Do I really HAVE to get my transmission (CVT) oil changed?

First off, probably most importantly, it’s a 2010 Honda Insight with a continuously variable transmission. The light just came on to have the CVT fluid changed and it’s only at 24,000 miles. The reason I’m asking is because it’s a lease with 14 months left.
I scrolled through some of the posts at an Insight message board that I go to with questions from time to time, but since they’re fanboys it wasn’t much help. Most of them talked about how they changed their CVT fluid at 3000 or 5000 and then every 15-30000 after that or some other interval that seemed overly abundant.

Anyway, I checked the fluid, it didn’t smell, it looked slightly grayish, but certainly not dirty like I would expect really old tranny fluid to look. But again, this is a CVT and I really don’t know anything about them. I’m taking it in for an oil change some time in the next week or so, and would have it all done at once, but I called at it’s a $75 job (I have no idea if that involves the filter). It’s the expense that’s making me ask this question. This is the first time in years I’ve thought about doing my own car maintenance again. The main reason I stopped is that cars got to low to the ground and I got sick of climbing under them. On top of that, this car has a engine cover (on the bottom, for aerodynamic reasons) that has to by dropped first to do any work…except possibly this job…I’m not sure…it doesn’t matter, I’m really not planning to do it myself.

The main question is, is this something that needs to be done? I have noticed it’s been taking longer to shift into gear lately, but maybe it’s always been like that and I haven’t noticed. Will my car make it another 15000 miles or so without any major problems? Most importantly is it required by Honda? IIRC they do require oil changes on a lease, but I’m going to see if dig up in the lease paper work where it says that and figure out if this is required as well. If it’s not, I’ll probably skip it, and least for now.

I’m not particularly up to speed on CVT transmissions myself. I know they can be finiky and short lived if not maintained. You admit feeling symptoms of a performance decrement already. I know it’s a lease and all, but if you are responsible for maintenance I believe you should do it. Your non-maintenance may be challenged as abuse if this tranny fails. You also mention the extra cover under the vehicle. That would add to the cost of the service. A charge of $75 does not sound expensive at all to me and I do all my own maintenance. I am frugal. This is a valid charge for a needed service.

Bumping this for the Monday morning crowd.

IMO unless you are really strapped for cash, 75 dollars vs the possibility of thousands of dollars in cost is a no brainer. Heck, for that matter, lets just say one day the car craps out on you as you are driving around because the CVT gave up the ghost. Now you are late to work or a stuck somewhere waiting for a tow truck or have to take a cab or you miss some important to you social event, at which point that 75 dollars you saved ain’t gonna seem like such a great deal. And then you get to deal with all the hassle of having the car fixed and picking it up.

I recently hit the 60,000 mile mark in my 2008 Nissan Altima with CVT, and took it to my trusted Midas guy for the tune-up for that level. One of the items on the factory list was to replace the CVT fluid. My guy did everything else and told me he’d feel much more comfortable if I took it to the Nissan dealer down the street, because it’s a complicated process, and expensive, and if he screwed it up, he’d have to buy me a new transmission. In fact, he took his own Maxima to the dealer for that service.

I called the Nissan dealer to get an appointment and he asked me why I wanted it changed; I replied that it’s part of the 60,000 mile service, and I’m at about 63,000. He said he’d change it if I want, but he’s never seen an Altima with less than about 100,000 that needed it. Since it’s about a $500 job (apparently the fluid itself is really pricey, plus labor), I agreed that I’d put it off until (i) I felt the tranny was having problems, or (ii) around 100k, whichever came first. I’d be surprised if it’s only the $75 they quoted you.

Disclaimer: I am not a mechanic, blah blah blah.