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Transmission Fluid Change


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So I don't know when or if the transmission fluid has ever been changed in my wd21. Its from 1995 and is creeping up on 108k miles.


I was thinking I would do so my self to learn the process, but I have no idea where the dip stick is to check the fluid, or where to add and drain said fluid. I have goggled and looked in the FSM and come up empty with what I am looking for.

I also have what I think is stiff shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. Its a clunk like feeling that feels like it occurs from the rear of the pathy. Would that be the transmission I am feeling or the rear differential? It doesnt occur when driving except for initial acceleration from a stop.

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The dipstick's back towards the firewall on the passenger's side. You can add fluid right through the dipstick tube with a funnel. There are two ways to drain. There's a drain bolt on the pan, but if you just drain that, you're leaving old fluid in the torque converter. The other way is to unhook one of the transmission cooler lines, stick it in a bucket, start the engine, and run it until it stops blowing fluid out, then refill through the dipstick tube and repeat until the fluid comes out clean. That's what I did on mine. Great time to add an aftermarket cooler, maybe a filter. I put a magnefine on mine while I was in there after noticing a little metal shimmer to the fluid coming out. Come to think of it, I should probably change that at some point.


Setting trans fluid level is kind of a PITA because the trans has to be warmed up before it'll read right. I actually ended up overfilling mine a bit and having to drain some out using the drain plug. When I helped a friend do the fluid in his S10, we kept track of how much fluid came out (poured it into old oil jugs) and put the same amount back in--a little fiddly but it saved some screwing around after the fact.


Hard 1>2 is not uncommon with these. I'm not sure why. Hopefully new fluid works to smooth it out.

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Some trans pans don't have a drain nut so unhooking the trans hoses at the front of the engine and pumping the fluid out with the engine running is the best way to do it unless you really want to undo all the bokts on the pan and replace the filter which is a PINA. As Slartibartfast has said installing a filter in the trans hose line is a quicker way of getting things done and plus you're going to be able to see if any crap is in there when you change filters.

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  • 1 month later...

This topic is a bit old but it has been the bane of my Pathfinders existence and a lot of others as well so for the sake of future reference....you should definitely take a look at what the fluid looks like. If it's black, then it's probably too late to do anything. If it still has a pinkish hue and looks a bit dirty/thin, then it's time for a change ASAP. My first transmission took a crap about a year ago because I took too long to bypass the OEM ATF cooler and install another. A $600 tranny with 70k on it later with a fluid and filter change and installation of the aftermarket cooler from the first tranny and the shifts were like butter. I use Castrol Transmax Multi Vehicle Import. A bit pricey from AutoZone ($7.39/qt) but sometimes they stock it at "dollar" stores for around $5.50/qt. Or Amazon will sell it by the case for a tad more ($5.83/qt).


As far hard shifts go from first to second – it depends on what condition the transmission clutch packs are in to begin with and the mileage on the ATF. My ATF was finally spent after a year or so and a 2 hour drive the other day and it started to act up – hard and late shifts and it would shutter hard around 2k RPM. Drained the fluid from the pan (about 50% of ALL the fluid in the system), replaced it with a little over 2 quarts and a 24oz bottle of Lucas Transmission Fix. Shifts are so subtle now it's like night and day. These Jatco automatics need to be babied in my honest opinion. In 6 more months, I'll do a complete fluid and filter change as well. I'd say every 10k - 15k, maybe 20k miles (because Oregon) a change of the fluid and filter and you should be in good stead with the transmission Lord.


Kind of off topic but, for me, it's kind of a PITA to actually check the ATF oil level. I can never get a solid reading due in part to the bend in the dipstick tube?? :headwall:

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