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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm still driving my 2003 AWD SE and have reached nearly 278,000 miles. Are there any original members from way back who still have their original MO? If so, I'd be interested to know how she's done over the years.

For me, in short: nine CVT replacements, five transfer cases, three throttle bodies... What I find interesting about the CVT is, the first seven were covered under warranty (as were the TCs) the eighth was covered by the insurance of the guy who broadsided me in 2010. The ninth CVT I got used from a junkyard in 2016 for $1,200. It came out of a 2006 MO whose odometer read 120,000. Since installing that used CVT, I've put an additional 158,000 miles on it, and it still works. Either I got one of the "good" CVTs that will last for 300,000 miles and beyond, or it had been recently installed, new, and had low mileage when it was sent to the scrapyard.

However, I've been getting that dreaded P1778 "valve body failure" code for the past few years, but MO still drives beautifully and feels great and reliable, despite a host of random problems that I'll get into later. I just use my Autolink OBDII reader, clear the code and life goes on. The one thing I did with this used CVT is not use Nissan tranny fluid. Instead, I used Castrol Transmax Dexron VI fluid and I overfilled the transmission when I got the first P1778 code, and maybe that made the difference. MO throws that P1778 code about twice a year, and I've put about 75,000 miles on that CVT since first getting that code.

She still runs very strong, but I can't drive overly aggressively or shift to Ds mode to pass fast. I just drive MO like a normal person now. :) She still looks great!
 

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However, I've been getting that dreaded P1778 "valve body failure" code for the past two years, but MO still drives beautifully and feels great and reliable, despite a host of random problems that I'll get into later. I just use my Autolink OBDII reader, clear the code and life goes on. The one thing I did with this used CVT is not use Nissan tranny fluid. Instead, I used Castrol Transmax Dexron VI fluid and I overfilled the transmission when I got the first P1778 code, and maybe that made the difference. MO throws that P1778 code about twice a year, and I've put about 75,000 miles on that CVT since first getting that code.

Will add more later...have some things to do....
Dex VI is the wrong specification of fluid. It should be NS-2 spec CVT fluid and Castrol makes this (...a completely different product). I'm surprised the CVT has lasted this long.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Dex VI is the wrong specification of fluid. It should be NS-2 spec CVT fluid and Castrol makes this (...a completely different product). I'm surprised the CVT has lasted this long.
Yes, I'm aware that Castrol has actual "CVT" fluid. Since I've taken care of my car and Nissan's CVTs kept failing, and because I was now footing the bill for that used CVT, I wanted to try something different, so I went with Dex6 (per Nissan's original specs) and have had very good luck with it. This is the longest my MO has ever gone without needing a new tranny, so clearly something is working. 158,000 miles using Dex6 and the tranny is still running smooth...I'd say that's not simply luck. :)

EDIT: however, to be fair, it's possible the Dex6 is the reason I'm getting that P1778 code for the valve body. Perhaps if I had used the "correct" fluid, that code would never have appeared. But, 158,000 miles on a used tranny that supposedly already had 120,00 miles on it is pretty damned good. Even if I have to buy another used one for $1,200 in a few months, I'd say I was doing better than most. :)
 

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Yes, I'm aware that Castrol has actual "CVT" fluid. Since I've taken care of my car and Nissan's CVTs keep failing for no reason, and because I was now footing the bill for that used CVT, I wanted to try something a little different, so I went with Dex6 (per Nissan's original specs) and have had very good luck with it. This is the longest my MO has ever gone without needing a new tranny, so clearly something is working. 158,000 miles using Dex6 and the tranny is still running smooth...I'd say that's not simply luck. :)

