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Nissan Altima CVT



  • 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?

    It depends. If the car is still in its break-in period (first 1000-1200 miles), then it couldn't hurt to ask. However, if you're out of that break-in period, you shouldn't worry about it.

    My '08 Altima 2.5 SL has 14k miles on it now, and I take it onto some curvy mountain roads quite a bit. While I drive it, I try and keep the revs above 3k so that power is always on tap. I've done this many times, and the engine is just as happy as the day I bought it. The car is built for this. If it wasn't, it wouldn't have a 6-speed manual mode. ;)
  • Hi guys and girls...I'm looking at getting a 2009 Altima 2.5 S w/ the auto CVT transmission. In my research, I've read a lot about the knocking, grinding and speed issues but my main concern is about the transmission breaking down. I have heard that if the belt goes, you have to replace the transmission. Does anyone know much about this or know how often this actually happens. My mechanic and his transmission shop have never worked on a CVT so they provided no help on this issue. I love the Altima and can live with some of the noise/shaking if I can drive with confidence that I won't have to buy a new $4000 transmission as soon as the warranty runs out. Any help is much appreciated.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    ok, I'll try to exlain this as best I can. fist off, the CVT doesn't use a "belt". It's actually a chain. Much like a timing chain, so long as it lubercated with clean transmission fluid, It's not going to break. In other words, service the transmission at the proper intervals and you wont have to worry about it.

    As for the reliability, Nissan says that their CVT has been (bassed on waranty claim numbers) more reliable than their automatic transmission. Now that what nissan says, but I tend to agree with them. I do not believe they would expanding their use if they knew they were inferior. It just wouldn't make sense from a business standpoint.

    But one way to look at the CVT is like this:
    Basically, it consists of two pullies connected with a belt (chain). There are no gears, gear cluster or any of the other parts in a conventional automatic transmission. That pretty much means there are far fewer things to go wrong with it.

    Personally, I would see no reason to worry about it. they're not new. Nissan first started using them with the murano back in 2002 or something like that. and now, with several generations of them having been made, the bugs and quirks have been worked out.
  • Thanks for the great explanation. I'm debating between the always reliable Civic Sedan and the Altima 2.5s. My concerns stem from talking to mechanic shops who have told me that you can't repair parts on a CVT tranny, you can only replace the tranny. In Canada/Toronto, the cost is approx $5000 to $6000. Which means after the warranty period of 100,000 kilometres, you're looking at spending about as much on a new transmission as the car is probably worth.

    There are lots of forums on the web with people complaining about their reliability and Nissan's inability/lack of motivation to fix them. I've already been told that tranny shops aren't seeing them in for repairs b/c you can't repair them. And they're not getting the Altima's in for replacement as it's cheaper to just get it done through Nissan directly...sort of a captive market created by Nissan.

    Consumer's reports say nothing bad at all about the CVT transmission. I do absolutely service my current car as much as required and always do the "recommended" items just to spoil it so it treats me better in the long run.

    I'm still really on the fence with this.
  • DO NOT - DO NOT purchase the Alitma. The tranny can only be service by Nissan - other mechanics do not want to touch it.

    I purchase a 2007 Altima in July of 2007 and due to my long commute to/from work, I've place a lot of miles on the vehicle. After hearing an unusual noise, I had the dealership look at it, they told me I need a new transmission. parts cannot be replace, you must purchase the entire tranny. I only have 66,000 miles on the car. Of course they do not want to provide any assistance for replacement to fix the car. I would not recommend purchasing Nissan vehicles.

    I returned to the Service Manager to plea my case and is currently waiting for a response.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    Keep in mind, rebuilding or replacing an automatic transmission will be in excess of 4 grand. its not as though an auto is cheap to replace either. However, if reliability is your primary concern, buy something with a manual transmission, as you'll never need to replace anything but the clutch, if that.

    Transmission shops will replace them, and are probably cheaper than a dealership. Like I told you before, they are actually much less complicated than an automatic transmission. And don't put much stock into what you see on message board on the internet. People seldom go to message boards for any other reason than to complain, vent, and talk bad about the car they're having problems with. nothing wrong with that, it is what it is.

