Nissan Implements New Software to Fix GT-R’s Launch Control Issues

Nissan’s GT-R is one hell of a car. Barely half a year has gone by since its release and already it is bordering on legendary status. This thing is fast, and at about $80,000, it’s relatively affordable given the speed and performance it achieves. Too bad it eats transmissions. It has a fragile gearbox? After all that hoopla and jazz about this being the car to have, Nissan fits the thing with a weak tranny?

That’s apparently what everyone thought after the Internet started getting flooded with claims that after using the car’s launch control a few times, the gearbox would go the way of the dodo bird. Nissan, of course, caught wind of this and went into full-on damage control. Apparently, what happens is that the car’s electronic safety net, called VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), can be turned off, which apparently lets the car launch harder from a standstill.

Without the VDC to monitor what is going on, the transmisison will launch so hard that it cannot take the force and it breaks. A new one will run close to $25,000, so that could become a real inconvenience. Nissan has gone about solving the issue by implementing a software change that won’t allow the car to launch so hard, and requires the VDC to be kept on. In fact, Nissan has always stated in the owner’s manual that this car should always have VDC turned on unless you’re stuck in mud or snow.

Here is the official statement from Nissan to its dealers. It explains the problem and how they will fix it: Nissan has enhanced the Model Year (MY) 2009 GT-R by incorporating new MY 2010 programming that will optimize clutch engagement control for improved drivability. This upgrade also improves vehicle acceleration with the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) ON/activated. Nissan will provide this MY 2010 specification upgrade to MY 2009 GT-R owners at no additional cost. Nissan has already incorporated this programming into the GT-R vehicles in its U.S. inventory and will resume shipping of those vehicles to dealers. We will advise you soon on how to install this new program into all MY 2009 GT-Rs (see below). The GT-R will continue to offer supercar characteristics of exceptional handling, maneuvering and overall driving experience. This upgrade provides the consumer improved drivability and enhanced acceleration performance with VDC ON (as required by the warranty). Standing acceleration capability with VDC ON (VDC-R mode) will improve compared to the original model-year 2009 performance while such acceleration with VDC OFF will be moderated. Customers should be reminded to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. [Please note independent media reports of 0-60 drive times with VDC OFF (or what the media call "Launch Control") on closed-courses with professional drivers will likely increase after this change.] The GT-R Owner’s Manual expressly warns against driving with the VDC OFF (except to free the vehicle when stuck in mud or snow) to avoid damage. Repeated acceleration launches with VDC OFF have resulted in some reported instances of damage to the transaxle. Repairs for damage caused by driving with VDC OFF are expressly excluded under the terms of the Nissan GT-R New Car Limited Warranty… Except when stuck, there is no reason to drive with VDC OFF. This change was initially implemented with the start of MY 2010 GT-R production and has been completed for all 2009 GT-Rs still in NNA inventory… In a few weeks, you will receive the Technical Service Bulletin explaining how to implement this specification change for all remaining 2009 GT-Rs…


Are you a GT-R owner? Keep that VDC on or this could be you.

Source: Inside Line

Photo: Kurt Neibuhr for Inside Line