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Water Loss Problem Solved


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Some background on the issues I was having for those that might have similar issues...

 

I was having issues with unexplained water loss on a cross country trip (2100 miles). The only time I would see any water was when I exited the highway after a long ~75mph run and that was just a small amount pushed out of the overflow container. I didn't see any signs of a leak and no apparent coolant being pushed out of the overflow at highway speeds. After running about ~200 miles I would stop and let it cool. I would generally have to add about 16oz of coolant. The pressure seemed to stay good for several hours while cooling.

 

The temp gauge never showed above normal temps. When I needed to use the heater it would feel hot most times but seemed to cool off when I exited the freeway. At highway speeds the temps would be so high it would burn my feet at times.

 

After reaching my destination in Texas I looked into it better. Around town it would rarely push any coolant out of the overflow but the level in the radiator would still seem to drop slowly.

 

I also had a bearing in the alternator going out even though I just replaced it a couple of months ago.

 

So today I changed out the alternator, thermostat (main one in front) and the radiator.

I had to run / drive and top off the coolant 3 times to get all the air out. I parked the vehicle on a slight incline (nose up) and would pull the bleeding plug off the line at the back of the engine, fill up the radiator and recap them all. Run / drive a few minutes and let cool. Rinse and repeat.

 

Keep in mind to turn on your heater to high when bleeding. If the vehicle is at operating temp and the heater is blowing cold you have air in the heater core. Keep bleeding until the heater is good and hot and most of the air should be out. Check coolant levels over the next few days.

 

I ran it on the highway at 75 for about 10 miles and returned home. No more coolant being pushed out and temps are stable.

 

Dunno if it was the radiator or the thermostat but it seems to be solved.

 

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I may have spoken too soon... Just went outside after it cooled down over the last few hours and the water was low just like before...

 

Guess I will see over the next few days if anything has changed... If not I will trade it in and buy something more reliable....

 

Beginning to regret my decision to buy a Pathfinder over a 4Runner... Avoided the 4 Runner because of all the reported problems with head gaskets only to find the Pathfinders may be the same... I am going back to older Chevrolets... I never had these kind of issues with a good Chevy V8...

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Ok so the low water situation *MAY* have been still some trapped air in the system. After filling and bleeding the system again last night I had taken the vehicle on the exact same run as previously and the water level is still full this morning.

 

This afternoon I will be taking the truck on a little longer run which will tell me if the problem is truly solved or not.

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Ok so I had a longer trip today with outside temps around 80... After I stopped at my destination I popped the hood and checked for water. I didn't see any coolant but I did hear the cap releasing what sounded like air... After it cooled down I checked the water and it was down slightly so I refilled...

 

On my 30 minute journey back I used the A/C to really test the system... Again when I reached home I heard the cap slightly releasing air... I just now checked it again and it was down slightly again...

 

I replaced the nissan cap a few days ago with one from Vatozone thinking that could be one of the issues... I tried putting the original Nissan cap back on and it feels much tighter and the spring seems stronger... Will try leaving it on and see if the same happens... The Vatozone one could be the wrong pressure or just generally crappy...

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A friend of mine has a van that would lose coolant pretty much constantly. No drip, no steam unless you let it go too long and it started to overheat, and then it would steam everywhere as soon as you shut it off. He finally tracked it down to a torn hose.

 

Hopefully the right cap seals it better.

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A friend of mine has a van that would lose coolant pretty much constantly. No drip, no steam unless you let it go too long and it started to overheat, and then it would steam everywhere as soon as you shut it off. He finally tracked it down to a torn hose.

 

Hopefully the right cap seals it better.

 

 

The only water hose I can't really see is the one for the water valve... If that one was leaking it would be running inside the engine or down the back side and dripping on the ground...

Put the stock cap back on and it still has a small amount of water loss... The only conclusion I can come to is the water inside is boiling into steam and being released through the cap as I drive.... It might or might not be the water valve thermostat causing it... But at this point I don't need to spend more money on a *possible* fix... I am about 99.5% sure it is not a head gasket as there are no other signs or symptoms of it...

 

Also noticed a wet spot under the center of the engine a few nights ago... After jacking it up and looking with a light it seems to be oil coming from between the rear of the engine and the transmission... Rear main seal is really all it can be...

 

So it will be traded in soon for something else... I need something more reliable...

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Sounds like a seeping head gasket to me..

 

Drive like you are a race car for 5 minutes then smell inside your coolant reservoir. Does it smell like exhaust?

 

SHGs often herniate the fire ring which allows high pressure exhaust gasses into the coolant system but does not let low pressure coolant into combustion.

 

As early as you may be, a hg sealer like blue devil might work. Maybe even permanently.. I would perform a leak down test and see if you get any pressure making its way to the coolant system. Then do a coolant pressure test and then see if you get a white cloud when you start the engine.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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As early as you may be, a hg sealer like blue devil might work. Maybe even permanently.. I would perform a leak down test and see if you get any pressure making its way to the coolant system. Then do a coolant pressure test and then see if you get a white cloud when you start the engine.

