Nissan CVT transmission: Before I get to the reasons causing failure, we need to understand how CVTs work and how different they are from conventional automatic transmissions, their advantages and disadvantages.
Unlike an automatic transmission, A CVT transmission does not make use of gears. It uses two pulleys linked to a belt. One pulley connects to the engine and the other pulley to the transmission. This allows the vehicle to run more efficiently.
What are the advantages of having a CVT transmission?
1.Fuel efficiency. Unlike automatics that have a specific number of gear ratios, CVT gear ratios are infinite so as to maintain the engine at peak efficiency. There is no hunting for gears in a CVT, the ECU and Transmission Control Module remain configured at the exact spot for efficiency.
2.Adaptability: CVT transmissions have the capability to adapt to your driving demands as well as the road conditions.
- They are light and smaller compared to automatics.
Disadvantages of the CVT Transmission.
- CVTs are not yet made for power. They are designed to make the best out of fuel efficiency.
- Routine maintenance and repairs are quite expensive.
The recommended fluid for CVT transmissions is CVTF. Different manufacturers recommend different brands of CVTF.
So why are Nissan CVT transmissions so unreliable?
Mostly many gearboxes will fail while on a long trip. The most common symptoms are the vehicle loses power or even stalls during acceleration. Excessive whining of the CVT can be heard just before the stall, even worse is that the vehicle will not show a check engine light. After a while, the vehicle will start to drive normally then after a significant number of kilometers start misbehaving again.
This gearbox problem is caused simply by overheating of the CVT fluid.
During the reign of Carlos Ghosn, Nissan embarked on extreme cost cutting so that they could make their cars cheaper. This however went a bit too far and largely compromised on the build quality of their cars. One major component that was affected, well the CVT transmissions. In fact, Nissan’s CVT issue is a global one and mostly affects Nissan’s mainly built from the year 2012.
So what is the actual problem?
Nissan has been accused many times of using an inadequate cooling system for their CVTs. It is not only an accusation, it is the truth.
As the CVT heats up it vibrates excessively, and when it overheats it sends the car into fail-safe mode which limits engine RPMs as it tries to prevent damage.
That is why most of these cars will perform well for short distances but will often fail when you take your Nissan for a long trip. More often than usual, if there is check engine light, the diagnostics report will point to the error code P0868 ( Transmission Fluid Pressure). other times the check engine light will not show.
The models mostly affected by this defect are, Nissan Note, Nissan March, Nissan Cube Nissan Bluebird Sylphy, Nissan Juke, Nissan Dualis, Nissan Xtrail T31. The Nissan Tiida is however not mostly affected because it has a CVT cooling system that is a bit different.
There is however a remedy for this; and that is installation of an aftermarket CVT cooler. If you need more information on this; we can engage on my Facebook page. Nissan CVT transmission.