The Nissan Club banner

1 - 2 of 2 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Long read but well worth it if you haven't done CVT fluid replacement on an Altima before.

My car's odometer passed the 84K mile mark a few weeks ago which meant that it was no longer covered under the warranty extension of 7 years / 84K miles
So, I decided to go ahead and do a complete CVT fluid replacement service on it. I bought 12 quarts of OEM NS3 fluid two years ago in anticipation that I would be doing this sooner or later. I bought a new pan gasket, new o-rings and the paper filter for the oil warmer from Nissan back then too.

Except for one of the bolts on the oil warmer filter housing to access the paper filter, it was very easy to do this service. One of the top bolts is hard to reach and cannot be seen from underneath the car so you have to go by feel. I ended up using a 1/4 inch drive swivel socket with a 10 mm 1/4 inch drive socket with an extension to loosen and tighten that bolt. The other three were easy to reach.

I always am concerned about snapping a bolt when loosening fasteners on a car for the first time. No such thing happened - whew. Nissan engineers designed the car with just enough torque on the bolts to keep the pan tight on the CVT. They loosened like butter by hand with a 10 mm 1/4 inch drive socket and ratchet. Retorquing the bolts to 70 inch-pounds felt very safe with the new OEM pan gasket (which is rubber coated steel?).

It was interesting that I only got 3 quarts out from the pan drain with the car raised and level relative to my garage floor. I let my car sit outside all night and then started it and drove the rear wheels onto ramps and raised the front of the car one side at a time with a floor jack and stands. The CVT fluid temp was about 22°C when I began working on it last Monday morning June 15. Needless to say that the CVT fluid would need to be cool so that I could remove the paper filter and drop the pan. You don't want to do this with warmed up fluid as the fluid and what it contacts will be hot to the touch.

I got an additional 1.5 quarts out after dropping the pan and removing the metal strainer and the paper filter from the oil warmer. Boy did I make a mess because I did not anticipate how much more fluid I would get out of it. Fortunately I had plenty of shop towels around. Next time it will be easier. I followed the service manual procedure to the letter except that I refilled the CVT from the dipstick tube and not from the overflow hole as it shows.

I ended up using 10.5 quarts which means that most of the CVT fluid is now fresh and new. The first refill was 4 quarts, the second and third refills were 3 quarts each. I needed to add an additional 1/2 quart because no fluid was coming out from the overflow hole once the CVT fluid temp was between 35 and 45°C. The fill amount is correct when a thin stream of fluid comes out of the overflow hole (I didn't wait until the fluid was just dripping out of the hole). I have a dipstick from the 4th gen model installed in my car. I haven't checked the fluid level yet but intend to this weekend. Should have done this while I was still working on it but I forgot to.

The old fluid was no longer transparent and was considerably darker than the new fluid. However, it wasn't black and didn't have a burnt odor to it. I didn't replace the metal strainer inside the pan, there weren't any chunks of metal on the screen fortunately. I cleaned it up nicely by spraying it with some brake cleaner. There wasn't any fluid varnish on the inside of the pan. The magnets had only a small amount of wear debris on them. I could not feel any metallic flakes or grit between my fingers from the magnets.There was no rubber stuck on the pan itself to clean off. The gasket was stuck to the CVT mating surface after loosening and removing all of the bolts. I needed to use a razor blade to slowly separate the gasket from the CVT which only took about 2 minutes. It took me some time to scrape the rubber from the gasket off the mating surface on the CVT.

The CVTF deterioration date was only 50 after six years. There was only one time when the fluid temp was hot enough to change the deterioration date and that was when I was in a 90 minute traffic jam last summer. My Altima has never been driven in a hot climate like Arizona, Nevada, or Texas which explains why there wasn't any fluid varnish or visible metal wear debris inside the pan. It has spent 97% of its miles during SE Michigan commutes and after at least 25 round trips between Metro Detroit and the Chicago area in that time span. The CVT fluid rarely got above 80°C in the past six years based on the CVTz50 Android app on my phone.

I did notice a slight change in the smoothness of the CVT today with the new fluid when I slowly accelerated from 20 mph to 70 mph on the entrance ramp to the highway near my home. The tachometer held steady at 2500 rpm as the velocity increased which is unlike it did before the fluid change when the rpm would drop quickly from 2500 rpm to 1800 rpm at some point during acceleration. I have had the car for six years so I don't recall if the rpm didn't vary much during slow acceleration was when it was new.

I don't know what a dealership or independent mechanic would charge for a complete service like this but let me repeat that it is not much more difficult than an engine oil change. Well worth it to save a few bucks. And you will know who's to blame if the job wasn't done correctly when you DIY.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Okay so today I finally checked the CVT fluid level with my 4th gen dipstick at 80°C which is within the recommended temperature range per the Nissan TSB CVT FLUID LEVEL QUICK CHECK GAUGE NTB18-055d March 13, 2020. I checked the temp with my CVTz50 app.

The fluid level was exactly at the bottom of the 'v' of the first notch from the end of the dipstick with the engine running with the CVT in park. This is a very convenient location since I won't need to engrave a spot on the dipstick. Remember that this is for the 2.5L engine only.

So technically it is possible to skip the fine tuning at the overflow hole once you complete your work and just fill to the first notch on the 4th gen dipstick to bring the level to the correct amount at operating temperature.

You probably should still do the level check at the overflow hole anyway because you cannot be certain the fill level is correct unless you remove the bolt from the overflow hole and verify that fluid is at least dripping out from the hole between 35 and 45°C. It isn't a good idea to underfill or overfill this CVT, that's for sure.
 
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
Top