EDIT: however, to be fair, it's possible the Dex6 is the reason I'm getting that P1778 code for the valve body. Perhaps if I had used the "correct" fluid, that code would never have appeared. But, 158,000 miles on a used tranny that supposedly already had 120,00 miles on it is pretty damned good. Even if I have to buy another used one for $1,200 in a few months, I'd say I was doing okay. :)
Out of curiosity, did you replace all the fluid in the CVT with Dexron VI or just do a oil pan drain/refill?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Out of curiosity, did you replace all the fluid in the CVT with Dexron VI or just do a oil pan drain/refill?
The CVT was bone dry when I got it from the salvage yard, and the appropriate amount of Dex6 was used to fill it. Years later, when I got the P1778 code, I used the tranny dipstick tube to add about four more quarts over a period of 16 months. On the last 1/2 quart I added in March 2020, the first run at 55MPH on a hot day saw the tranny dipstick "uncap" and spew fluid under the hood. It's since found its own level and has been fine since, and the code has never come back. It might be pertinent to mention that the internal seal on the CVT that mates to the transfer case was leaking a small amount of fluid into the transfer case's "empty space" and then dripping out the condensation hole at the bottom. I decided to plug that hole to prevent the drip, and it's been plugged ever since. I'm sure much of the extra fluid I put down the tranny dipstick tube made its way into the transfer case housing and now everything is totally full. Obviously, this procedure isn't something I would normally do or recommend, but given the age of MO, the miles, the other issues that I haven''t mentioned, etc, etc...I was simply trying to stretch out her life until I found another new car that excited me, or until she failed too big to bother fixing.

Right now, believe it or not, my MO has been the most reliable for me the past five years than in the first 5-7 years I had her. I'd driven up to 14 hours non-stop last year and didn't encounter a single glitch on that road trip. I routinely drive 2-3 hours into the mountains for recreation and she climbs every hill just fine. The first two years I had MO, she stalled on me a few times after driving a mere hour to the mountains, and she left me stranded three times. Since taking Nissan Service out of the equation and doing 90% of the work myself, MO has managed to run (not just simply limp) for nearly six years without anything overly serious happening. Yes, I've had to replace wheel bearing hubs, a CV axle, a had to bush fix a blown out bushing on my sub-frame that's held together fine for six years, etc, etc. Overall, I now know what to expect to fail and what signs to look for and what things to keep a close eye on. I would have no issue driving MO cross-country tomorrow. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
BTW, the only upcoming big problems I'm predicting would be something related to the fuel pump in the gas tank, the drive shafts and carrier bearings failing, and the rear differential/axle locking up. Possibly even the head gaskets blowing out, and likely even the original water pump failing. The head gaskets are original from when the heads were replaced at 57K. I'm really amazed they're still intact given the mileage and circumstances of the engine running hotter since around 2014 because of a pinhole coolant leak in cylinder 1 that I use liquid aluminum to keep under control.
 

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I have a 2nd gen 2009 SL, 2WD. I got 258k on my original tranny when I suddenly died in 2019. I paid the dealer $4k for a reman and my mo now has 290k and is still running well. I've replaced an A/C clutch and all of the accessories that go with it. I've replaced a blown radiator, replaced a bad hatch motor and that;s all. It still has a smooth ride. The only interior problem is a the vinyl on the side of the leather drive'rs side is splitting from dry rot but since it's black, good strong black duct tape makes for an easy and decent looking repair.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I have a 2nd gen 2009 SL, 2WD. I got 258k on my original tranny when I suddenly died in 2019. I paid the dealer $4k for a reman and my mo now has 290k and is still running well. I've replaced an A/C clutch and all of the accessories that go with it. I've replaced a blown radiator, replaced a bad hatch motor and that;s all. It still has a smooth ride. The only interior problem is a the vinyl on the side of the leather drive'rs side is splitting from dry rot but since it's black, good strong black duct tape makes for an easy and decent looking repair.
290K is a testament to people saying the engine is bullet-proof. I can't believe my engine is still running so smoothly, considering it's burning about a pint of oil per week, and has been running hotter for six years due to a hole in the engine block in a cooling jacket. Every third oil change I toss in some Lucas heavy duty oil stabilizer, and performance just keeps improving and the engine purrs. Also using STP high mileage at every fill-up, and a can of Jasco lacquer thinner about once every month to keep the CAT codes away. Seems to be working.

