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2008 Nissan Sentra - Very slow to start moving

This is just a basic Sentra 2.0L with a CVT, about 80k miles.

I park on a very very slight downhill grade… very slight… almost flat… The car starts just fine, put it in reverse, push the pedal to the floor, engine revs up to about 1500 rpms (I’m assuming it has a limiter on it because it won’t go past 1500) and the car sits still. Release the accelerator, floor it again, car moves about 6", repeat a few times and eventually I can back out. That ain’t normal.

It does a similar thing when in Drive, except it will actually start moving but verrrrry slowly. So slow that I’m afraid I’m going to get T-boned if I try to make a left turn. Once I get up to about 10mph it starts to feel somewhat normal.

Once it starts moving it doesn’t seem to have any trouble maintaining highway speeds. The engine might be running a little faster than normal, but to be honest I’m not sure if it is or not. Pulls up some pretty significant hills at 60mph at around 3k RPM… which seems reasonable.

Anyone have any idea about what it could be? Transmission is still under warranty so I’m hoping it’s that… I don’t really have the $ to throw at this thing right now. I’m just trying to get an idea of what I might be dealing with before going to see the repair shop.

edit - By the way - it’s not throwing any codes or anything.


This certainly does sound like transmission problems.
Normally, I would suggest checking the trans fluid as the first step, but I suspect that this is one of those transmissions without a dipstick.

If it does have a dipstick, you really need to check the fluid level before even attempting to drive it again. However, if the fluid is low, that indicates a leak, as trans fluid does not evaporate.

That being said, I am wondering why you seem to be hesitating to take it to the dealership. If it is indeed a failing transmission, the repair/replacement will be free.

Even if the problem turns out to be something that is not covered by warranty, the next stage of this problem will be getting stranded in a possibly inconvenient/unsafe place at an inconvenient time. I can understand being limited in terms of funds, but a deferred repair is not going to be cheaper than a timely repair, and it will most likely be more expensive.

Even though this problem is most likely a trans problem, and thus the repairs will be free, on the remote chance that you will have to spend money for repairs, I would suggest lining up a potential loan from family or friends in order to get the car repaired.

It isn’t going to fix itself, and it isn’t going to get cheaper by waiting!

Why are you putting up with this? You know something is wrong with the car. Quit putting it off. Take it to the Nissan dealer ASAP. You want to get this fixed before the warranty expires.

I am taking it to the dealer, I have an appointment on friday. I’m just curious about what could be wrong with it so I don’t get any big surprises.

It could be a faulty gas pedal position sensor, which can cause erratic acceleration. You might have a stored or pending code that is not setting off the check engine light, but can still be pulled with most code readers.

I checked the transmission fluid, level was good, but it’s probably due for changing again. Put my code reader on it too, nothing there.

Any time the engine is revving and only pulling the car with it very slowly there is only one possibility and that’s the connection between the engine and the driveshafts (halfshafts in your case). And that’s the clutch on a manual and the torque converter or the tranny on an automatic. Period.

If the clutch (manual) or torque converter/tranny (automatic) is working it creates a hard connection between the engine and the wheels. If the engine is turning and the wheels aren’t, the connection isn’t there.

You need to get this to a shop ASAP. If it’s still under warranty it needs to go directly to the dealership.

Just thought I’d come by and let you folks know what the problem was.

Wasn’t the transmission at all.

Turns out there’s a switch on the brake pedal that… I suppose… tells the computer if you’re pressing the brake, turns the brake lights on… etc…

That switch went bad - I had no brake lights (didn’t know that) and when the computer had no signal from the switch it put the car in “limp mode” or whatever…

That’s fine, but they could have freaking put an indicator light or something in there to say the car was in reduced power mode. Make it throw a code or something… anything… to tell me that I had no brake lights…

So… ended up spending $200 to have a switch installed that I could have done myself for $30 in 5 minutes. Furthermore, the guy who put the switch in had it pushed in too far and it was keeping the brake pedal pressed down just a tiny bit. On the way home the brakes started smoking and locked up on me, I backed the switch out about 1/4" and all was well.

Oh well.