04 & 05 Transmission and shifting problems
There appears to be a consistently recurring issue with jerky shifting in the 04 and 05 Maxima 5 speed transmissions. I ended up having the transmission and engine mounts replaced by the local Nissan dealership and now it runs and shifts like new. Based on all the online reports of Maxima customers, I really suspect there is an undocumented flaw with this transmission and it showed up in the late 04 and early 05 build cars. My car started shifting rough around 70,000 miles and progressively got worse.
Here is what I did;
I went into the dealership when I first took my car in then went to the front lot and spent some time looking and showing much interest at the 2009 Maxima and working with one of the more senior sales people. I told him I loved the car but being the first year for the new design may wait till the 2010 model but quite frankly was a bit hesistant because my 2005 has serious transmission problems after only 75,000 miles and had it in the service area getting looked at. I suggest he talk to the service manager and come back and tell me its really not that bad and may only need a slight adjustment. I gave him my number and left.
No trouble codes show up when they put the car on the scope. The first few times I took the car in it would not act up for the mechanic so they suggested a trans oil change for a few hundred dollars. I am not a mechanic but I know enough about cars that that dirty oil was not the root cause, plus it was the standard line that dealers have told people when they brought this problem up. The oil was still cherry red and my quick lube mechanic always checked it and said it was fine. Consequently, I did not have it done. The car would be good for a week or so then start acting up again, clunking and sometimes bucking like a stubborn horse while driving even freewheeling while driving making the RPMs shoot up, and hard shifting right around the 25-30 MPH shift. I took the car in again and took the dealer service manager out myself and I finally got it to act up while I was driving and he was in the car and he admitted that that was not normal. He recommended a new transmission for only $3000-$3500...ouch!
I told him this was the first foreign car I had bought after driving American all my life and I loved the car but was really disappointed at this happening at 75,000 miles, just after it got out of warranty. I also mentioned that I loved the new 2009 Nissan Maxima and was considering it to be my next car but based on this experience I would probably go to Toyota and never buy Nissan again. I also told him that there must be a flaw with a batch of these transmissions right around the late 04 early 05 builds based on all the online reports. I had printed out about twenty of them and went over them with him trying to demonstrate that the problem was not isolated but rather widespread. I told him I would expect this from a Ford but not a Nissan. Furthermore I told him that I would expect a Ford dealer to take no resposniblity at all and tell me that I would be on my own. I had a few things going against me. 1. I did not buy the car from them, but from another dealer in another city. 2. The car was never serviced at a Nissan dealer. 3. I had never serviced the transmission. 4. I was 15,000 miles out of warranty.
I asked him to work with me and at least ask Nissan corporate if they would cover a goodwill repair. I told him if he can't get this done I would more then likely take the car and trade it in for a Toyota or Honda...anything but a Nissan but I will not put $3500 into this car. He called me back a few days later and told me that Nissan corporate agreed to replacing the transmission and they would take care of it at no cost to me. The car needed a few hundred dollars of other maintenance related items and he asked and I agreed to have that done on my bill. He also asked me to rate him excellent on the Nissan survey that I would get in the mail and to keep bringing the car to him for all future maintance and repairs including oil changes, etc....which I have been doing.
Overall, I had to do some finagling but I am very pleased with the way they did treat me...much better then American car dealers have treated me in the past. I am convinced there is a problem with these transmissions and they know it but they did the right thing and I am once again a happy Nissan customer and would buy Nissan again from this dealer.
My advise to you and anyone with this problem is that you insist on a new transmission whether in or out of warranty. I would print out every report you find online about other Maxima owners who have had this problem and ask them to work with you to keep you a happy and loyal Nissan customer. Remember the dealer service manager has the authority to approve this and they get paid anyways. Make sure you remind him that his best interest is to keep you a happy Nissan customer that will buy from him again and tell others that they are a great dealership. They will work with you as long as you stay positive and ask them to work alongside with you..remember they are not the bad guys here...they just want to sell cars and keep customers like you and I happy, keep them coming back and tell everyone you know how great they are. This means a lot to a dealer service manager and the dealer manager. Make sure you work with both of them at the same time and things should work out.
Good luck to my fellow Maxima owners.