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How to Change the transmission fluid

Note: This how-to is for '02-'03 Maxima's with a 6-speed transmission.

I ordered 3 quarts of Redline MT-90 Manual Transmission fluid from myoilshop. Their service was quick - I received the oil on 1-17. Redline MT-90 is a quality GL-4 fluid. Amsoil Series 2000 SAE 75W-90 Synthetic is another popular choice. The important part is to only use GL-4 for Maxima's.

Redline claims MT-90:
- Improves shift feel, particularly in cold weather
- Eliminates notchy shifting
- Enables high-speed downshifting
- Perfect synchronizer coefficient of friction
- Eliminates gear whine and rattle at high temperatures


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- Non corrosive toward synchronizers
- High performance gear protection

Many on Maxima.org have found the above to be true.

The 02-03 Max takes a little less than 3 quarts, much less than the old 5-speeds. With the proper tools, the process is pretty straightforward and takes about as long as a normal oil change.



  • Oil pan
  • 3/8" socket
  • 3 qts. of GL-4 Manual transmission fluid
  • Plug Gaskets (2) - I didn't replace mine because these aren't crush style gaskets. I've had no issues with leaking since the swap. As long as they aren't damaged you should be able to reuse them without a problem. However, to be safe, you may want to switch both the drain and fill gaskets. Nissan part #11026-4N200. In my area these ran between $2.25 and $6.50 a piece. For a little piece of metal? Ouch.
  • 10mm hex drive. Not in the "Average Joe's" tool kit. I purchased the hex drive socket at Wal-Mart.
  • Funnel with at least 22" of hose. I purchased two separate funnels with hoses from Wal-Mart to get the necessary length.

Socket with Hex drive:



2. Put car on stands/ramp. This is optional - some have had luck with the car flat on the ground, but I prefer a little extra room to work. It's very difficult to reach the fill hole with the car on the ground.

Remove both plugs.

The drain plug is at the bottom of the transmission. Remove the plug with the 10mm hex drive socket. The plug was extremely tight in my case.

The old fluid will be dark brown. Mine smelled nasty - even with only 30k miles. After around 15 minutes the dripping stopped. The fill plug is toward the top of the transmission.

Both the fill and the drain plugs are visible in this shot. This shot is taken from the front driver's side facing toward the passenger side:

4. Route funnel with hose down into the fill hole. This can be done while you're waiting for the old fluid to completely drain. Funnel in position:

5. Replace drain plug.

Fill with new fluid.

Make sure to keep an eye on the end of your hose. I placed a quart upside down in the funnel and stayed under the car to make sure the hose didn't slip out of the fill hole. The transmission is full when the fluid starts to come out of the hole. You should be able to put your finger in the fill hole and feel the fluid flush with the bottom of the hole.

Fill hole dripping since it's full:

7. Replace fill plug.
8. Enjoy crisper shifts and the peace of mind that comes from synthetic protection. I've heard some suggest that the next 500 miles after the change are a "break in" period. Try to avoid hard shifts during this time.


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