The Nissan Altima is a midsize car produced by Nissan from 1992 until the present model year. The Altima was a compact car from 1992-1997 and 2007-2013, while the mid-size car class took over from 1998 until the present. A continuation of the same company’s infamous Bluebird line, the Nissan Altima has been a popular car over the past few decades. Learn about the Nissan transmission repair price here.
Spanning six generations, the car has undergone many transformations and facelifts throughout the years. However, it is not without its fair share of issues – including a high Nissan transmission repair cost. Let’s see the different kinds of Nissan Altima transmission, the worst model years in terms of problem severity, and the overall transmission repair cost.
Nissan Altima Transmission Types
There were different types of transmission mechanisms used in the Nissan Altima’s various generations. In the first generation, the Altima utilized a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmission. This model utilized the 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic with shortened gear drive ratios in the second generation.
In the third generation, the Altima utilized a 5-speed manual transmission, 6-speed manual SE-R, 4-speed automatic, 5-speed manumatic, and 3.5 SE-R transmission. The 5-speed automatic transmission in the third generation was able to properly go from 0-60 miles per hour in just 6.2 seconds, reach 260 horsepower, and produce 251 pounds per foot of torque.
The fourth-generation used only a 6-speed manual transmission and a CVT, with the continuously variable transmission replacing the traditional automatic as the optional choice for some car owners.
The fifth-generation Altima used a Jatco CVT8 XTRONIC CVT transmission, marking the first model year that the manual transmission was not available for purchase. The lack of manual and automatic transmission options made the sixth-generation Nissan transmission repair cost higher than the previous models.
Lastly, Altima’s final generation used the same CVT transmission, with all engines mated to a continuous variable transmission.
Signs of a Bad Nissan Altima Transmission
Now that you know the most common Nissan Altima transmission types, being aware of signs of a poor Altima transmission can help you recognize and diagnose these issues before they cause further damage and lead to a higher Nissan Altima transmission repair cost.
Transmission Won’t Stay in Gear
One symptom of a bad transmission is that your transmission might not be able to stay in gear. If you try to put your car into a specific gear and it doesn’t work, this could be a clear sign that there could be a low transmission fluid amount. This low transmission fluid could be due to a leak, the gear shifter, the gear shifter cable, or the problem with the automatic transmission system’s valve body in your car.
If your transmission takes a while to go into the proper gear, this could be a sign of a transmission fluid that is too low. Low levels could be due to a transmission fluid leak, fluid contamination, or water intrusion during certain road conditions. Make sure you stay up to date with your transmission fluid level’s routine maintenance to prevent a high Nissan Altima transmission repair cost.
Your transmission slipping can lead to various problems in your vehicle. This condition is caused by low transmission fluid, contamination of transmission fluid, or the lack of routine maintenance. Slipping can also be due to the internal wear and tear on transmission parts. If your engine is again revving highly along with the slipping transmission, this is a sign that you have worn out clutches, leading to an expensive Nissan transmission repair cost.
If you notice a burning smell, this is a clear sign that you have a problem with your Altima. A burning smell is usually caused by a fluid leak in the transmission or a burning clutch. If you can catch the fluid leak quickly, then you might be able to save the transmission from any further damage. In addition, a buzzing sound can also be an indicator of a bad internal sealing surface, a bad valve seal, or low transmission fluid.
Nissan Altima Transmission Problems
Regarding the Altima throughout the years, the worst model years in terms of issues and problem severity are the 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2013 options, with 2009 having the most-reported problem of the steering wheel lock failing during use.
2005 Nissan Altima
The 2005 Nissan Altima had numerous transmission concerns from owners and the NHTSA. Owners stated that the transmission jerks during use, the transmission prematurely failed, the car shifts roughly, the car jerks and cuts off while stopped, the transmission mounts break, and the transmission leaks and slips.
Furthermore, the NHTSA stated concerns with the manual powertrain, automatic powertrain, transmission levers and linkages, and the torque converter. With all of these reported issues from car buyers, mechanics, and the NHTSA, you can see how the high Nissan transmission repair cost and numerous repairs would deter potential buyer prospects.
For owners to fix the transmission jerking in the 2005 Nissan Altima, the typical repair cost comes to nearly $2,500 – an extremely high Nissan transmission repair cost when compared to other easy fixes. The most common solution is to replace the transmission control module at around 120,000 miles.
2008 Nissan Altima
Regarding the 2008 Nissan Altima, this model year had the most concerns regarding the interior accessories and the transmission, with the car having a defective trend of CVT transmission failure at below 100,000 miles.
The most problematic transmission concerns are a premature failure, whining noises while driving, shuddering and vibrating at low speeds, and the engine starting but the car not moving. Paying to repair the transmission failure is a very high Nissan transmission repair cost – owners will have to fork over nearly $4,000 to replace the entire transmission at around 130,000 miles.
2009 Nissan Altima
The 2009 and 2010 Nissan Altima are known for issues with the car starting, with the vehicles suddenly becoming impossible to turn on due to faulty electronic steering issues. Unfortunately for owners, this isn't the only issue in this car – the high Nissan transmission repair cost is extremely problematic.
Owners state the car suddenly shudders while accelerating, the whining noise increases with speed, the transmission fails, the car goes into “fail-safe” mode, and the car hesitates while shifting into drive or reverse. Paying to repair the car shuddering will typically require owners to buy a new transmission or rebuild their transmission for a very expensive Nissan transmission repair cost.
2013 Nissan Altima
The 2013 has many problems, including early transmission failure related to the CVT transmission, noise from the steering pump, and constant windshield and visibility issues.
The main transmission concerns focus on the CVT shuddering, running roughly. The gear shift gets stuck in the park position, the car shifting at a stop or idle, the transmission making low noises, the torque converter failing, the transmission fluid leaking.
Owners who decide to pay the CVT price shuddering, vibrating, hesitating, and running roughly will have to pay over $3,000 to fix the issue. The most common solution is to purchase a new transmission at around 54,000 miles, coming out to a very hefty Nissan transmission repair cost.
Nissan CVT Transmission Recall
Regarding the numerous Nissan Altima cars with a high Nissan transmission repair cost, some of these vehicles were also the subject of a recall to help drivers and car owners’ safety. Nissan CVT issues are very common among all Nissan vehicles.
The CVT transmission was first used to create smoother gear shifts and a higher engine performance capability but backfired to an unreliable and unsafe mechanism that Nissan should never have used in their Altima cars. From 2012-2018, various Nissan vehicles were fitted with the CVT transmission, such as the Sentra, Versa, Altima, and Rogue.
In these affected vehicles, owners report a loss of power, jerking transmission, transmission slipping, CVT coolant hoses leaking, and a dashboard error message while driving. These problems caused safety concerns for the owner and caused a very high Nissan transmission repair cost that a mechanic or local auto body shop had to take care of quickly.
The solution for Nissan Altima owners came when Nissan extended the warranty on some of these cars to 10 years/120,000 miles. The extension of the warranty covered the CVT transmission issues, helping to alleviate some of the money associated with the high Nissan transmission repair cost.
The Bottom Line
Being aware of the most common transmission issues in your Nissan Altima can help you keep the Nissan Altima transmission repair cost as low as possible. Noting the most problematic model years of the Altima, like 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2013, can help you make smart buying decisions. Lastly, diagnosing the common transmission issues, like slipping, jerking, unintentional accelerating, and clunking noises, can help you minimize costs.