Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start?

TaxiHack is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.

The Nissan Xterra is a rough-and-ready SUV that’s perfect for adventuring.

The Xterra has been around since 2000, and it was the go-to vehicle for people who liked to go off-roading or adventuring in general.

Moreover, this one underwent a few redesigns since then, but it’s still recognizable as the same rugged vehicle it’s always been.

You might be frustrated and ask yourself the question, “Why won’t my Nissan Xterra start?”.

I know how important it is to get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently—especially if you’re trying to get somewhere on time.

Let’s take a look at a few common problems that might cause your car to not turn over, and later I will also explain what you can do about them.

  1. Weak Or Dead Battery
  2. Spark Plug Failure
  3. Clogged Fuel Filter
  4. Frayed Battery Cables
  5. Faulty Alternator

Although the reasons listed here might not look too serious, it is better to know more about them.

This article will explain them in detail, so you can get your vehicle back in usable condition in no time.

What Would Cause A Nissan Xterra To Not Start?

If your Nissan Xterra refuses to turn over, there could be many reasons.

You should not jump to conclusions but check if it could be common.

The introduction listed five of the most common ones, and they will be discussed in this section.

Let’s get started!

1: Weak Or Dead Battery

The first thing to check is the battery. The battery provides power to your Nissan Xterra’s electrical components, including the starter motor.

If it isn’t strong enough, it will not be able to turn over the engine and get it started.

A weak or dead battery can cause other problems, such as dim headlights, a faulty instrument cluster display, or non-functional power windows or door locks.

Connecting a voltmeter can confirm if it is indeed a problem with the battery. If the reading is below 12V, then the battery is probably dead.

What Should You Do About It?

  • When your Nissan Xterra’s battery is weak or dead, it can be a huge pain. You might need to confirm if it is dead or just low on charge.
  • If you’re unsure how to do that, don’t worry—I will walk you through the process.
  • First, ensure the battery is dead by connecting it to a charger for a few hours and trying to start the SUV again.
  • If that doesn’t work, the only option is replacing the battery—you just need to get another one and connect it up. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Disconnect the terminals
    2. Take out the battery
    3. Install the new battery
    4. Attach terminals and tighten connections
  • Yes, it is this easy! You don’t even need to involve a mechanic for a job.

2: Spark Plug Failure

If you notice that your Nissan Xterra is struggling to start, or if it seems like it’s not performing as well as it used to, spark plugs could be the culprit.

This is a common problem with many cars and can cause various symptoms.

Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the fuel in your engine and turning it into energy that can be used to power your vehicle.

So, if they don’t work, the symptoms listed above will be displayed. Another common symptom associated with spark plug failure is the engine’s cranking sound.

This sound is produced when the combustion process cannot complete properly.

What Should You Do About It?

  • The only option for you is to replace the spark plug.
  • First off, don’t try to replace just one spark plug.
  • Spark plugs fail in pairs, and your engine may run on one less cylinder.
  • So, if you replace just one, your engine will run poorly or not at all until you replace the others.
  • This is because mismatching hardware never works well together.
  • It’s also important to settle for platinum or iridium plugs only—they’ll last longer than regular ones and won’t give out as quickly under high heat conditions, which leads to fewer breakdowns.
  • They will be a bit expensive, but the cost is worth it.

3: Clogged Fuel Filter

A clogged fuel filter is one of the most common causes. Check your fuel filter first if you’re experiencing problems with your Nissan Xterra starting.

Moreover, a clogged fuel filter can be caused by debris from the gas tank, which has accumulated in the filter and blocked the gas flow.

If you have a newer SUV, you may notice that it takes longer to start than usual because there is more debris in your gas tank.

Fortunately, the fix for this problem is pretty simple and will not cost you a lot. Continue reading below on how to get rid of problems related to a clogged fuel filter.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Luckily, there are two ways to address this problem: You can replace or clean the filter.
  • If you choose to replace it, you’ll need to completely remove the old one and put in a new one.
  • If you choose to clean it, all you’ll have to do is remove the old one and soak it in solvent overnight. The next day, wash it off with water and install it again. It’s that simple.
  • Unfortunately, cleaning your fuel filter isn’t recommended because contaminants can damage your engine, especially if the filter is damaged during cleaning.
  • Plus, a new filter is cheap, so you don’t need to worry about spending too much on one.

4: Frayed Battery Cables

The battery cables on your Nissan Xterra could be the reason for creating starting problems for you.

The cables connect to the battery and are responsible for sending electricity to your starter and other SUV parts.

