How To Reset Nissan CVT Transmission Control Module

How to Reset a Nissan CVT Transmission Control Module [EXPLAINED]

While we love the amount of driver engagement you get from a good old stick shift, nothing is as seamless and buttery smooth as a CVT, especially on a Nissan, as we’ve experienced!

Despite this, a Nissan CVT isn’t exactly bulletproof, and you just know that something has gone wrong when the ride starts feeling like a stick shift driven by a learner driver. By then, it’s a good idea to check your TCM if it needs resetting.

As for how you exactly reset a TCM on a Nissan CVT, we’ve got you covered! With our expertise in working with these crucial electronic modules in all kinds of vehicles, we’ll make your CVT as smooth as a baby’s bottom again in no time! 

How do you reset a Nissan transmission control module (TCM)?

A Nissan TCM can be reset by turning the ignition to “on”, pressing the gas pedal until you hear a click, then pressing it all the way. Turn off the ignition, then release the gas pedal again.

After leaving the car untouched for 2 to 5 minutes, you can turn it on again to finish the reset process.

Transmission control modules, or “TCMs”, have specific procedures in order to reset them back to their factory settings, and this is also true for those installed in Nissan CVT transmissions.

The reset procedure for Nissan TCMs is very similar to that of other brands such as Dodge and Chevy, which involves turning the key in the ignition and pressing the gas pedal in a certain way.

To reset a Nissan TCM, you first need to insert your key in the ignition and turn it to the “on” position without starting the engine. This will essentially turn on all the electronics needed.

Afterward, you need to push in the gas pedal until you hear an audible clicking sound, by which you then proceed to bury the pedal all the way to the floor to continue.

While your foot is still on the gas pedal, turn the ignition key to the “off” position again then take your foot off the gas.

Give it about 2 to 5 minutes while making sure not to touch any of the electronics inside the car, including the doors, as this may disrupt the reset process. After that, you can then start the car to wrap up the procedure. 

How do you reprogram a Nissan CVT transmission?

A Nissan CVT transmission can be reprogrammed by resetting its transmission control module (TCM), which is the one responsible for how the CVT shifts gears.

The TCM stores many shift parameters for your CVT transmission, and having it reset or reprogrammed can restore the CVT’s usual performance.

How do you reprogram a Nissan CVT transmission

A transmission control module is electronic by nature, so it’s not completely out of the ordinary when it runs into any sort of fault or glitch, especially if it has a lot of miles on it already.

While it may not necessarily be a physical issue with a transmission component, a TCM that is not receiving and sending the right signals will undoubtedly affect how your transmission shifts. This is where reprogramming comes in.

Before reprogramming a TCM, it needs to be reset so that all of the incorrect parameters that are causing shifting issues can be cleared. 

Afterward, a mechanic can perform the reprogramming procedure for you using specialized tools and software.

Just in case you need to completely replace a bad TCM, the new replacement TCM also needs to be programmed to fit the exact VIN of your vehicle so that it works properly with your transmission.

Resetting a Nissan CVT Transmission Control Module (TCM)

A Nissan CVT transmission control module can be reset by following a specific pattern of turning the key in the ignition and stepping on the gas pedal.

Before resetting your Nissan’s TCM, be sure to check all of your fluid levels and the condition of your battery.

Resetting a Nissan CVT Transmission Control Module (TCM)

It’s important to mention that if you’re running into shifting problems, it can be easy to assume that it only needs a TCM reset, yet there can be other underlying issues at hand that may still be unresolved even after the reset.

So before you actually decide to do a TCM reset, you should be double-checking all of your fluid levels (e.g. transmission fluid, engine oil), battery, and electrical wirings, as any issues with these things can be the actual culprits to your shifting problems.

Nissan’s reset procedure for the CVT transmission’s TCM can be considered the universal way of resetting a TCM in any vehicle equipped with one, which has something to do with turning the ignition key and depressing the gas pedal.

However, there are still a few differences between how each brand instructs you on how long you should be pressing things or waiting in between, so the procedure below is only intended for Nissan vehicles.

Nissan CVT Transmission Control Module Reset Procedure:
1. Insert and turn the ignition key to the “ON” position without starting the engine
2. Step on the gas pedal until it clicks, then push it all the way down.
3. Turn the ignition key to the “OFF” position and release your foot off the gas pedal.
4. Wait for 2 to 5 minutes while making sure not to touch any of the electronics inside the vehicle, including the doors.
5. Turn the ignition key to the “ON” position again to finish the reset.

