Piston Slap: Nissan Matic J Worth The Trouble?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC commentator Kericf writes:

First, an update: I submitted a question on my Rodeo ABS and brakes before. It was just a bad sensor (probably from driving in high water). And I chose not to replace the brake lines yet after inspecting them.

Now, my new question comes way of a transmission fluid change on my wife’s 2005 Pathfinder. As usual the manual calls for only using official Nissan Matic J at almost $13 per quart. The local auto parts store sells Castrol Tranny fluid that says on the label it is a replacement for Matic J. I do not have any warranty left so I’m not so much worried about fighting over what was used, I just don’t want to have to replace the tranny because the fluid wasn’t the right spec? Am I worrying too much about it? Should I just dive right in and go?

I would also like to get some suggestions by the B&B on the best way to flush more fluid out than the standard drain 5qt out of the pan method. Is there a way to really get it all out on your own? I saw the product review on the oil extractor and was contemplating trying one out for the tranny fluid as it seems a lot easier and cleaner.

Sajeev replies:

Congrats on the easy fix on the Rodeo! On the Pathfinder, use any fluid that meets the manufacturer’s specifications, and I suspect the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act agrees with me too. So yes, dive right in and go.

I seriously doubt the engine oil extractor (per TTAC review) has the balls to vacuum through the guts of a torque convertor; only the pressurized flushing systems can pull that off. If you’re lucky, you can pull the pan (and whatever trim covers the torque converter) and spin the converter 360 degrees and hope that Nissan gave you a drain plug. If not, I suspect the flushing machine is your best bet.

As previously mentioned on Piston Slap, your best bet is to do both a filter change and a flush of all the old fluid. Try to find a shop that can do both, unless your Pathfinder has well over 100,000 miles with original fluid, you might want to reconsider flushing the varnished fluid (filled with clutch material) with new slippery stuff, as that could wear out the transmission much faster. Fluid changes on old automatic transmissions are a tough personal choice, so think before you act.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Rocketrodeo Rocketrodeo on Jan 04, 2010

    I will never understand why people will religiously change their oil at 3K but neglect their transmission's fluid updates until the gearbox grenades. As Mr. Horner pointed out above, transmissions are every bit as expensive to repair or replace as an engine. Ford has recently (within the past decade, anyway) changed their ATF formulation--it's Mercon V now, ONLY. Does not play well with older Mercon. Hondas, in particular, are known for being sensitive to generic multi-use ATF, and user experience strongly recommends using their proprietary ATF-Z1 formula. Likewise, no flushing ever. Don't believe for a minute that this stuff is just generic fluid being relabeled by the OEMs; likewise, I wouldn't have much faith the generic stuff is going to work problem-free in your transmission over the long term.

  • Power6 Power6 on Jan 04, 2010

    Hey Sajeev, Any proof to back up that old wives tale about over 100k mile tranny flushes? I can't find anything either way but I am not inclined to agree. Why wouldn't this old clutch material not be caught by the filter or the magnet? If your clutches and bands are toast, they are going away, fluid change or not. As for the fluid in the Nissan, I would say stick with the Nissan stuff, just find the best price, and here's why: It only took a little Googling around the message boards to discover that Nissan doesn't publish any "spec" for trans fluid makers to meet, the fluid makers are just claiming they are compatible with the JATCO fluid, which is the equivalnet of saying "it won't blow up your trans in any way that could be linked to our fluid" sounds like a great guarnatee to me. But the Nissan guys are talking about JATCO slip profiles that are different then Dexron (if the fluid you want to buy is Dexron comapatible how could it meet two conflicting "standards"??) and modifiers that need to added, red or black depending on your trans family...clearly more research is needed... So do you want to become a part time lubricant researcher and figure out which trans fluid is going to deliver at a lower cost than the Nissan stuff? Or do you want to pony up the few bucks and at least know you are getting some stuff that is supposed to work right. This sort of question comes up all the time with car maintenance and sometimes it is worth the time to do the legwork, sometimes not.

  • EBFlex More proof of how much EVs suck. If you have to do this, that means you are trying to substitute what people want...and that's ICE.
  • ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.
  • THX1136 As a couple of folks have mentioned wasn't this an issue with the DeLorean? I seem to recall that it was claimed you could do a 'minor' buff of the surface and it would be good as new. Guess I don't see why it's a big deal if it can be so easily rectified. Won't be any different than getting out and waxing the car every so often - part of ownership, eh.
  • ToolGuy This kind of thing might be interesting in a racing simulator.
  • FreedMike Hmmm, electric powered vibrations. Is this the long rumored move into the...ahem...adult products market?