Should I change the ATF fluid?

RGC

Messages
2
Location
Indianapolis
I recently purchased a 2004 Nissan Frontier Pickup. Although it is 16 years old the truck has only 78000 miles on it and it likely has never had the transmission fluid changed. I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed. I would like to hear from persons who might have personal experience with this issue or from mechanics who have dealt with this.
 
Messages
329
Location
kansas
if it has a dipstick go check the fluid. If its still red or somewhat brown that means its in good shape (not a whole bunch of clutch shed, brown means lost dye pigment) and you should change it. If its very dark or black (hardly any red on a paper towel) i would say just leave as is or do maybe a quart or two at a time by sucking it out through the dipstick. I'm sure others will also give you some input.
 
Messages
559
Location
East Tennessee
Originally Posted by RGC
I recently purchased a 2004 Nissan Frontier Pickup. Although it is 16 years old the truck has only 78000 miles on it and it likely has never had the transmission fluid changed. I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed. I would like to hear from persons who might have personal experience with this issue or from mechanics who have dealt with this.
That has never made any sense to me. I don't see how a PROPER service can do any harm.
 
Messages
14,808
Location
Illinois
That's a back flush that has caused problems, but you should do a drain and fill every 30K for long trans life. Caution: Don't abuse the trans.
 
Messages
864
Location
Indy
That transmission has a drain plug, and is super easy to do. 19mm I think. It'll take somewhere between 5 and 7 quarts to refill to proper level on the dipstick. I would recommend Valvoline Maxlife ATF. It solved the converter lockup clutch shudder in my 2000 XTerra. Mine has twice the miles and I've dumped and filled the trans twice in my ownership. I have not owned it very long but the solving of the converter clutch shudder was quite impressive.
 
Messages
4,515
Location
SW Ohio
Originally Posted by RGC
I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed.
That's internet hogwash that just keeps getting repeated and repeated and some people believe it as fact. Do a drain and fill one time. Repeat that in 5000 miles, 10k miles, 20k miles, etc - you choose. It will be fine. It probably calls for Nissan Matic-D or J ATF and Castrol Import Multi-Vehicle is a good substitute (some say the Matic fluid is the same Castrol fluid).
 
Messages
5,603
Location
Los Gatos, CA
Don't service that AT unless you want smoother shifts, better pull, especially at low mid speed, piece of mind, etc. Don't service the differential while you are at it. All good.
 
Messages
115
Location
Valley Forge PA
Originally Posted by hallstevenson
Originally Posted by RGC
I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed.
That's internet hogwash that just keeps getting repeated and repeated and some people believe it as fact. Do a drain and fill one time. Repeat that in 5000 miles, 10k miles, 20k miles, etc - you choose. It will be fine. It probably calls for Nissan Matic-D or J ATF and Castrol Import Multi-Vehicle is a good substitute (some say the Matic fluid is the same Castrol fluid).
X3.... do it you know you want to
 
Messages
12,675
Location
Middlesex County CT
Thought I would post this as an FYI for the OP; Nissan extended the warranty on Frontiers from 2005 to 2010 for coolant leaking into the transmission fluid via the radiator. I realize his is a 2004 but for me it would warrant "attention" either way since a warranty extension doesn't necessarily mean it didn't impact other years. I know 1 person who lost a transmission due to this and his brother who actively replaced the radiator prior to the incident. If the OP is unaware of the exact details (as am I) I suggest a semi exhaustive search regarding this.
 
Messages
10,984
Location
USA
welcome Change the ATF. You will not have any problems smile Your Frontier has a drain plug, so it should be easy. Do it when cold, measure how much you drained, and refill with the same amount. Maxlife ATF is good stuff at a great price.
 
Messages
9,029
Location
Virginia
Originally Posted by hallstevenson
Originally Posted by RGC
I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed.
That's internet hogwash that just keeps getting repeated and repeated and some people believe it as fact. Do a drain and fill one time. Repeat that in 5000 miles, 10k miles, 20k miles, etc - you choose. It will be fine. It probably calls for Nissan Matic-D or J ATF and Castrol Import Multi-Vehicle is a good substitute (some say the Matic fluid is the same Castrol fluid).
This ^^^↑^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Is exactly right... I changed my CVT fluid at 283,500 miles... It was not changed before that.... It has been just fine since I gave changed it.
 
Messages
25,447
Location
Upstate NY
Originally Posted by RGC
I recently purchased a 2004 Nissan Frontier Pickup. Although it is 16 years old the truck has only 78000 miles on it and it likely has never had the transmission fluid changed. I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed. I would like to hear from persons who might have personal experience with this issue or from mechanics who have dealt with this.
Yes
 
Messages
2,198
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
Quote
I have often read/heard people say that you should not do an ATF fluid change on a vehicle if the fluid has gone a long period without being changed.
What I have heard is that if a woman weighs as much as a duck, then she's a witch! Both statements are equally true. wink I would do two d&f's within a week and then every 20 to 30k depending upon when it likes it (i find it varies a little car-to-car but it's almost always in that range). I would add 9 ozs of Lubegard Red to it on the 2nd d/f, putting the other 1 oz in the PS reservoir (after I d/f'd it twice). The thing I heard about those was the bigger issue is leaking in the AT cooler lines in the radiator, poisoning the AT. I'd look into that and how to guarantee it won't happen. Replacement high quality radiators can be surprisingly cheap ( I got an OE Denso for a Lexus for $63 a year or two ago).
 
Messages
1,342
Location
texas
The caution is a vaild one. If its black or very dark then the clutch pads are worn and the friction in the fluid is helping them maintain grip in gear. If you flush all of that out it may start slipping. Also if the transmission is full of crud, the new fluid with fresh cleaners could lift that crud and move it to a part of the tranny that may not like the crud and cause problems. However, at 78,000 miles unless your truck was pulling hard loads, the transmission fluid should be fine (some browning but still pinkish) This is OK to change (drain and refill not a flush). 30k miles after that is a good interval.
 
Messages
866
Location
montreal ,canada
You say you just purchased it. Is there no service records at all? Previous owner (s), a search on the VIN, glovebox paperwork or under hood stickers, even Nissan dealerships. If you don't find anything definitive then do what most are suggesting. 2 or 3 drain and fills, filter change, you'll sleep better.
 
Messages
2,198
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
Originally Posted by danez_yoda
The caution is a vaild one. If its black or very dark then the clutch pads are worn and the friction in the fluid is helping them maintain grip in gear. If you flush all of that out it may start slipping.
Guess who ways the same as a duck... wink At some point this nonsense WILL stop. We hope.
 
Messages
5,263
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted by danez_yoda
The caution is a vaild one. If its black or very dark then the clutch pads are worn and the friction in the fluid is helping them maintain grip in gear. If you flush all of that out it may start slipping. Also if the transmission is full of crud, the new fluid with fresh cleaners could lift that crud and move it to a part of the tranny that may not like the crud and cause problems. However, at 78,000 miles unless your truck was pulling hard loads, the transmission fluid should be fine (some browning but still pinkish) This is OK to change (drain and refill not a flush). 30k miles after that is a good interval.
A worn transmission is a worn transmission! Burnt friction material suspended in the fluid doesn't help clutch packs hold! I've seen completely metal to metal clutch packs hold under light applied torque. I've had 4L80E's have a slow forward engagement & only slip while towing. Forward Clutches are completely smoked with no friction material left at all.
 
Top