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Old 11-21-2012, 02:33 AM
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Head Gasket? Any ideas?

Today my 2000 Nissan Altima (165k miles) drove fine all day. Tonight while leaving the store to go home, it immediately started to "stumble" under low throttle. It continued to get worse on the way home. At first, the stumble/miss went away once more throttle was applied, but as I neared home (during this 4 mile drive), the stumble was there all the time. The car stalled out when I went around a corner. It restarted and stumbled/missed real bad the last 1/4 mile home.

Once I stopped the car, there was white smoke pouring out of the rear of the engine. I couldn't find where it was coming from.

My coolant level is low. Ouch. Would a blown head gasket cause white smoke to raise up between the engine and the firewall?

I had the intake manifold gasket replaced 20k miles ago. When it was being done, my mechanic replaced one freeze plug because it was bad. Could have one of the others failed and cause the coolant leak? I see no coolant on the drive way. Radiator is full, but reservior is almost dry.

Last, after the car cooled down, the car will not start. I don't think my oil is showing any signs of coolant contamination. It's not chocolate milk colored. But it might have a slight haziness to it.

Any ideas on where to look?
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:37 AM
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I didn't notice the coolant temp was overly high when I was driving it. But that just means I didn't notice it. It could have been hot. I was listening to the car....and forgot to look at the coolant temp gauge.

The car does turn over. Quite easily. It just doesn't start. If you crank it for a bit, you might get it to "start" or fire for just a revolution...but basically, there is no combustion going on.

If it wasn't for all the smoke, I'd be inclined to think it was something easy....like a bad plug wire or a plugged fuel filter. But all the white smoke pouring from the rear of the engine has to be something....coupled with low coolant in the reservoir tank.

But not being able to get it to start now....but it easily turns over....I don't have a clue.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:44 PM
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I'm starting to think that a freeze plug blew a hole in it and was the cause of the coolant leak....causing my coolant reservoir to be low, and the white smoke I saw behind the engine.

Does anyone have any idea what the leaking coolant could have destroyed causing the car to stumble/miss and finally, not start?

Thanks.
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Old 11-22-2012, 03:34 AM
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Typical smoke / cause

white smoke / burning radiator coolant
black smoke / burning too rich fuel mixture (more common w/ carbed cars).
blue tint smoke / burning oil

I'd do a compression test on all cylinders and write down the results.
Your suspicion of head gasket leak sounds like a good first guess.
Compression test to tell. Doesn't have to fire up for the test...

Luck.
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:09 AM
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For a quick test, pull all the spark plugs, if they are wet, chances are one or all (depends where the HG let go at) are coated with coolant which in fact means you have a blown HG. Had to do this in my wife's 2nd car, a 2002 Sentra 1.8. Block more than likely will be fine, however the freeze plug thing has me concerned....wonder if it was really bad or if the mechanic made a boo boo.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:24 AM
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So, a compression test results are as follows:

Cylinder #1: No compression
Cylinder #2: 150 psi
Cylinder #3: 90 psi
Cylinder $4: No compression

So, since my engine had white smoking coming from under the hood, and the coolant level in the reservoir tank was real low/empty, should I assume a head gasket failure?

If this was your car, would you rebuild the engine (get a remanufactured head, etc.), or just buy a new rebuilt engine (about $1300)?
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:22 AM
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Can anyone give me any advice please? I find it peculiar that cylinder 1 and 4 are dead. That usually doesn't happen I think. Usually it's the middle two.

I also think my mechanic is at fault, when he installed new radiator and water pump, the car over heated a few hundred miles later. I think there was an air bubble in the coolant and prevented the t-stat from opening.

If anyone can please help, please do!!
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Old 12-05-2012, 02:19 AM
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At this point the only thing you can do is to remove the head, inspect the HG for signs of visible damage, and rotate the crank manually to verify that the pistons still operate as they should. If they do, your more then likely looking at a complete rebuild. Take the head and or block to a machine shop. They will be able to measure, deck, etc what is needed to repair the head, and possibly the block (decked to mate with the head) They will also be able to rebuild the block with new pistons and piston rings, as well as any other parts needed. Until you get a look at the pistons in action there isnt much we can help you with. Sorry for your issues, I KNOW how you feel. Its a shitty feeling to say the least.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:17 AM
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well, I'll wade in. I'd guess a head gasket failure, but a guess.

You don't do mechanical work yourself (absolutely OK).
You believe your mechanic did a poor job on the radiator job,
so you probably believe he will do a poor job on a motor inspection / rebuild. Fair.

So spring for the new rebuilt motor installed. Installed by whom is up to you.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:22 AM
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I'm gonna add one more tally to the HG failure. Sorry to hear. If you're tight on cash check car-part.com for a used engine. Some yards will install them for a fee and some offer a 30 day warranty to go with it.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StanzaDescendant View Post
I'm gonna add one more tally to the HG failure. Sorry to hear. If you're tight on cash check car-part.com for a used engine. Some yards will install them for a fee and some offer a 30 day warranty to go with it.
This is what I did. I found a 2001 KA24DE about 70 miles from me. The engine was expensive....but it's dang near BRAND NEW. I don't mean kinda new, I mean, ridiculous new.

I paid $950 for it. No core charge or anything on top of the $950.

Yeah, that's a bunch. But the engine not only looks new (obviously no oil leaks, squeaky clean, etc.) but there was ZERO soot up in the exhaust manifold. It still had the OEM Nissan oil filter on it. I'm guessing the engine has just a few thousand miles on it. Honestly.

Zero varnish under the oil filler cap, exhaust manifold spotless, intake spotless, etc. I know I didn't get a killer deal, but around here, I was finding KA24DE's for about $700 with 100k+ miles on them. I gladly paid a few hundred more for a new motor.

Install is happening this weekend.

Thanks everyone for your feedback. Oh, and now I'll have a spare block in my garage for parts, etc. Wonder how much a salvage yard or scrap yard would give me for my engine with blown HG?

Here are a few dirty pics of I took of the engine at night when I got home last night:








Last edited by Phishin; 12-07-2012 at 06:45 PM.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:04 AM
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^^^ very nice!
To the extent our support helped you I feel good. Best to you.


Post up results w/ pics again.
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Old 12-09-2012, 02:18 AM
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All the best to you, get that puppy back on the road and let us know how it turns out.

Regards to all my Altima buddies.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:05 PM
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Glad to hear it worked out for you and hopefully the install went/is going smoothly.
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