Did your CVT give any warnings that it was getting read to fail? How did it die? My CVT's been warning me for over three years that something's not right, but nearly 80,000 miles later, it's still running smoothly and quiet, but I have to be gentle with it first thing in the morning until things have warmed up and its made a few key gear shifts. I"m pretty sure the reason I went through so many CVTs in the early years is due to driving in Ds mode, and going from D to Ds and flooring it to make passes. It was a lot of fun...felt like I was in a rocket. I've driven much faster and much sportier vehicles, but there was something about what I call the "slingshot effect" of MO taking off once dropped into Ds mode...it just seemed to launch so smoothly and quickly, like an ion propulsion drive on crack. :)

Yesterday, I changed the front bank plugs and coils to test out the parts that I'll remove and place in the rear bank this weekend. I like to make sure things work before tearing down everything and putting it back together. In any case, I'm always amazed how just changing the front bank parts makes MO run smoother. Now going up steep hills is even easier, and I don't have to depress the gas pedal as much or hear everything work so hard. When the rear bank is done, it's always like driving a brand new car for a few months. I use NGK iridium plugs and DWVO ignition coil packs.
 

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No warning on the CVT failure. I was running errands during lunch and slowed down to make a right hand turn at a green light. When I slowed down it suddenly revved to something like 4000 RPMs and I was only going about 25 MPH. Luckily I was almost back to work, so I slowly limped back to the parking lot. I let it cool down for a few hours and set off for the dealer. At first everything was normal but as soon as I stopped at a red light and started off, it revved very high again. The dealer ran the scanner and said that it was throwing codes and said that the CVT was toast. I had changed the CVT fluid once before around 150k I think. It was just the drain and fill kind and I used after market CVT fluid that was same as NS2.

I've changed the plugs every 100K and of course the oil around every 5-6K. The engine pings until it has warmed up which takes about 2 miles of driving. The cat code comes on every now and then but goes away for many months before coming back for a few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Current odometer reading: 280051 miles.

This afternoon whille driving back from the mountains and taking my usual route, MO did something I've never experienced. This will sound strange... While driving 55MPH under cruise, it felt like MO was being nudged around by gusts of wind, and then it felt like MO was gliding on a layer of ice or almost floating on air, and then the engine started feeling like it was sputtering and the tach needle started having some wacky movement from 1000-2000RPMs, and when I'd accelerate a bit the RPMs would drop as MO went faster, then things evened out and were normal. I drove another 10 miles by foot, and then parked, turned off MO, started up, etc, and drove another 30 minutes home at speeds up to 62MPH with cruise. When engaging cruise at 40MPH, those series of sensations happened again slightly. No SES lights, no overheating indications, and MO idled fine. It might be related to the electrical/starting gremlins I've been posting about lately. FYI, to test the tranny, I drove down and then up a very steep, long hill, and MO did just fine.

The gliding on ice sensation kind of felt like nearly all major moving parts of the drivetrain had disengaged briefly and there was no mechanical friction of any kind. Really bizarre stuff.
 

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It will be interesting to watch this and see if it only happens under cruise. That would be perplexing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Since I have so many random issues, I decided to change out the neg lead to the battery. Pics are in this thread...

I'll post here if that solved this particular cruise control issue. I'm wondering if an electronics glitch caused the ECM to try to alter the speed of each wheel under cruise control (despite AWD cutting out above 25MPH) and it got confused and kept recalculating/rethinking and sometimes allowed MO to coast until it figured things out. Not sure that's even possible...just trying to make sense of what happened.
 

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The Murano's AWD drive system can only vary to percentage of power going to the front and rear, it cannot vary each wheel independently that I know of... However, I believe the ABS system can individually brake each wheel as needed for braking and dynamic stability control...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I put a couple hundred miles on MO today, and took my usual route to the mountains. I might have a real-life Christine situation here, since MO seems to be driving better, despite the bizarre things.

1 - Using the same route, my average mixed MPG is usually 22.1. Today, that same route produced a mixed MPG of 24.6 (24 is usually what I get when doing purely highway driving.) Major change for the better.

2 - On this route with hills and long flat roads, my cruising RPMs usually range from 1500 to 2800. Today, they ranged from 1300 to 2300. The only steeper hill I use cruise on because the RPMs always max out at 2800, today maxxed out at 2300. Acceleration felt normal and things were smooth...and MO didn't seem to be working as hard. The engine sounded quieter and less strained.

