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Nissan Altima CVT

Here's the problem. When moving from a stand-still in slow moving traffic, after reaching about 20mph and coming off the gas pedal, the rpm suddenly drops then shoots back up causing the car to shoot forward. Sometimes I jam on the brakes because it feels like I'm going to hit the car infront of me. Also, when going slowly uphill, the rpm goes down too low causing the car to feel like it has a manaul transmission and is about to stall. Of course this doesn't happen when you take it to the dealer. Anyone else having a similar problem? Again, I only feel these things in traffic.


  • I experience a similar problem on 07 altima 2.5S: When you go above 20mpg, when you release gas pedal, everything goes smooth, and the car starts slowing down gradually (as expected). However, if i do not accelerate faster than 20 and release the gas pedal, i feel a bump (a slight drop in rpm and then it comes back up) and then, instead of gradually slowing down (as if above 20 mph), the car starts to keep up the speed (which may seem like accelerating). Also, if originally you go above 20 and the car gradually slows down to 20, same effect is observed - a bump and no more slowing down. It is very annoying if you drive in traffic.. I am going to try to test drive another altima and see if it has the same effect and then go to my dealer anyway.. Let me know if you have any updates with your problem..
  • Hey guys... I am having the *same* problem with my 2007 Sentra with the CVT. It's happening at higher and lower speeds, but you're right, it's very pronounced around 20 to 25mph. But I have another problem that's happening more during braking, so that when the engine gets down around 1,000 rpm and I'm trying to brake smoothly, the car will rev up a couple hundred rpm pulling me forward, then suddenly it will drop down to about 800 rpm and the car pulls back quite a bit. I have to be really careful to let off the brake when this happens so that the car behind me doesn't think I just slammed down on the brakes.

    It seems as if the engine doesn't know which pulley ratio to be using right around that 1,000 rpm mark. I'm taking my car to the dealer today to look at this, and I printed out your posts to show them I'm not just imagining this. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    I think what you guys are describing is normal behavior for the cvt. Its actually trying to put the car in the most fuel efficent gear ratio as possible. As you said, I think it gets confussed at times. but, just put it in manual mode. that will lock it into a particular gear ratio and your problem should go away.
  • The technician at my dealer said that he did feel the problem I described, but that all the CVTs do the same thing, and there's nothing they can do. But he also said Nissan might eventually decide to do something about it, because it *is* annoying.

    Maybe it's simply a software issue and they might release a fix for it.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    Maybe it's simply a software issue and they might release a fix for it.

    Thats exactly what it is. the manual says the CVT is pre-programed with about 300 algorithms that control how it shifts.
  • I drove a rental 07 Altima 2.5 with the CVT and did not notice this problem. I later had a Dodge Caliber with a "CVT" and it DID have this problem.
  • I have a 2007 Altima CVT and when the revs get to around 1500 rpm there is a rumble that can be heard and a vibration is set up that my passengers also note.
    I have taken it to the dealer and we took out another new car, and it had a similar vibration, even though it was a bit less.

    Does anyone else have this problem. Has anyone heard of a fix?
  • Is this the 2.5 or 3.5 engine?
  • It's a 2.5 engine.
  • My Altima is doing relatively the same thing. While driving between 30 - 40 mph in the city there is a vibration - like the tires are very out of balance. The dealership told me it was the transmission searching for a gear. They said to put it in manual and it won't do it. If I wanted a manual transmission I would have bought one. This is unacceptable to me. But the really bad thing is... I bought two 2007 Altimas. How dumb am I? The engine rattles on both, the transmission bogs down at 20-30 mph, it's very loud, and I could just scream! I've been so frustrated that I just traded one of them in, after only 6 months, on a real car - a Honda! Yep, I lost a few thousand dollars but at least when I drive the Honda I can concentrate on driving and not all the rattles and squeaks and the other annoying things. I've never been so unsatisfied with a brand new vehicle. If I had not refinanced it with the credit union, I would take it back to the dealership and tell them to stuff it! :mad:
  • How does this transmission work if someone can it expain without being TO Technical. How is this better than gears? I know it uses a metal band. Won't this band stretch out or wear down eventually? I drive 100 miles a day and i need to know the reliablility of this type of transmission. I have an 04 Pathfinder and i hate to sell it but the price of gas is taking its toll on my wallet now :o(
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Check this out: CVT Enters the Mainstream. :)

