Can You Trust Nissan's CVT? Probably Not.

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#transmission #lawsuit #warranty
Overhead view of a Nissan CVT

Nissan proudly introduced what they called “the first CVT for passenger cars"[1] back in 2002. It received mixed reviews, although that’s to be expected with a first-generation product. The most common complaints included difficulty accelerating, shaking / stuttering, running hot, and suddenly shutting down. Luckily, Nissan would go on to address most of those concerns…

I’m just kidding. Here we are 15 years later and those same complaints plague Nissan owners. Rather than ironing out the kinks, Nissan executives have apparently been too busy ironing out their stacks of cash.

What is a CVT?

A CVT uses a steel belt or pulley system to move gears in a continuous (ahhh), smooth motion. It’s a concept that the Washington Post says makes a lot of sense:

The idea behind CVTs is easy to understand: a heavy-duty drive belt (or chain) runs within a grooved pulley system with hydraulic actuators allowing the affective ratio to be infinitely varied within a range of ratios, seamlessly.

For anyone used to driving a car with fixed gear ratios, it’s important to note that a CVT not only feels different, but it sounds different too. Many complaints about “CVT whine” are a byproduct of its design.

The Most Common Complaints about Nissan's CVT

I hope you take any marketing spiel with a grain of salt, but Nissan’s glowing review of their CVT deserves a few tablespoons:

[An] innovative transmission that offers smooth, seamless shifting, while tailoring the vehicle's output to your driving style.

But the reviews from actual owners are a lot less rosy. First, let's take a look at vehicles with CVT complaints on

And now, let's look at the most common types of complaints.

Slow, Shuttering Acceleration

Low speed acceleration is a particular trouble-spot for this CVT. According to owners, their vehicles will shutter and shake while getting up to speed.

Run away from this car! My transmission was reprogrammed at 12k miles. Drove well, no issues and all scheduled maintenance done regularly at the dealer. At 65k transmission started shuddering and then vehicle would stall and die in traffic, very dangerous. Vehicle was sent into dealership three separate times, for engine pulley, reprogramming, completely new ECM. Each time the car ran worse. The vehicle is the worst I have ever owned, and would never buy another Nissan due to this. --- 2013 Altima Owner

A Technical Service Bulletin (NTB05-084A) regarding hesitations while accelerating was released to Nissan service departments in November 2006. The TSB, which was written for the 2003-2007 Murano, tells mechanics to check for these conditions if an owner complains about hesitations:

  1. The Service Engine Soon (SES) light is not illuminated on your gauge cluster.
  2. Code P0868 is stored in the Transmission Control Module (TCM).

It Runs Too Hot

One of the reasons for all that shaking might be an overheating. Nissan has been accused of using an inadequate cooling system for their transmission.

As the CVT heats up it can vibrate excessively. And when it overheats it sends the car into fail-safe mode which limits engine RPMs as it tries to prevent damage.

This can leave drivers in a dangerous position, and is one of the complaints in a Sentra Xtronic Lawsuit.

Horribly Slow Response Time

Speaking of dangerous positioning, it’s been reported that the CVT can take a long time to respond to input from the pedal.

Illustration of Xtronic CVTIllustration from

CVTs are, by design, going to feel different when you cram the accelerator to the floor. While a geared transmission will typically burst off the line, a CVT has a much smoother (and slower) increase to maximum power.

But some say the CVT's sluggishness goes too far. Some go so far as to call it a safety hazard when trying to merge onto a busy road. Needless to say, it’s not going to win you any friends with the people driving behind you.

The car has had the same problem for several years. After driving 30+ minutes, it won't accelerate and makes a loud whining noise.

Beyond the Whine, This Thing is Loud

CVT whine is a common problem and not unique to Nissan vehicles. What is unique, however, is how much Nissan’s CVTs tend to whine.

Oh, and then there’s all that clanging and rattling too.

The car would whine at high speeds / long trips and high temps in the summer. It got worse every summer and even would suddenly stop accelerating. I took the car into the dealer for 3 summers in a row. The first two summers they basically told me I was crazy because they could not reproduce the issue. --- 2009 Altima owner

In the case of Kobe Falco, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc., and Nissan Motor Company, LTD, Nissan's defense team admitted the CVT was loud but that didn't indicate a defect. More on that case in a bit.

It Fails At Low Mileage

The most concerning issue is the all these problems lead to a short lifespan for the CVT.

The 2011 Versa, for example, has an average failure of 64,750 miles. The very popular 2013 Altima fails around 60,167 miles.

