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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first CVT vehicle. From what I read online, it seems like this transmission needs extra special care to get as many miles as possible out of it.
It's almost time for the 60k mile service. What transmission fluid do y'all think is best?
Can I get that Valvoline Full Synthetic CVT Fluid?
Do I have to buy the expensive CVT type N3?
I want to hear from some other Versa owners so I buy the best fluid to get the most miles out of my CVT...
 

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You don't need to use genuine Nissan NS-3 fluid for your Versa. The only time I would recommend sticking with OEM fluid is if you are under warranty. OEM NS-3 is dyed blue. Most of the aftermarket "suitable for NS-3 use" fluids are not blue in color.

I recently surpassed 60K miles in our 2019 Pathfinder. I'll be going to aftermarket CVT fluid from now on provided it's substantially less expensive than OEM.
 

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When I changed the fluid/filters in my '16 Versa I used Nissan NS-3 fluid only because my transmission is still under the extended warranty provided by the class action law suit. There are two filters on the transmission and I changed them both. One is the normal in pan filter. The other is an external cartridge filter on the side of the transmission to provide filtering for the valve body. Here are the Raybestos Powertrain part numbers for JATCO CVT-7 filters. The external filter is 515783 available at Rock Auto and the internal filter is 515784 also available at Rock Auto. When I bought my filters less than a year ago both were available for less than $7. each which is pretty cheap insurance. To find the filters on Rock Auto you'll have to do a part number search put in Raybestos Powertrain and the part number. They are not listed under the Versa transmission parts.
 

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This is my first CVT vehicle. From what I read online, it seems like this transmission needs extra special care to get as many miles as possible out of it.
It's almost time for the 60k mile service. What transmission fluid do y'all think is best?
Can I get that Valvoline Full Synthetic CVT Fluid?
Do I have to buy the expensive CVT type N3?
I want to hear from some other Versa owners so I buy the best fluid to get the most miles out of my CVT...
I use Valvoline full synthetic CVT Fluid in my 2017 Versa SV.
 

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I changed my own at home. Just drain the old fluid at ambient temperature, remove the pan change the filter and change the cartridge filter on the side of the transmission. Catch all the old fluid, measure what came out and replace it with the same amount of new fluid. The fluid can be refilled from the top side. On my 2016 model there's a plug that locks in place where the dipstick would normally be up near the radiator that can be removed by using a screwdriver to release the lock. If you suspect the fluid may be low you can refill it and use the procedure outlined in the service manual to be sure you have the correct amount of fluid in the transmission. If you decide to do it yourself I suggest being sure you can get the plug out before draining the old fluid. Getting the plug out was the hardest part of the job for me. There's no reason to remove the battery tray as I've seen some people claim has to be done in order to access the plug. I do recommend a funnel with a long snout on it for refilling the transmission since the plug sits low. If you want to get more fluid replenished drive the car for a few days/miles and repeat. When I changed mine I was able to get about 3 3/4 qts. out which is about half the total capacity. I plan to do it again at about 60K miles then between 90-100K I'm probably going to do about 3 drain/fills to get most of the fluid replenished. I bought my fluid on eBay about 1.5 years ago and bought my filters from Rock Auto. Total cost was slightly over $60 if I recall correctly. There are probably you tube videos on changing the fluid in a Versa. When I changed the fluid I checked with a local dealer to about doing it for me but they said they never changed the filters and just did a drain/refill. Also removing the pan lets you clean the magnets inside the pan and give you an indication on how much wear you're getting in the transmission. The magnets in mine had just a very small amount of metallic fuzz on the and is what I'd consider normal wear. Do not mistake the fill plug for the black plastic vent pipe on the top of the transmission. If you were to break the vent trying to ply the top off of it you'd probably have problems removing and replacing the vent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I did the drain/refill using the Castrol Syntec CVT fluid. I have seen 3 different videos on YouTube all showing the same procedure:
1. Remove 19mm plug AND the overflow tube. Drain for 10-15 min.
2. Replace both plugs.
3. Pour in 4.5 quarts of trans fluid.
4. Run till CVT temp is 110 or higher (I just ran till engine was warm)
5. Remove ONLY the 19mm plug. Drain for 10-15 min.
6. Replace 19mm plug and drive it!

I feel weird not knowing how much fluid is in the transmission. But this DID help the drive. No more lunging between gears.
I'm just wondering how y'all feel about this procedure. Has anyone else done this? Is this what the service manual recommends?
 

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I did the drain/refill using the Castrol Syntec CVT fluid. I have seen 3 different videos on YouTube all showing the same procedure:
1. Remove 19mm plug AND the overflow tube. Drain for 10-15 min.
2. Replace both plugs.
3. Pour in 4.5 quarts of trans fluid.
4. Run till CVT temp is 110 or higher (I just ran till engine was warm)
5. Remove ONLY the 19mm plug. Drain for 10-15 min.
6. Replace 19mm plug and drive it!

I feel weird not knowing how much fluid is in the transmission. But this DID help the drive. No more lunging between gears.
I'm just wondering how y'all feel about this procedure. Has anyone else done this? Is this what the service manual recommends?
As I remember that's about what the service manual recommends but I'd probably have driven the car some then used an infrared thermometer to check the transmission pan temperature before draining the excess fluid. You can download the service manual for some Versa here. https://www.nicoclub.com/nissan-service-manuals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you SO MUCH for that link to the service manual. I've been a member on every forum for every vehicle I've ever owned. Those service manuals are always a huge help!
It looks like Nissan service handles the transmission fluid all from under the car. They drain it and pump new fluid back in thru the same hole. I don't have any pump like that. Have y'all ever seen an aftermarket fill spout that comes all the way up to the radiator cap? Something to access without removing the battery and all that?

