What would prevent a cvt from working properly in cold temperature?

Kendall Smith

Asked by Feb 07, 2014 at 12:15 AM about the 2012 Nissan Sentra SE-R

Question type: General

my 2012 nissan sentra no longer shifts properly during cold weather, below -5C, until it has been driven 5-10 km,sometimes it takes longer. It used to get 400 km per tank of fuel in town now it gets 170 km. Worked fine last winter and even up until start of January so this is not normal for this car.

10 Answers

Tom Demyan

I'd take the car into the Nissan Dealer to what is causing the issue. They work on CVT's all the time. Most local shops don't have the expertise working on them.

Kendall Smith

I did take the car in and was told that I was not warming the car up and that nothing was wrong with it, that is why I am trying to find an answer as my dealer does not seem to want to deal with the issue.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

It's still under warranty. Get it looked at by another Nissan dealer. There is no such thing as warming up a car when temperature is over -15C . Here, we get -25C and colder all the time. We don't have to warm up the car for the transmission to work properly.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
John Bullerjahn

Actually, in the owners manual you will find a paragraph stating the car needs to be running at least a minute before driving. The car has a real timing chain, not those rubber bands found on lesser vehicles. You will always get lower mileage in the winter, as engine run richer, and the gasoline formula is changed for the winter month, In and event, I drive very gently for the first 5 minutes or so. That gives everything a little time to stretch and unstiffen. BTW, I own a 2012 Sentra with the CVT and love it. You probably know this already, but if anything is going to break or go wrong, it will be in really cold weather or extremely hot weather so be gentle, especially in the cold. Hope this helps

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Hi John, I agree with you for the 1 minute and 5 minute when it's cold(-15C or less) but Kendall's car really seems to have an issue. Mileage should not drop this low during the winter. 170km per tank is nowhere near normal. 5-10km is very long to warm up a transmission when temperature is as warm as -5C. It may take a little bit to warm up the transmission at -25C but not -5.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Kendall Smith

i all, thanks for your responses. Today was -16C buy the car gauge. I let the car warm up for 15 minutes, it registered 4 bars on the thermostat gauge. On the 1 1/2 mile home at 40 km per hour the engine ran at 2500 rpm. On a nice warm day or when the car runs normally, it usually runs about 1500 rpm at 40 kmp. This just started in January so like I mentioned it is not normal for this car an yes it ran normally in cold weather befor this. And now that the service manager says it is normal, I think I might have to take it to another dealer but the next closest dealer is 1 1/2 hours away to the east and 2 hours to the west.

John Bullerjahn

Hi Kendall, Was wondering if you have resolved your CVT now that the warmer weather has appeared. I also had a thought I wish I had thought of earlier. Have you checked for any TSBs or recalls? TSB means technical service bulletin. I know they had issues with the early CVT s, but they, I think have solved the problem. Just take a pic of the vin and do some investigating on line. Good luck! John


My own 2011 Sentra did this all Winter. And anyone living in Canada knows that this Winter was a LOT colder than usual. -30'c, borderline -40'c everyday from January to early April. You car does NOT have a mechanical issue!!! Nissan designed it's CVT to stay in ''first'' gear until the transmission is adequately warmed up. That's why your engine is racing at 2500 rpm just to get to 40km/h, my car does the same. It's to protect the CVT from wear and tear, at the expense of sluggish acceleration and HORRIBLE fuel economy. It usually took 10 mins for the car to settle down to the regular 1100rpm even if I let the car idle for a bit. Trust me, it's a characteristic of Nissan's CVT.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I HAVE TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THIS! Whatever year it is when you read this post, please beware. I got an new 2010 Sentra in 2010. I loved its look and ride. THEN the transmission stopped changing ratios....when?? .. You guessed it, when cold! It would scream just to do 50kph. Now, some posts have said this is normal. I can certainly agree that it may be programmed that way but it is totally unacceptable. Mine started doing this in its second winter. That makes no sense. Then it started to do it when temps were warmer. Finally, at its worst, it required the car to shut off and then be restarted and it operated fine until it cooled down a free shutdown for the day. Total junk. Now, some folks may write me off as a guy who got a lemon and insist that this CVT issue of not "shifting" when cold is normal. No way. It's a problem and the Nissan tech agreed. They tried and tried and I gave up. Got a Toyota. 4 speed auto Corolla. Oh and one other thing I didn't like about the CVT.... In the first run of the day (regardless of ambient temp.) it would make a tap slapping noise when accelerating casually up to the first 30kph. Not a motor noise. Only the first acceleration, kind of a "tung-tung tunga-tung" real quickly. CVT junk. I looooved the CAR and hated the CVT. If you found this post you either were : a. Just bummin around online or b. Have this same CVT not "shifting" problem. It isn't going to get better. Sell or trade it of in summer when it is least likely to rear it ugly head. Get rid of the car. I'm a regular working guy and a dad. It took way to much of my time dealing with this nebulous issue.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer

I have the same issue and have gotten the same response from the Nissan dealership I go to. It is related to first start in cold weather (below 20 degrees F). The problem is fixed if I turn off the car and re-start it once it has been running in idle for a couple of minutes. If I start the car, let it idle for 5 minutes then try to drive it runs at high RPM (40mph @ 3000RPM on level road) indefinitely, and does not kick down regardless of whether I drive for 5 minutes or an hour. I truly believe it is a control module communications problem between the transmission and the master control module. There should be communications handshaking occurring between the transmission and master control module and that is never established during cold start conditions. The reset mechanism is shutting off the car and restarting it once the car is warmed up sufficiently..

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

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