In fact the problem appears to be getting worse, because if you look at older model years with complaints about CVT failure they typically have a longer lifespan – like the 2008 Altima which has a much more reasonable (albeit still frustrating) average failure over 120,000 miles.

Nissan Has Extended Their CVT Warranty Before

Citing complaints from a "small percentage of owners of early models equipped with CVTs," Nissan extended their CVT warranty for certain vehicles. The extension essentially doubled previous coverage, bumping the powertrain warranty from 5 years/60,000 miles to 10 years/120,000 miles, whichever comes first.

This included:

  • 2007-2010 Altima (Plus Altima Coupe and Altima Hybrid)
  • 2007-2010 Maxima
  • 2003-2007; 2009-2010 Murano
  • 2008-2010 Rogue
  • 2007-2010 Sentra
  • 2007-2010 Versa (1.8SL)
Note to Nissan pleading for helpWill Nissan Ever Help?

Nissan also offered reimbursements on repairs, but that program ended on July 31, 2010.

Lawsuits For Everyone Else

The extended warranty helps some, but leaves others seeking help. For those people, there's hope in the form of lawsuits.

2013-14 Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 lawsuit

The first class-action lawsuit came in January 2015 and accused Nissan of putting defective CVTs in the 2013-14 Pathfinder. That lawsuit, Batista vs. Nissan North America, Inc, had three main points:

  1. Nissan installed CVT transmissions with known defects, such as how the CVT belt slips and the CVT violently shakes when accelerating between 15–30mph.
  2. Nissan knew about the problem and began developing "software counter-measures" but failed to warn consumers and continued to sell vehicles anyway.
  3. Owners have been left with no choice but to pay for expensive repairs after the automaker refused reimbursements.

In October 2016, Nissan agreed to settle this CVT lawsuit which had grown to include the Infiniti QX60 and JX35 equipped with the FK-*k2 CVT. The automaker said they settled because they didn't want to spend years in court, not because they were admitting to any defect.

The settlement gave 2013-14 Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60/JX35 owners a transmission software update plus it extended the transmission warranty to 24 months or 24,000 miles (conditions apply, of course).

Additionally, Nissan paid for $3.75 million in attorney fees[2]. Visit for more information.

2014 Sentra lawsuit

In April 2017, a lawsuit was filed in New Jersey for 2014 Sentra owners who were tired of the shaking, jerking, and sudden downshift problems. The lawsuit was filed by a garbage collection company which is so appropriate considering how trashy these transmissions have become.

The lawsuit states the company had to replace their transmission four times:

  1. The 2007-2010 Sentras were subject to a customer service warranty program, however other Sentras also have the same problem.
  2. Despite knowing the defects, Nissan continued to sell and tout their CVTs as superior to the competition. Specifically, how they have "fewer moving part to reduce friction and heat" which make the transmission last longer.

This case is pending.

2012-2017 Sentra Xtronic Overheating Lawsuit

In September, 2017 Nissan was accused of designing Xtronic CVTs with cooling systems too small to handle the job.

The lawsuit, Waldo Leyva, et al. v. Nissan North America, Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

To CVT or Not to CVT? That is A Question.

While some manufacturers, like Nissan and Subaru, have embraced CVT technology, others (Chrysler and Ford) have tried and dropped CVTs from their lineup. Let's take a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of a CVT

  1. Super smooth to drive --- a traditional automatic can hunt for gears and sometimes jerk or hesitate. CVTs are supposed to avoid this issue.
  2. No more shift-shock --- the momentary loss of power you get while accelerating with traditional gears.
  3. Constant power --- because there's no more more gear hunting or shift-stock, the driver is given consistent power while accelerating. Once again, that's how it's supposed to work.
  4. Simpler design, fewer moving parts --- this reduces friction and heat, which are a deadly combo for mechanical parts. Reduced exposure should help the transmission last longer.
  5. Better miles per gallon --- A CVT provides better fuel efficiency in two ways. First, it keeps the engine in the sweet spot while accelerating (more efficient) and second it's lighter than a traditional transmission (less weight).

This day and age, the MPG advantage might be why your next car will probably have a CVT. CVTs offer the same fuel-efficiency gains as 8 and 9-speed automatics, but cost much less.

I'll give Nissan the MPG boost, but you'll notice that the most common complaints seem to indicate that Nissan's CVT doesn't offer the traditional advantages. In addition, they come with all of the traditional disadvantages.

