Nissan 240SX/Altima 1993-1998 Repair Guide

Automatic Transmission/Transaxle

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The automatic transmission fluid should be inspected every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) and changed every 30,000 miles (48,300 km).

FLUID RECOMMENDATIONS



Nissan recommends the use of genuine Nissan ATF (Nissan Matic Fluid D) or equivalent automatic transmission fluid.

LEVEL CHECK



See Figures 1, 2 and 3



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Fig. Fig. 1: Automatic transaxle dipstick showing the temperature sensitive fluid ranges-Altima



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Fig. Fig. 2: The fluid level should be between the notches. Fluid level can be checked when cold ...



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Fig. Fig. 3: ... however, it is recommended that the fluid level be checked at normal operating temperature. When hot, the fluid level should be in the crosshatched area

It is very important to maintain the proper fluid level in an automatic transmission/transaxle. If the level is either too high or too low, poor shifting and/or internal damage are likely to occur. For this reason, a regular check of the transmission fluid level is essential.

Most manufacturers specify that the transmission fluid should be checked at normal operating temperature. Drive the vehicle for 15-20 miles (24-32 km) of highway driving, allowing the transmission/transaxle to reach operating temperature. If the vehicle is driven at extended highway speeds, is driven in city traffic in hot weather, or is being used to pull a trailer, fluid temperatures will likely exceed normal operating and checking ranges. In these circumstances, give the fluid time to cool (about 30 minutes) before checking the level.

  1. Park the vehicle on a level surface, apply the parking brake and leave the engine idling. Shift the transmission/transaxle and engage each gear, then place the selector in P .
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  3. Open the hood and locate the transmission/transaxle dipstick. Wipe away any dirt in the area of the dipstick to prevent it from falling into the filler tube. Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean using a lint-free rag and reinsert it until it seats fully on the filler tube.
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  5. Remove the dipstick and hold it horizontally while noting the fluid level. The fluid level should be in the crosshatched area on the dipstick.
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The transmission/transaxle dipstick is labeled HOT and COLD with corresponding marked areas. If the fluid temperature is below 122 F (50C), the COLD area should be used. If transaxle fluid temperature is above 122 F (50C), the HOT crosshatched area should be used. For most instances, the HOT crosshatched area should be used.

  1. If the level is below the crosshatched area, use a funnel and add fluid in small quantities through the dipstick filler tube. Keep the engine running while adding fluid and check the level after each small amount. Do not overfill.
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Since the transmission fluid is added through the dipstick tube, if you check the fluid level too soon after adding fluid an incorrect reading may occur. After adding fluid, wait a few minutes to allow it to fully drain into the transmission/transaxle.

  1. The fluid on the dipstick should be bright red color. If it is discolored (brown or black), or smells burnt, serious transmission/transaxle troubles, probably due to overheating, should be suspected. The transmission/transaxle should be inspected to locate the cause of the burnt fluid.
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  3. Replace the dipstick and make sure it is fully seated.
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FLUID & FILTER SERVICE



See Figures 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16



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Fig. Fig. 4: Loosen the transaxle pan drain plug with an appropriate size box end wrench



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Fig. Fig. 5: Press against the drain plug while turning to prevent fluid from leaking past the threads



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Fig. Fig. 6: Inspect the end of the drain plug for metal shavings. Clean the drain plug thoroughly prior to installation



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Fig. Fig. 7: There are 21 bolts that attach the transaxle pan to the transaxle. Loosen all of them



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Fig. Fig. 8: When lowering the transaxle pan, keep it level to prevent fluid from spilling. Never leave the pan hanging by just one edge, as this will bend the pan rail



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Fig. Fig. 9: Once the pan is lowered from the transaxle, tilt it slightly to allow the remaining fluid to drain



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Fig. Fig. 10: There are 11 bolts and one nut that attach the transaxle oil filter to the transaxle



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Fig. Fig. 11: Carefully lower the filter from the transaxle. Inspect the filter for debris that could indicate a transaxle problem



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Fig. Fig. 12: The transaxle pan contains two magnets (arrows) that trap metallic debris. Clean these magnets at every filter service



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Fig. Fig. 13: Thoroughly clean the old gasket material from the transaxle pan using a scraper



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Fig. Fig. 14: Clean the magnets of debris and metal shavings at every filter service



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Fig. Fig. 15: Transaxle filter bolts are of various lengths. Always install bolts in their proper locations to prevent damage to the transaxle case



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Fig. Fig. 16: Transaxle fluid should be added through the dipstick tube. The use of a long funnel is suggested to prevent spilling the fluid

Although Nissan does not provide a specific inspection or replacement interval for the transmission/transaxle filter, it is a good idea to service the filter at least every 30,000 miles (48,300 km) as preventive maintenance.

It is a good idea to warm the transmission fluid first so it will flow better. This can be accomplished by 15-20 miles (24-32 km) of highway driving. Fluid which is warmed to normal operating temperature will flow faster, drain more completely and remove more contaminants from the engine.


