Sunday, June 21, 2009

End of Transmission, Start of Transmission 2

Our RED Nissan Versa has never gotten very good mileage; about 70% of the advertised EPA. I chalked it up to a lot of things, but in reality it sucked. In the last few months a strange clacking became more and more evident by degrees. When Ladybug took it in for service, she pointed out the sound. It turned out to be a problem with the CVT drive. CVT is a new type of transmission (continuously variable transmission) that uses belts instead of gears to allow the vehicle accelerate smoothly. It is supposed to be more fuel efficient. Heh.

Well, a problem with part of the transmission is a problem with the whole assembly, so they ordered us an entire new transmission on warranty. It took a week to arrive and it was a two day repair job (we got an Altima loaner car in the mean time; I asked Ladybug to bring home a Z car but no luck).

The new transmission is quieter and seems a bit more powerful at high RPMs than the old one. I am hopeful that our mileage will climb up a bit closer to the EPA value. I will let you know. Sadly we now know that any CVT problems when we exit warranty will result in big $$. Remember that when checking out new cars (assuming anyone will have the wealth to do so over the next decade or two).

Interestingly, since I started working at home, I don't drive nearly as much. I can also bike wherever I want instead of a course to work. I am soooo green. I am proud to be a drop in the bucket.

In every energy endeavor, the greenest thing you can do is to NOT do. Sadly, this is often not possible so it will be the reality of energy that drives us more than our own behavior, individual or civic. Sad, but true.


On another note, I joined the Facebook revolution after figuring out how to deal with the fact that you are essentially sharing every word you utter with everyone you've ever known or will ever know as well as potential employers, vengeful prosecutors, angry city council members, and every one else good, bad, or indifferent. I have the privacy ratcheted down as tight as is practical. My language is very positive and couched in the most generic, positive way. No politics and no religion.

Nonetheless, I am able to inject my personality enough to make it worthwhile. I am in touch with dozens of people I haven't spoken to in years and even decades and I feel enriched for the memories that has uncovered. On the other hand, it is a time eater and dozens of superficial relationships can't hold a candle to a few deep ones, so there are tradeoffs to consider.

I meant to do a bunch of stuff on our garden as well, but that didn't happen either. We have rows of pumpkins, broccoli, spinach (mostly harvested and eaten already), cucumbers, and onions. We also have a single red bell pepper plant that we hope survives until our wet, cool spell ends and two tomato plants in pots (Brandywine and Black Krimson heirloom varieties) which are coming along well. This is in addition to Ladybug's herb garden (♪ ♫ parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme ♪ ♫) which I will let her elaborate on as she is becoming quite the herbalist.

We also found some wonderful food at our local farmer's market so we've tried to divert most of our grocery money to our local growers and make the effort to eat whole foods instead of processed crap food. With any luck, the health benefits will trickle down to us. The prices are comparable and, at least with asparagus, the produce lasts much longer in the crisper than the store.


Pandabonium said...

Our Insight has a CVT. They are supposed to be equally reliable as gear types. Hopefully you just got rare bad one - glad that you found out under warranty.

I've avoided face book for the same reasons. But, "No politics and no religion." ? People will think you are a godless anarchist. :D

I've been lax with my veggies this year and it shows - late starts, potatoes with blight, bugs on the lettuce. I need to tend to things more and hopefully things will improve. Happily, one of our neighbors has been working hard and keeps us supplied with dikon and potatoes.

Dave said...

I hear Nissan is coming out with an electric car. In an unrelated note, you can make a battery out of a potato, a dime, and a penny.

If cvt is anything like I last saw, the belt is made of a steel strap and metal segments. Probably means more frequent oil changes.

Don Snabulus said...


I hope you are right about CVT. They've been out long enough to get a general view.

Re: Facebook, I find valuing the person over religion or politics has its own advantages. I've always been a staunch eclectic and I value even those with whom I may have other disagreements.

I hope the veggie situation improves. I bet greater abundance of tropical moisture enhances the pest situation in Japan. Our broccoli is quite bug-eaten as well. I consider it all a learning experience and we will do better next year.


Sadly, the amount of energy it takes to make a potato, a dime, and a penny far exceeds the electricity that can be derived.

Our Versa calls for oil changes every 3750 miles instead of 3000. If our service was any indication, I think that the tranny lubricants are sealed and therefore separate and longer-lasting than the combustion lube.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I was going to say that CVT here in Japan generally has a good reputation, but Panda-b beat me to the punch. You probably just drew a losing straw in that regard.

Then again, here in Japan Nissan long had the worst reputation for both quality and service. It only lost that honor when Mitsubishi had its image flushed down the toilet thanks to a couple of flawed designs and a hugely painful coverup scandal. (Frankly, I trust Mazda far less than Nissan based on personal experience, but anyway...) Nissan now seems to be putting more effort into bettering its image. It is actually putting out "cool" designs for the first time in ages, and its reputation for quality seems to have improved a lot as well.

As for me, I'll happily stick with Toyota for now.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Incidentally, the Versa is called the "Tiida" in Japan.

Arkonbey said...

Wow. I've never even heard of a CVT, is that lame?

My Outback gets pretty much exactly the highway estimate every time. Strange.

New cars not getting exceptional mileage has bugged me since in 2005 I took Sweet Enemy's hand-me-down 1992 Tercel on a 500 mi. road trip and got 42mpg.

Way to go on the farmer's market. Do you guys have community supported agriculture near you? The people I know who do it get much more food then they need for the money, but if you've got a family, that might be a "problem ya wants t'have".

Dean Wormer said...

I was thinking about you this last weekend when I was in Best Buy. They are selling electric bikes now!

They had a $500 and $1000 dollar model but the $500 looked like you could take it off road.

Don Snabulus said...


I like Toyota but the Yaris was too constricting to my legs, the Corolla was too bulky, and the Prius too expensive. Hence the Versa.


I believe our 97 Saturn wagon gets almost the EPA amount AND it is better than the Versa. Not too impressive from an environmental viewpoint. It is pretty sad when a 92 Tercel gets better mileage than a so-called SmartCar.

Our community ag is mostly across town which is a pain to get to/participate in. We do the next best thing which is share back and forth with our neighbors.


It is good that electric bikes are "jumping the shark" because it means they will get less expensive.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I wasn't sure what you meant by the "Yaris" until I looked it up. It's called the "Vitz" in Japan. It's actually a Greek design! I got one as a loaner the first time I took my RAV4 in for shaken, which was in 2003. Yes, it is a tiny thing, but it can be kind of fun to drive...for a while.

I keep hoping they'll give me a "bB" (read "bee bee" - known as the Scion xB in the US) as a loaner, but so far no luck. I got the Vitz (Yaris) in 2003 and an Auris (Corolla hatchback) in 2007 and 2009. I don't remember what the 2005 loaner was, but it might have been an "ist" (Scion xA).

ElTigrez said...

I had my 89 celica packed to the gills with my stuff on cross country trip and it consistently got 38 mpg fully loaded. The early 90s corollas before they got really bulky where around 40 mpg. The old 80s rabbit diesel hatchbacks got 40+. My own nissan 720 at over 276K miles on the odometer still gets 27+ mpg. I have very little inclination to buy a new vehicle outside of my parameters of year and models. Im not an open minded consumer when it comes to cars :)