The Vulnerabilities of Modern Transmissions: Which Brands Are at Risk?
When investing in a vehicle, regardless of its initial price tag, it’s reasonable to expect a transmission to endure at least 100,000 miles. With proper care and adherence to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, this lifespan can even stretch to an impressive 200,000 miles, provided there are no collisions or unforeseen mishaps.
While modern transmissions might appear intricate, they surprisingly require only basic maintenance to ensure longevity. However, not all transmissions are created equal; some possess a higher susceptibility to disappointment. In this article, we delve into the transmissions of various car brands that a reputable institution like Consumer Reports has deemed more prone to failure.
Let it be clear that we are not asserting the inherent inferiority of these brands. Rather, for reasons known or unknown, their transmissions have exhibited premature issues more frequently than others.
Nissan: An Unexpected Contender
Nissan’s presence at the top of this list might surprise many, especially considering the Japanese giant’s reputation for rigorous quality standards. Yet, in the realm of transmissions, Nissan fell short compared to its competitors like Honda and Toyota, as noted by Consumer Reports.
Several models, some exclusively available in the US, found their way onto Consumer Reports’ list, casting a shadow on Nissan’s image. The silver lining is that not all models or model years are affected. Among the models named were the 2016 Nissan Altima and the 2013 Nissan Sentra.
Users of Nissan vehicles voiced grievances about overheating and gear slippage, issues that considerably impact road performance. Repairs were occasionally covered by warranties, with some occurring as early as the 40,000-mile mark. In the period spanning 2011 to 2016, numerous Nissan models reported serious problems necessitating significant repairs or replacements between 44,000 and 150,000 miles. These numbers fall notably short of the expected 200,000+ miles for a Japanese brand.
While Consumer Reports’ findings were made public in 2021, the most recent Nissan model mentioned hails from 2016. This indicates that Nissan has since made strides in enhancing the quality of newer models. However, prospective buyers eyeing older Nissan models should exercise caution. It’s imperative to secure a comprehensive service history for the transmission, at the very least.
Ford: A Surprising Contender
Another unexpected addition to the list is the widely favored Ford. Many of us are acquainted with a Ford Fiesta or Ford Focus driver, as Ford holds a place in the hearts of UK motorists. But what transpired?
Ford did not experience the same extent of setbacks as Nissan, with only one model, the US version of the Ford Focus in 2014, making it onto Consumer Reports’ list. However, this isn’t Ford’s first encounter with transmission quality issues. In the UK, both the Ford Powershift DCT40 MPS6 and the DCT250 DPS6 gearboxes faced scrutiny for various problems, a concern highlighted in 2022.
The problematic Ford DCT40 MPS6 gearboxes were utilized across multiple models with engines boasting a displacement of 2.0L and above. On the other hand, the DPS6 was integrated into numerous vehicles with engine sizes below 2.0L. Users reported symptoms such as harsh knocking and banging noises during attempts to shift from first gear to reverse, as well as delayed gear selections. Instances of jolting during gear changes, clutch slippage, and even the emergence of a “Transmission Malfunction Service Now” warning on dashboards were also documented.
For potential buyers considering a used Ford, particularly one equipped with either of the aforementioned DCT systems, a comprehensive service history and thorough assessment of their operational condition are essential.
Kia: Limited Impact
Kia earned a spot on Consumer Reports’ list, yet existing Kia drivers can breathe a sigh of relief, as the most severe transmission concerns were tied to the 2019 Kia Forte, also known as the Kia Cerato. Importantly, this model isn’t available in the UK market. Reports indicated that the transmission in this relatively recent model, compared to others on the list, began encountering issues as early as 12,000 miles. While this might raise concerns, major transmission faults at such low mileage would likely be covered by warranties.
Infiniti: Following in Nissan’s Footsteps
Nissan’s luxury counterpart, Infiniti, encountered similar transmission challenges as its parent company, a circumstance that isn’t entirely surprising. Notably, the 2014 Infiniti QX60, a compact crossover SUV model, stood out as the main culprit, demonstrating transmission problems around the 92,000-95,000-mile mark. Although this performance isn’t the worst, proper maintenance should ideally facilitate reaching at least 100,000 miles, as mentioned earlier.
CVT Transmissions: Debunking Misconceptions
Consumer Reports also included Chevrolet on its list. However, given that their presence in the UK primarily revolves around introducing the first right-hand-drive Chevy Corvette, delving further seems unnecessary. To conclude, let’s touch on a transmission type that often garners complaints—Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs).
CVTs are commonly employed in entry-level sedans that emphasize safety, affordability, and family-friendliness. Numerous reports of issues, often related to unfamiliar noises, stem from drivers who have never experienced a CVT’s distinct operation and sound in comparison to traditional automatic transmissions.
For CVT-equipped vehicles, it’s important to discern between normal operating sounds and concerning noises like knocks, bangs, and hard grinds. Unfamiliarity shouldn’t prompt a visit to the mechanic; however, if performance issues arise, consulting a mechanic is strongly recommended.