    As for you choice, thats a tough decision to make. I own both a civic and an altima; and both are great cars.

    but which ever one you get, BUY THE EXTENDED WARRANTY! I can't overstate that enough. first off, you can get them cheap. Dealerships love to sell them, and will give you a great deal on one if you push for it. getting one for half the price they initially offer you in not uncommon. And second, fixing cars is expensive. Auto or CVT, replacing (or in the case of an auto, rebuilding) will cost thousands. And even honda (despite their stellar record) have had problems with their auto transmissions before. but aside from transmissions, it just isn't that hard to need a thousand or more in repairs for a car. It's just not worth taking the chance.
  • Funny you mention getting a manual tranny. I've never driven stick and have tried but didn't like it. The fact that I really love this car has made me start thinking again about taking lessons! lol.

    I totally agree with you about internet hype and I take everything with a grain of salt.

    Regarding the Extended warranty, i agree for the Altima it's probably a good buy. A friend of mine who knows tonnes about cars and knows that I'd probably buy the Altima even if I knew there were inherent problems with it suggested getting the extended warranty too. I very well may try to do that and haggle the guy on the price. I'm in Canada so I'm not sure how much they will haggle on the price of that like they do in the US. I will definitely try though...that's just my nature.

    Thank you so much for the info so far. I really appreciate it. Any other insights are gladly welcomed as it sounds like we think on the same wavelength.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    No need to go as far as learning how to drive a stick. think of it this way with the CVT. It's totally optional on nissans part. they still use autos on their trucks and suv's. they have perfectly good automatic transmission on the shelf. If the CVT were flawed, or there were know problems with it, or problems with its long term reliability................................ Nissan would just go back to an auto trans. they have plenty already, and could switch over in in a matter of weeks. It's not as though their stuck with using CVT's. And personally, I just can't imagine they're risk the future of the company for no reason.

    another thing you might want to know about CVT' is, nissan is not the first company to use them. ford used them before, as has subaru. and I believe both toyota and honda offer them in foreign markets. Nissan is simply the first company to make widespread use of them in the all so important North American market. the CVT is neither new, nor revolutionary. The only two factors that have held them back are finding a material for the belt that will hold up in higher torque and HP cars, and public acceptance. Nissan solved the first, and is working on the second.

    as for warranties, the transmission is just one reason to get one. anything on a car can cost a fortune to fix. even something as simple as a power window motor can run $600 to fix. A blown head gasket can run $1600. so much depends on the car. you could have a $25 doallar part that requires 15 hours of labor to replace, and end up running 3k to do. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point.

    As for the cost, I could be wrong, as I'm not a car salesman; but I believe the finance people get a financial incentive to sell those things. I'm also pretty sure there is a HUGE mark up on them. Hence why the dealerships love to sell them. but If you hold out and bargain hard, you should be able to get a platinum 10yr 100k extended warranty for somewhere between 1000 and 1500. yea, thats a good chunk of money. but having spent nearly 20k on the car, 10 years of worry free driving makes it seem like a good deal to me.
  • Hello,

    I have an Altima 2.5s 2008 with CVT tran. and I would like to change this one with manual tran

    Could someone give me informations about the cost and if it posibile to be done.

  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    It's not worth the money. You would have to have the shifter, tranny, and clutch installed. You'd be better off selling your current car and buying one with a manual transmission.
  • dajanidajani Posts: 10
    I just purchased the Altima V6 SE last week and it drives nice and smooth with a lots of power and low rpm.
  • The V6 runs much more smoothly than the 4 cyl. I did not experience jerkiness at low speeds or vibration at highway cruising speeds.

