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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all just wondering what you guys consider a good interval for changing out the tranny fluid in a 2nd gen auto. I bought it used with 8k and am at 39k now and just bought everything I needed to do a drain and fill. Thing is when I checked it, the oil looks pristine. Truly it looks brand new, so thinking maybe holding out a bit before changing it. I checked the service manual and all I see is to inspect or if towing or dusty conditions to change, neither of which affect me at the moment.
What say you?
 

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Drain & fill on diffs/trans/t-fer every 30k is the plan on mine. Went with Nissan ATF, M1 in the other cases. Super easy for sooooo much piece of mind!
 

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The factory fill, NissanMatic Type "J" ATF, later superceded to NissanMatic Type "S" ATF (which is Type "J" with added friction modifiers required for the Infiniti 7-speed auto trans), is synthetic transmission fluid made by Castrol (Castrol Transmax Multi-imort ATF is the same as NissanMatic Type "J"). As you noticed, Nissan doesn't give a replacement interval, only an inspect every 15,000 miles. Everybody has their own opinion but unless you overwork your transmission, you may never need to service the auto trans fluid. For me, I replace the auto trans and transfer case fluid every 50,000 miles. All I do is a drain and fill, using Valvoline Maxlife ATF in both of them and replacing the crush washers (Nissan 11026-01M02 for the trans pan plug and two 11026-4N200 for the transfers case...the latter # is also used on the front and rear diff plugs). You do have to be careful what transmission fluid you use in the Nissan 5-spd. auto trans, but, it does not have to be the overpriced genuine Nissan stuff. I have over 200,000 combined miles between two R51 Pathfinders using Valvoline Maxlife ATF and they both shift like brand new. Most synthetic automatic transmission fluid meet the JASO-A1 spec and will work fine in our transmissions, but, just make sure the manufacturer states it is recommended for Type "J" or "S" Nissan applications. The nice thing about the Maxlife is you can usually get it in a one-gallon jug for $18 at Walmart. A typical drain and fill usually takes about one-gallon or a hair less. There is no filter to service, either, just a screen. If your Frontier is a 2005-2010 model, make yourself aware of the cooler failure issues in the factory radiator. If the radiator is original, replace it to avoid potential cross-contamination issues and transmission damage...or, do the "bypass method."
 

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About every 2nd or 3rd oil change, drain tranny, put a gallon jug of Valvoline Max Life ATF in it. Takes about 10 minutes.
 

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I thought my fluid looked new as well, but I went ahead and did a drain and fill followed by a cooler line flush at 40000km(25000miles) anyway. It was not until the last 1.5 litres that I could see the amount of discoloration in original fluid. It is extremely hard to see on the dipstick. In my opinion by the time you see dark color on the dipstick it is way beyond where you think it is.

You have the stuff, change it now. I would rather change early than late. Do your transfercase and diffs as well. They were terrible on mine at only 25000 miles.
 

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The factory fill, NissanMatic Type "J" ATF, later superceded to NissanMatic Type "S" ATF (which is Type "J" with added friction modifiers required for the Infiniti 7-speed auto trans), is synthetic transmission fluid made by Castrol (Castrol Transmax Multi-imort ATF is the same as NissanMatic Type "J"). As you noticed, Nissan doesn't give a replacement interval, only an inspect every 15,000 miles. Everybody has their own opinion but unless you overwork your transmission, you may never need to service the auto trans fluid. For me, I replace the auto trans and transfer case fluid every 50,000 miles. All I do is a drain and fill, using Valvoline Maxlife ATF in both of them and replacing the crush washers (Nissan 11026-01M02 for the trans pan plug and two 11026-4N200 for the transfers case...the latter # is also used on the front and rear diff plugs). You do have to be careful what transmission fluid you use in the Nissan 5-spd. auto trans, but, it does not have to be the overpriced genuine Nissan stuff. I have over 200,000 combined miles between two R51 Pathfinders using Valvoline Maxlife ATF and they both shift like brand new. Most synthetic automatic transmission fluid meet the JASO-A1 spec and will work fine in our transmissions, but, just make sure the manufacturer states it is recommended for Type "J" or "S" Nissan applications. The nice thing about the Maxlife is you can usually get it in a one-gallon jug for $18 at Walmart. A typical drain and fill usually takes about one-gallon or a hair less. There is no filter to service, either, just a screen. If your Frontier is a 2005-2010 model, make yourself aware of the cooler failure issues in the factory radiator. If the radiator is original, replace it to avoid potential cross-contamination issues and transmission damage...or, do the "bypass method."
Really? It seemed to change in 2014, but it's in there...sort of. (I got curious so I downloaded the service and maintenance guides for 14 and later)In the Service and Maintenance guide for my 2013 it says the following (I'll also put in the differences for '14 and later):