If the cables are frayed or damaged, they won’t work properly, which means that nothing will happen when you turn the key in your ignition.

You might be wondering how this happens. This certainly cannot be because of wear and tear because there are no moving parts near the wires.

This is mainly due to heat. When the engine is operating, this can result in some serious heat being produced. Wires can melt over time, and the cables inside can become frayed.

What Should You Do About It?

  • If you’re going to replace the frayed battery cables, you need to make sure that you replace them with either the same gauge or thicker wire.
  • This is because if you use thinner wire, it may not be able to handle the amount of current that your vehicle draws from it. This can result in it melting and fraying.
  • To ensure that you get high-quality cables for your vehicle, there are a few things to look for when purchasing them.
  • First, make sure that they have been made with quality materials. Ensure the length is enough, and you don’t have to stretch the cable too much.

5: Faulty Alternator

Another likely cause is a faulty alternator. The alternator is responsible for supplying power to your Nissan Xterra’s electrical system by charging the battery.

It uses a rotating magnetic field and an internal voltage regulator to produce electricity from the engine.

If the faulty alternator isn’t producing enough electricity, it can cause several problems with your SUV’s electrical system.

This may include a malfunctioning radio, dome light, or air conditioning system.

The battery may also stop charging, which may then reach a point where it will not be able to provide enough power for the starter motor to turn over the engine.

What Should You Do About It?

  • If your Nissan Xterra suddenly stops charging and you have no idea why the first thing to try is replacing the alternator.
  • This is a relatively simple process that can be done by anyone who has little knowledge about cars.
  • If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, take your SUV to an auto mechanic or set up an appointment with one through your dealership’s service department.
  • It’s best to use OEM parts from Nissan when you can find them because they’re specifically designed for your vehicle’s make and model.
  • Although they are often more expensive than aftermarket parts, there is a zero chance they will not be compatible with your SUV.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start With New Battery?

If your Nissan Xterra is not working with a new battery then make sure to check if the battery is properly charged or not.

The best way to confirm this is to connect a charger and let your new battery charge to confirm.

Q2. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start Even With A Jump?

There may be a problem with your starter motor or its connection to the battery terminals. The cables could be frayed, or there could be corrosion on the terminals.

Inspect and clean or fix all connections if necessary, then try starting again. If it still doesn’t work, then you should get the SUV checked.

Q3. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start But Lights Work?

If the lights are working, but you can’t get the Nissan Xterra to start, there may be a few things wrong. The first thing to check is whether or not the starter motor is faulty.

If this is the case, you will need to replace it. Another possible cause for this problem could be a blown fuse, so check before replacing the starter motor.

Q4. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start But Cranks?

If your SUV is cranking without starting, it could be because of faulty spark plugs or an unstable fuel pump. If it’s either, then you’ll need to change them out.

In the case of spark plugs, you will need to replace all of them. You need to get an OEM replacement if it is the fuel pump.

Q5. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start Just Clicks?

If your battery is charged, then you may have an electrical issue. This could be the problem with your starter motor or a blown fuse.

If this is the case, it would be best to take your Nissan Xterra to a mechanic who can inspect all of these components for you and determine what needs repair or replacement.

Q6. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start In The Cold Weather?

Your battery doesn’t have enough cold cranking amps (CCA).

If your battery has 600 CCA and you need 800 CCA for cold weather driving conditions, you’ll want to buy a new one with at least 800 CCA so that it can start your SUV.

Q7. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start After I Get Gas?

If your Nissan Xterra doesn’t work after you fill up with gas, it could be due to one of two things: your fuel pump is faulty, or your fuel filter is clogged.

To diagnose this issue, check the fuel filter first—if it’s clogged, you’ll need to replace it. If that doesn’t solve the problem, try replacing the fuel pump.

Q8. Why Won’t My Nissan Xterra Start But Radio Works?

It could be that your battery needs to be charged. You can test this by checking the voltage at the battery terminals with a voltmeter.

If it’s below 12 volts and is charging when connected to a power source, then chances are your alternator is not working properly and should be replaced.

Related: What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Xterra?


You’ve got a dead SUV, and you’re wondering “Why won’t my Nissan Xterra start?”.

You may have tried everything from checking the battery to getting a jump from your neighbor, but you cannot figure it out.

The good news is that fixing this problem is pretty easy, especially if the issue is one of those listed in this article.

If that is the case, you don’t need to worry about spending too much on getting your car back in usable condition.

I hope you got all the information you were looking for, and I have high hopes that the SUV will be back in the running in no time. All you need to do is look out for the symptoms.