When did CVTs stop making noise?

Several years ago I test drove a used 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer but the CVT transmission made such a godawful noise I bought a Corolla instead. A few months ago I rented a 2019 Corolla and I was surprised to learn it also had a CVT since it didn’t make the same noise. So when did CVTs stop making that godawful noise? Is it a new generation of CVTs? Mileage? Something wrong with the CVT in the Lancer? The Mrs. wants a new (used) vehicle and I need to know if we should avoid certain model year vehicles with CVTs (i.e., is a 2013 new enough?) Thanks in advance.

You nailed it! :slight_smile:

Avoid Nissan CVTs as a plague, other top japanese car makers take on it seems to be lesser problematic.
Subaru seem to have lesser, but still problematic CVT design.
Change CVT fluid every 30K miles and do not trust “lifetime” fluid recommendations and with some luck it will live long enough for the rest of the car to die before CVT.

1 Like

Thanks. The Lancer had 42K on the odometer, which doesn’t seem excessive, and I remember YouTube videos at the time that had Audi’s with CVTs making the same noise. Whatever we get, if it has a CVT I’ll probably insist on a transmission fluid change on principle since it’ll be used with a largely unknown maintenance history. The Mrs. wants an SUV to replace a Jeep Liberty and I see a whole lot of Nissan Rogues out there. I’m not totally adverse to avoiding them but it would seriously cut into the available choices.

The only one I’ve driven is my '14 Civic, and it works beautifully with no noise. I saw a vid on YouTube about CVTs and that guy says the Nissan CVTs, which are also used in Subarus and several other makes of car, are very problematic, and my nephew isn’t a fan of the one in his wife’s Subaru. Toyota’s and Honda’s CVTs seen to be better.

I found out Nissan CVTs are made by a company called Jatco. Probably no surprise to long time community members. They also make CVTs for some other makes including Mitsubishi. I have no clue if the CVT in that 2008 Lancer was a Jatco product but I’ll definitely keep my ears open whatever we test drive.

It’s an 11 year old vehicle. You don’t know how well it was maintained. There have also been a lot of cars with CVTs built since then, giving the manufacturers a lot of time and a big population to find and correct problems. I’m not worried about CVTs in new cars, as long as they are used correctly. Just don’t tow anything with it.

1 Like

Just because that one made noise does not mean that all CVT made noise .

1 Like

CVTs are still a largely unproven technology IMO in terms of long term reliability. I’d avoid them like the plague. The only thing bearing a CVT name is the eCVT on the Prius which isn’t a CVT at all, but uses an electrical motor to vary the output of the engine.

It’s an 11 year old vehicle now. I test drove it in late 2012, which would make it 4 or 5 years old with low mileage for its age. A local (St. Louis area) Toyota dealer put it on the lot sounding the way it did and it wasn’t an “as is special” so presumably they didn’t find anything excessively wrong with it. Part of my question was whether newer CVTs are better in that regard and if sounds like you’re saying they are. Good to know.

No, it doesn’t but since there were multiple YouTube videos of noisy CVTs at the time it suggests the issue wasn’t uncommon at that time. My limited experience with new cars with CVTs suggests they don’t all make noise but we’re not looking at new cars and something 5 years old with, say, 55K on the odometer could easily make a similar noise or start making one.

CVTs in cars have been around more than 50 years. Modern versions have been in use by many car makers for 20 years. This is not new technology. I test drove a 2015 Audi with a CVT that was completely silent. While we see many, many Nissan CVT complaints, we never hear from Audi owners. A few from other manufacturers but we see posts about regular automatics as well.

1 Like

JATCO makes transmission to multiple car makers, but this is up to maker to make a spec and then to enclose the final unit into the assembled system.
Nissan is known to substantially undersize their CVT cooling system, resulting in an overheating and eventual failure.
To make things worse, they do not recommend chanding the CVT fluid ever under neither “normal” nor “sever” maintenance schedule and only for “optional premiul schedule” suggest changing it every 30K miles, which makes their weak design exposed to more strain.
Honda seem to adopt CVT design few years back with no such disaster as Nissan had on 3 (three!!) generations of their units.
Toyota adopted their edition of CVT, making me to guess that technology enters maturity.
Still, Nissan take is kinda “black sheep” and they seem not to get it even on generaiton-3 of their design.

I would not consider used Nissan with CVT ever… given I had 3 Nissan CVTs to fail out of 3 my family used to have… too much of disaster.

FWIW, I’m not the one who said CVTs are new or unproven. I’m glad to hear newer units are quiet. 2015 is about the year range we’ll be looking at so that’s great.

Yeah, I know you didn’t say that.

Nissan undercooling their transmissions is definitely disturbing and yes, you’d think they’d have the bugs worked out by now, especially in 3rd generation products. Presumably then, a Mitsubishi CVT, for example, would differ from a Nissan CVT, even though both were manufactured by Jatco. Your comment about maturing technology is in line with my original question and whether CVTs are getting better. It sounds like they are. As I mentioned, if we do buy a vehicle with a CVT, I’ll have the transmission fluid changed ASAP, on principle.

And I know you didn’t say I did. I knew your comment was in reference to
paul.stejskal_152301 saying CVTs “still a largely unproven technology.” I was simply pointing out that I’m not necessarily in agreement.

1 Like

You might want to visit and check https://www.carcomplaints.com/ for the cars you consider.
This site is not the holly grail of truth, but can point in the direction of the most usual problems reported for particular make/model/year.
Other than transmission issues, you will find much more of what you want to research.

Cool. Thanks. I’ve been researching various models at Edmunds.com to find specs, reviews, chronic complaints, etc. but it’s always nice to have an additional source of information.

A friend bought a 2018 Corolla new, owned an earlier model before, and she said she noticed a “race car” sound on the 2018 initially, then must have got used to it. I recently rented a 2019 Corolla for a week and didn’t notice any unusual sounds, at least anything audible from the driver’s seat with the windows closed.

I have a 6 year old suby CVT, no problems, no noises at 70k miles. It has performed flawlessly.