RPM drops momentarily for 2 to 3 seconds before picking up

I got a used Nissan versa sedan (2014) about an year back at 47k miles something. I drove about 6k miles in an year. The issue is, at times I used to feel car being slowed down for a second or two before catching up again. It felt like someone is pulling it down and then it would catch up but there was no jerk or anything.
I had issue last year when I used to drive on highways 100 miles round trip every weekday but I thought it was due to the drag due to surrounding cars or highway wall barriers etc at 60-70 mph speed. After 2 months of use, car was almost idle and barely being used for 50 miles a month. In last 6 months, there have been one road trip of 1500 miles and another one of 250 miles. Then from last month, it is being used daily for as point A to B with 200 miles a month. This is the usage pattern.

I had this issue today and noticed I wasn’t on highway, nor it was windy, nor there any car near me. And then I noticed dashboard. The RPM went from 3500 to 3000 and then back to 3500. I was accelerating the whole time and I felt that drop kind of feeling when RPM went down. So I guess this is more from engine side and not from air drag or anything. And I guess this is happening ever since I got the car about an year back.

Regarding maintenance, I got engine oil changed and other fluid checked from jiffy oil in the first month I got the car and then I got it changed a week back. The mechanic told me oil is still clean and it filled up. There wasn’t need to get it replaced right away. But anyway, I got it done. They checked all other fluids as well and everything was fine.

I am not sure whether they clean spark plugs or anything while changing the oil. But nothing about spark plug was mentioned in the service note, like whether they cleaned or not or something.

What do you guys think could be the issue?

I’d suspect the CVT transmission if so equipped. Pretty common on the Versa.

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If the transmission fluid has not been changed, it is overdue. The CVT used in these cars needs clean fluid to have any chance of surviving. Every 30k miles would not be excessive. A fluid change might clear the problem up.

And spark plugs are not cleaned anymore. They are replaced about every 100k miles. Yeah, 100k miles.

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+1 to Mustangman’s comments, but I have to add a comment in regard to the following:

Trust me–there are no actual mechanics working at Iffy Lube.

They are poorly-trained young guys who are compelled to rush as many cars through as they can, and as a result of their lack of automotive expertise plus the time factor, these places are notorious for the number of screw-ups that take place.

You may have lucked-out so far, but if you really want to avoid a potential problem (incorrect fluids, cheap filters, failure to refill fluids after draining) you should avoid these places.

Edited to add:
One of our forum members (Joseph Meehan) who is now deceased, used to advise the following:
Never go to a quick oil change place–not even for directions!


+1 to @VDCdriver’s comment.

I can’t count the number of posters here that start; My engine blew up right after I got an oil change at the local quick lube and air filter emporium…


There has to be a misunderstanding here . The oil change person ( not a mechanic ) just would change the oil and I doubt if they would look at it and say it does not need changed . I can’t even see them checking the oil level before doing the oil change .

… or… My transmission blew up after I got my oil changed.

Yup! That’s what happens when the barely-trained guy in the lube pit drains the transmission fluid instead of the engine oil, and then the car owner winds up with a destroyed transmission and an engine with twice as much oil as it should have. The overfilled engine will last a bit longer than the now-dry transmission, but not a whole lot longer.

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What you describe could be your fuel pump starting to fail. I suggest that you go to a good independent mechanic (not a chain) and see what they say. They’ll probably measure your fuel pressure as a start.

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I am not sure if previous owner ever changed it but I didn’t. Jiffy might have just topped it up if it’s possible in 15 min oil change and everything.

One mechanic/oil change guy did look at it and showed me on that stick. He said, it’s still clean but I couldn’t really identify unless it was pretty dark. But considering that I got the oil change after an year and it was convention oil both the times, I would have to believe him else he could have upsell me to change it every 6 months.

Would a device like OBD or something could provide any insight into this if it is from transmission side or fuel pump etc?

Yes some of these devices could give you some insight if you knew how to read it. But it won’t say “You have a transmisson problem”

I will reinforce my statement that the transmission fluid needs to be changed NOW. If your problen goes away, you don’t need an OBD reader.

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Not sure where you got that idea . Is this your first vehicle ? If there was a drag caused by those things surely you would have noticed driving other vehicles or even riding with someone. Your vehicle has some kind of problem so it would be best to find an independent shop and see what it is.

Same here. They put the wrong oil filter on my new car which caused oil to leak out (the threads didn’t match) and my engine to be destroyed.

This is my first vehicle in USA. I had been driving for over 10 years in India (4000 to 5000 km per year city driving and rarely on highway) where speed barely touches 50 kph in bumper to bumper traffic or 60 kph on highways with lot of potholes and everything. I never drove at that speed before nor I know much about technology in USA car (cars available in India lack lot of features and we still prefer manual transmission).

A lot of times it used to be windy like 30-50 mph wind speed so I thought it could due to air drag or friction at 60-70 mph driving speed. It’s just that I accidentally noticed dashboard this time and saw drop in rpm that time. And I never thought a 50k miles car could have some engine problem.

Apart from this, I drove Mustang on that route for 2 weeks, but that car is of different category and versa sucks at pick up compared to mustang especially if you have to join freeway from the ramp. I assumed mustang have better aerodynamics.

I read auto zone can help with diagnostic with OBD on their unit and it’s free of cost. Are they reliable iin giving me insight with such device? I’ll get it fixed from some other place, but I am kind of short of money to spend $100 an hour for identifying the problem and then another couple of hundred dollars to get it fixed.

Autozone can only read active codes (so if your Check Engine Light is on), it can’t read pending codes or pull any code history. It is free. If your CEL is on, and you’re going to try and fix it yourself, your best bet would be to go to Autozone, get the code read there, and post the code here (ie PXXXX) and the Car Talk Group-Brain will try our very best to help. They’ll give you a printout of suggested repairs, but you’re better off just telling us the codes and letting us try and figure it out.


Autozone counter people sell parts. They are not mechanics. Post the codes here and we can help.


Have a look at carcomplaints.com where you can read about similar problems with that model. Particularly read about the CVT problems.

Update: I took it to Auto zone for OBD scanner. There wasn’t any error code in it. Guys over there told me if it is happening while driving then it could be issue with transmission and OBD will not throw any error code if there is no check engine light. And he did say something about throttle as well.

I checked online regarding any lawsuit or something and found that couple of cars from Nissan with CVT have transmission issue and they have extended the warranty on transmission. I talked to their repair shop and they confirmed warranty is until 84k mile and summer next year (I have 56k miles). So I am thinking to get it checked by them. They’ll charge my diagnostic fees which is $160 if issue is something else other than transmission. But it will be waived and everything will be covered if it turns out to transmission issue.