After performing a successful reset, your TCM’s parameters will essentially be returned to whatever default settings the manufacturer has set, which means you need to do some driving around so that it “relearns” and adapts to your current driving style.

Is there an alternative method to resetting a Nissan TCM?

An alternative method of resetting a Nissan TCM is by disconnecting the negative battery cable for a few minutes.

Unplugging the negative battery cable will reset different electronics back to their default settings, but depending on the exact vehicle, this may only partially clear data in the TCM.

Is there an alternative method to resetting a Nissan TCM

A known alternative to resetting a transmission control module (TCM) is to simply disconnect the negative battery cable for a few minutes, then reconnect it again, as this resets many different electronics inside the vehicle.

However, the caveat to this alternative method is that it may not work for certain vehicles. Data stored inside the TCM may either be only partially cleared or not cleared at all. 

If disconnecting the negative battery cable doesn’t reset your Nissan’s TCM, then you should follow the universal procedure instead or have it reset by a mechanic.

What are the symptoms of a bad Nissan transmission control module (TCM)?

A bad Nissan transmission control module can cause symptoms like an illuminated check engine light, erratic or rough shifting, delayed shifting, and slipping gears.

Illuminated Check Engine Light (CEL)

Illuminated Check Engine Light (CEL)

When something goes wrong with the transmission control module (TCM), one of the most obvious signs to look out for is a check engine light (CEL) illuminated on your dashboard or gauge.

Depending on the vehicle model, the check engine light may be substituted by a separate transmission warning light if it ever involves an issue with the TCM.

But whether your particular Nissan comes with a separate transmission warning light or just the typical check engine light, it’s still too early to jump to conclusions that it is actually caused by a bad TCM.

Apart from pairing the check engine light with the other symptoms we’ve listed further below, another way to be more certain of a bad TCM is by checking your vehicle’s ECU if it has stored any error codes.

Whenever a check engine light comes on, it will most likely be accompanied by one or more error codes, which will give you info on what’s exactly causing the light to pop up.

By connecting a scan tool such as an OBD-II reader, you will be able to confirm if a TCM-related issue exists on your car.

Some examples of error codes that involve Nissan’s TCM include P0613, P0700, P0706, P0841, P0842, P0845, P0846, and P0847.

Erratic/Rough Shifting

Another symptom of a bad transmission control module (TCM) that you can actually feel is that the gear shifts get more erratic or rougher than usual.

TCMs are responsible for making sure that an automatic transmission shifts smoothly every time, especially on something like a Nissan CVT where the whole point of it is to provide the smoothest and most seamless ride possible.

While a CVT (continuously variable transmission) technically doesn’t “shift”, a bad TCM can still make it jerk around as if there are gears just abruptly getting slammed into.

But whether you have a CVT or just a standard automatic on your car, be sure to have your TCM diagnosed immediately if you’re experiencing a rougher ride, as it can potentially cause damage to the transmission if left unresolved for too long. 

Delayed Shifting (Slipping Gears)

Delayed Shifting (Slipping Gears)

Aside from erratic or rougher shifting, you may find that your transmission tends to delay shifts if you have a faulty transmission control module (TCM).

In the case of a CVT, it may feel like you’re not accelerating despite pressing down on the gas pedal, and this is because a bad TCM can cause the gears in your transmission to slip.

On a typical automatic transmission, a bad TCM can also cause slipping gears, though it will be more obvious this time around since it can cause a noticeable delay between shifts that freely revs the engine first before suddenly dropping it into the next gear.

Because of this, you can potentially experience two issues in one with delayed shifting, namely poorer acceleration performance and jerky ride quality.

What is a TCM (Transmission Control Module)?

A transmission control module (TCM), or a transmission control unit (TCU), is an electronic device responsible for controlling automatic transmissions.

A TCM operates under certain shift parameters provided by sensors in the engine and transmission to determine the most optimum time to shift.

What is a TCM (Transmission Control Module)

The transmission control module or “TCM” commands a vehicle’s transmission to shift at the most optimum time and manner depending on the situation.

The TCM also works together with the ECU (engine control unit), which feeds the former data from the different sensors in the engine and transmission.

Based on the signals that the TCM receives from the sensors, it will store “input parameters” that will allow it to calculate or determine when and how a shift should happen.

Such parameters it considers include the speed of the vehicle, the current position of the gas/throttle pedal, and many more.

After storing and calculating input parameters, the TCM then sends its own signals or “output parameters” to the transmission and other related controllers to trigger a gear shift.

