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Preventative maintenance


I was a bit worried these past couple of days. On our way into Las Vegas on Monday, I noticed the transmission acting strangely. What had been a silky-smooth tranny was now occasionally slipping and shuddering in first gear. Did we toast the transmission from too much towing?

I didn’t want to say anything about it on the blog until I knew what was happening. This morning I took it in to the local Nissan dealer here in Las Vegas. United Nissan provided me with superb customer service and I felt the truck was in good hands, but I was pretty spooked by the possibility of major transmission repair.

Fortunately, it was not a serious problem. United Nissan called back today to say the problem was merely a leaking line to the transmission cooler. Apparently the fluid level got low enough to cause the symptoms. The Armada does not have a dipstick on the transmission that is user-accessible. Like some other manufacturers, they are moving toward a sealed transmission that is never opened until the recommended service interval. So I haven’t been checking the fluid level regularly, nor does the Owner’s Manual advise us to do so.

United Nissan believes that the problem was caught in time and no transmission damage occurred. The replacement line was in stock and now we’re back in business. I’ll pick the truck up Friday after my meetings.

This episode reminded me of how dearly we rely on our truck. Naturally, we’re a one-car family, and if our truck is not 100% reliable we could be stranded with a big trailer somewhere that we’d rather not be. So if you’ve noticed that we seem to stop in for service a lot, you’re right. Preventative maintenance and dealing with issues before they become problems are very important. Plus, since 90% of our miles are towing, we maintain to the “severe service” intervals, which means more frequent service than normal. It’s worth the small extra cost to be sure we keep cruising the roads trouble-free.

Next major maintenance item will be probably tires. I think we’ll be buying a new set around 30-35k miles, based on the current rate of wear. Our tires are loaded to near the Armada’s maximum axle weight ratings most of the time, and that means they wear more quickly. At our current rate, we’ll need them this fall.