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1996 Maxima ATF Change

After my last question about this, I’ve decided I want to change the ATF on this car. It probably is due, even though Nissan doesn’t specify a change frequency for this transmission.

My question is, at nearly 180,000 miles, is it worth it to drop the pan and change the filter as well? The filter on this car isn’t really a filter – it’s more like a screen.

It’s not that expensive a job – one of the biggest expenses is the pan bolts, which are self-sealing, and the manual says to replace them instead of reusing them. There are 21, and they’re about 60 cents each. The screen itself doesn’t really cost much at all. Basically, it’s a screen (filter), bolts, and gasket, about $60 total if I get the OEM filter.

But the question is, Is it really worth it to change that “filter”? I’ve never done it, it takes about 2 hours.

To me, a more worthwhile thing to do is to clean the ATF cooler (Nissan has a TSB and a can of pressurized cleaner for this task; it essentially amounts to running a bunch of Isopropyl alcohol through it).

Not really running a poll here, but if I can see some really compelling reasons to drop the pan and change the filter, I’ll do it. I appreciate your suggestions.

Thanks for hearing me out.

And by the way, I have changed the ATF on this car, less than 60k miles ago.

I’d drop the pan to clean or replace the screen. With 180,000 miles, pulling the pan will let me see what’s in the screen and on the magnet. If it’s full of metal, then you know the trans is worn. If it’s all black and clutch material, then the friction is worn. If it’s clean, well, then you know that too!

I’ve decided to do it this way. The parts are on order.

Also going to clean the cooler, as the Nissan TSB describes.

The “official” Nissan cleaner is much cheaper than the “generic” products sold at the car parts places.

She’s going up on stands tonight; I’ll just drive the other car for a couple days, since I’m pretty sure I don’t have the 2 hours this job will require all at one time (I’ll spend 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there to do it).

I think that’s the wise choice for the reasons that asemaster mentioned.

I’d say having the second car to drive is key. Ignore the two hours. Take your time. Spend 5 if that’s what it takes you. Do everything with your attention on it in a deliberate way. The only time I’ve ever ended up messing up with stupid mistakes is if I feel like I’m pinched for time. I actually always plan any of my car work (outside of some kind of emergency pinch) so that I have a huge time window around it - so that I never feel rushed and have time for unexpected.

Do note that if this pan has never been dropped before there will be plenty of black-sludgy like clutch material. The clutches are actually wear & tear items. Having no clutch material in the pan at all would be strange. It is true that more sludge = more wear. But your transmission is at 180K. Its worn. You are also unlikely to be completely metal free but small amounts of tiny, maybe glitter-like metal dust is also not a death sentence. Its a matter of degree - unless there are major chunks of metal or lots of it, glitter like or otherwise.