Trans fluid leak after recent fluid change (2008 Altima)

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Ok guys, so just last Saturday I replaced the CVT fluid in my 2008 Altima 2.5 s. The change was easy and went well. Before the change, the fluid level looked good, it wasn't low from what I could tell. I replaced about the same amount of fluid, might have put a bit more in, but I had warmed up the car and checked the level on the dipstick and it looked just right to me.

Anyway, just last night I noticed a small spot on the driveway, which I thought was oil. (I did an oil change the same day) I went to check it out this morning, and while it was hard to tell the color of the fluid on the driveway, I could see a couple drops forming on the passenger side engine cradle (I think, maybe it was frame rails?) Anyway I put my finger on those drops and it was definitely the red Castrol CVT fluid I had put in on Saturday. I haven't gotten it up on ramps yet to check it out, I'm working today, hopefully will be able to look at it later tonight. But just wondered if in the meantime, you could give me an idea what it might be or where to look? Why would it not be leaking before the change, then all of the sudden start leaking a couple days after changing it? It's definitely on the passenger side, I don't see any leaking coming from the drain bolt on the transmission pan. The car has not displayed any transmission issues, shuddering, slipping, or anything else that I can tell. Just bought the car a week or so ago lol, it was in very good shape, maintained very well, drove very well, hoping I didn't get myself into trouble here!

Edit: I just thought of something. While it was not actively dripping on my driveway since I bought it, I forgot that when I checked out the car, there was some oil (or what I thought was oil) on that same frame rail. Because it was right underneath the oil filter, and oil definitely drops all over that when taking the oil filter off, I assumed that was just oil from oil changes. It was only in that area, not spread anywhere else, and I couldn't see signs of oil leaks anywhere else, so it didn't concern me much. Now, in hindsight, I'm starting to think that was not oil, but transmission fluid. It was probably old, which is why it was dirty and brown, making me think it was oil. Now I'm worried that this car has had a little trans leak for a while. Can you add dye to transmission fluid like you can in the oil and try to track it down?
 
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paqman

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Sure.

Thanks! Do you know how long it usually takes from putting the fluid in before you can start seeing it come through?
 

paqman

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Your sure you did not spill any when replacing the fluid?
Pretty sure. It was very clean. Also, the dipstick and drain pan are both on the drivers side. These drops are coming from the passenger side. Right beneath where the oil filter is. Hoping to get under and get a better look tonight.
 

paqman

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As soon as it is circulated, less than 5 min.
Wow that's fast. I was thinking it would need to be driven 10 or 20 miles before seeing anything! On another note, perhaps I overfilled the trans fluid. The car has been parked all morning, so the engine is cold, and the fluid level is well over the second notch and hash mark on the dipstick. Granted it is close to 100 degrees outside, but I didn't figure that counted as the engine being "hot". Other thing is I feel like dipsticks are so hard to read anyway, because of oil in the tube or whatever, there always seems to be oil all over the stick, and hard to tell where the actual level is.
 

paqman

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I'm assuming that when the engine is hot that the level should show near the top of the hashed area? If so I think I need to let some out. Hard to tell in this picture, but I'm pretty sure the level is showing right at the top of the hash marks, or just barely over. And again, the engine has not been run all day.
dipstick.jpg
 

paqman

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I agree that the trans is overfilled. Ed
I'll try to pump a bit out tonight and get that remedied, I know that can cause high pressure and things to start leaking. Hopefully I haven't caused any serious damage. 🤦‍♂️ I only changed the fluid on Satuday, and we haven't gone very far in the car yet. Just around the neighborhood.
 

paqman

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So my trans pan has a drain holt on the bottom, and one on the side. Is the one on the side one that can be used to level off the right amount of fluid? Or will it just gush out and release all the fluid? If so why would they have two drain bolts? Just wondering if can use that side one to let out just the right amount of fluid. I've seen them before where you open it up and wait till it just trickles out of there, then you know it has enough.
 