As an example, if you were to press down hard on the gas pedal, then the TCM would take it as you needing peak performance and acceleration, resulting in it most likely shifting the transmission to a lower gear and allowing the engine to rev higher.

On the other hand, if you were to drive at just a leisurely pace, the TCM will allow the transmission to shift earlier at lower engine RPMs because you don’t need that much power based on your current driving inputs.

How the Nissan CVT Transmission Works

Nissan’s CVT transmission utilizes two pulleys driven by a chain or steel belt, where the drive pulley connects to the engine and the driven pulley connects to the wheels.

The Nissan CVT’s two variable pulleys allow for a constantly changing gear ratio to quickly adapt to the driving situation.

How the Nissan CVT Transmission Works

Nissan has its own version of the continuously variable transmission (CVT) known as “XTRONIC” CVT, which the renowned Japanese automaker describes as being “stepless” due to its ability to create any gear ratio seamlessly with no steps needed.

The Nissan XTRONIC CVT uses two belt-driven pulleys that can change in diameter depending on the driving situation. This is how a CVT achieves being “stepless” or “seamless”, as there are no shifts in between involved.

The way the CVT’s system basically works is that its “drive pulley” connects to and receives torque from the engine, whereas its “driven pulley” transmits that torque to the wheels.

As you drive either slower or faster, the width of the pulleys simultaneously adjusts, which allows the steel belt’s “arc radius” to become either narrower or wider.

The widening and narrowing of the steel belt’s arc radius determines the CVT’s gear ratio, so a narrower radius is like selecting a low gear, which would be more applicable at low speeds, and vice versa.

With Nissan’s XTRONIC CVT technology, the pulley axles are narrower by design and the belt has been developed further from the previous versions, leading to a wider range of possible gear ratios, with the highest being 7.3:1.

What are the benefits/advantages of a CVT transmission?

A CVT has some advantages over a traditional automatic transmission such as providing better fuel economy, smoother acceleration and response, and being more lightweight and compact.

A CVT transmission is also cheaper to maintain and is more reliable than other transmission types.

Better Fuel Economy

Better Fuel Economy

One of the most commonly talked about pros of a continuously variable transmission, or “CVT”, is that it provides better fuel economy than its conventional automatic counterpart.

A CVT has an infinite number of gear ratios, which means that at any given point while you’re stepping on the gas, the transmission constantly adapts and works at the most fuel-efficient points in the engine’s powerband.

Thus, the CVT takes away more load from the engine than an automatic transmission, resulting in an engine that consumes less fuel but can still provide optimum performance at a given time.

Smoother Acceleration and Response

The reason behind a CVT’s knack for providing smoother acceleration and transmission response is already in its name, which is that its gear ratios are “continuously variable”.

Unlike a standard automatic transmission that has a fixed gear ratio and has to shift between gears each time, a CVT can constantly vary the diameter of its “pulleys” depending on the situation.

As a result, you don’t even feel a CVT “shift” at all because it doesn’t need to engage different gears to adapt to the performance needed.

Rather, a CVT’s belt-driven variable pulleys can deliver the power and torque needed on demand smoother than a conventional automatic thanks to its constantly changing gear ratio.

More Lightweight and Compact

More Lightweight and Compact

Compared to a standard automatic transmission, continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) structurally have fewer moving parts and take up less space.

This allows for a more compact and lightweight design, which of course works in favor of a particular vehicle’s performance, as you would have a better power-to-weight ratio.

A better power-to-weight ratio would yield better acceleration, another strong suit of the CVT that we’ve already talked about above. 

Better Reliability Over Traditional Automatic

We talked about how CVTs have fewer parts compared to a typical multi-speed automatic transmission, meaning that it’s also more simple by design compared to the latter.

Thanks to its simplicity, the CVT has been found to be pretty reliable for the most part when fitted on many different vehicles given that they are regularly maintained and well taken care of.

Cheaper Maintenance Costs

Cheaper Maintenance Costs

We already know that the CVT has fewer moving parts and is generally more reliable compared to the traditional automatic, so another added benefit would be that it is cheaper to maintain.

Since CVTs do not need to engage different gears every single shift, their parts don’t wear out as fast as those in an automatic transmission, which means that they require less maintenance and fewer trips to the mechanic.

However, when something eventually does go wrong with a CVT, then you can expect the repair bills to be higher than that of an automatic. So as much as possible, you should follow your car’s recommended maintenance intervals religiously.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)