- Automobile History
The Corvair and Murano Share a Similar Fate
Forty Years Apart, Same Problem
History seems to repeat all the time, in all walks of life. This is the case with two automakers and their cars: the Nissan Murano and the Chevrolet Corvair.
The two cars are dissimilar in almost all ways but for one very critical one: Design defects and poor repair knowledge at dealerships. The Corvair remains America's only rear engine, air-cooled engine car produced from 1960-69. Over 1.5 million were made.It was the Car of the Year for its design and 20 MPG. The Murano was the first real crossover SUV in 2003. While common nowadays, it was a new concept in 2003 and was the first to use a new type of tranny, CVT, that is common now.
When both cars were introduced, the public fell in love with them. They sold well. However, in both cases, after they were on the road for a year, problems surfaced. For the Corvair is was steering at high speeds and lack of stability of the rear wheels causing the car to be unsafe at higher speeds, especially on turns. The Corvair engine ran hot and the material used around to prevent oil leaks, cracked and fell apart, causing oil smell, large leaks on the driveway, and if the heater hoses were not maintained, carbon monoxide would enter into the driver area. The Corvair also used a different air pressure in the wheels than what the public was use to, that is, 17 psi in the front and 32psi in the rear. Although this was in the manual, most buyers never knew it. Having the tire pressure more than 17 psi in the front, caused the Corvair to be "light footed" on the road, as the wind would get under it and lift. By 1965-69, the Corvair problems had been all addressed, the new body style is still awesome today. Yet, the car's image was damaged until its death in May 1969.
When the Murano appeared, it was history all over in some ways. Everyone loved it, it sold well despite it being $30,000 (the Corvair was $2500). By the time the 2004's arrived, a lot of owners complained about the usual things and Nissan did nothing about it. The CVT transmission and its sensor were unreliable, regardless of the mileage of the car. The tranny case frequently cracked or its gasket was installed incorrectly by Nissan mechanics causing a puddle of fluid. This is not cheap fluid at $600. The metal bands inside the tranny would chip off bits of metal and the owner would have no clue something was wrong because the sensor did not always work due to its design and location. Problems with accelerating, bucking with no warnings. An indication the tranny was malfunctioning. Owners complained about tires wearing at a much faster rate, seat frames breaking off causing the seat to be loose, electrical problems. The majority of complaints made to Nissan from 2003-2007 remain about the CVT. The cost to replace it is $5,000. The public began to think the Murano was a lemon because of the CVT. Cars with as little as 40K miles had failed CVTs. The Nissan mechanics quality and knowledge about it the problem remains dubious. Nissan pretended there was no real problem. The CVT issue is a design defect that was tweaked each year and by 2008 model, it seems to have been addressed. In the meantime, Nissan has lost a lot of former dedicated customers. Nissan blamed the car owner for not reading the manual regarding changing the tranny fluid, owners state there is nothing about it in the manual (at least in the early model years).