3 - The strange - around RPMs of 1000-1400, there is a dead zone of no acceleration, and the needle sometimes bounces around like crazy when I take control of the gas and barely touch the pedal. There is a slight lag/lull as I push the pedal down a bit, and the RPMs drop, then suddenly increase and seem to catch up to where the gas pedal is.

4 - Yesterday morning, I had to brake hard doing 58MPH down a hill because some fat turkeys decided to fly-walk out of the woods suddenly. I felt and heard a thunk, which almost felt like the rear axle had shifted position. When I checked things last night, I discovered my 5-year-old, aftermarket, front motor mount was split (the bushing). I'm thinking the icy/floating sensation I was getting yesterday afternoon might have been the engine shifting around "loose" and causing some strange suspension weight shifts as cruise control made adjustments to road conditions and the engine underwent torque changes.

5 - I've read posts here where people have complained about MO dropping in RPMs for a second upon acceleration, and others have said "that's just MO." I've never really had to deal with that, aside from issues with clogged CATs, fouled plugs or bad coil packs. For me, MO has always been very responsive and never lulled on me as a normal thing.

6 - When under my foot control, there are fewer "gaps" in the RPM range. Cruise seems to make a lot of small (yet big-feeling) changes that cause the drivetrain to "float in the middle" between acceleration and the desired speed. If that makes sense. I can feel the driveshaft engaging and disengaging (bumping the shaft's spline) a touch. With my foot, there are fewer lulls for corrections, so MO drives more smoothly.

7 - There does seem to be a hiccup at slower speeds. Almost feels like a CAT wants to clog up but doesn't. It's possible all the lacquer thinner I've been using over the past few years is still cleaning out the CATs and I'm getting less restriction through the system, so no MO's running better and getting better MPGs.

8 - This morning when idling cold, there was a vibration in the steering wheel that was never there. Later in the day, the vibration was gone. I'm guessing the engine was shifting around on that broken mount and the heat of the day and from the engine compartment made it less stiff so it absorbed things better than when cold.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Odometer...280472 miles

Put another 200 on MO today, and did some acceleration tests up some hills. Driving route was about 90% the same, but with a bit more city. Mixed MPG was 24.3.

Things that have changed in MO over the past 3-4 days...
  • last two fuel fillups I used 89 octane, instead of the 93 I've been using for at least three years. Still using the STP High Mileage additive every fillup.
  • added a new NEG/ground wire from battery to chasis.
  • front motor mount bushing is blown
Since my RPMs aren't where they usually are, coupled with MO calculating fuel effiency better than ever, is there a chance the computer or some part of the electronics is screwy and providing inaccurate readings? Has the new ground wire caused better current flow through the electrical system and made everything work the way it should, meaning my old readings were bad? Or, because I seriously looked at other new cars a few days ago (first time in 17 years), is MO scrambling to repair herself so I don't leave her? I'd say that last one sounds more likely. :)

What I've figured out today...
- there's a definite dead zone of acceleration from 1150-1400 RPMs. When cruise is on now, it's floating in that zone, where before it was always remaining above 1450 when cruising. When cruise has reached the set speed, it then "floats in between" torque/no torque and the RPMs drop below 1400, and the "dead zone effect" that resembles a clogging CAT starts to emerge (which I think is the tranny or engine shuddering a bit.)

- under foot control, if I depress the gas pedal about 1/4" inch and keep it there (on a flat road), and let MO gradually accelerate, the RPMs jump to 2000 (without it producing the engine revolutions that I'm used to hearing/feeling for 17 years), and the tach needle then drops to 1250, the engine pauses like it's not sure what to do, then it finally goes up and keep accdelerating smoothly. It all happens in less than a second. Even if I do a more aggressive pedal, the same situation happens, unless I kind of feather the pedal to make the RPMs stay above 1400. It's possible since I had the battery disconnected for about two hours while changing the NEG cable and cleaning up everything, that I have to do the relearn procedure with the gas pedal. Thing is, she starts up fast and idles quiet and steady, even though it's at an insanely low 250 RPMs. I'll have to think hard before doing the relearn thing...