    Welcome to CarSpace!
  • shustershuster Posts: 10
    i have the same problem when going at lower gear, altima 2.5, 2008....i am glad that i am not the only one....yet i agree...its annoying
    Nissan better do something about, i have 2 nissans....i am happy with their products, yet this problem is annoying..if they don't fix it i am done with this company
  • I hope this message helps others with these problems. I purchased a 2007 Altima in November 2006. After driving the vehicle for a couple of months I made a list of problems I had experienced and scheduled a service appointment with the dealer. The issues (in order of severity) were: 1) Vehicle would speed up at approximately 20 - 25 MPH during braking (same condition as described by others in this forum). 2) Vehicle had loud noise when started at cold temperatures. 3) Vehicle would wander on road with slight cross wind. As expected the dealer indicated that they could not find anything wrong with the vehicle and that no "codes" were stored in the vehicle computer. Since they could not reproduce the problem and no codes were stored they could not (would not) do anything. Their advice was to call Nissan customer service, which I did. After many calls to Nissan customer service and many return visits to the dealer, they were unable to correct (or even acknowledge) that there were any issues on the vehicle. Since I purchased the vehile soon after it was released I expected that overtime others would have the same problems that I experienced. I have not looked at this forum for almost a year. Today I find that every issue that I brought to Nissan's attention a year ago is being reported and written about by others. With others complaining about these issues I am positive that Nissan has investigated and confirmed each one. The question will be whether they will take action on the most serious issue, accelaration during braking. My plan is to take the information that I have found on this forum and go back to the dealer and Nissan customer service for round 2, and try to get some satisfaction on these issues. I'm glad I kept my case number, dealer repair orders and notes regarding these issues and my contact with Nissan! I'll post another message after my discussions with the dealer and Nissan customer service. :mad:
  • 1) Vehicle would speed up at approximately 20 - 25 MPH during braking (same condition as described by others in this forum).

    I think this is normal for a Sport sedan. Sometimes, I drive the Altima and I feel the engine speed up a little bit especially when I'm going down the hill.

    However, this is not much at all compare to the G35 especially when I use the DS mode (Drive Sport). Actually, I think the Altima is still very soft to my taste. ;)
  • The CVT in my hybrid did weird stuff at first but smoothed out nicely after 10k miles. Remember that these cars also have electronic throttles and between the two, things can be funny while the system learns your driving habits.

    For you, Altimaowner2, you're just going to end up frustrated with your car, Nissan, and your dealer because it genuinely doesn't sound like there's anything wrong with your car. Instead, it sounds like you learned its quirks a bit too late.
  • kal1212kal1212 Posts: 2
    Since most of us seem to be experiencing similar problems, does anyone feel extreme feedback in the pedals. Seems like I'm feeling everything on the road, from the slightest crack. Really looking forward to a response. Its driving me nuts.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I have had a 2.5 Altima CVT for 2 months now, with about 2k Miles.

    I agree with you, it takes a little time to adjust to the CVT, as it is a different type of transmission. It appears (to me, anyway) that it is much more sensitive to my driving motions. In other words, it seems much more sensitive to how much I depress the accelerator, etc. I really haven't used the manual shift option much, so I can't comment on that aspect.

    I have really learned to like the car, but I can see how others could have problems adapting to the car.

    Perhaps Nissan should do a bit more to make prospective buyers aware of the differences....
  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    One thing to keep in mind about the road noise, is that the OEM tires on pretty much any car made today are garbage.

    I threw Turanza LS-Vs on my Maxima, and it was night and day. The "Turanzas" that come from the factory on our cars are in no way, shape or form related to the store tires. They last a LOT longer, are quieter, and handle better in bad weather.

    I've only had my Altima 850 miles, and I am already looking forward to putting LS-Vs on it to see what the car can really do. :P
  • karpediemkarpediem Posts: 46
    I just want to say I love the CVT. My car is the Xterra and my wife has the Altima. Going from a traditional transmission to the cvt on the weekend, when I get to drive it, is like driving a new car every week. It is so smooth, and my favorite thing about it is the acceleration when you depress the pedal about half-way, maybe get the rpm's around 4,000 and stay there. It's such a smooth acceleration and I leave people in the dust without looking like I am flooring it.

