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Nissan just got better (and how a CVT works)

Picture of the guts of an Xtronic transmission, courtesy

Picture of the guts of an Xtronic transmission, courtesy

How’s this?  Well, up until now, if you bought one of their cars with a CTV (Continuously Variable Transmission), you where a bit SOL after 5 years or 60K miles, whichever came first, as the warranty on it disappeared at that point.  Now, they’ve extended it to 10 years, 120K miles.  That’s sort-of a big deal.  Especially with them dropping out of Altima’s left and right early on.

If you’re not familiar with the CVT’s, they’re actually a very cool type of transmission.  The idea is to keep the car always in the most optimal ratio going from engine to wheels, based upon speed and acceleration.  The way this ends up working is basically this: there’s a regular pulley wheel on one end of the belt, but the other has a two-piece pulley wheel, where each side is like the underside of a dinner plate.  When you need to adjust the drive ratio, you push the two dinner plates together, or pull them apart.  This makes it so that the belt has to travel a little bit further, or a little bit shorter distance around that side.  Nissan’s Xtronic transmission probably has some other bits in there to adjust tension on the metal belt that connects the two pulley wheels, but that’s the basics.  What this gives you is better fuel economy, better performance, and a smaller, lighter transmission.

If you want the full scoop, including the letter to current owners who will get their money back for any repairs now, check out the article over at Autoblog.

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