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#4699304 - 03/19/18 04:41 AM CVT check fluid level or just use specification?
NoNameJoe Offline


Registered: 06/03/15
Posts: 440
Loc: New York
Has anyone changed the CVT fluid on a Honda Civic (particularly in the ninth generation 2012-2015)? The process for checking the fluid level seems more "involved" than other automatics because they stopped putting dipsticks on them.

They also stopped printing service manuals.

So that means to check the fluid I have to open a level check bolt (like on a manual transmission, dribbles excess fluid out). Problem is this is dependent on temperature since the fluid expands as it heats up. I have no idea what temperature they want it checked at.

I'm wondering if it's good enough to just take their specification (the manual specifically says how much fluid is needed at change) and just dump that in there blindly and not mess with having the car perfectly level and checking the level through the bolt. I mean if they say I need X amount of quarts for the CVT fluid change, can't I just put that in there without checking the level?

Part of the process also says to shift through the gears, then refill, but if I use the correct spec for fluid amount in the manual why bother? FWIW they also used to say to do this refill thing for their AT's and I used to just put the proper amount of fluid into the AT's and never bother to check again after cycling. I used to just assume that if I put in the right amount, it would be fine after I did the shifting and I wouldn't need to check again.

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#4699401 - 03/19/18 07:57 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
sasilverbullet Offline


Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 1437
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
I have two 2014 Civics with the CVT that I change out about 4 qts every other oil change.

My recommendation is don't take any shortcuts. Here's the condensed version of what I do.

1. Drive car around and make sure it's warmed up well.
2. Put car on jack stands and LEVEL IT (close is fine).
3. Remove the filler cap.
4. Remove the big drain bolt, let it drain for a while. Fluid should be hot.
5. Put drain bolt back on, I use a little Honda Bond on the threads.
6. Put about 3.5 qts of HCF-2 in, pour slowly.
7. Put filler cap back on.
8. Start car and let it run in each shifter setting for 1 min.
9. Remove filler cap.
10. Remove the little fluid leve bolt. I think it's a 12mm.
11. You should have a little flow out of it. If not, put the bolt back in (if you don't when you add fluid it will just pour right out) and then add fluid. Repeat until you get a little flow. I run through the gears each time.

Voila, done!
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14 Honda Civic 4dr EX-L-M1 0W-20 & WIX XP
14 Honda Accord 4dr EX-L 4cyl-M1 0W-20 & WIX XP
02 Chevy 5.7L van-GTX HM 10W-40 & WIX filter

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#4699463 - 03/19/18 08:37 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: sasilverbullet]
Char Baby Offline


Registered: 05/25/05
Posts: 10086
Loc: ROCHESTER, NY
Hmmm, I have to remember this as I want to at some point, do the CVT fluid in my '15 Altima 2.5SV. I have read recently that, another member doing this similar method on a friends Altima 2.5.
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#4699495 - 03/19/18 08:56 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: sasilverbullet]
JTK Offline


Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 10659
Loc: Buffalo, NY
sasilverbullet, just curious, why the need to drain it hot?

Why not drain it cold, refill, then check level hot?
_________________________
2017 Ram 1500 4x4, 3.6L. 2016 Nissan Quest SV (Babe magnet IV)

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#4699593 - 03/19/18 10:28 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
SubieRubyRoo Offline


Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 1232
Loc: Winchester, Indiana
I would capture the drained fluid into a container that you can see how much came out, and start your refill with that quantity. Then, do the fill plug height check.

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#4699667 - 03/19/18 12:00 PM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
NoNameJoe Offline


Registered: 06/03/15
Posts: 440
Loc: New York
Yup, I was planning on draining into a graduated pan so I can at least know how much came out of it.

I'm conflicted about doing the drain and fill hot vs cold. It doesn't make sense to me, why do we do the drain when it is hot and then fill with cold fluid? What's the purpose of heating up the fluid? It seems to me that if the level check is occurring on cold fluid it shouldn't matter whether the drained fluid is hot or cold.

Could it be that warming it up gets more fluid out or something? But why would letting it sit and get cold reduce the amount of fluid that was available for draining when hot?

I was also thinking about maybe doing this whole song and dance once, but keeping track of how much fluid I actually ended up using, this way all future drain and fills I can just cut right to the chase and use that amount.

If the car is not perfectly level, it's probably going to be overfilled. Would that cause the transmission to explode? To make it level I plan on lowering the car off jack stands for the filling part.

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#4699923 - 03/19/18 04:30 PM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: JTK]
sasilverbullet Offline


Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 1437
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
Originally Posted By: JTK
sasilverbullet, just curious, why the need to drain it hot?

Why not drain it cold, refill, then check level hot?


