2013 Nissan Altima Service Manual (Dated June 2012)
Quick review of Service Manual instructions for replacement of CVT fluid.
Although it appears to be basically a drain - refill - drain - refill procedure, it will probably be best accomplished by a Nissan dealer. ($$) Hopefully the dealer will follow the critical steps, including proper temperatures etc. defined by the service manual. The fluid is largely affected by temperature. The CVT fluid is NS-3 which is different from previous Altimas, and MUST be used. (I know the previous fluid retail was $20+ a quart/liter and this is supposed to be much more.) The FILL LEVEL IS CRITICAL and the capacity is less than previous Altima's.
After draining thru the CVT drain plug, the fill point is a little ambiguous, on page TM-82 (4 cylinder but 6 cylinder is same procedure). Filling "appears" to be by removing a "Overflow plug", installing a "Charging Pipe SET" in the overflow plug hole, and in step 9 installing the ATF "Changer Hose" to the "Charging PIPE" and filling with aprox 3 liters fluid thru that hose. After complete reading of all instructions, I take it that the fill hose is intended to be attached to the "Charging Pipe SET" previously installed in the overflow plug hole. The ambiguous part is that on page TM-210, part (3) is ID' d as "CVT Fluid Charging PIPE". --- This is the pipe that the CVT fluid "gage" is attached to --- (the normal "dipstick" that may -- or may not exist -- even though the "Pipe" does). (This is the "Usual / normal" transmission fill point in other vehicles.) I have not removed the cap from this pipe to see if a "dipstick" is there -- I was told by the dealer that there is no "dipstick" in the pipe/tube and I did not want to damage the attachment and in any way effect my warranty. BUT - I was ALSO told by the dealer service rep that the CVT fluid does not have to be changed -- HOWEVER -- The "2013 Service And Maintenance GUIDE" page 12 lists time / mileage / fluid deterioration data / which does indicate changing requirements. This is NOT referenced in the "Owners Manual", only on page 8-13 the statement "When checking or replacement of CVT fluid is required, we recommend your NISSAN dealer for servicing."
Apparently the Nissan stand is everyone will have their vehicle "serviced" at a Nissan dealership and will therefore be made aware of when/if the CVT fluid should be replaced. I am a little "picky" about transmission (now CVT) service --- I had a Toyota Camry transmission fail at only aprox 80,000 miles which cost me more than $2,000 a few years ago and I don't want to have any CVT problems. I write this because the Nissan "Owners Manual" tends to gloss over CVT maintenance. As above noted it is barely mentioned in that manual -- and I believe it is important for anyone who keeps and drives a vehicle for several (or more) years OR cares about proper maintenance.
As previously posted "Because the CVT transmission fluid type (and level) is so important I can only assume Nissan is attempting to avoid having anyone make a mistake using the wrong fluid (not NS-3) or over filling. This may be a good idea."
It would appear that service maintenance of the CVT (over time) will cost a lot of the $$ that hopefully is saved in mileage.