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CVT transmission

I have a 2011 Nissan Rogue that I purchased a few months ago. It had almost 117K miles at that time and now has 119K. When I first begin driving after about 5 seconds it starts to sputter. After I reach about 35 mph it stops. This doesn’t happen every time but it does most times. I did notice last week when I was driving during a rainstorm that it was sputtering really bad. I’ve taken it to my mechanic 3 times. The first time he replaced two coil wires and said to see if that made it better. It didn’t so I took it back and he replaced the other two. He said the plugs were fine.

I took it to him this morning and asked him to take a ride with me. He felt the sputter but said it was a CVT transmission and that was common. I don’t think so! Any experience or suggestions?

If it is really “sputtering”, that would seem to point to an engine-related problem, rather than a transmission problem. Yes, Nissan has the worst record in the industry with their CVTs, but in this case I think that the engine’s ignition system or fuel injection system are much more likely to be the source of the problem, rather than the CVT.

But, just in case there is actually transmission slippage taking place–rather than engine sputtering-- have you taken a look at the tachometer when the sputtering takes place? Please report back to us on what you observe with the tachometer when this problem takes place. And, even though you didn’t mention it, please report back to us regarding whether the Check Engine Light is lit-up.


Another way to narrow it down, when it sputters, pull over to the side of the road and put the transmission in neutral. Does it still sputter? That would rule out the transmission.

It doesn’t when I put it in neutral. And it doesn’t after about 35 mph. There’s no check engine light on. I did check the transmission fluid when I got home and it’s a little low. I’m going to add some fluid and see if that helps.

I forgot to ask you on your opinion about it being worse in the heavy rain last week.

I think that this points toward an ignition problem, but that is just my best guess via cyberspace.

It is possible that the CVT is holding the engine to its theoretical “optimum” rpm as it accelerates to 35mph… which may not be where it operates smoothly (it may not have the torque it needs)… and that may be felt by the driver as “sputtering”.

Sort of like “lugging” a manual tranny by starting from a dead stop in 3rd. It might be the most fuel efficient but not be the smoothest. In short, the problem may indeed be the CVT. I wouldn’t underestimate it as a possible cause.

If the sputtering is actually the engine misfiring, when that symptom occurs worse during a rainstorm, it usually points to a problem in the high voltage part of the ignition system. Fuel, timinig, and compression problems can cause misfiring too, but if worse during wet weather, more likely the ignition system. The water, even just water vapor in the air, can short out the high voltage circuits when it won’t bother the low voltage circuits at all. Shops usually have o’copes they’ll use to diagnose ignition system problem. They might spray water on the engine with a spray bottle while looking at the traces. That’s usually the quickest way to determine if that’s the problem or not.

Once a misfire is determined to be happening, they can swap the coils around to determine what exactly is causing the problem.

If the shop tech who took the test drive with you has experience with CVT’s, and he thinks it is a CVT issue, definitely don’t discount that opinion. That could well be correct. There are probably a bevy of experiment they can do to prove or disprove that idea.

I have 2012 Nissan Altima , my daughter has 2007 Altima: last year and first year for one model line, share same CVT transmission.

I was buying daughter’s car with 70K miles on it, driven in NYC, and first thing I noticed: to compare to my Altima, CVT was operating with some kind of vibration at low speed, then around 20-30 MPH it smoothed out. Based on suggestions in Nissan forum, I replaced her CVT fluid with Valvoline full-synthetic one ( and it became smooth and nice again.
Upon my 2012 car getting to 60K miles, I’ve also replaced CVT fluid, to the same Valvoline, also noticed much smoother operation.

My advise: do not trust Nissan’ claim that CVT fluid is “lifetime”. It really needs replacement, they indeed recommend that for “premium schedule” AFAIK.

OP car is 117K miles, long overdue for fluid change in my view.

Nissans have a drain plug on their CVT, so it’s really easy to drain/fill, the maximum you are risking is something like $60 to rule this problem out.


Good input andriy. And I’m sure it’ll be highly useful not only to the OP, but to other posters as well.
Welcome to the forum.

PostScript: I was about to comment on the price until I noticed that it was for 6 quarts! And in reality it truly is an inexpensive maintenance cost.

for Altima CVT drain is around 5.7 quarts, so 6 bottles is spot-on

draininig leaves somewhere around 1 quart in the converter and cooler lines, so it is less than full capacity

I can not tell for Rogue, but it should be possible to find in Nissan forums