Because you're not draining all the fluid, about half I think, so if the fluid is hot first, then you add some new, it will be easier to get warmed up.
_________________________
14 Honda Civic 4dr EX-L-M1 0W-20 & WIX XP
14 Honda Accord 4dr EX-L 4cyl-M1 0W-20 & WIX XP
02 Chevy 5.7L van-GTX HM 10W-40 & WIX filter

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#4700006 - 03/19/18 06:12 PM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
slacktide_bitog Offline


Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 6388
Loc: USA
I would just use a measuring pail when draining, and refill the same amount that came out smile

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#4700520 - 03/20/18 09:57 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: slacktide_bitog]
Whimsey Offline


Registered: 12/22/02
Posts: 4074
Loc: The Garden State
Originally Posted By: slacktide_bitog
I would just use a measuring pail when draining, and refill the same amount that came out smile

I do that cold with our 2017 Explorer. That way the ATF going in is the same temp as the ATF that was drained. I don't have to worry about expansion of the drained hot fluid vs the refill temp.

Whimsey

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#4700530 - 03/20/18 10:12 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
JTK Offline


Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 10659
Loc: Buffalo, NY
^ It's exactly what I do with the Nissan CVT drain/fills I've done. You can't get the amount wrong if you drain it cold and refill with the same amount that drained out.
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2017 Ram 1500 4x4, 3.6L. 2016 Nissan Quest SV (Babe magnet IV)

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#4720690 - 04/08/18 03:53 PM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
NoNameJoe Offline


Registered: 06/03/15
Posts: 440
Loc: New York
By the way I did the change. Here's what I did and some notes in case anyone else is looking:

1. The spec says 3.6-3.7 quarts at change. I ended up using 4 quarts exactly.

2. The bottom of the pan on the CVT was angled kind of like a shallow V with the drain plug at the lowest part of the V, such that when I jacked up the front of the car and put it on 3 ton jack stands at the lowest setting, it was still level enough. What this meant was I could drain all of the fluid with the front-end of the car on stands.

3. 3.6 quarts came out when draining (checked with my graduated drain pan).

4. I filled the car while the front end was on the ground not on stands. This is important since the level check hole is facing the front of the car, if you're not on the ground the check will be completely inaccurate. Draining is fine on stands due to the geometry of the pan and the position of the drain, but filling must be done on ground.

5. I got 3 quarts in before it started pouring out of the level check hole. What a [censored] mess it makes and what a waste of fluid so pour slowly around the 3 quart mark and check often. Even though I checked often and pouredin roughly .25 quart increments, I was unprepared because I expected it to take around as much as it drained out. The fluid covers the entire underside of the pan and drips on to the undercover.

6. You can put the level check plug in hand tight from under the hood of the car if you slip your arm past the radiator hoses. I'd make sure you can find the level check hole and touch it with your hand from under the hood before doing any of this. This way you can quickly seal the hole when the fluid is done draining out and take it off when filling later on without raising the car.

7. I put the level check plug in from under the hood, started the car, shifted through all of the gears down, then up, waiting three seconds between each before turning off car.

8. Went back to the CVT, removed the level check plug from under the hood, it now accepted one more quart before it started dribbling out. Put the plug back in finger tight.

9. Put the front back on stands. This is when the fluid that drained on top of the undercover starts to drain out so have a pan under some of the holes near the drain plug more toward the rear of the car, otherwise you get a huge mess.

10. With the front back up on stands, double check the drain plug is torqued, torque level check plug completely and put the undercover back on. All done.



Next time I am going to change this process to save time and effort. Going to just put 3 quarts in, start the car and do the shift procedure without checking the level. I'm going to check the level only when I'm putting in the fluid after the shifting, when it really matters.

Take away here is the process looks like it can be simplified and that yes it really does matter that you put more fluid in after the shifting is done. It does magically consume one quart somehow.

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#4720818 - 04/08/18 06:02 PM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: slacktide_bitog]
chunt Offline


Registered: 12/14/12
Posts: 172
Loc: ga
Originally Posted By: slacktide_bitog
I would just use a measuring pail when draining, and refill the same amount that came out smile

This only works if the transmission had the correct amount of fluid from the factory. I had a new Altima with a CVT that started jerking a little going up a very steep hill. The next time I went up the same hill it gave a code. One of the things that can cause the code that was given was low CVT fluid. I took it to the dealer who of course could not duplicate the problem. When I asked the tech if he checked the fluid level he said that it was a brand new car and could not be low. I went on line and found the procedure to check the fluid and found that my CVT was about 10-12 ounces low. I added the needed fluid and had no more problems.
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#4721467 - 04/09/18 11:10 AM Re: CVT check fluid level or just use specification? [Re: NoNameJoe]
JTK Offline


Registered: 08/14/03
Posts: 10659
Loc: Buffalo, NY
Joe, thanks for the update on that! Sounds like an easy DIY job for the Honda CVT.
_________________________
2017 Ram 1500 4x4, 3.6L. 2016 Nissan Quest SV (Babe magnet IV)

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