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5th Generation Maxima (2000-2003) Learn more about the 5th Generation Maxima, including the VQ30DE-K and VQ35DE engines.

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Old 12-18-2008, 06:25 PM   #1
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Automatic Transmission Fluid Change

This car has 80,000 miles, and I doubt the transmission fluid has ever been changed (just bought it this summer).

I do not want to drop the pan, flush all the fluid, etc. I'm just interested in draining and refilling. Given that, and assuming that the current transmission fluid is the original Nissan factory stuff, what kind of fluid should I add?
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:28 PM   #2
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If you want to buy the original the specs are in the owners manual....

If not... you can get dexron/mercon III. I have been regularly doing drain and fills with shell dexron mercon III which I buy at costco for like 22 bucks for 20 quarts.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:32 PM   #3
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Thanks. I was at Pep Boys tonight and saw the Dexron III. Will stop by there soon and buy enough for a drain and refill.
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Old 12-18-2008, 06:34 PM   #4
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Old 12-19-2008, 05:48 AM   #5
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:48 PM   #6
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any dexron III will work, you can also go for a synthetic fluid for longer interval between changes and better lubrication.
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Old 12-20-2008, 12:33 AM   #7
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i went to the stealership for my AT fluid
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Old 12-20-2008, 02:09 AM   #8
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does the dealer do a good job with the machine, i was talking to the service department guy at the dealer and he said they run a cleaner and flush it.
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Old 12-21-2008, 12:09 AM   #9
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I drained 4 qts. today and refilled. Wish I had taken a pic of what color fluid came out--it was epic. Darker than used motor oil, for sure! Tomorrow is forecasted to be cold, so we'll see how she does.
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Old 12-21-2008, 01:09 AM   #10
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It's not to hard to drop the pan which is what I did changing the filter now that was a different story but it was done. My max ran beautifully afterwards. Can't remember if I went synthetic.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:21 AM   #11
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Since you did a drain and refill you have in turn replaced about 3 quarts or 30% of the total transmission fluid.

I notice you mentioned the color was very dark. If I may suggest you should do a couple more drain and fills in the next few months with your oil changes, that way you should be able to get a higher % of new fluid with say your next 4 oil changes. Unless you do what Lontar mentioned, it will be very hard to have Net New fluid in the transmission.

Once you do get a good amount of new fluid in the trans you will be surprized how smoothly the car will shift.

Also, DO NOT USE any machine to replace fluid in your transmission. I could not find it today but there is a post where someone posted a pdf file about how car manufacturers are against the using of machines to do flushes.

Good Luck.
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Old 12-23-2008, 04:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kukx30de View Post
Since you did a drain and refill you have in turn replaced about 3 quarts or 30% of the total transmission fluid.

I notice you mentioned the color was very dark. If I may suggest you should do a couple more drain and fills in the next few months with your oil changes, that way you should be able to get a higher % of new fluid with say your next 4 oil changes. Unless you do what Lontar mentioned, it will be very hard to have Net New fluid in the transmission.

Once you do get a good amount of new fluid in the trans you will be surprized how smoothly the car will shift.

Also, DO NOT USE any machine to replace fluid in your transmission. I could not find it today but there is a post where someone posted a pdf file about how car manufacturers are against the using of machines to do flushes.

Good Luck.
+1 on both points.

My ATF was pretty close to black the first time I did a drain and fill. I've done it 4 times since in the past year and the fluid is now red like it is supposed to be.

When I got my oil changed at the dealership the last time (they are cheaper than the local lube goons by nearly $20!) they gave me some BS the ATF needs to be changed. He said unless the ATF has been regularly changed, they do not do a flush if you have over 100k miles. Told him I'd already done it several times and know for a fact it is now red. He just kind of shrugged, knowing I caught him.
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:31 PM   #13
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I had mine flushed and was very pleased, very smooth shifts. Of couse I did the fluid chang several times before the flush.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:52 PM   #14
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Yeah, Nissan says it does not want its dealers to sell machine flushes and will not honor warranty repairs for any issues related to machine flushing.

Drain and fill is the way to go. For some weird reason I still use Nissan Matic D fluid rather than going to cheaper Dextron, as much as I hate using most OEM stuff. But both my 105,000 mile 97 and 184,000 mile 96 have had no trans problems (knocking on wood).
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Old 05-17-2011, 06:56 AM   #15
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im having trouble with my car and this dam 15 post rule SUCKS lol


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Old 05-17-2011, 07:05 AM   #16
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I haven't had a "machine flush" on my ATF, but have flushed it myself using the return line method. I have done this two times and no issues with the tranny at all with it having over 215,000 miles. I do have a VB mod so that likely helps. I also switched to synthetic Mobil 1 at about 30,000 miles and been on it ever since. I haven't done anything with my ATF for more than 3 years and almost 100,000 miles. Although I have been meaning to drop the pan and inspect again which I'll do this summer.

To the OP, I really do think you would benefit from dropping the pan. You can at least inspect the pan for amount of metal particles (yes you will have them) and see if you have anything large. This would indicate excess wear and point to a potential problem down the road. Just requires a new gasket which is about $15 at the dealer, no need to replace those bolts even though they suggest you do (mine are original). When dropping the pan you can also inspect the screen to see if there is any damage or tears which can happen.

In the end, it is up to you. Like others have said, if you do the drain and refill method you'll need to do it at least 3 or 4 times to get most of the old ATF out.
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:35 PM   #17
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Drain and fill.
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:27 AM   #18
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Drain and fill.
Let us let this thread rest in thread heaven.