    Weird thing with the Altima is you can feel like you are flooring it, but if you push a little harder it feels like the pedal clicks a little further and you get more power. I am only sad I didn't get the 3.5 when I floor it, so I mainly stick to my half-way flooring it and get the smooth quick take-off.

    CVT gets 2 thumbs up from me.
  • motoguy128motoguy128 Posts: 146
    I was spkeptical of the CVT, but after the test drive I was sold. This comming from someone that normally prefers manual transmissions, but the CVT with manual mode satisfies ALL complaints I had about traditonal automatics.

    Couple of observations:

    1) The motor has excellent bottom end torque. The CVT still has a torque converter to get the car moving and to engage neutral or reverse. The lowest gear ration allws the car to crawl up fairly steep grades in gear (no torque converter slip) as low as 5-6mph.

    2) For economy, the CVT attempt to operate the engine as low as 1300- 1500RPM until it reaches it's highest ratio (at around 35mph). thsi does cause some "booming" due ot the low RPM's. I think Nissan could add soem active engine mounts of noise cancellation to help this (Honda NEEDS this when running on 3 or 4 cylinders on it's V6 for hte same reason).

    3) EVERY automatic I've ever drien at times uses too low of a gear causing the "booming" sound. They only did it at a couple of speed sranges and as soon as you hit the gas the torque converter unloocked. On the CVT with the torquey 2.5, it can hold 1500RPM from 5mph-35mph. My '04 Honda Accord 5 speed automatic always got into 5th gear really early (35mph) and made a booming sound.

    4) The best atribute of the CVT is that it's incredibly responsive, there's no waiting for a downshift.

    5) My Honda Accord also used to have the RPM's jump and hte engien braking change as it downshifted while slowing down. At 10mph, my braking force would change dramatically. I haven't noticed this with the Altima, but I don't drive it aggressively in traffic. I suspect that when accleratign and braking hard in stop and go traffic, this could happen. I'll find out this Fall when my wfie and I drive back to my parents in Detroit, MI. I always forget how aggressive and fast they drive out there.

    6) You do need to retrain you foot and learn to drive smoothly to get the most out of the transmission.

    Don't get me wrong, the Accord has an excellent automatic trnsmission. Very responsive, but when I want to pass on a 2 lane road, I get instant power with the Altima. On the Honda and my wife's previous Altima, you have to anticipate your move sicne the transmission needed a 1/2 second to get in the right gear and provides no accelration at that moment. On the Altima accelration start immediately and increases as hte gear ratio drops as needed.

    Form a engineering standpoint. What's ideal about the CVT is that the throttle positon causes an increse in RPM linerarly. Therefore horesepower increases almost directly porportionally to throttle position since the 2.5 motor has a very flat torque curve and HP is constant since you are at a constant RPM. Very similar to thrust from a jet turbine. IN a conventional automatic the RPM's change and therefore the HP varies between the shifts.

    The only downside of the CVT is that hydralic force is needed to hold the gear ratio. So there are some losses with the hydralic pump. Thsi might explain why the RPM's jump around at low RPM's as the car is transitioning possibly form the torque converter to the CVT and the hydalic pump suddenly puts a load on the engine at the same time the torque converter locks up.

    Here's how that works. The CVT's lowest ratio would allow for lets say 4000RPM at 15mph. If you acclerate hard, the torque converter must "slip" all the way until it can lock up when it reaches the same speed at the lowest gear range in the CVT. To make the car feel responsive and not bog down when you hit the gas, it takes some fancy "footwork" between the torque converter, throttle and CVT to make them all match up under 20mph. Above 20-25mph, you're pretty much locked up 100% on the CVT and it behaves in many ways more like a manual transmission with an fly by wire throttle except that the gear ratios are infinitly vairable between the max and mimimum ranges.
  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    That "booming" that you hear is normal. You can't honestly expect a car to be perfect for under $30k. I've felt this in my car, and it doesn't bother you if you don't think about it. An easy way to cure this is to either shift to manual mode, or give the engine a little more throttle.

