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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09-29-2010, 06:39 PM
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Unhappy 2001 Pathfinder radiator overheating/pressure issue


I have a 2001 Pathfinder SE and I am the first owner. Truck has 215,000 miles on it. Since 2005 I have been towing a boat on dual axles trailer about 15 times, for two hours round trip, each summer.

1) In October 2009, the original radiator started leaking. The temp gage went all the way up and the check engine light came on. Radiator was replaced and car was good until March 2010 at which point we had a similar issue.

2) Mechanic says new radiator had been slowly leaking and replaced it for free. I forgot the exact sequence of the next event but in a nutshell car was still overheating so we changed the thermostat and the fan. Can't remember if we changed the pump or not. Fixed the issue except that I could hear a running water noise. Mechanic said it was not a problem so we drove without any problems until mid september 2010.

3) Mid Sept 2010 I went back to the mechanic. I said the car is running fine but the running noise (noise lasted for two minutes every morning or when car had cooled down for a long time) is bothering me and I'd like him to fix it. They performed a procedure and the noise was almost gone but I could still hear it a little bite.

4) A day or two after the procedure my wife is driving and there is smoke coming out from under the hood. There is coolant all over the engine and the smoke comes out of the expansion vase. I added coolant and the car runs fine for a week. I checked coolant level every day. It was fine.

5) A week later I am towing the boat and after the first leg I decided to check under the hood, there is no overflow but the expansion vase was full to the top. After boating I put the boat back on the trailer and start the one hour trip back home. Temp gage was fine the all trip but mid way the check engine light came on and by the time I got home there was coolant dripping from under the car. Temp gage was still fine. Next day I pumped the extra coolant from the vase and refilled the radiator. Brought the car to the mechanic. He checked it and concluded that the only explanation is a bad head gasket. Bad news but the car runs fine for a week and a half. Same story I checked the coolant level every day and it was fine but then it happens again but this time it's coolant all over the engine, temp gage to the max and smoke under the hood coming out of the expansion vase and the radiuator cap. It got so hot that the part that you screw the radiator cap on was partly melted. I let the car cool down. Refilled the radiator and drove for about 4 miles making several stops until I found a mechanic. I explained the all story to the guy who said he will test the car for a faulty head gasket. Called me the next day saying that he ran the test several times and that it is not a head gasket problem but to further diagnose the problem I need to change the radiator so I called AAA and had the car towed to the original mechanic so he can change the radiator for free. I told him about the head gasket test and he said that it's BS because the test does not work with car made after 2000. So at this point we are going to change the radiator and run some test again butIi am just worried that it's going to happen again.
Any ideas of what could be going on????
Head gasket?
Anything that we should consider?
I really wanted to take the truck to 300,000. Just 80,000 to go. Can it be done without an expensive head gasket replacement?
Also the two mechanics mentionned are regular mechanics not Nissan ones. Is ther any value in taking the car to Nissan place?
Any specific tools they might have to diagnose the problem?
How can you diagnose a faulty head gasket?

Thanks in advance for your help


Last edited by PAX; 09-29-2010 at 06:47 PM.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 09-30-2010, 06:23 AM
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if it's a head gasket then you'll have fluids mixing.. coolant in oil or oil in coolant or both.. also, your exhaust would be burning white or black and smell either like burnt coolant (sweet smell) or like oil (kind of a choking smell).. and since it's not happening all the time, i doubt it's that.. just my 2c

now, i think it's air in the system.. it needs burping.. at least i'd start there..

the other thing that it could be is some kind of obstruction in the system that keeps getting pushed around.. or possibly faulty thermostat..

maybe others will chime in with other ideas..

and lastly, it may be worth taking it to a nissan mechanic.. or maybe search these forums a bit and see if anything similar pops up.

good luck


oh, check the code from CEL.. autozone does it for free.
dogs love trucks!~
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Old 09-30-2010, 06:28 AM
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read through this thread: Nissan Pathfinder overheating
symptoms seem similar.. i have not read the whole thing, however.
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2001, issue, overheating or pressure, pathfinder, radiator

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