CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2009 Nissan Sentra CVT Transmission

I own a 2009 Nissan Sentra with a CVT transmission. It has about 65,000 miles. During the warmer months, my wife and I have both experienced times while driving (usually for more than 2 hours) when the engine would lose power while going up a hill. After doing some reading we learned that this was common in Sentra and Rogue models with CVT tranmissions. Apparently the transmission fluid heats up, boils, and foams. The foam triggers a sensor that cuts power to the engine. Once the fluid’s temperature decreases the car performs as it should. We have visited the dealership and even have a case number with Nissan consumer affairs. After many appointments and phone calls, the only action taken was decreasing the level of transmission fluid. This action was approved by Nissan. This has helped a little but the issue still occasionally persists. For the record, neither my wife nor I are expecting this to drive like a race car. We’d just like it work correctly. I know Nissan has extended the warranty on this and many CVT transmissions. Any suggestions for a course of action?

Thank you,

Be patient. Sounds like Nissan is working on the problem, and the solution will probably be a new transmission fluid (ATF). In the meantime, it this is a really big problem, i.e. you live in mountain country and this is a daily occurrence, maybe your dealer could install a separate, external transmission cooler in front of your radiator to keep the fluids temperature down.

While there are many shops than can fit you with an auxiliary external cooler, you will want to work through the dealer on this as Nissan is providing the free extended warrantee and you do not want to jeopardize that.

Thanks Keith! Glad to know there is something in the works. As you can imagine, it’s frustrating to get the run around from the dealership for 2 summers now. Looking forward to the new transmission fluid.