Nissan CVT transmissions

I heard that early Nissan CVT transmissions have reliability issues. They broke often and needed to be replaced. Has that problem been resolved? Or do new Nissan cars have the same CVT problems? I’m looking for a new commuter car and the Nissan Sentra is on my list. I’d prefer an automatic or CVT to a standard transmission. (Too much stop and go on my commute)

Any input is appreciated…

I have not heard of any problems with the Nissan CVT. It may make you feel better to know that Nissan has extended the warranty on their CVT’s to 120,000 miles. here is the link.

I believe they were having a rash of CVT problems a couple of years ago but that problem has been fixed now.

The Nissan extension on the CVT Transmissions is only from '07 through '10 cars.
The newer ones are not getting the warranty extensions, according to the website.

The main things to keep in mind with the Nissan CVT transmission, and this is really, really important, so I’m going to put it in all caps below for extreme emphasis:


Do not let Jiffy Lube sell you on a transmission flush.
Right on Nissan’s website it says that the transmission flushes sold by most companies contains harsh cleaning chemicals that will damage the CVT transmission.

You must use the Nissan Spec transmission fluid, and so far there is only 1 company that claims they have a compatible fluid, but there isn’t any point risking the transmission to save only a couple dollars difference than taking it to Nissan and having them use the right fluid from the start.

As long as you use the correct fluid, and change it every 30k to 50k miles, the transmissions have had few failures since '07. The biggest complaints were related to bearing noises, but no actual failures. Nissan had just been removing the transmissions and slipping new ones in whenever someone complained to their service manager about the bearing noise.

They appear to be quite robust and strong transmissions, as long as you don’t let someone put in the wrong fluid, or try and perform a trans flush service.


Now to sort of hijack the post, considering potential of failure and expenses to fix, would the OP be better of with a non CVT transmission anyways.

Nissan has had a lot of re-programming on their CVT transmissions also. Make sure it is up to date on their campaigns [ recalls ]

The new generation Nissan CVT seems better than before, but hard to say how it will wear. You can’t go wrong with a 2010 with the extended warranty. The new CVT is awe inspiring. Once you get used to it’s quirks it’s strong points will blow you away. I could go on all day about it but the most important thing to remember with CVT is that the torque is always there for you to accelerate, and you do accelerate every bit as fast as a regular automatic. You only get the sensation it’s slipping or slow because the tach stays in one spot. Once you get over that, it’s a thing of beauty. Especially in manual shift mode. The smoothest shift you will ever experience! And no harsh downshift and engine roar while passing in automatic mode! Just push down a little on the gas and overtake with ease!

Quote from MR.16DDT: “The new generation Nissan CVT seems better than before, but hard to say how it will wear.” Unquote

I like my standard transmission, a thing of proven beauty that makes me smile and will last far, far beyond 120,000 miles if it is like other standard transmissions that I have owned. I will leave it to other consumers to help with Nissan’s CVT transmission development but it won’t matter.

If GM put out garbage like this, who would sing praises of their CVT transmission on Car Talk and Consumer Reports would crucify GM and the tranmission.

Sounds alot like any other CVT, only I consider those points more annoying than anything else. I rented a Dodge Caliber for a week a couple years ago. It had a CVT. Due to the low power of the Caliber, I was on the gas quite alot, The CVT kept the RPM’s elevated at all times, which made for high noise levels. I don’t mind hearing a nice sounding engine, but the wimpy 2.0L sounds more like a seal getting stabbed with a ball point pen moreso than racecar. So not only was it slow, but it was noisy. I would’ve rather had a traditional automatic. When you stepped on the gas you had to wait until the RPMs ran up into the engine?s meager powerband to get any noticeable forward progress. It was like the engine and transmission were connected via rubber band, which I guess they sort of were actually.

GM has been crucified time and again for bad designs.
And they have also been praised for great designs.

Quite a few people have suffered from the chevy built V-6 engines (2.8, 3.1, 3.4, etc) who have an uncontrolled desire to have coolant leaks into the intake system. Still do it to this day. How long has the engine been used for now?

Nissan isn’t a saint in comparison.
The CVT is something new, and lots of people don’t trust new things.
Doesn’t mean that its a bad thing.

And I have yet to see an actual case where the transmission actually failed to the point that the car couldn’t be driven. Doesn’t mean that it has never happened, but I haven’t seen it reported yet.

So far, just people getting the transmissions replaced under warranty for noise complaints.


Do not buy! I have a 2014 and the transmission went. Nissan wouldn’t pay for it because I was 20,000 over the 60,000 miles. They have a ton of issues with the CVT. Horrible customer service and to pay $4500 while I am still paying for the car is crazy. Also, the transmission died doing 65 on the parkway and I almost had an accident.

Just google it and you will see it. So many people are joking the class action law suit.

After 7 years I think the OP may have made up their mind by now…


Your car had 60k miles on it. The maintenance schedule (as many do…) call for a CVT fluid change at 30k miles.
So I ask if you had that done or not?

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@ok4450, if Nissan recommended that, we would hear much less of these CVT failure stories :frowning:
Here is a page from Nissan shop manual of my 2012 Altima:

Basically, they only tell to INSPECT, while vehicles I maintain definitely benefited from replacement at 60K and further replacements evey 30K after - it was immediately noticeable by smoother idle and less noise when accelerating from cold state

UPDATE: further, here is a section from the maintenance booklet:

they recommend changing only on “premium tier”, while for regular one they only recommend “inspection” at 30/60/90

I assure you the fluid should be changed at 30k miles intervals and the same holds true for any car with any automatic transmission.
Talk to any decent auto transmission repairman and they will tell you the same thing.

Question for the tech minded. How does one “inspect” the fluid and determine it is good visually?

(I iknow the answer; just sayin’…)

My wife bought a 2007 Nissan Sentra with the CVT transmission and had no problems with it at all. It did make a strange noise when driving but she quickly got used to it however. The great thing about the CVT was that it drove great in the snow. We called it the “Snowcat” when it drove through the snow with such ease. She blazed a trail through fresh snow with it for days during snowstorms without ever getting stuck. She reluctantly parted with it for a more comfortable ride.

I had less luck…

purchased new 2013 Sentra with CVT, very conservatively driven by my wife

42K miles and it is chattering and whining => replaced under warranty with a re-manufactured unit

I sold that car as soon as I could find somebody giving me decent private party price

That’s funny…because the Nissan dealers (and almost all other manufacturers) around here send their transmission work out to transmission specialists.

Yeah, but the Nissan dealer can’t put a 10% markup on a job you take directly to the transmission shop.

why would a cvt trans help in snow? i had a old chevy with a power glide trans which is a 2spd and it basically started in 2nd gear. low-hi and it was great in snow. i never spun my tires. even with old belted bias tires. i think that is what the “snow” mode button does on newer trans. starts in a higher gear to reduce effective torque to wheels for no spin? so, what does the cvt trans do when you come off idle? if you are saying it is starting in “2nd” gear than that would mean the acceleration sucks even on dry pavement?