 

 

The first thing I tried on the trip back was Bars-Leak Liquid Copper which I have used before, with success, at sealing leaky and fully blown head gaskets... It made not a single iota of difference... Between that and the pressure remaining good in the cooling system for many hours after turning the engine off tells me it is highly unlikely to be a head gasket... Normally if it is a head gasket (even a small leak) it will rapidly lose pressure in the cooling system as it bleeds down...

There is no bubbling of the coolant, no white smoke out the rear and no water / oil mixing... None of the normal signs of a leaky or blown head gasket are present...

If it was high pressure from the cylinder pushing into the system you could see bubbling or foaming of the coolant while it was running with the radiator cap off...

 

I have been meaning to do a chemical test on the cooling system to check for un-burnt hydrocarbons in the system but haven't managed to get the test yet... Will prolly grab one tomorrow to make the determination for or against...

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Word. Well my seeping head gasket didn't cause the coolant to boil until the later stages. The only thing it did was introduce exhaust gasses into the coolant which over pressurized the coolant system, dumping all the coolant into the reservoir. As the shg got worse the gasses began to trick the thermostat into thinking the engine was cold and overheating would happen minutes into a drive. After removing the thermostat altogether the overheating stopped for a couple months. Then toward the end the coolant was superheated so quickly that short drives weren't even possible.. Then I did the blue devil that stays in, and doesn't need to be drained. The blue devil bought me a couple more months at that point..

 

A herniated fire ring will only allow exhaust gasses out.. some times it is even undetectable with a leak down test because the leak only occurs at high psi.

 

I hate coolant and hg issues...

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Word. Well my seeping head gasket didn't cause the coolant to boil until the later stages. The only thing it did was introduce exhaust gasses into the coolant which over pressurized the coolant system, dumping all the coolant into the reservoir. As the shg got worse the gasses began to trick the thermostat into thinking the engine was cold and overheating would happen minutes into a drive. After removing the thermostat altogether the overheating stopped for a couple months. Then toward the end the coolant was superheated so quickly that short drives weren't even possible.. Then I did the blue devil that stays in, and doesn't need to be drained. The blue devil bought me a couple more months at that point..

 

A herniated fire ring will only allow exhaust gasses out.. some times it is even undetectable with a leak down test because the leak only occurs at high psi.

 

I hate coolant and hg issues...

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

I just rented the chemical test and used it on the cooling system... The chemical stayed blue so no hydrocarbons in the coolant... The only guess I have left is the water valve thermostat needing to be changed...

 

When I changed the main thermostat it did have quite a bit of corrosion on it... Doesn't look like it has ever been changed in ~215k miles so I am betting the water valve hasn't been either...

 

Changing the thermostat and radiator stopped it from pushing water out into the overflow... It still loses water but at a much slower rate...

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Okay try this:

 

Jack the front of your vehicle up as high as you can get it. Or find a steep incline, then jack it up as high as you can get it. Just find a way to get the nose as high as possible..

 

Then, while cold of course, remove the radiator cap and crank the vehicle. Let it idle all the way to operating temperature while keeping the radiator topped off with fluid.

 

I think you still have air in the system. That water control valve shouldn't cause you to loose water or overheat really.. If your not loosing water, then the water was never there.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Okay try this:

 

Jack the front of your vehicle up as high as you can get it. Or find a steep incline, then jack it up as high as you can get it. Just find a way to get the nose as high as possible..

 

Then, while cold of course, remove the radiator cap and crank the vehicle. Let it idle all the way to operating temperature while keeping the radiator topped off with fluid.

 

I think you still have air in the system. That water control valve shouldn't cause you to loose water or overheat really.. If your not loosing water, then the water was never there.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

I have a drive way that is on a slight incline that I use to fill the radiator. The bleeder plug at the back is close to the same height as the cap. When I take the bleeder plug off it will "burp" out a little coolant. I will park it there again tomorrow and jack it up a little and try what you suggest and see if that helps.

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Ok I just tried what you suggested and only got about half way done before I had an issue.

 

I started it up and let it idle with the cap off. The water was staying steady inside the radiator and the temp was almost to operating temp.

 

I decided to take the bleeder cap off in the back to let it push out some coolant so I would know it was full. The instant I removed the bleeder cap the coolant rushed out of the radiator like a fountain. I bet I lost 1/4 of a gallon in a second. The moment I put the cap back on it stopped and the water level stayed steady. I put the radiator cap back on and then removed the bleeder cap and nothing came out of it. I know it is clear of obstructions as I used a suction hose to get a little coolant out of it earlier.

 

I have never seen something like this before. It makes me think there is a blockage in the system somewhere. Could the water valve being stuck closed cause it to do this?

 

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I didn't mess with the bleeder cap after changing my thermostat. I also didn't mess with it after the timing belt and water pump.

 

I forgot to tell you that you need to turn your heat on wide open while it warms up..

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I just finished with replacing the water valve and was able to take the bleeder cap off while it was running without it pushing water out... The water valve was in pretty bad shape so that was part of the issue...

 

Now I will see over the next day or two if that solved the problem or not...

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  • 1 year later...

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