In theory a CVT transmission is a brilliant solution to getting power to the wheels using a power source with a constrained torque curve. Now I have no idea how prevalent these problems are in the entire Altima community but in my case this thing works perfectly. So unless my transmission was somehow sprinkled with fairy dust the engineering on the Jatco units is sound. Nissan just has to figure out how to fix the few (or many) that are bad.
We sold a 2010 Murano to "upgrade" to the Altima. In hindsight, both my wife and I deeply regret selling the Murano given all the problems we're having with our 13 Altima. The CVT on that Murano's 3.5 was flawless.
The lugging and vibration has not really been much of an issue on the 3.5. Many (but not all) of the 2.5's seem to have it severely.
I had a 2.5 for 5 months and noticed the lugging but it was never highly objectionable. Traded for a 3.5 and that engine accepts the low rpm load much nicer and really has no issues with lugging. BUT - the converter lockup is much more abrupt in the 3.5 - it uses heavier duty clutches. This results in a frequent jerk and occasional severe shudder on lockup at 15-25 mph.
Different issues with the CVT in the 2.5 and 3.5 but both are unacceptable and should have been corrected yesterday by Nissan.
My fully loaded 2013 Altima 3.5 SL sounds fine off the line...yes a bit of a "growl" but that's to be expected since its a good size 275hp engine. In 5000 miles I've experienced the "imfamous shudder" only 3 times.
It sounds like there are many 2.5's that don't have CVT issues. I am also waiting for the belt and tensioner to arrive at my dealership. The regional tech said the problems may or may not come back. Not everyone experiences a "relapse" according to him. So some may get lucky until a real fix comes out. The tech also said they are working on a fix. "Working on a fix" could be what they say about everything.
Is the torque converter lockup mechanism very similar to a clutch on a manual transmission? Maybe the clutch disk is skipping?[/QUOTE]
Exactly! It's usually a multiplate, wet clutch located inside the converter. Some designs are actually a single plate dry clutch on the outside of the converter shell.
I'm pretty sure the Jatco uses a multiplate wet clutch. Early Ford AOD-E automatics had this exact same problem that usually required replacing some parts in the clutch assembly. I owned one of these and it felt exactly like the Nissan shudder. The transmission was removed and parts replaced on a Lincoln with only about 3000 miles on it. This was back in 1994.
It has been an eventful week. On Thursday my Altima went back to the dealership for service and on Saturday I test drove 2 different versions of the 2014 Mazda6 and the 2013 Accord Sedan Sport.
Unfortunately, the trip to the dealership went as expected. I took time to fully document the lugging / vibration issue and gave detail on how it developed after driving the car for approximately 1000 miles. As expected, the response was “they all do that, it is the nature of a CVT”. The entire discussion with the Service Manager felt scripted and defensive. You can tell the service team has been coached on responding to the complaint. I actually feel somewhat bad for the dealership, Nissan has put them in a difficult position.
Overall, my impression of the Mazda6 was favorable. I drove the Sport with a 6 speed manual and another with the 6 speed automatic. The handling of both cars was outstanding. They had a true sport feel with good steering feedback. As you might expect with the firmer suspension, there is more road noise than with the Altima. The seats were firm, yet comfortable with good support. The interior is much improved over the 2013 Mazda6 but still not up to par with the Altima. The big disappointment is that the model equipped with the manual transmission comes with very limited options for electronics. No Bluetooth, touchscreen, backup camera, etc.. The dealership claimed that Mazda has heard that same feedback loud and clear and will be offering the additional options with a manual transmission later this year. I’ve learned to be skeptical of dealer claims but Car & Driver reported something similar, we’ll see. It’s no secret that I prefer manual transmissions and the test drive only proved to reinforce that point. The 6 speed shifter had nice short throws and felt great. The automatic was fine. The drive ratios seemed well balanced with good responsiveness. It had a “manual” mode but as with all the others, it is no substitute for a manual transmission. Looking back at the test drive, I’m not sure I would group the Mazda6 in the same general sedan category as the Altima / Camry / Accord lineup. For me, it is a potentially good fit because I prefer a sporty very responsive vehicle. I’m not sure it will have the broad market appeal of the more typical sedans. Time will tell if I would purchase a Mazda6. It’s simply too soon to know what glitches are lurking within their redesign.