This YouTube video shows a custom-built extension. Just wondering if anyone has seen one you can buy?
I had to remove the bolt and pull out the whole tube just to take that annoying filler cap off. If I need to do something with the transmission fluid every 30k miles... it might be a good idea to have an easier way to fill it with transmission fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another question... assuming the transmission was full of the approved Nissan NS-3 fluid... should I have removed the pan and drained all of it? Instead of adding that Castrol Syntec CVT fluid??
 

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When I changed my fluid I was able to remove the cap by putting a screwdriver between the cap and fill tube and hitting it with the palm of my hand. This was done from underneath the car. Since there's an o-ring on the cap to seal it I turned it so it wouldn't lock back on when I replaced it so I wouldn't have to fight with it next time. Removing the pan still won't get all the fluid. Probably nearly half the fluid is still in the torque converter. I removed the pan to change the filter and removed the canister on the side with the filter for the valve body, I still only got 3 3/4 quarts which is just over half the transmissions capacity, Don't quote me on this but if I recall correctly the transmission fluid capacity is something like 7 1/8 or 7 1/4 quarts. I changed both transmission filters when I changed the fluid since these transmissions give so many problems and both filters could be bought from Rock Auto for under $15. When I went to the Nissan dealer to get a new o-ring for the canister they had to order it saying they didn't stock them because when they did a fluid change they didn't change the filters. I feel I went above and beyond what the dealer would have done and it only cost me a little over $60. instead of probably $200-300 they would have charged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I called Nissan to ask them what they would charge for a 60k mile service. They told me it would be $1100!!
I bought all the fluids for oil, transmission, radiator plus all necessary filters. for $110. (Saved 90%) Even the cabin filter. The only thing I'm not doing is brake fluid or fuel system service. Throttle response and brakes are working great! The transmission definitely feels smoother. Even when cold.
I may go ahead and drop the transmission pan at the 90k mile service and swap out filters. Then try to do a better job of making sure the right amount of fluid is in there. I'll follow the service manual. But I'll be pouring fluid in from the top... rather than pump it in thru the drain plug.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I wish there was a better way to measure the amount of trans fluid. I saw a video online that said the reason modern transmissions don't have dipsticks is because they don't want DIY guys putting in the wrong fluid and decreasing the life of the transmission. I'm kinda regretting using the Castrol Syntec CVT fluid instead of Nissan brand. Lots of mechanics say the transmission is designed for ONE kind of fluid. But now that I've got Castrol in there.... I don't know what to use next time I mess with the trans fluid.
Do y'all know if these CVT transmissions are the same as other Automatic transmissions where HALF the fluid is stuck in the transmission? Even after draining?
 

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I wish there was a better way to measure the amount of trans fluid. I saw a video online that said the reason modern transmissions don't have dipsticks is because they don't want DIY guys putting in the wrong fluid and decreasing the life of the transmission. I'm kinda regretting using the Castrol Syntec CVT fluid instead of Nissan brand. Lots of mechanics say the transmission is designed for ONE kind of fluid. But now that I've got Castrol in there.... I don't know what to use next time I mess with the trans fluid.
Do y'all know if these CVT transmissions are the same as other Automatic transmissions where HALF the fluid is stuck in the transmission? Even after draining?
I wouldn't worry about using Castrol, Valvoline, Lucus, etc. CVT fluid. That's what my intentions are when the extended warranty (class action law suit) is out on my '16. I think the reason they did away with the dipsticks has more to do with trying to prevent people from doing there own maintenance meaning more traffic to the dealership service department. I'm not saying that the wrong fluid doesn't get used sometimes but there have been multiple types of automatic transmission fluids around ever since before I started driving in 1975 and I've never known anyone that ruined a transmission using the wrong fluid. As far as transmissions being designed for one type fluid Nissan must not have it right since many of their transmissions go out using only Nissan branded fluid. I've used various brands of transmission fluid other than that sold by the dealership over the years and never had a transmission failure. I used to run gear oil in a Ford 4 speed manual transmission that was designed for automatic transmission fluid. When I retired the car it still had the original transmission and was shifting fine at 518K miles. The only negative effect I saw was stiffer shifting in the winter.

It's the same way with motor oil. Lots of people say you shouldn't use any weight other than what's listed in the owners manual. I've been using 10w40 in all my cars since I started driving and have never had an engine failure. Nissan recommends 5w30 but the owners manual for my '16 has a temperature/weight graph and as I remember approves of oil weights as high as 20w50. I think these lighter weight oil recommendations are more related to CAFE standards than any other reason.

I suspect I've driven well over 1M miles in the past 46 years and have never had a major transmission or engine breakdown.

I found the capacity of the CVT-7 transmissions somewhere. Maybe the service manual? I'm nearly certain it was over 7 qts. so yes around half the transmissions capacity is still in the torque converter when the transmission is drained. Years ago I had a Chrysler and it had a drain plug in the torque converter so all the fluid could be changed/serviced. I never changed the fluid in it without draining the torque converter so don't know how much it took with just a pan drop but it took 14 quarts when I dropped the transmission pan and drained the torque converter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So the idea of draining the fluid JUST FROM THE 19mm plug at the end of a trans fluid service...
Can someone explain that to me?
How can I drain all the fluid from that plug...and still have the right amount of fluid?
 
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