    You made a great choice. I wish you years of great fun and operation in your new car.
  • godeacsgodeacs Posts: 481
    What is this "jerkiness at low speeds or vibration at highway cruising speeds" that you speak of??? I've been driving the 4 cyl CVT (08 Altima 2.5) for 18 months now and have not experienced any of that! It was the best 4 cyl engine of many that I checked out before buying (Sonata, Accord, CR-V, Camry, RAV-4) - smooth, yet responsive with plenty of pick-up when needed.

    BTW, before that I drove a Maxima (V6) for 6+ years and am so glad that I "downsized" - a lot better fuel economy. Plus, I don't miss that torque when accelerating..... :)
  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    I don't experience the vibration at high speed. I'm not sure what most people are talking about there.

    However, I do get some jerkiness at speeds under 40mph. My guess is it's just because the CVT has a limited number of set ratios at lower RPMs. I know it's the CVT "shift-logic" because if you move it over to manual mode and shift it that way, the engine is very smooth and pretty refined feeling. There's absolutely no jerking in manual mode other than what you feel when you shift between ratios.

    (Now enter theory stuff)

    I believe that with the next generation of Altima we'll see both engines get significantly redesigned. Now that Nissan has established that CVT-based vehicles are what they wish to pursue, I think they're going to start designing their engines around this. As of right now, they're currently designing the CVT to be compatible with their chosen engines. However, if you design the ENGINE to also be compatible with the CVT, the refinement will reach a whole new level.

    The current engines are very content with a manual gearbox, but a little sluggish with the CVT. That's because the engines aren't designed to take advantage of a CVT's gearless system. In other words, the engines have very specific power bands, and thus, it only feels energetic when the engine is in that power band. I believe we're going to see more torque and horsepower from lower RPMs and the peak will be far lower in the rev-band as well. That way, cars will feel much more energetic from a stop AND there won't be a "flat line" on power between 2000-3000RPMs (in the 4-cyl). This should also eliminate jerkiness from the lower revs, as the CVT won't have to shift as much to keep the power up.

    1st generation CVT: high rev acceleration, rubber-band feeling

    2nd (current) generation CVT: smoother acceleration, higher horsepower engines

    3rd (future) generation CVT: engines designed for CVT, MUCH quicker acceleration, more linear power delivery.

    This is only speculation, but if you're a fan of CVT based Nissan cars, I think it's about to get a lot better in the 3rd generation. The first 2 generations were test beds to see if it would work. Now that Nissan knows it works (and is selling well) they should invest a lot more in their powerplants this time around. Only time will tell though. :)
  • Have owned a 2008 Altima Coupe V6 SE since it had 5 miles on it, now has 21,000 miles. The car drives like I would imagine a slot car driving, just push on the throttle 0 to 100 mph (freeway on ramp) and you would never know that the transmisson found another ratio except for the tach movement.

    The only thing that I have found disappointing in the Altima Coupe is the electronics. My 2000 Ford Expedition's electronics were much better in the fact that the drivers seat, inside rear view mirror, and outside rear view mirrors could be set and would adjust according to which remote control was used. Am also disappointed in the navigation system, it cannot find housing tracks that have been in existance for 10 plus years! For the price of it, it should be up to date one would assume.
  • chiladychilady Posts: 1
    I have been a Nissan customer for years. I've had a 1999 Nissan Altima, a 2003 Nissan Altima and now drive a 2006 Nissan Frontier. I'm looking into a new 2009 Nissan Altima Coupe but have been reading so much about the problems with the CVT on this car. Any suggestions??? Get another Frontier or get the Altima Coupe? I love this car but very unsure about this new transmission. I've never had a problem with a Nissan, that's why I have stayed with them and don't want to start having any problems now. HELP!!!!

  • I just bought a 2009 Altima Sedan that has the CVT. I did a lot of research before getting it b/c of the known CVT issues. Whatever you do, don't bother asking a dealer about it. The 2 that I asked just looked like a deer in the headlights and denied ever hearing anything about issues with the CVT.

    I did my own research and Edmunds was one place. It basically comes down to this. I believe it's the 3rd generation of the CVT. It's been in some of the Nissan fleet since 2003 when they introduced it in the 2003 Murano. THere were known issues with it breaking down around 120,000 kms which is just after the warranty period. To quell any issues, you could consider getting the extended warranty.