Disadvantages of a CVT

  1. It's boring --- no doubt, if you grew up driving a manual transmission a CVT is going to put you to sleep. The steady acceleration and lack of revs can be seen as a negative depending on how you look at it.
  2. It's noisy --- CVTs can sound weird to owners who often complain about the whirring or humming noise it makes. There's also complaints about how the engine no longer "feels connected" to the sensation of speed.
  3. They can feel sluggish --- Once again, depending on how you look at it, a CVT can feel as if its "slipping" when compared against a traditional automatic.
  4. It's more expensive to replace --- CVTs offer an up-front cost advantage to automakers which should, in turn, reduce the sticker price of new vehicles. However, they're usually more expensive in upkeep and to replace. CVTs aren't sealed and might require costly fluid changes.

  1. From the XTRONIC CVT page on ↩︎

  2. According to ↩︎

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

  • Eliason, et al., v. Nissan North America, Inc., et al.

    1. Case Filed

      This Nissan transmission lawsuit alleges 2015-2016 Pathfinder and 2014-2016 Rogue SUVs are equipped with defective continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) manufactured by JATCO, a Nissan subsidiary. The plaintiffs say the vehicles are dangerous to drive due to severe delays when trying to accelerate.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2015-2016 Pathfinder
    • 2014-2016 Rogue
  • Menachem Landa, v. Nissan North America, Inc., et al.

    1. Case Filed

      A Nissan Rogue lawsuit alleges transmission problems make driving the SUVs too dangerous. Issues with the Rogue continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) allegedly include lurching, jerking, delayed acceleration and "clunk" sounds.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2014-2020 Rogue
    Class Members
    US owners and lessees
  • Stringer, et al., v. Nissan of North America, Inc., et al.

    1. Case Filed

      A Nissan Rogue CVT class action lawsuit alleges the transmissions contain defects that cause the SUVs to jerk, shudder, lurch, shake and suffer from acceleration problems. The lawsuit includes all consumers who purchased or leased 2014-2016 Nissan Rogue SUVs in the U.S.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2014-2016 Rogue
    Class Members
    US owners and lessees
  • Settlement

    Gann, et al., v. Nissan North America.

    1. Settlement

      The lawsuit was consolidated as part of a Nissan CVT settlement which was preliminarily approved after an owner alleged the continuously variable transmissions in 2013-2016 Altimas are defective.

    2. Case Filed

      A Nissan Altima transmission recall should have been ordered long ago, that's according to a proposed class-action lawsuit that alleges 2013-2014 Altimas shake, shudder, make noise, hesitate and finally fail from transmission failures.

  • Settlement

    Michael Knotts, et. al., v. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Settlement

      The lawsuit was consolidated and settled in 2019.

    2. Case Filed

      A Nissan Versa CVT (continuously variable transmission) lawsuit alleges the cars fail to accelerate and finally experience complete transmission failure that causes owners and lessees to pay thousands of dollars for CVT replacements and repairs.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2012-2013 Altima
  • Settlement

    Falk, et al., v. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Settlement

      The lawsuit was consolidated and settled.

    2. Motion to dismiss

      A Nissan Sentra CVT class-action lawsuit has survived a dismissal bid by Nissan, although the automaker did succeed in getting some claims tossed out.

    3. Case Filed

      Plaintiffs Michelle Falk, Indhu Jayavelu, Patricia L. Cruz, Danielle Trotter and Amanda Macri filed the proposed class-action lawsuit alleging 2013-present Nissan Sentra cars have automatic transmissions that are a safety hazard because of acceleration and deceleration problems.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2013-2018 Altima
  • Settlement

    Cabebe v. Nissan of North America, Inc.

    1. Settlement

      The lawsuit was consolidated as part of a Nissan CVT settlement for former and current owners and lessees of about 1.4 million cars.

    2. Case Filed

      The lawsuit alleges the continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) have defects that cause the cars to suffer from delayed acceleration when merging into traffic, passing another vehicle and when trying to accelerate from stops.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2013-2014 Altima
    Class Members
    Owners and Lessees in California,New York and Pennsylvania
  • Settlement

    Krista Costa, et al., v. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Settlement

      A Nissan Altima CVT class action lawsuit may soon be settled for former and current owners and lessees of about 1.4 million cars. The proposed Altima continuously variable transmission (CVT) class action lawsuit settlement includes five separate actions.

    2. Case Filed

      The lawsuit alleges the CVTs create a safety risk to drivers and everyone else on the roads when Altimas suddenly stall while other drivers don't see any brake lights. Drivers allegedly have trouble accelerating the cars while other times drivers experience cars that surge without warning.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2013-2014 Altima
  • Settlement

    Norman, et al., v. Nissan North America, Inc, et al.