Other than having a decent manual transmission, the Accord Sport I drove was pretty un-remarkable. The styling of the Altima and Mazda6 are far nicer. I did not care for the seats or layout of the dash. Handling was good but again, unremarkable. The one odd thing with the car is that it seemed to have a vibration you could feel in the steering wheel. It is hard to say why, it may have been something isolated to the car I drove. They did pull it out of a snow filled lot.
The other news of the week was input I got (not from a salesman) about Jatco CVT’s. Disclaimer: Take this information for what it is worth. I’m actually hoping someone can disprove it because the prospect of it being accurate is concerning. From what I was told, there were two primary challenges with previous versions of the Jatco CVT. One was aeration of the fluid and the other was overheating of fluid. This appears to be well documented from what I can find online. Two things were done to address this in the new Jactco 8 used in the Altima. The drive belt was raised above the level of the sump holding the fluid. This appears to have been good solution for solving the aeration of the fluid. Time will tell if it impacts the longevity of the drive belt. The fluid overheating was addressed in large part by limiting the unlocked operation of the torque converter. The shearing action of the fluid inside a torque converter’s stator & turbine produces friction (and heat) as a means to propel the vehicle. Once the converter clutch is locked up, it no longer relies on that fluid / friction coupling to transfer energy from the engine to the drivetrain. Keeping the torque converter clutch locked up as much as possible is Nissan’s method to reduce friction and resulting heat. Guess where most of their touted 40% reduction in friction came from? Reprograming the TCM seems like a simple, logical solution to solve the lugging and vibration issue but Nissan has painted themselves in a corner because the transmission will overheat if they raise the converter lockup points. It will take some fundamental design and production changes to address. Again, I’m relaying this information on as told, not as fact. Please feel free to poke holes in this explanation. I’d like to cling to some hope that Nissan will correct the problem on the existing Altima’s. Test driving competing cars on Saturday was fun but the financial reality of trading in a 6 month old vehicle was brutal.
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The big disappointment is that the model equipped with the manual transmission comes with very limited options for electronics. No Bluetooth, touchscreen, backup camera, etc.. The dealership claimed that Mazda has heard that same feedback loud and clear and will be offering the additional options with a manual transmission later this year. I’ve learned to be skeptical of dealer claims but Car & Driver reported something similar, we’ll see.
The 2014 Mazda 6 "Touring" trim will be available with 6MT starting in March or April. Check out the specs section on the MazdaUSA web site. As far as I can tell all Mazda 6 exterior colors will be available with MT while Honda restricts MT sedans to silver or gray. Lucky Canadian buyers can get the Mazda 6 "Grand Touring" trim with MT but in the US the highest trim is AT only.
Thanks for the reply. It is good to see that Mazda has near term plans to offer the manual transmission in the touring model. I have to say, it was interesting to talk to the Mazda corporate rep at the auto show. He was candid about their intentions to pursue the performance oriented market segment that Nissan is abandoning. They are proving to be genuine in their desire for customer feedback and following up with products to meet those customer preferences. It’s a refreshing change from the “you can only get a CVT because we know what is best for you” attitude at Nissan.
I have no idea how many 3.5's have been sold, but I have to assume that most if not all are experiencing the same CVT issue. Nissan might not be able to come up with a "fix" if it's caused by a design flaw. Remember they supposedly redesigned the whole transmission for 2013. Unless they want to cop to a flaw and replace ALL of the 2013 CVT but my guess is that they will quietly fix the problem on the production line and current owners may be out of luck unless the really make a stink.
This will be my one and only Nissan if the problem isn't resolved....and unlike all my other cars, I'll be dumping this one in less than 3 yrs.......too bad, but lessioned learned...NEVER BY THE FIRST YEAR A NEW CAR COMES OUT!....my bad!
Design Flaw,, as is for 2.5L... THAT"S WHERE THE PROBLEM "LIES" . IMO NISSAN WILL NOT be able to fix...
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