    Some people complain about noises at lot speeds. That's just the CVT tranny doing it's thing and it's not really loud at all. A test drive will show you that. I've had mine for a month now and have zero complaints.
  • dajanidajani Posts: 10
    Test drive the V6 SE Coupe and V6 SE Sedan. I bought a V6 SE sedan with CVT tranny and I love it. I do not like the Altima 2.5 with the 4 cylinder engine. Nissan is offering $1000 cash bonus plus 2.9% till April 30, 2009.
  • "The current engines are very content with a manual gearbox, but a little sluggish with the CVT. That's because the engines aren't designed to take advantage of a CVT's gearless system."

    This may be true with the 4 cylinders, but I find my 3.5 V-6 to have tremendous pull at all speeds. I love the CVT--in fact it was the reason I decided on a Nissan. I had had experience with a CVT when I test drove a Saturn several years earlier, and altho I didn't particularly care for the car itself, I liked the utter smoothness of the transmission. Also, in the Saturn any desired increase in speed was accompanied by a tremendous revving of the engine almost to 6,000 RPM. None of this is present in the Nissan--the engine seems to be able to increase speed without having to scream itself to death.

    "3rd (future) generation CVT: engines designed for CVT, MUCH quicker acceleration, more linear power delivery"
    There's just one problem--with the influence of the government pushing for lower emissions and higher gas mileage, we may enter another era similar to the 70's when cars actually lost ground in the areas of horsepower and performance. The more powerful V-6 may not be made available in all the models that it is currently available in. In fact, I average 24-26 MPG in my car consistenly.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    what problems have you been reading about? yea, it feels and handles differently than any other trans you've driven, but those arn't problems.
  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    "This may be true with the 4 cylinders, but I find my 3.5 V-6 to have tremendous pull at all speeds. I love the CVT--in fact it was the reason I decided on a Nissan. I had had experience with a CVT when I test drove a Saturn several years earlier, and altho I didn't particularly care for the car itself, I liked the utter smoothness of the transmission."

    The 4-cyl pulls plenty hard about 80% of the time. The only time where you get any remote feeling of hesitation is when you're below around 1500 RPM's and accelerating slowly. Push it up to 2000 RPM's, and acceleration is much much quicker and easier to modulate. At less than 1500 RPM's the engine feels very lethargic.

    I've test driven the V6 model as well, and you are correct. It has great power and pull. However, the power curve is far from linear. The engine still has the majority of its grunt in the higher RPM's. If you pair the engine with a manual transmission, it feels much more powerful... The engine was designed to work with a manual transmission first, and the CVT was designed around the engine. If Nissan was smart, they'd design the engine to have a much broader power band and make full use of the CVT. As it stands, even the V6, while powerful, does not take full advantage of the CVT.

    I seriously doubt we're going to revert to an era of 4-cyl's and V6's only. If anything, engines will continue to get bigger and more fuel efficient. I would expect the 4-cyl to gradually disappear again in favor of much more refined, torque rich V6's. That's what lexus chose to do with their IS250, and last I checked, that car was a huge success.
  • I just bought the 2008 Altima 4 cyl. that has CVT.... I was freaking out thinking my tranny was going to go. After researching on here and elsewhere I see that CVT works way different than conventional transmissions. My question is... Should my car really be redlining and not switching gears?! I punched the gas today the RPMs kept going higher and higher and no switch in gears. I was hitting 5500-6000 RPMs and nothing. It shifts normally when I'm just cruising, but if I give that car any good bit of gas... it just revs and revs. Now I read that this is normal, but to what extent?! Really, 5500 RPMs is high and still no switch. Someone please help me so I know whether to return this thing and get my car back before it's too late. :confuse:
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    it depends. if you have it in manual mode, it wont easily switch out of gear. But, if you have it in drive, then it should switch gears between 2-4k rpms. the only exception to this is if you are gunning it pretty hard. In that case it will function kind of like an overdrive so you can quickly accelerate. for example, if your trying to pass somebody, or merge into traffic you don't need your transmission gearing down and slowing you up.

