Nissan Doubles Warranty on CVTs Due to Mechanical Failures

Ah the CVT. The answer to all of our problems. Its step-less shifting was to be both good for performance and economy while giving you a wafting cloud like experience. That is until it fails costing the owner $8,000 to replace. It’s been a huge frustration for quite a few R50 owners who opted for the CVT over the manual with many failures happening just around the time the warranty expires.

One automaker who also embraced CVTs around the same time period is Nissan. In fact they are still putting them in cars while MINI has very publicly shifted back to torque converter automatics. And as you’d expect there are many Nissan owners with similar CVT failures. So much so that Nissan has just announced a doubling of it’s warranty to 10 years or 120,000 covering the CVT. In addition to that Nissan is also reimbursing owners who have already shelled out thousands on replacements overly slushy slush boxes.

At this point MINI hasn’t acknowledged the issue and it’s not clear that they will ever do so. However if you’ve had your CVT fail on your R50 MINI, make sure you’re voice is heard both at your local dealer and at MINI USA corporate. BMW has a history of eventually taking care of large scale issues. We have no idea if this will be one of them but it’s certainly worth taking up the ladder so to speak.

You can read the corporte letter to CVT owners from Nissan at Autoblog


Detailed Technically Assessment on the CVT / MotoringFile

Random Thoughts on MINI Loaners and the CVT / MotoringFile

MF Review: 2003 MINI Cooper CVT / MotoringFile

  • I wish MINI would have replaced my manual trans in my R50 a couple years ago for free. They where as much crap as the CVT. Only got 80,000 before it crapped out. I might still own the little green thing.

  • Ellis

    My first MINI is a 2003 CVT. Very problematic & sometimes “died” on stoplight. Frequent visits to dealer but to no avail. Have to sell at a loss; very sad. I wish BMW MINI could have help me; either a replacement or monetary.

  • glangford

    Not sure I’m seeing the ” BMW has a history of eventually taking care of large scale issues”, when it comes to Mini.

  • scotteast

    The reliability problems with the CVT was one of the primary reasons I sold my 2003 MC just before the warranty expired. I never had any trouble and really liked driving the CVT (once I got used to it), but I know two people who had CVT failures. One had just over 50k miles and was able to get the local dealer to cover a new transmission under warranty. The other had 60k or so and had to pay for replacement. I know several others who have had trouble free CVTs, but it’s hard not knowing if you’re one of the lucky ones or if you’ll hear the $8000 CLUNK one day.


    Now while I cannot comment on every situation, the mass of people who have bought older MINI’s that do not service with a MINI Dealer should be aware that MINI recommends a CVT Service every Inspection or essentially every 25,000 to every 30,000 miles. If this isn’t done it could lead to possible failure of the transmission. This could be part of the reason the CVT gets such a bad reputation on top of the fact that they are not inexpensive to replace by any means. Its really not as bad of a transmission as people make it out to be.

  • Gary

    OK, not MINI related, but I have had to put substantial service dollars into my 03 Civic CVT… while I really like the smooth shifting (or lack of), the constant feeding and maintenance has turned me off of it, and now at just over 100K it showing signs that replacement will be in the near future. My wife’s 09 MINI with Auto has been fine so far and that’s probably the way I will spec and buy mine… hopefully before the Civic CVT dies.

  • Shep

    Thanks for keeping on top of this. I have a so-far trouble-free 2002 CVT. But I’ve only put 26000 miles on him. It’s really important to get that CVT fluid changed every 25000 miles, as It Wrks says! The service instructions do not emphasise this, and my dealer actually “forgot” to do it until I reminded them.

  • Gary

    [a different Gary]

    The silver lining in all of this is the opportunity for BMW MINI to wake up and learn a lesson from Nissan about the positive impact of genuine, demonstrated concern for their customer base on brand loyalty, repeat business, and new buyers. I’ll bet the good will generated by this action will pay off for them in an amount far greater than the expense of fixing the problematic CVTs.

    Kudos to Nissan!

  • Timothy

    For the record, Audi puts CVTs into some relatively high powered cars, including A6s with 3.0 liter V6 engines rated at 220 hp. (And not without issues and controversy.) Nissan has gone well past that. MINI’s CVT has only had to stand up to an engine barely half as powerful as Audi’s.

    But in many years of auto ownership the biggest mechanical problem I’ve ever had is with a traditional automatic transmission, which failed. My CVT MINI never exhibited any problems when I owned it.

    Allegedly the CVTs have made rapid progress in reliability, though some of that progress was after MINI gave up. I think I’d be pretty comfortable purchasing a CVT-equipped car nowadays, particularly if it was on a trim level with a lower output engine than the top CVT-equipped car in the line. I’d be very comfortable purchasing a Nissan CVT now, for example. Or purchasing a Japanese minicar, which almost universally use CVTs and with great success.

  • Brian

    Why does the R50 in the picture have the side skirts of the R53?

  • Seems to me this action by Nissan will have a significant effect on resale value, as their cars approach 10 years old

  • Just to clarify the Audi system uses a Vanadium chain belt which is much more substantial than a rubber one, and that is how Audi is able to get a CVT in a car with so much power with notably fewer issues. Nissan was not that intelligent for putting CVTs is AWD vehicles- the heavy Murano being one of them. My in-laws are on their 3rd transmission but they are not the smartest people as most would ditch the vehicle after the second replacement…

    As for MINI the cars are underpowered and fairly light so it must be a poor design.

  • Doug

    I bought an extended warranty on my 2004 R50 just to cover the CVT transmission. I hate to do it, but I’ll likely trade it before the warranty expires in December 2010.

  • Art

    I also have one in my 06 MC. I do love the CVT and will make sure the fluid gets chaged yearly. But alas I will be getting rid of it in the next 40K miles

  • Wb1evp

    Glad to have traded in my 2003 MC-CVT as it approached the end of warranty.  I never liked the tranny and it always felt like it was slowly thrashing itself into little pieces of dust…