- While very tempted to floor it to see what would happen (something I haven't done for over two years), I'm concerned about the CATS blowing crap back into the engine, or getting super-clogged to where I then have to scrap MO or pay big $$ for a new exhaust system (which I'm not going to do), or worst...the extra compression blows the head gaskets and I'm dead on the side of the road. In all those scenarios and others, MO would head to the scrapyard, so I'm going to keep playing it safe. As I've said before, I don't limp around with MO...I can still pass cars (even up steep hills) but if they accelerate to try to prevent a pass, I have to concede in order to preserve my ride. No big deal... The only concession I have to make with driving MO is no overly agressive driving (meaning not extended RPMs above 3000. It's really not a big deal, since I don't drive fast anymore anyway.

- I highly doubt the broken motor mount has made MO run better. I can't imagine a misaligned engine creating a situation where power is more efficiently transferred when things are broken.

This car constantly amazes and perplexes me...
 

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After reading your tales, I would have dropped that car like a hot potato after the second CVT, regardless that it was still under warranty.

Right now, the car owns you, lock stock and barrel. Sad that you're afraid to have the gas to the floor. Really past the time to dump it. It's no longer a car, but an anchor around your neck.

Sorry for your luck.

Have a good day.
 

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There is an aggravation and cost threshold for every car. Agreed, this one would have passed mine long ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
After reading your tales, I would have dropped that car like a hot potato after the second CVT, regardless that it was still under warranty. Right now, the car owns you, lock stock and barrel. Sad that you're afraid to have the gas to the floor. Really past the time to dump it. It's no longer a car, but an anchor around your neck. Sorry for your luck.
That's a matter of opinion and perspective. There's horrible luck, perfect luck, and then everything in between. While my luck wasn't great at the beginning of owning MO, at least I didn't have to pay for anything to be fixed up through 2010. After that, the only two major expenses I've had were a used CVT for $1200 that's still going strong, and an aftermarket throttle body that's going on six years now. If at any time during the first seven years of ownership I had to spend $3000 for a CVT to keep MO running, the car would have found a new owner or the scrapyard. I paid cash for MO in 2003 and got a great price because nobody wanted a stripped-down Murano (but I preferred no bells and whistles). I never had to pay back a loan, so I haven't spent beyond the buying price for MO (barring regular maintenance for things like oil, filters, serp belts, brake pads, tires, fluids) until around 2015, when I had to get a throttle body for about $100+ that I installed. Even if you factor in a few bottles of liquid aluminum for the engine block's leak, a new radiator because a flying rock gashed one of the tanks, one pass-side window lift for $45 in 2018, a couple of batteries, wheel bearings, CV axles, a couple sets of struts/shocks, radiator fan assembly 2019, a heated O2 sensor, cooling hoses, NEG ground cable, new ignition packs and plugs annually since 2016 because they're inexpensive and I feel will keep MO running better, which I think it's apparent they have, etc. It's a car with nearly 300,000 miles and things like that are inevitable to replace. In the end, this car has been reliable for me since 2010. A bush fix here and there for something that I don't feel really needs a new part to make MO operate properly/safely is fine to me and a challenge (such as the subframe bushing). I'd say MO was a good purchase that hasn't really cost me a lot to own/maintain, and the car has brought me a lot of fun (and interesting) driving time. Incidentally, the subframe bushing was damaged by the company who transported MO cross country. I also suspect my car was used for joyriding at some point, since there was dog hair in the front pass seat, and I don't own a dog (and nobody whoever rode with me had a dog), plus there was mud splattered around the sides/back or the car, and the muffler was dented. I think whatever they did during transporting started the process of MO's eighth CVT failing...the one that was replaced in 2010 after an accident that had been running great for five years. I complained to them, but they ignored my e-mails and calls. Oh well...