    no if your just moderately accelerating and it won't switch gears, and your in drive (not manual mode), then you need to get it looked at.
  • alfrealfre Posts: 2
    Have test drove 5 CVT altimas and a bunch of it's competitors (both manual and auto trannies) and so far altima's is the best in my opinion. Feels good, kicks a good punch (i have been driving a manual 08 civic coupe) and seems realy smooth on acceleration.
  • madpistolmadpistol Posts: 126
    Your car is completely fine armygirlcrys. Pushing the accelerator hard will cause the revs to rise to around 6000RPM by 60MPH, and it will stay there until you let off the gas. That's the best engine range for acceleration if you're gunning it. If you're just driving it normally, the RPM's should top out around 3000RPM, and if you're just feathering the throttle, it won't go higher than 2000 RPM (until you exceed 60MPH)

    It's weird, I know, but it's very good for both fuel economy and power. There's nothing wrong with your car. I promise :)
  • Anyone experiencing a whining sound coming from the engine when accelerating? I got 42K miles on my Altima. I was told by Midas that it was my tranny. If my it is my transmission, how much would it cost me and is it even worth fixing? The car is only 1.5 years old, bought it brand new.
  • jd10013jd10013 Posts: 779
    if its your tranny then it will cost you nothing as your still within the 5yr/60k powertrain warranty. I'd get it checked out right away.
  • Hi, I am planning to lease a 2009 Altima SL that has an MSRP of 26,000. This is my first lease and I don't know whether I have a good deal or not. The specifics are 42 months, $279.00/mo, nothing down, taxes due at signing, dmv charges due at signing, 1st month payment due at signing. Gap insurance is included and they want $780.00 at signing to cover destination fee.
    Should I DEAL or NO DEAL? I thought it was good until they tagged on the destination fee at signon.
    ANY ADVICE would be welcomed and appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
  • I guess from the MSRP price what u are going to lease is an Altima 4 cylinder SL. One advise before leasing is to test drive the V6 SL or SE, and then make your decision. Technically speaking I prefer V6 engine. How many miles do u drive per year? How many miles per year are you getting with $279 per month payment? 42X279=$11718 plus $780 = $12498 your cost after 42 months.
  • Starting at about 15,000 miles our 2007 Altima 2.5S starting to having a jerking, hesitating problem on an irregular basis. When I had the transmission fluid change during the 30,000 mile maintenance (actual mileage was 32,500) the problem really became much worse. It ususally starts after driving at lease 7 miles at highway speed and it is very erratic in how and when it does it. Once it did 51 times in about 8 miles. One time it did 15 times within 1 1/2 miles after I had driven 8 miles. When it does the jerking motion, the tachometer will increase about 400 rpms and drop back to where it was in about 1 1/2 seconds. It is most likely to do it when you have driven at least 7 miles at highway speed and you have to slow down for traffic. When you give the car more gas it starts the jerking, hesitating motion. Lately it has been doing it in the 35 to 40 mph. Same effect-you slow down and then give it gas and it starts the jerking (jerkiness) act. Once drive about two miles on city streets in St. Louis for about two miles before I got on highway 55. After getting on the highway, even before I got up to highway speed, it started the jerkiness and did it approximately 15 times in the text 3 to 4 miles. I talked to a lady recently who has a 2008 Altima and she has had hers do it a couple of times.
    It is really irritating. It is as if the car wants to die and yet fights to keep going. Nissan tries to tell me that this is normal stuff. I tell them that it is not normal for a car to act this way. I almost forgot that another characteristic of this problem is that it is most prevalent when it is warm. If the temperature is above 85 it really will do it a lot. If the Temp. is lower than that it does it a lot less and when it does occur, it not as bad. I say what out for the CVT transmission especially if it is in a 2997 Altima.

    Rich Gray
    Arnold, MO
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