For 2013: At 30,000 miles Inspect (among other items) Automatic transmission fluid 3,4
the 3 and 4 are notes and you have to look down the page to see what they mean
Note 3: Replace (not just inspect) oil/fluid if towing a trailer, using a camper or a car-top carrier, or driving on rough or muddy roads.
Note 3 also applies to differential and transfer case fluids as well.
For 2014 and up: its just inspect and the Note 3 about towing etc is gone

For 2013: At 60,000 miles, same as at 30,000
For 2014 and up: Same as the 30,000 mile on my 2013 except the note is note 7 but still says to change all the fluids if you tow etc.

So its true that no where does it say to replace transmission fluid if you are just cruising down the highway all the time. But if you are using your truck as a truck then its every 30K for 2013 or earlier and every 60K for 2014 and later. No clue as to why it changed in 2014. Oil change intervals also changed BTW. Mine says 3,750 while newer ones say 5,000. I do synthetic every 6000 :).
 

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2016 Manual calls for a check at 24 months or 20,000 miles
It also has the sub notes of

3 Automatic transmission fluid except for 370Z and NV 1500/2500/3500.
4 Replace (not just inspect) oil/fluid if towing a trailer, using a camper or a car-top carrier, or driving on rough or muddy roads.

Guess it all depends how much strain has been put on the transmission.

The challenge I have is I drive less than 7,500 miles a year. Mostly street/highway, and some dirt roads. I do not do hard 4x4 driving or towing a trailer.
So the time interval on the maintenance schedule is more important to me to keep the warranty up. I will discuss with the service manager when the time comes. Most likely I will change it at 30K, unless there is a compelling reason to do it sooner.
 

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If you already have the supplies just do it as the peace of mind is well worth it.
After draining it I like to measure how much came out and not guess how much to put back as it's good to know if any is missing from being full.

Clint
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
If you already have the supplies just do it as the peace of mind is well worth it.
After draining it I like to measure how much came out and not guess how much to put back as it's good to know if any is missing from being full.

Clint
Yeah I have the supplies just sitting in the garage. I think I will go ahead and do it like you said just for peace of mind. On my old Frontier drain/fills I would do the same thing as well. I put a pan under there that measures how many quarts dumped and then refilled that amount, checking to make sure it was filled within spec of course.

I thought my fluid looked new as well, but I went ahead and did a drain and fill followed by a cooler line flush at 40000km(25000miles) anyway. It was not until the last 1.5 litres that I could see the amount of discoloration in original fluid. It is extremely hard to see on the dipstick. In my opinion by the time you see dark color on the dipstick it is way beyond where you think it is.

You have the stuff, change it now. I would rather change early than late. Do your transfercase and diffs as well. They were terrible on mine at only 25000 miles.
Oh wow thanks for the tip. I didn't think about what the fluid looked like in the deep parts of the tranny. I am gonna go ahead and just knock it out.
 

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Trans / Rad

Three years ago I replaced my radiator with a Koyo one just to avoid the leaking into the transmission issue. I requested reimbursement and Nissan sent me a check for $300. Not sure if it will work now but it did back then.
 
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