2020 Nissan Sentra - tough to access the oil pan

Early this year my granddaughter bought a new 2020 Nissan Sentra SV. When I went to change her oil, I could not see the oil filter or the oil pan; they were hidden under two splash shields that covered most of the bottom of the car. After a lot of research I learned how to change the oil. I had to remove six bolts and approximately 25 push pins in order to lower the back splash shield enough to access the filter and oil pan. Anyone who has worked with push pins knows that getting them out is a bit annoying but getting them back in can be a real pain. So what should have been a simple job became tedious and time consuming.

I had called the Nissan dealer before I did the job and asked if it would void the warranty if I cut a hole in the splash shield for the oil filter and another hole for the oil pan drain plug in order to make future oil changes easier. The service adviser said it would void the warranty because there are several sensors that are protected by the splash shield. Is this legitimate? (And even if it is legit, Nissan should have installed removable access panels for the oil filter and pan.)

OK , first it is nice of you to change her oil . But my personal feeling is to use the dealer for such things until the warranty expires so there is no question that service was done at the proper time . Make sure the reciepts are in the glove box to prove it was done. Also have her read the service schedule in the owners manual to see if she should use the servere service schedule.

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Yes it is reasonable for them to void the warranty if you intentionally damage a part that is designed to protect other parts from failing. Mechanics have to deal with these design methods so much it’s to the point it’s normal to have to remove 3 or 6 other things to remove something as simple as an alternator. They design cars to get them put together fast, not to make it easier to maintain.

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She can afford new car? Maybe not. She can afford oil change?

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Considering the fact that the service adviser will be the first one to deny your warranty claim, yes, this is legit.

The 6 bolts seems normal, the 25 push pins does not. These are not usually designed to be removed dozens of times. Are you sure you need to remove the pins?

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@Hiroshi04 I also wonder about the ’ 25 push pin statement ’ . Maybe you should take this to the dealer in case you removed some pins you should not have . If something falls loose the warranty will not cover it now.

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+1
With the perpetual race to reduce production costs, car makers are not likely to install equipment that is unnecessary and is also not visible to the casual observer. Clearly, Nissan had a reason for including those large splash shields in their design, and altering them would not be wise.

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Why in the world would you change her oil? doesn’t Nissan have a couple of free oil changes when you buy a new car? I know Toyota does! Since this vehicule is under warranty,performing your own oil changes and maintenance could void the warranty if you mess up.

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Our 2014 Nissan Frontier had 3 free oil changes and our 2010 Volvo had 5 .

So what does the Nissan dealer there charge for an oil change on that car since it seems to be a bit complicated and time consuming?

It seems to me that it would be well worth it just to have someone else dink around with it and also save you the trouble of oil disposal.
There has been a trend over the past few decades in which dealers set up “express lanes” (name varies) to compete with the fast lubes and Wal Marts on services such as oil changes so the price is competitive.
It’s worth half that just to avoid dealing with the old oil…

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In addition to shielding the underside components of the car, those splash guards are there for fuel economy and noise reduction. See how smooth and sleek the top side of the car is to help it slide through the wind? The bottom side has air flowing along it as well. If they could make the undercarriage as aerodynamic as the body I’m sure they would.

Carmakers have pretty tough mileage standards to meet.

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true but, the new C8 Corvette has a sleek underbody but they still leave a hole for the oil filter removal and drain plug. and you can track the C8.

2005 Prius I maintain for my daughter has the splash shield covering up to mid-oil-pan, yet it has a notch (about which you have to know) where you reach with your hand to get to the oil filter.
Filter is partially covered by the plastic shield, yet with proper “cup” type of filter socket and an extension it’s perfectly accessible.

2013 Mazda 3 of my another daughter has a special “door” in the splash guard, which somebody discarded as they probably considered it as not needed part… I made one from a piece of plastic and it attaches on two notches and a metal screw. Adds only seconds to install/remove when oil is changed, yet nicely protects the area from the dirt.

I would not imagine Nissan is that stupid to require entire splash shield removal?!?!

oh… Nissan’s design is indeed ingenious!

6 screws and 26 (!) plastic clips and the splash guard is indeed in need of removal:

I’d probably cut a hole too.

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After warranty.

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I have a hard time believing it’s going to survive long anyway with 20 something push pins being removed and reinstalled.

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Since that does seem to be the way that Nissan designed it, I have to wonder if this resulted from their French partnership.

The old saying about French engineering is…
The French copy nobody, and nobody copies the French.

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From the looks, to access the drain plug it may be enough to remove only rear two bolts and tilt the guard.
As for the filter replacement - it may be possible to reach it from the top, although one would have to navigate quite narrow space between the engine and the radiator.
Indeed a marvel of French and Japanese engineering synergy :slight_smile:

When I used to own 2012 Altima - the drain plug was accessible, but filter access required to remove one front wheel and to get the plastic splash guard out: 5 plastic clips (I learned to buy a lot of spares!) and the oil would hit the under-frame unless I used a piece of foil or plastic to direct it to the catch pan. On the positive side: once you remove the wheel, access to the drain plug was very easy with no additional lifting.

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Many years ago when I got my first Lincoln Mark VIII I caught up maintenance as step one. So the fuel filter was nowhere to be found. The manual made no mention of it but the internet did.
The filter was inside the right front fender so off with the wheel and remove the inner fender. Tons of room all along the underside of the car…

Someone at Ford decided this was a stupid idea so they changed the location when the Lincoln LS came along. This time they put it inside the left front fender…

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