    1. Settlement

      The lawsuit was consolidated and settled in 2019.

    2. Case Filed

      A Nissan Versa CVT (continuously variable transmission) lawsuit alleges the cars fail to accelerate and finally experience complete transmission failure that causes owners and lessees to pay thousands of dollars for CVT replacements and repairs.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2013-2017 Versa
    • 2013-2017 Versa Note
    • 2013-2017 Juke
  • U Can Rent, LLC et al., v. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Case Filed

      Even rental companies are fed up with Nissan's CVTs. Plaintiff U Can Rent LLC says it purchased nine 2013 Sentras, one 2013 Nissan Juke and four 2014 Nissan Jukes and many started having problems with less than 20,000 miles on them.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2013 Sentra
    • 2013-2014 Juke
  • Waldo Leyva, et al. v. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Case Filed

      A Nissan Sentra Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) lawsuit alleges model year 2012-2017 Sentras have transmissions that overheat and fail due to the cooling systems. Plaintiff Waldo Leyva says he would not have purchased his 2015 Sentra if he would have known about the transmissions, or at the least he wouldn't have paid as much as he did.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2012-2017 Sentra
  • Pinto of Montville Inc. v. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Case Filed

      A Nissan Sentra transmission lawsuit filed in New Jersey alleges the CVT (continuously variable transmission) in the 2014 Sentra is prone to shaking, jerking, sudden downshifts and other problems.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2014 Sentra
    New Jersey
  • Settlement

    Batista vs. Nissan North America, Inc.

    1. Settlement

      A Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 continuously variable transmission (CVT) lawsuit is nearly over as Nissan agreed to settle claims concerning 2013-2014 Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 vehicles.

    2. Case Filed

      A Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 continuously variable transmission (CVT) lawsuit is nearly over as Nissan agreed to settle claims concerning 2013-2014 Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 vehicles.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2013-2014 Pathfinder

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Nissan generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. Nissan wants a judge to toss out a CVT lawsuit that they claim doesn’t point out any specific defects.

    The Massachusetts lawsuit says Nissan promoted their CVT as having a fluid-like performance, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for owners of the 2013-2014 Altima.

    The judge says the allegations are plainly sufficient and will allow the case to move forward.

    keep reading article "Altima CVT Lawsuit Allowed to Move Forward in Massachusetts Court"
  2. A CVT lawsuit will proceed after a judge approved most of the plaintiffs' claims

    in a class-action Nissan asked the court to dismiss. The[lawsuit accuses the automaker of concealing transmission defects since 2012 and covers owners of the 2013-2014 Altima in California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

    Nissan argued those claims didn't hold because the plaintiffs had not adequately pleaded any of its express or implied warranty claims. However, the judge ruled claims about express and implied warranties survive, which automatically means Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims survive.

    keep reading article "Most Claims of Altima CVT Defects Allowed to Continue in California Case"
  3. Are the transmission cooling systems in Nissan’s Xtronic CVTs too small to handle the job?

    A recent lawsuit says so and thinks it’s time Nissan paid for their mistakes.

    The lead plaintiff says a simple warning light quickly escalated into a fried, useless transmission.

    The overheated CVT will send the Sentra into fail-safe mode which takes down the engine RPM to try to protect components from further damage, but drivers can expect vibrations, shaking and shuddering and then dealing with transmission failure.

    The sudden fail-safe mode can leave drivers in a dangerous position and it’s something Nissan has known about for years.

    The lawsuit covers all U.S. consumers who bought or leased a 2012-2017 Sentra with an Xtronic CVT.

    keep reading article "Sentra Lawsuit Says Xtronic CVTs Overheat by Design"
  4. A lawsuit has been filed in New Jersey saying the 2014 Sentra has a defective Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

    that shakes, jerks, has trouble accelerating, and experiences sudden downshifts. The lawsuit, Pinto of Montville Inc. v. Nissan North America, Inc, was filed by a garbage collection company which is oh so appropriate given the CVTs trashy reputation.

    "The plaintiff claims Nissan has concealed the defective transmissions while never ordering a recall, even after years of owner complaints. In addition, the automaker allegedly falsely advertised the transmissions as having fewer moving part to reduce friction and heat which makes the transmissions last longer."

    The lawsuit mentions that Nissan issued a warranty extension campaign, but that only included the 2007-2010 Sentra, not the 2014.

    keep reading article "NJ Garbage Company Lawsuit Says the 2014 Sentra's CVT is Trash"

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA