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2013 Nissan Altima - time to change CVT fluid?

Dear Ray,

I have a 2013 Nissan Altima 4 cylinder with a CVT transmission. I have never checked the fluid level because the transmission dip stick has a seal on it that has to be broken to pull it out. I have a Nissan published maintenance schedule that I downloaded from the internet. It has recommended service intervals (miles/months) for various routine maintenance procedures (oil change, air filter, brake pads, spark plugs, coolant, etc.), but has nothing about changing the CVT fluid - it just says to check it whenever performing other maintenance (but never says when to change it). The car now has 51,000 miles on it. Is it past time to get the CVT fluid changed? I always had the fluid changed @ 30,000 miles in vehicles with conventional automatic transmissions, but all of the other maintenance procedures on this vehicle are required much less frequently (ex. - spark plugs & coolant @ over 100,000 miles) than what I always did on previous vehicles (usually 30,000 miles for above examples). .

While the dealer and Nissan may consider it ‘lifetime’ fluid, I thing changing it every 50k with the correct (CVT) fluid would be fine.

Get the EXACT fluid from the dealer and maybe even have it changed at the dealer so there is no question of the quality of the work or the type of fluid and filter used. I understand that CVTs take a special fluid and are touchy about any variation in its specification. CVTs are generally not repaired. They are replaced which would make any mistake potentially very costly.

Yes, you will pay more at the dealer but they know these cars and have probably done this service before while other shops may not have.

I just looked up the nissan service schedule for this model year

it’s pretty funny :laughing:

Under normal conditions, Nissan apparently doesn’t think the cvt fluid needs to be serviced

However . . . under every 30K service, it’s listed as part of an “optional premium upgrade”

if this were my car, you bet your life I’d be servicing the cvt fluid every 30K

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Nissan bugs me with their ‘premium service’. Either it’s need based, or it’s not. That sounds more like ‘wallet based’.

Well, consider this . . .

For my mom’s 2014 Civic, Honda says to service the fluid every 25K for severe service conditions.

My mom’s retired and makes lots of short trips, so in my opinion the car qualifies for sever service maintenance.

Thus, I serviced the cvt fluid at 25K

Perhaps the Nissan engineers and designers somehow “know” that the cvt transmissions will live a long and happy life if the fluid is serviced every 30K . . . but somebody at Nissan didn’t have the guts to say that the fluid NEEDS to be serviced every 30K . . . so they beat around the bush, instead

But doesn’t that depend on what the need is?

I once read a long term study that followed 2 groups of car owners. They drove the same make of car. One group replaced the transmission fluid every 30K miles, one group never did. Statistically, there was no difference in the failure rate of transmissions until 140,000 miles.

So if you’re going to trade off your car after 5 years, don’t service it. If you’re going to keep it for 200K+ miles, service it.

That’s gonna be a burning bush to light Nissan’s effigy if a bunch of owners have to rebuild their CVT’s at 125K. Bad business decision, I’d say!

I know people want to treat their cars like refrigerators but if you want the MPG’s of the CVT’s you need to do PM! :smile:

I personally think servicing your typical cvt transmission is pretty easy, because there’s no pan to drop, no gasket to scrape off, no filter to swap out, etc.

Sure, the fluid may be a little pricey, but the job doesn’t take long at all

And you’re only going to be doing it every once in awhile

When Toyota came out with trannies requiring the WS (World Standard) fluid - Toyota considered it a lifetime fluid. Since then Toyota has backed off and now recommend 50k miles.

As for Nissan…Considering the problems Nissan has had with their CVT transmission - I’d change it at least every 50k miles.

The only recent year that Altimas’ transmissions dropped as low as average for reliability was 2013. The years 2010-2012 were much better than average reliability. After 2013 they have been better than average and much better than average. (Consumer Reports April 2018 annual car issue, p. 95.)

I think CVT problems from years ago have had a continuing influence on people’s opinions of them.

I would suggest every 30k miles; same as any other transmission.

While I’m not 100% certain I believe the CVT is manufactured by JATCO who also produces them for Chrysler.

The owners manual on my son’s prior new Dodge Caliber with a CVT called for fluid changes at 30k miles intervals with no room for interpretation…

Good for the goose; good for the gander???

That’s how it should be for everybody, in my opinion

but it seemingly gives a manufacturer an “edge” . . . if they can claim their products needs virtually no maintenance