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Nissan Altima: 5 Common Transmission Problems You Should Watch Out For

Nissan Altima debuted for the first time in 1992. 2018 saw the start of its sixth generation of production. This brand of Nissan car is regarded as more exquisite than the Nissan Sentra but less so than the Maxima. Despite this, the Nissan Altima has gained popularity and established a solid reputation.

Problems with the transmission in the Nissan Altima are most often due to the kind of transmission system it employs. Such problems include transmission failure, hesitation to accelerate, uneven vehicle movement, and transmission fluid leaks.

The type of car transmission it utilizes is the cause of these Nissan Altima’s common transmission problems. It uses continuous variable transmission (CVT) which instead of using conventional gears, CVT drives use belts and pulleys. But compared to automated transmissions, these belts and pulleys deteriorate far more rapidly. 

How Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) Affects Nissan Altima Transmission

Nissan Altima
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To fully understand the transmission issues in Nissan Altima, we need to know how CVT works. 

CVT is one of the three types of transmission found in automobiles with the other two being manual and automatic transmissions. A CVT has some significant similarities with an automatic transmission. This is because, unlike manual transmission, it does not rely on driver input to decide what gear ratio is required. This is where their similarities end. A CVT is devoid of gears. It instead comprises two pulleys of which one is connected to the engine and the other to the wheels. A flexible belt connects the two pulleys. 

A continuously variable transmission mechanism is based on the width of these pulleys. The amount of power a vehicle need determines the width of the pulleys in CVT. When one pulley increases its width, the other pulley reduces, and vice versa. Because the pulleys and belts are not fixed, they can produce an endless number of gear ratios, as opposed to an automatic, which has a fixed number of gears. 

What Are The Problems Associated With Transmission In Nissan Altima?

Some Nissan Altima common transmission problems include;

Transmission failure

Transmission failure
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Failure of the transmission to function is one of the most frequent issues with the Nissan Altima. Unfortunately, this issue has affected a lot of the vehicles made by this manufacturer.

One of the worst transmissions is without a doubt the Nissan CVT. It was initially intended to save on fuel and boost the engine’s performance. However, some drivers complained about it having issues. These issues include slow acceleration, transmission vibration, etc, all of which lead to transmission failure.

Hesitation to accelerate

Hesitation to accelerate
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Sometimes the Nissan Altima’s transmission struggles with a lack of acceleration. Car owners complain that when they step on the gas, nothing happens and simply becomes numb without accelerating or speeding up. Drivers also complain that there is no increase in RPMs and as a result, they are unable to maneuver the vehicle at the appropriate speed.

Reviews from some drivers who are constantly on the road show that when this issue occurs, the car would not accelerate over 55 miles/hr. Damage risk increases as a result of this.

The lack of acceleration in the Nissan Altima can be caused by two things:

  •  A clogged or dirty air filter or fuel filter in the vehicle
  • Uneven airflow into the car’s engine.

Uneven vehicle movement

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Nissan Altima is rumored to accelerate inappropriately occasionally. The vehicle may lurch forward or jerk when the driver hits the gas pedal, especially when shifting gears. Some drivers say the transmission is slipping. The transmission may degrade more quickly as a result of the car’s jerky and uneven movements.

Nissan Altima has experienced early transmission failure for many years, even up until the 2016 model year. The Manufacturers of Altima advise an early transmission flush for cars with 40,000 miles as opposed to the standard 50,000 miles. 

A stuck park position on the gear shift

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One of Nissan Altima’s transmission problems is the inability to smoothly shift out of gear when the driver comes to a stop. Some drivers claimed that the engine would cut off and stall as soon as they put the car in drive or reverse. Other times, drivers claim that putting the car in park causes it to die or appear to turn off.

The accumulation of dirt and debris in the transmission fluid causes the gear shift to be stuck in the park position. Its fluid qualities are impacted by this accumulation. This may result in the car dying when you put it in drive or reverse. It could prevent the car from shifting gear. 

Transmission fluid leaks

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One of Nissan Altima’s common transmission problems is a transmission leak. Even though a little leak won’t cause immediate issues, if you don’t fix it, it will suffer serious damage. Either of the following could be the cause of transmission fluid leaks;

  • Wear and tear in the transmission pan and drain plug
  • Damaged transmission pan gaskets
  • Leakage from cracks in the torque converter
  • Cracked fuel line by road debris or heat

Final Thoughts

Nissan produces extremely dependable engines, but transmissions are nothing to write home about. The fact that CVT is fuel-efficient is the primary reason for its rise in popularity among automobile manufacturers. It has drawbacks. Some of these issues are present in Nissan automobiles with automatic transmissions as well. Until 1992, Nissan produced early models of vehicles and SUVs with continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

Frequently Asked Questions

Should the transmission problems discourage me from buying a Nissan Altima?

You shouldn’t be deterred from purchasing a Nissan Altima even though its transmission issues can be costly and difficult. This is because new models from 2017 don’t experience these problems as they use automatic transmission instead of a CVT transmission 

What is the cost of fixing transmission problems in Nissan Altima?

You can rebuild the CVT transmissions to remedy transmission problems in Nissan Altimas, however, this is not recommended. It is best to get it rebuilt at a reputable auto shop. A transmission rebuild or replacement often costs between $3000 and $6000, which is more than the automobile is worth. 

Is CVT transmission good for long-distance journeys?

CVT transmissions offer a more comfortable ride over long distances. It is extremely dependable because it does not consume fuel like other transmission types.


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