    This car is a great car. The CVT is very responsive, the interior is nice on the S and wonderful on the SL, the ride is very sporty, responsive, and comfortable, and the car gets great gas mileage for the power it puts out. People need to stop complaining. Either enjoy the car or trade it for something else. I love my 2.5 SL, and I have no intention of trading it just because of the CVT has a couple drawbacks. The advantages more than make up for its shortcomings.
  • sal1948sal1948 Posts: 1
    I have had an Altima for 1 year. 13,000 mi to date. I didn't experience weird behavior of the CVT. I expected lack of shift points to feel obvious by their absence. Not so...............
    However, I experience an annoying slow pulsation in "cruise" when going downhill.
    It is certainly tolerable, but noticeable. I assume it's the combination o CVT and throttle being confused.............. No biggie.

  • karsickkarsick Posts: 312
    As a 4cyl/ 6speed owner I'll attest to the torque of the 2.5... very impressive.

    The engine spins about 2000rpm at 60mph in 6th, yet when you need to accelerate more, it simply & instantly gathers speed, drama-free, like there's a giant, torque-monster Cummins diesel under the hood.

    By the same token, the motor & soundproofing are good enough that I've accidentally left it in 4th gear for a few 60mph freeway miles, and only a glance at the tach revealed my error.

    In 9000 miles, I've yet to feel the need for revving past 4000rpm (except to pass a long tractor-trailer on a 2-lane road).

    BTW -our last tank got us 31.5 mpg (calculated by hand) in mixed city/fwy driving.

    Very happy.
  • dbarrett2dbarrett2 Posts: 1
    I have a new 2008, 2.5L Altima Coupe. Both my wife and I have experienced a pulsing between 20-30 mph. It almost feels like the transmission (CVT) doesn't know what gear to be in, somewhat like letting the clutch out a little too fast on a stick transmission. Is this normal and is this similar to what many others are experiencing?
  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    I have experienced this. It's like a slight "jerking" at lower speeds. This is simply the CVT moving while the revs on the engine stays the same. There's nothing that can be done. The CVT still has set intervals that it runs at, but there are a lot more than a standard transmission, so when you're accelerating, it's so smooth that it's imperceptible to a conscious mind. This is normal operation for the car.
  • ripper82ripper82 Posts: 4
    Yes, that is exactly what we're talking about.

    But apparently we're all crazy and should just be quiet and enjoy the jerkiness.
  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    I wish there was something else we could do to fix it. Unfortunately, this is normal for a CVT. It was sort of annoying to me at first, but now I don't even notice it because it's just part of how the car operates.

    You have a choice:

    1. Go get a car with a regular automatic that has several larger shifts that are dictated by gear placement.


    2. Enjoy the Altima and ignore its slight quirkiness at lower speeds. Even with these micro-jerks, it's still the smoothest transmission on the market.
  • I have only 5900 miles on my '08 Altima but have been extremely disappointed since day 1 of my ownership experience with the CVT performance. First, there is jerkiness when driving low speeds (e.g. 35 mph) and it feels like a standard that is not in the right gear; then when driving at highway speeds (65 - 75 mph) there is vibration. Additionally, at highway speeds there is an intermittent loose steering feeling. This is my second Altima. The first - an '02 - was a superior vehicle, in fact, I still have it and couldn't be happier with performance, gas mileage, and reliability. However my '08 pales in comparison with regard to the transmission feel and performance. I've returned to the dealership several times - with limited assistance in remedying these issues. I'm told that this is the way the CVT performs. I just can't believe that vibration and jerkiness are considered adequate performance for a transmission. I'm considering filing under the Lemon Law. Any suggestions?
  • jjanjjan Posts: 1
    I accidently drove my brand new 2009 Altima (automatic) for ~4 miles in manual mode without realizing it. I don't even know how to drive manual.

    It was making it's normal noises, but when I sped up to about 40 mph, I kept hearing a LOUD grinding type mechanical noise from engine. I thought it was something else. Then when I stopped the sound stopped too. That's when I realized that my gear shift was accidentally on the manual side.

    It's been driving fine since the incident, but have I damaged anything??
    When I go for my first service checkup, what should I tell them to check out?

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