that it won’t start, and it can cause damage to the camshafts.
Nissan actually felt the need to instigate a 'service campaign', which is essentially a voluntary recall. In this, many X-Trails had their engine management systems replaced or upgraded, but if the car wasn’t serviced at a main dealer, this work may not have been carried out.