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Transmission issues while towing a caravan with a 2015 Nissan X-Trail 1.6 DCI CVT

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When I am towing my caravan, particularly using cruise control, in my 2015 Nissan X-Trail 1.6 DCI CVT, the gearbox changes down and sometimes the engine revs really high. I have to stop accelerating, at which point the engine goes back to normal. It’s almost like clutch slip if it were a manual.

Actually, this is simply how a CVT operates. When you load the engine (and towing a caravan is a great way to do that) the transmission will switch to a lower ratio in order to keep the engine in its comfort zone and making enough power to keep everything moving at the speed at which you’ve set the cruise control. Because there are no set ratios in a CVT, this can sound a feel very alien when it happens. It's one of the things many people dislike about CVTs.

When you turn off the cruise control and allow the throttle to return to idle, the car detects that the crisis is over and changes the ratio to allow the engine to slow down as less power is needed. And that’s why it all feels like it’s returning to normal. But, really, what you’re hearing and feeling is just the CVT doing its thing.

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