Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Change - Infiniti FX Forum : FX35, FX45 and FX50 Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Change

Hello,

I just finished replacing my transmission, differential, and transfer case fluid based on the information that I found on this forum and some other forums and I wanted to share my experience. These were done on an 08 FX35 AWD with 40,000 mi.

Transmission Fluid

After reading information on many other forums about what is the best way to change the transmission fluid, it seemed that the general consensus was to do 3 drain/fills within 1000 mi of each other. The drain/fill is an easy procedure, just need a 19mm socket to remove the drain plug (keep an extra crush washer around from the oil drain plug to use when you replace it). I captured 3 quarts and 750 ml (almost a 4th quart) from the drain. That was pretty constant over 3 drains. On the 3rd drain/fill the fluid was a nice red instead of the original brown. Have 12 quarts ready to do the job.

Differentials

Front/Rear Diffs were pretty easy to find and drain/fill. I got the fluid from the local nissan dealer (80W-90). Rear fluid was brown (rather than yellow) but not black. Front fluid seemed under-filled from the factory. Was light brown. Probably didn't need to be changed except it seemed low. This makes some sense to me as I don't believe the front diff is actually used unless AWD is engaged, which is a tiny fraction of regular driving. Front diff required socket extensions to get to. Both diffs have female hex bolts that require you to have male hex fittings.

Transfer Case

I did this last because the nissan dealership and infiniti dealership got into an argument over which fluid I should use. The manual says to use Matic-D (as opposed to Matic-S or J for the transmission). I called up infiniti for Matic-D. They said they didn't sell it (I wonder what they'd have put in my transfer case if I'd asked them to do it), and that I should call Nissan. Nissan said they sell matic-D but that I should use 80W-90 for the transfer case. I told them the owners manual said Matic-D. They called a different infiniti dealership and asked and couldn't get a straight answer. The told me to double-check before putting Matic-D in the transfer case because they really really really thought it should be 80W-90. I told them I thought they were wrong about bought the Matic-D fluid. Then I went to a different infiniti dealership (LA has a lot of infiniti dealerships) and asked them what I should put in the transfer case. I waited at least a half hour. When the tech came back he had the owners manual and pointed to the differential oil (80W-90). I directed him one line lower to the transfer case oil (Matic-D) on the sheet he was holding. I said "Matic-D right?" he said... oh, yea.

Matic-D is basically transmission fluid. For the uninitiated that's watery fluid, less viscous than motor oil. 80W-90 is gear oil - it's thick stuff! Way thicker than typical motor oil. I have a horrible feeling that I'd have gotten 80W-90 in my transfer case if I'd asked Nissan to do the service. I think infiniti would have gotten it closer, but I doubt that they'd have had Matic-D to use and would have put Matic-S in it. Either way, across 3 dealerships (two infiniti and one nissan), I suspect I'd have gotten the wrong transfer case fluid!

Once I finally got to changing the transfer case fluid, the service manual said to just do a drain and fill just like the diffs, except that it doesn't show where the fill plug is. Luckily others have addressed this issue online. The manual also says to protect the exhaust from fluid spillage when you open the drain plug. I thought to myself "that's for newbs, I've already done the transmission and differential, how bad could it be?". But I listened to the service manual anyway and wrapped a t-shirt around the exhaust pipe before opening the drain plug.

The drain plug on the transfer case is a little odd. It's a square fitting that you can put the half-inch drive on your ratchet directly into, no need for a socket. This was not great for me since my small torque ratchet was a 3/8" drive, so I needed to put an adapter on it to get it up to 1/2". The adapter barely fit into the space available due to the exhaust pipe being right there. I tested this out before I opened the drain plug with a regular ratchet.

Once the drain plug came off, fluid exploded all over everything (soaking the t-shirt I had wrapped around the exhaust). I was very glad I had put something on the exhaust. The fluid that came out of the transfer case was bright red transmission fluid. So Nissan was totally off-base with 80W-90. The fluid really did not need to be changed, it looked great. Oh well.

One last bit, when replacing the drain plug I had my torque wrench set to 28 ft-lbs. Unfortunately the transfer case (unlike everything else on the car) requires 22 ft-lbs. As I tightened the bolt it just kept getting spinning further and further in. Rubber bits started coming off of the soft fitting around the bolt and I realized I was over torquing it. I checked the specs and sure enough I had over done it. So be careful when you do this one, you can over torque it by a little and it'll just keep spinning.

Final Notes

I did all of this without jacking up my fx. I don't know if the tire diameter is any different, but I have the sport package with 20" wheels that might give me a little more clearance. I apparently don't use AWD enough to warrant changing the front diff or transfer case at a 40k mi interval. I'll probably change it that often anyway just to make sure, but it's overkill. Definitely wrap the exhaust when you drain your transfer case... and you will probably smell burning oil when your exhaust heats up the first time anyway (I did). Triple check what transfer case fluid the dealership is using before you let them do it.

That's it. Thanks for reading.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-27-2012, 11:07 PM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Quote:
Originally Posted by danoff
Triple check what transfer case fluid the dealership is using before you let them do it.
Now I'm worried about what fluid my dealership used... LOL... that was 30K miles ago so I think I might be safe that they used the right stuff...