I don't mind inconvenience...I do mind throwing too much money at something that has no value. MO looks great outside, has no rust, her black cloth interior is immaculate with no tears or stains, and she drives great, handles beautifully and is quiet and dependable. I don't look at having to jumpstart her once at a store a big deal, because I've since figured out what to do, and the car has never left me stranded or unable to get from point A to B everyday. Yeah, so twice a year for a few weeks since about 2017 I have to jog the key to get the engine to start. It always fires up within two minutes, so it's no big deal. I've never woken up and dreaded driving MO or wondered if she's going to start. I have fun driving this car, despite not being able to feel that "slingshot effect" she used to have. Then, again, I'm older, living in a more relaxed place, and I'm enjoying the scenery and watching out for animals crossing the road. I still "attack" certain curvy hills and straight-aways that have rollercoaster rises and dips, and I'm enjoying more of a technical driving experience with MO...holding a good line around long, sweeping corners, keeping equal distances from the road's edge to the centerline, weaving to avoid potholes and manhole covers, etc. I've never gotten tired of driving MO. She's got a few quirks and I'm fine dealing with them. I see people in far worse cars all the time, and feel lucky my car looks and runs as great as it does. It's always been my plan to either give MO to a local VocTech school where students can learn auto mechanics, or find a person at my old local High School who has the crappiest car (and who maybe wants to work on cars), and see if they'd want MO for free, provided the parents were okay with it.

There's an old guy down the street who has the exact MO I have, and I see him drive by every now and then as I'm leaving, and I can't help but look at his car and think what a beautiful piece of artwork it is. I always give a wave and he waves back. I think MO still looks futuristic and sexy. Also, when talking about repairs, do you know I've never had to replace any fuses or relays in MO? I've never had the A/C serviced/recharged and it's still cold. Except for the CD player, everything in MO works great. The only interior wear is the "off" button for the heating system...the white within the lettering is gone. Why would I get rid of a car because of a few annoyances that really haven't affected my wallet or ability to head to the mountains all the time?

In any case, while I haven't had perfect luck with MO, I've had enough acceptable luck to consider it (after 17 years) a car I've been happy to own and drive. Except for buying a '70 Cuda back when I was a teenager (for $3500) after seeing one of her headlights peeking out from beneath a crappy tarp on the side of a battered barn, MO is the only other car I've ever been really excited about, and I've had better than 20 cars/trucks, muscle cars so far. I'd prefer to pass MO on before things fail to the point where she can't be driven, which is why I've been looking at some new cars lately. The only current vehicles that kind of excite me are the 2020 Chevy Blazer RS and the Platinum series AWD Muranos. There was also some Toyota SUV that looked kind of cool when I drove by a dealership...I've looked at the Jeeps and Grand Cherokees , but I hate the plastic skirting around the entire vehicle. Plus, I don't realyl like the way the front is shaped.

Put some more mountain miles on MO today, and she's driving great. :) Life isn't perfect and neither is she - but she's doing just fine.

As I said in a very ancient post here: "I love you MO! You big piece of crap!" :D
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
The issue seems to be working itself out. I'm not sure if the computer has figured out what's happening and has made the necessary adjustments so that everything works well, or it's the calm before the storm. But, MPG is still great, acceleration is smooth and the RPMs are lower than usual, but with no loss of power. That low-RPM hiccup seems to be gone. Current hot idle is 350 RPMs. It may have been that on that last oil change a couple of weeks ago, I used Lucas heavy duty oil stabilizer and it initially caused some valve issues. I know the first time I used that, MO sounded louder and a bit choked up. After about six months and three bottles of Lucas, things smoothed out and the engine found a good groove and is very quiet...not that it was ever really noisy.

Today while in D mode, I decided to get a little aggressive and got the RPMs up to 3500 for about five seconds and MO had a bit of the old breakaway feel that I used to love. The slingshot effect only happened when dropping from D to Ds and gunning it. That won't be happening on my watch, since I seem to have found a CVT that's strong and runs reliably. With seemingly 265,000 miles on a transmission that climbs hills well and is very quiet, I won't be pushing my luck... Also, at those high RPMs, the SES light usually starts flashing and the cruise control's SET light also blinks. None of that happened this time.

In the end, I'll probably go to at last 300000 miles before thinking about passing her on. Been eyeing the Jaguar F-Pace the past couple of days, and will test drive one soon...
 
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