Trade-in value vs repair

Hey all,

I have a 2017 Nissan Altima SR (6cyl). I purchased it used in 2019. Within the first two months, the passenger door wouldn’t open from inside or out. The local Nissan dealership worked on it twice (under warranty) and fixed it the second time. The fog lights haven’t worked, and the back-up camera now works intermittently. I’ve done the normal maintenance on my car and take pretty good care of it’s appearance inside and out. Fast forward to January 2022. Check engine light appears when I go to back-up. I shift gears and hear a grinding noise. Drive home and have it checked out at the local dealership - they say it needs a new transmission. I give them my third-party warranty info. They say it sounds good and there shouldn’t be any issues. The warranty company will just send the inspector. Inspector comes and checks - zero transmission fluid (still unsure why that wasn’t checked before or how it’s empty). Warranty invalid. Dealership cost of new transmission is $5,500. They can try a fluid exchange for $400 but no guarantee that fixes the issue. Did the fluid exchange, and within a week or two, the issue is back.

At this point, I’m ready to trade-in and not worry if something else goes wrong. However, it’s not a great time to buy. I’ve gotten some trade-in estimates ($8-9) from Nissan dealership and $10k from another one (they haven’t looked at it in person yet).

I owe about $5k on the vehicle. My question is should I go ahead and pay it off and then look for a vehicle or take it to a mechanic and have the transmission repaired first?

Unless you are trading for a completely new vehicle I say fix it .

If any competent mechanic inspects this car they will drop the price by the cost of repair… or that $5500 if not more. If Nissan will give you $9K trade on a used Toyota on their used car lot, jump on it. On a new Nissan? Pass.

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That constitutes owner negligence, and even though I am highly skeptical of third-party warranties, this denial was correct.

Given Nissan’s wretched reputation with their CVTs, I recommend that you cut your losses and look for a replacement vehicle.

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Thanks for the input! I get why it would be voided at that point. I’ve read several posts since this happening about the fluid level technically being the owner’s responsibility. I wish I would’ve known more about a sealed transmission and how the levels are not typically checked with all other fluids at my regularly-time oil changes because of that. Lesson learned. :+1:t3:

Looking at new - Terrain, Equinox, or Edge…shockingly not Nissan at this point for me.

Not that it matters. But, how many miles?
A grinding trans is not good.

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Sorry - thought I had that in the original post 78k.

this might help. being you have a closed system and there is no way to check the fluid I would look into this extended Nissan warranty

Nissan CVT problems continue — Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice Ricks Free Auto Repair Advice | Automotive Repair Tips and How-To

and you should read the info about the class action lawsuit. if you opted out or were opted out by mistake you can fill out the form to be able to get the extended warranty from what I see

. Altima, Sentra, Versa and Juke CVT Warranty Extension Reinstatement Request - Nissan Assist

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I appreciate the info - have been reading and re-reading those links since you sent. :+1:t3:

If the tranny is sealed, without a way to check the level, it would not be the owner’s responsibility to check. PLUS…how did a mechanic check it?

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Yup. This whole thing smells fishy-er than a tuna boat. The “extended warranty” outfit is trying a fast one.

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And this is precisely why we recommend against these third-party “extended warranty” plans–because they aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. I do not believe that the transmission was empty, as the car wouldn’t even move in drive once the fluid got very low.

Even if the transmission fluid was only somewhat low, I do not believe that this is legitimate grounds for a denial (assuming a legitimate warranty company, which this clearly is not). Unlike engine oil, transmission fluid should not be consumed, and if it is low, then there is a leak, which itself is (or should be) a warrantable defect. Many newer vehicles have eliminated the dipstick, and require special tools and equipment to check the transmission fluid level, which means that a vehicle owner cannot do this at home, and thus cannot be held responsible for not doing it.

Personally, I believe that the “warranty company” inspector didn’t even check the transmission, and simply made a BS excuse to weasel out of paying the claim.

And no, I would not put a $5500 “new” transmission into this vehicle, because the word “new” means “remanufactured” and there is no guarantee that this replacement transmission will last longer than the 1-year/12,000 mile warranty which Nissan gives on it. I would sell or trade this thing in as it sits for whatever you can get for it. And NEVER AGAIN buy another Nissan or Infiniti vehicle.

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There is no such thing as a sealed transmission. Let me repeat… no such thing as a sealed transmission.

Especially THIS one since Nissan says the fluid must be changed every 30K miles. That means there is a drain and there is a fill opening. You use the fill opeing to check the level, too.

I don’t know if the CVT was really empty, I doubt it since the internal pumps need fluid to shift the trans. I also don’t know if the 30K service was done either. Seems these buggers die about this mileage if the fluid isn’t changed regularly. Seems they die even if they DO get fluid changes.Another reason to dump this thing.

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Thanks - I appreciate all your insight!

Good point on the not “new” transmission comment. I did ask about the remanufactured transmission as they were explaining how it would have a warranty of x amount of years and miles. I countered with that’s great, but if I do that and the exact same situation arises with this new transmission, is it going to be covered under that warranty? The guy told me no. With the issues it’s seeming to have and shown, I would assume more would come. Not worth it!

Thanks again!

Great point and thanks for the clarification. I haven’t understood the clear meaning of the “sealed” transmission, so that helps.

Hard to speculate on what went wrong and when - I bought it with just over 30k miles on it. It would be nice to know that in hindsight, just to piece things together.

I’m in agreement with you - the more I try to find out on this issue the more I’m realizing these seem to be common complaints with this make/model. Appreciate your advice!!

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I check the fluid level before the inspector arrives and also take a fluid sample. It helps when the service advisor informs me that the customer has an extended warranty and an inspector will be in on Thursday, communication is essential. I have had no problems with extended warranty companies.

I am not willing to clean/conceal a leak that was ignored that caused the transmission failure. Regular scheduled maintenance inspections should identify leaks.

Transmissions in modern vehicles are sealed with metal plugs, the driver has no access to the transmission fluid. Checking the transmission fluid level must be performed at a specific fluid temperature while accessing the fill and check plugs. Many regulars of this message board rely on professionals to check or replace transmission fluid.

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Good to know. I was told there was no sign of a leak - they were kind of stumped as to why it was empty.

Thanks for the clarification and insight on ‘sealed’ transmissions. :+1:t3:

Mustangman says: there is no such thing as a sealed transmission. Of course, every transmission has input and output seals. If there is a drain and fill plug, then the owner’s manual should tell you the interval that new fluid is needed. This should be followed, and the old fluid volume noted to see if there is excess leakage. If there is an excess, the warranty should cover it.
Consumer Reports seems to like Nissan’s again, but I personally think they did themselves in with me by their lack of response to the CVT issue.

I don’t know the OPs financial situation, but I was in the same boat some years back with a 1965 Rambler. I was in graduate school and the manual transmission wouldn’t shift without grinding and was difficult to move the shifter. The Rambler was 5 years old at the time. I thought seriously about trading the Rambler, but instead got recommendations for the best independent shop.in town and had the transmission repaired. That turned out to be a good decision. The Rambler got us through school and a couple years beyond. The money I saved allowed us to.make a down paymenton a house. Ultimately, when we had a steady income, the Rambler was replaced with a Ford Maverick.

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