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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-29-2012, 09:22 PM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Thanks for the details. I've done the TC, FD and RD twice myself now. They all get serviced at 50K intervals and the fluids always look great. The FD always looks a little better for the reasons you noted. I use Mobil synthetics ... gear oil for the drives and TF for the TC. The Mobil TF product is Matic-D compatible and Nissan is not weird about using alternates in that one. All the specs for materials, torque, etc. are in the online service manual that many have downloaded. Some of the info is in the owners manual, too. The only TF that Nissan gets weird about is the fluid for the transmission. Nonetheless I switched that to BG synthetic with no driveability issues since 84K. It's a 137K now and has has an interim change. All is well. Many Infiniti dealers use the BG program. I let my tech do it at a preferred service locaiion nearby. It's not much more than the cost of the fluid. You didn't mention the gasketing goop that must be restored on the TC plug threads, although, seems you saw the old goop flake off when you tightened the plug. I use a sliced 1L plastic water bottle to cover the exhaust segment at risk for TC fluid splash. If you do that, it's better that the exhaust isn't hot, 'natch.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-15-2012, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Quote:
Originally Posted by VitesseFX
You didn't mention the gasketing goop that must be restored on the TC plug threads, although, seems you saw the old goop flake off when you tightened the plug.
Hmmmm, didn't know about that. Don't remember that in the manual. Makes sense though.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-16-2012, 02:10 PM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Yeah, it's for the drain plug ... Apply genuine silicone RTV sealant, or equivalent, to drain plug. Install plug on transfer case and tighten to specified torque. Listed sealant appears to be Permatex Ultra Grey 82194, or equivalent. Pse double-check me for next time - don't want you to use the wrong stuff.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-16-2012, 09:33 PM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Quote:
Originally Posted by VitesseFX
Thanks for the details. I've done the TC, FD and RD twice myself now. They all get serviced at 50K intervals and the fluids always look great. The FD always looks a little better for the reasons you noted. I use Mobil synthetics ... gear oil for the drives and TF for the TC. The Mobil TF product is Matic-D compatible and Nissan is not weird about using alternates in that one. All the specs for materials, torque, etc. are in the online service manual that many have downloaded. Some of the info is in the owners manual, too. The only TF that Nissan gets weird about is the fluid for the transmission. Nonetheless I switched that to BG synthetic with no driveability issues since 84K. It's a 137K now and has has an interim change. All is well. Many Infiniti dealers use the BG program. I let my tech do it at a preferred service locaiion nearby. It's not much more than the cost of the fluid. You didn't mention the gasketing goop that must be restored on the TC plug threads, although, seems you saw the old goop flake off when you tightened the plug. I use a sliced 1L plastic water bottle to cover the exhaust segment at risk for TC fluid splash. If you do that, it's better that the exhaust isn't hot, 'natch.

VitesseFX, can you tell me what the "BG"synthetic fluid you mention? I am getting ready to have all my fluids changed and a mechanic I've used before said he would be using Max Life Valvoline ATF for the transmission. Before opening his own shop over 10yrs ago, he used to work at the Nissan dealership, so I asked him about whether anything was approved besides the matic J (no longer offered) and the replacement matic S fluid. He said that Valvoline had gotten approval as a replacement for both of those and showed me the documentation from Valvoline. I'm debating on whether to go ahead and have him service or take it to the Nissan dealer (closest Infiniti dealer is 170 miles away). I usually don't go to "stealerships" but when I was looking to have the tranny fluid changed before, everyone was adamant about ONLY using matic J fluid. Any thoughts about Valvoline, Mobile 1 or other ATF products being approved as replacement for use in our transmissions?

I do however need to talk to him about what he plans to use in the transfer case, because from the quote he gave me it looks like he may be planning on using the same synthetic gear oil as in both differentials. Not sure if he is aware or if it was just an oversight.

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 10:26 AM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

I have 130K miles on my car and the dealers don't even care to change the trans, diff or transfer case fluids now. They are telling me I should just let it be because the car has a lot of miles on it. I am starting to wonder if they actually want something to fail at this point....

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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenju4u
I have 130K miles on my car and the dealers don't even care to change the trans, diff or transfer case fluids now. They are telling me I should just let it be because the car has a lot of miles on it. I am starting to wonder if they actually want something to fail at this point....
Probably... if you have a major failure, they can talk you into buying a new car...


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 07:05 PM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

See the BG site -- they list the synthetic trans fluid and note that it's Matic-J/S compatible. Works great. Many other ATFs also claim equivalency including the Valvoline product that you noted.

www.bgprod.com/products/transmission.html

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 05:29 PM
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Re: Transmission, Differentials, and Transfer Case Fluid Cha

Regarding the BG stuff - I just called a friend that owns a repair shop - he has one of the BG trans machines that uses the vehicle's pump to power it. Any thoughts? He is looking into the tranny fluid but said he can get the Nissan J-Matic that the dealer gets - just not labeled 'Nissan' he claims it is the 'same' fluid and not just 'compatible' listed. He is looking further into this for me. Anyone use the BG fluid?
He has Mobil Synthetic 80w-90 for the rear diff - so I should be good on that. (unless anyone has compelling news that i shouldn't use Mobil)

People are talking about front diff - are you refering to the center transfer case (more centrally located on the vehicle), or is there an actual front diff? (meaning.... transmission, front diff, transfer case, rear diff) Does this actually need to be changed at the same time as the trans and rear diff?
I am at 60,200 miles and looking to get this done.


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