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That trans is way overfilled. On that generation of Nissan CVT's, the fluid level should be no higher than the second cut out within the crosshatch section when hot. There was a TSB on adjusting the fluid level due to the transmissions overheating due to overfill.
 

paqman

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Thanks, yeah hopefully I've caught it early enough. Trying to drain more now. Do you know if the bolt on the side of the pan is one that can be used to level off the amount of fluid? Or will it drop it all?
 
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Thanks, yeah hopefully I've caught it early enough. Trying to drain more now. Do you know if the bolt on the side of the pan is one that can be used to level off the amount of fluid? Or will it drop it all?
I've seen some of those trans with a plug on the side of the pan, but usually it is one or the other.
A fluid extractor or disconnecting the cooler lines is probably a more efficient way of removing the fluid that you need. I would start with removing 1/2 qt.
 

paqman

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I've seen some of those trans with a plug on the side of the pan, but usually it is one or the other.
A fluid extractor or disconnecting the cooler lines is probably a more efficient way of removing the fluid that you need. I would start with removing 1/2 qt.
OK well using some hose and a big syringe I was able to get out at least a 1/2 quart. It is down to the bottom notch now. I'll start it up and warm it up for a bit and see where it is when it warms up. If over filling it caused these leaks, I wonder if the damage is done or if the seals will relax and seal back up. Just hoping my stupidity hasn't screwed me over royally.
 
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I don't know about CVTs, but I have an '08 Infiniti (Nissan) and you check the ATF level when it's a) HOT and b) engine is running.
 

paqman

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I don't know about CVTs, but I have an '08 Infiniti (Nissan) and you check the ATF level when it's a) HOT and b) engine is running.
Ok that is what I was going to ask next. I pulled some out, and I just checked. Shouldn't the level rise when the engine is on? Checking it when the engine is off (but slightly warm), the level shows almost to the top of the second notch, just touching the hash lines. Then I turn the engine on, shift through all the gears, and the level drops to below the first notch. What's up with that?

Engine off (but slightly warm):
20200805_200743.jpg


Engine on:
20200805_201006.jpg
 
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Well my CVT is full at the top notch cut while running...

It is slightly above the cut outs when not running. And it was that way when I got the car and first checked it years ago.

I did 4 drain and refills on my car since 283,500 miles. I measured 4.25-4.5 qts each time. Put that back in each time.

Zero issues. In now 30,000 plus miles.

That first picture did not look too high to me. Especially if the car was just running and hot. That would be an expected finding if the car was hot and just had been running or was running.

The last picture you have looks a tad low in my opinion if it was hot and running or just been running and hot. Not a big deal though. Should be ok.
 

paqman

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Well my CVT is full at the top notch cut while running...

It is slightly above the cut outs when not running. And it was that way when I got the car and first checked it years ago.

I did 4 drain and refills on my car since 283,500 miles. I measured 4.25-4.5 qts each time. Put that back in each time.

Zero issues. In now 30,000 plus miles.

That first picture did not look too high to me. Especially if the car was just running and hot. That would be an expected finding if the car was hot and just had been running or was running.

The last picture you have looks a tad low in my opinion if it was hot and running or just been running and hot. Not a big deal though. Should be ok.
The weird thing is those levels were taken within minutes of each other. The first one was engine off. Definitely not hot, but it was still a bit warm from driving around the block a whole ago. The second pic was literally 30 seconds letter while the engine was running. I just always thought the level should be higher while it's running.
 
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Dunno man...

I think that the level drops a bit while running due to the transmission fluid being pulled into the converter... That's also why we are supposed to go through all the gears right before checking the fluid level while it is hot and running. And it does drop a bit in my car while hot and running and having gone through the gears right before checking it.

The fluid level in my car hot and running and having gone through all the gears it is at the top of the cross haired area. And the level is actually is a bit higher than the second notch and cross haired area if it is cold and has not been running.

It was that exact same way the first time I pulled the transmission fluid stick out of my car. Cold equalled a not above the second notch and above the cross haired area... Running hot and through the gears... The level was at the top of the cross haired area.
 
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