2008 called and they want their thread back ...
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:07 PM   #19
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On a high mileage engine like mine (184K) should I even bother the tranny fluid? Shes running and shifting smooth Im worried about changing her fluid and she starts having problems...
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:35 PM   #20
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:53 PM   #21
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On a high mileage engine like mine (184K) should I even bother the tranny fluid? Shes running and shifting smooth Im worried about changing her fluid and she starts having problems...
I have the same question. I have a 97 maxima with 207k miles and the trans oil is black and appears to be overfilled??? However the tranny still works and I'm afraid to mess with it.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:17 AM   #22
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I ended up doing a drain and refill and it seems to shift harder than before. Is that normal?
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:31 AM   #23
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I ended up doing a drain and refill and it seems to shift harder than before. Is that normal?
It could be...keep in mind when doing a drain and refill you only drain about 1/3 of the total fluid. You'll have to do a drain and refill a few more times for it to be effective.

Honestly, I think you need to drop the pan if you haven't already. The shavings in the pan can be telling of the wear and tear on the tranny.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:47 PM   #24
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Is the filter just a screen? I was wondering if it can be just cleaned with brake cleaner if it is? I am doing mine and will drop the pan and change/clean the filter.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:59 PM   #25
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Is the filter just a screen? I was wondering if it can be just cleaned with brake cleaner if it is? I am doing mine and will drop the pan and change/clean the filter.
Yes, it is just a metal mesh screen. If it isn't damaged then you can clean it and reuse.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:02 PM   #26
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Yes, it is just a metal mesh screen. If it isn't damaged then you can clean it and reuse.
Is the gasket reusable as well? I know some GM's have a rubber/steel core.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:23 PM   #27
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I am currently using Valvoline MAXLIFE ATF. Shifts are good. I did a drain and fill drove around a week then dropped the pan and changed the filter. It was quite gunky in there and the fluid was quite dark. I'm glad I changed it.

Also Castrol Import ATF is another good one.
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:58 PM   #28
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:58 PM   #29
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How many qts will it take if dropping the pan and cleaning the filter? I'm going to use Castrol import trans fluid.
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Old 10-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #30
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Around 4 quarts.
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Old 10-13-2012, 05:56 PM   #31
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Awesome, thanks for the help.
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:28 PM   #32
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It ended up taking 5.5 qts, but this was dropping the pan and cleaning the screen. At $6.75 a qt plus the gasket this ended up being a bit pricey.
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Old 10-20-2012, 04:35 PM   #33
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I did mine today. Dropped the pan and cleaned magnets and the screen on the filter. I bought the valvoline dex III for high mileage. Whole process was like 4 hours. Drives and shifts much smoother! The old fluid was black and smelled awful!!!! I will do a drain and fill in 2 weeks as the car had 125k (2nd owner) and I think this is the first time it was done. I will probably do drain and fills every 3rd oil change (15k miles) from now on.
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Old 04-23-2013, 07:28 PM   #34
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I did my ATF drain and fill last weekend. The car has about 117K miles on it. It had at least one tranny fluid change with the prior owner, so the old fluid was a dark red. But it had been at least 30 or 40 K miles.

After draining out all that would come out with gravity, I used my shop vac to blow air through the radiator and the return line, which I disconnected from the passenger side of the radiator. This method removed about 7 out of 9.4 quarts instead of the 4.5 to 5.5 quarts with just draining from the drain bolt. To gain access to the ATF return line, I moved the plastic shroud out of the way. Remove the 2 or 3 bolts/plastic push pins, then bend it down and forward.

One word of caution - make sure you've got a wide drain pan under the tranny pan. Then put newspapers under that. The drain pan bolt sits in a depression in the bottom of the pan to make it safer from hits. But that also holds a pint or so of fluid in the pan that WILL spill all over if you're not prepared!! I anticipated that problem and STILL spilled some.

I opted to take out the filter screen and clean it. I wiped it GENTLY with a clean paper towel until it looked screen color instead of tinged in black. I won't do this next time. Too many bolts and there are THREE different sizes to keep track of. An earlier post mentioned using brake cleaner fluid. My screen was pretty clean and I didn't want to take a chance on brake cleaner fluid being incompatible with the Valvoline Max/Life that I put back in. It's listed as Matic-D compatible. Other forums I've read state this is a synthetic ATF and is very good fluid.

I cleaned the iron sludge/filings off of both magnets. I just used paper towels and wiped them until clean and dry.

I bought a new gasket from AAP for about $5. Also, to be safe, I put a dab of sealant (Permatex black high-temp) in all 21 bolt holes. I certainly wasn't going to buy new bolts based on above posts! It maybe wasn't necessary to add the sealant, but I already had it and I did NOT want to have to drain the ATF again to do that later. It's sealing just fine!! And more importantly, the car is shifting just fine too. It didn't have any issues before - I just want to prevent them! If you've ever had to replace TWO transmissions in 3 months like I did in 2010, you'll opt for prevention too!!! It's MUCH cheaper than replacement.

Last edited by isrb710; 04-23-2013 at 07:46 PM..
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:21 AM   #35
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A shop vac, had not read anyone doing that before. I found it very easy to remove the return line (driver side), hook up a 8" piece of nylon hose to drain into a gallon milk container under the car. By the time I drained 6 quarts out I was getting solid red fluid so I knew virtually all the old fluid was gone. It was all so simple I wondered why I never did it before.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:29 PM   #36
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mattstruzinski MattStruzinski struzinski
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilm View Post
A shop vac, had not read anyone doing that before. I found it very easy to remove the return line (driver side), hook up a 8" piece of nylon hose to drain into a gallon milk container under the car. By the time I drained 6 quarts out I was getting solid red fluid so I knew virtually all the old fluid was gone. It was all so simple I wondered why I never did it before.
Please post a tutorial with pics and stuff and I will love you forever. I need to drain my fluid ASAP and have no idea what I'm doing.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:29 PM
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