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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I recently purchased a used 2015 Versa 1.6s. I guess it's actually an "S-plus" model because it does have factory blue tooth with steering wheel audio controls and does have a power trunk release. Swimming in luxurious options I tell ya.. I actually love the simplicity, because the car is mainly for my driving age kids to use.

Anyway.. as is my custom on used purchases, I like to go through and change the fluids myself. I did some research on the ancient RE4F03B 4spd automatic this car has and according to the Nissan factory service manual, all 2014-2017 Versa S models equipped with the 4spd AT have to be both drained and filled from the transmission pan drain plug. There's supposedly a riser or pipe shoved up the drain plug that allows you to check proper warm ATF level. This is basically the same system as most Toyotas these days and a royal PITA for the DIYer.

Upon further investigation and some youtube surfing, I found that indeed it still has a dipstick tube of sorts that's buried in there out of sight. It's the same type of dummy dipstick tube with the black plastic locking cap that the CVT models use.

I managed to wrestle the cap off yesterday with some knuckle busting, sweat and swear words. I had to remove the lower half of the air cleaner housing and unclamp and move a big electrical harness to give my meat hooks better access. Man that sucker was on there. Defeating the lock/tab wasn't bad. It was the O-ring on the cap was stuck to the inside of the tube. No lube put on it from the factory apparently. I'm familiar with these caps given my 2016 Nissan Quest CVT uses the same thing and was difficult the first time around too.

My plan is to suck out as much ATF cold as I can through this tube and then refill the same amount back in. Plan to use Valvoline Maxlife which is "suitable for use" where Nissan Matic-S is called for.

Just venting and hope this helps someone. I did search for it before I posted! LOL I'll post back with my progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I was doing a little maintenance on the Versa today and had 1.5qts of Valvoline Maxlife ATF on hand, so I suctioned out 1.5qts of ATF (cold) through the pain in the arse dipstick tube and refilled with a section of vinyl tubing snaked down into the tube, with a skinny funnel shoved into the tubing.

I had purchased a cheap $28 vacuum fluid extractor for this purpose. Trac outdoor brand. ~3qt capacity. It worked OK, but took 20-30min to suck out 1.5qts of cold ATF.

I should have just manned up and pulled the drain plug on the trans pan and figured out what it takes to remove the "straw", level check riser, or what ever you want to call it that's up the drain plug hole so you can drain the whole pan.

What drained out looked pretty dark for a 2015 with under 43K miles. Not the best pic, but here's what the factory Matic-S looked like:

 

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I can't comment on the maintenance you are doing other than good for you! But I thought I'd chime in and say you might have the S version. My 2016 1.6l S sedan also has the blue tooth and steering wheel controls as well as the trunk release. I went with the 5 speed manual tranny though as it's just fun to drive. Also I didn't want a CVT.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks ram!

Mine is for sure an S model. I'd have to dig up the original window sticker, but that other stuff must have come with an option package. I don't mind CVTs as I've owned some later model Subarus with them and currently have one in our Nissan Quest minivan, but for a used cheap car like the Versa and the fact my kids are driving it, I specifically wanted one with the old 4spd automatic. I would love my kids to know how to drive MT like I had to learn (and owned many), but times are different.
 

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If it has the fluid drain standpipe at the drain plug, the standpipe should just be a bigger fastener shape surrounding the drain plug itself. Pull center drain to drain only overflow past the normal fluid level and pull the outer standpipe for a complete drain (of pan anyway, converter stays full).

My '11 has same trans and a complete pan drain is 3 quarts or so, some over IIRC. I use regular cheap Ford lo-vis Mercon in it for S and no trouble. That car has the standard single piece drain plug in it.

I bet if you buy the earlier Versa ATX dipstick it slides right into the tube to have one again, what I did on my '17 Altima. It reads perfect. You likely could even find a junkyard older pan to reproduce the oldschool single drain plug setup. Or easier, yank the standpipe, grind or otherwise cut the tube down to flush and reinstall to simply use the center smaller drain plug as an overall plug, but you need a pre-verified dipstick to go along with that because you lose level setting with the upper pipe gone.

I abhor not being able to read fluid level easy, lose an axle seal to slow leak and you burn up a trans and render the car a boat anchor for nothing. Screw the Nissan method.

I used a handheld MityVac vacuum tool to suck out fluid and using the hose that came with it, it slipped right in the dipstick tube and I pulled out close to a quart in like 5 minutes. After I filled the pan, thinking like most small cars that this one needed close to 4 quarts in it but only needed 3, I was way overfilled.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks amc!

I believe on Toyotas, the stand pipe threads out with a hex/allen head wrench once you get the main drain plug out of the way. Next drain/fill, I'm definitely going to pull the pan plug to investigate. Refilling through the dummy tube takes some doing on mine. They cut the tube very short and it's right under a fat, loomed wire harness with little slack to move it. Removing the lower half of the engine air cleaner housing gives better access to it, but you can get at it by feel without removing anything.

I plan on using Maxlife ATF or maybe Castrol transmax import. Which ever I can get at wallyworld that's suitable for Nissan Matic-S use.
 

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'S' type fluid translates to later Dexron 6 or Ford equivalent Merc lo-vis or even Merc V which I used for a bit with no apparent trouble. What I found while comparing fluids and specs. S is just a better quality slightly lower viscosity D which was Merc V or Dexron under 6 (4?). Coming to the conclusion the viscosity is not a real concern like VB restriction holes being different for the two fluids, more like the lighter fluid simply drains quicker from the clutch packs due to the balance pistons and the lighter fluid, it helps shorten clutchpack overlap to tighten shifts and lower clutch wear. There could be a slight mileage increase using the lighter fluid too.

I've used Castrol Transmax on mine and worked fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
^ Good info.

They probably went the low viscosity route to try to squeeze every ounce of fuel economy as they can out of the car.

I wonder if it's at the expensive of transmission life though.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I picked up a gallon jug of Maxlife ATF today and pulled the drain plug on the transmission pan. I had pulled the car up on my rhino ramps to give me better access and this made the drain plug about the lowest point of the powertrain. About a half quart of ATF came out with the vehicle off and cold. I believe I used a 13/16" socket to get the drain plug off, but it's got corrosion on it, so it's probably a 20mm. The overflow tube took a 5mm hex key to remove and is threaded a good 3/4" or more up the drain hole.

Only a hair over 2qts drained out after removing the overflow tube, which seems about right because even with this tube removed, there's a long riser welded up into the pan to accommodate the threaded portions of both the tube and then the drain plug. There's going to be a lot of fluid remaining in the pan that you cannot drain out. The FSM says 3-1/8qts, but I feel something is amiss there because models without this huge riser in the pan (and no overflow tube) drain out 3-1/8qts.

I realize my car was not level with the front end on ramps, but because of the position of the drain plug, it makes it the lowest part of the transmission and pan.

I added back the same amount cold that I took out cold and called it a day for now. The OCD in me will pull the plug with the engine idling in park w/ an approx ATF temp of 95-113F at some point to verify.

Here's pics of the overflow tube removed:



 
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