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


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.

14 Answers


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.

3 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful.

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

5 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful.

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.


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

1 people found this helpful.

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.

5 people found this 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.

8 people found this helpful.
Best Answer Mark helpful

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..

6 people found this helpful.

Wish I had read this before buying my used 2012 Versa SL with only 30k km and only test driving in +5 C temperature. My first drive at -20 C and it revved at 3000 rpm when driving at 50 km/hr for the first 10 minutes. Any other transmission would have shifted and dropped down to 1750 to 2000 rpm when cold. Not happy about this.


I have a 2013 Nissan SV which has the CVT transmission. I didn't have any issues last winter but this winter we've had 2 weeks of extremely cold weather, -0 overnight. Just recently I've experienced the same issues others have brought up. Rev's high while starting out when cold and after a few miles it kicks down. Last 2 tank full's of gas showed mileage is down from an average of 33 mpg to 25 mpg. It does have 80,000 miles on it now. From others post's, it seems as if there is nothing that can be done except pray for warmer weather? Or move to California?

My CVT works better in the cold! I do drive it at 5 or ten miles per hour for the first mile to get it going & also warm it up a few minute in the cold.

I have a Ford CVT and it won't move under 50 degrees even after running for half an hour? But it works fine in warm weather????

Got a 2017 Nissan Rogue. This problem is still present. When below -13°F (-25°C) and the car has not been driven for 12 hours, if I start the engine and let it run only 20 seconds then put the transmission in Drive, engine has to go between 3500-4000 rpm just to be able to get to 25-30mph (40-50kph). If I try to keep RPM belows 2500, the car does not go faster than 15 mph (25 kph) for the first 3-4 minutes. The trick I found is start remotely the car for 5 minutes, shut it down 1 minutes and start it again. Then the RPM drop to 2000 for 30mph. It goes agains all my neurones to run a very cold engine (-20°F and below) over 2000RPM until engine temperature approches normal. It is not normal having to run RPM at 3700 on a very cold engine just to get to 30 MPH! Love the car but hate the transmission. This is my first CVT transmission and my last CVT what ever car manufacturer!!!

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