CAUTION
The EPA warns that prolonged contact with used transmission fluid may cause a number of skin disorders, including cancer! You should make every effort to minimize your exposure to used transmission fluid. Protective gloves should be worn when changing the fluid. Wash your hands and any other exposed skin areas as soon as possible after exposure to used transmission fluid. Soap and water, or waterless hand cleaner, should be used.

The transmission fluid and filter should be changed at the recommended intervals. Though some manufacturers have at times recommended changing the filter every other fluid change, you always change the filter with the fluid. The benefit of fresh fluid is quickly lost if the old filter is clogged and unable to do its job.

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely.
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  3. Make sure the transmission/transaxle drain plug is at the lowest point on the pan.
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  5. Before you crawl under the vehicle, take a look at where you will be working and gather all the necessary tools: such as a few wrenches or a strip of sockets, an extra large drain pan and a clean rag.
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  7. Position the drain pan beneath the transmission/transaxle drain plug. Keep in mind that the fast flowing fluid, which will spill out as you pull the plug from the pan, will flow with enough force that it could miss the pan. Position the drain pan accordingly and be ready to move the pan more directly beneath the plug as the fluid flow lessens to a trickle.
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  9. Loosen the drain plug with a wrench (or socket and driver), then carefully unscrew the plug with your fingers. Use a rag to shield your fingers from the heat. Push in on the plug as you unscrew it so you can feel when all of the screw threads are out of the hole (and so you will keep the fluid from seeping past the threads until you are ready to remove the plug). You can then remove the plug quickly to avoid having hot fluid run down your arm. This will also help assure that you have the plug in your hand, not in the bottom of a pan of hot fluid.
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CAUTION
Be careful of the fluid; when at operating temperature, it is hot enough to cause a severe burn.

  1. Allow the fluid to drain until nothing but a few drops come out of the drain hole. Check the drain plug to make sure the threads and sealing surface are not damaged. Carefully thread the plug into position and tighten it with a torque wrench to 22-29 ft. lbs. (29-39 Nm). If a torque wrench is not available, snug the drain plug and give it a slight additional turn. You don't want the plug to fall out (as you would quickly become stranded), but the pan threads are EASILY stripped from overtightening (and this can be time consuming and/or costly to fix).
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  3. Loosen the transmission/transaxle pan bolts evenly. Keep the pan level and carefully lower it from the transmission/transaxle. Some transmission fluid will remain in the pan. Tip the pan slightly to allow the remaining fluid to drain.
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  5. Loosen the filter attaching bolts. The filter tube is usually held into the transmission/transaxle with an O-ring. Make sure the O-ring comes out of the transmission/transaxle when the filter is removed. Carefully remove the transmission/transaxle filter.
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  7. Wipe the base of the filter mounting boss with a clean, dry cloth. When you install the new filter, smear a small amount of petroleum jelly on the O-ring with your finger, just enough to coat the entire contact surface. This will lubricate the O-ring and prevent it from getting damaged during installation of the filter.
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  9. Push the filter tube into the boss on the transmission/transaxle and make sure it is fully seated. Install the transmission/transaxle filter attaching bolts and tighten to 5-6 ft. lbs. (7-9 Nm).
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  11. Clean all the sediment out of the transmission/transaxle pan with solvent. Remove the magnets from the pan and clean them thoroughly, then return them to the pan. The magnets are used to trap any metallic particles floating in the transmission fluid.
  12.  

Most transmission/transaxle pans and cases are made of aluminum and can be easily damaged. When removing old gasket material, take care not to gouge the aluminum.

  1. Clean the transmission/transaxle pan and transmission/transaxle gasket mating surfaces of all old gasket material. After scraping all the old material off, wipe the area with a lint-free rag moistened with solvent. Allow it to dry completely.
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  3. Lay the new gasket on the transmission/transaxle pan and check for proper alignment. Remove the gasket, place a few dabs of adhesive on the pan and place the gasket down again. Make sure the gasket is aligned before the adhesive is dry.
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  5. Position the pan on the transmission/transaxle and install the pan bolts. Tighten the bolts in a crisscross pattern to 5-6 ft. lbs. (7-9 Nm).
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WARNING
Never operate the transmission/transaxle without fluid, otherwise severe damage will result.

  1. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle, then immediately refill the transmission/transaxle with the proper amount and type of fluid.
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  3. Refill the transmission/transaxle slowly, checking the level often. You may notice that it usually takes less than the amount of fluid listed in the Capacities chart to refill the transmission/transaxle. This is due to the torque converter being partially filled with fluid. To make sure the proper level is obtained, start the engine and shift the transmission/transaxle, engaging each gear. Then place the selector in P . Adjust the fluid to the proper level.
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If the vehicle is not resting on level ground, the fluid level reading on the dipstick may be slightly off. Be sure to check the level only when the vehicle is sitting level.

  1. Empty the used fluid into a suitable container for recycling.
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