1998 Maxima - Blowing white smoke out of nowhere


Old 07-09-13, 06:25 PM
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1998 Maxima - Blowing white smoke out of nowhere

My daughter had a long trip last weekend and the next day when driving her maxima locally... it started shaking bad and smoking white smoke out the exhaust fairly strongly.

My local mechanic thought it might be a gasket or leak somewhere. I put in some Bar's Leaks Sealant in the radiator (just add in to radiator) and the white smoke for the most part has gone away.

However, the temp gauge goes hot about 10 minutes after the car is running and the fan stays on. After 10 minutes the radiator feels very hot, however there is no smoke coming out the exhaust... other than a minute amount.

could the thermostat be jammed? Could the diagnosis originally have been wrong?

Would you get rid of the car or experiment with it. It has 173k miles on it!

Just looking for general direction and some drill down questions. thank you!
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Old 07-10-13, 03:04 AM
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The thermostat would have been the first thing I would have pulled. With the Bar's leak, now all you have done is gummed up the heater core. More on that this winter, when she has no heat. In all probability she has a bad thermostat causing undue pressure to build up, engine side, and it could have compromised a gasket. Change the stat and let us know how it runs.
Old 07-10-13, 03:54 AM
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so the bars leak may handle the gasket issue.. but definitely pull the stat and see how it goes..

how hard is it to pull it? where is it located? replace it right away as well?
Old 07-10-13, 03:56 AM
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You have a blown head gasket, and are burning antifreeze in the cylinders, which is making the white exhaust. If it's overheating, it probably because so much had been sucked into the cylinders that you are low on antifreeze. The bar's leaks probably partially sealed the head gasket leak, but that won't last- that and a jug of water will probably get you to the repair shop.
Old 07-10-13, 04:08 AM
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well for now the smoke has ceased.. but again the thermostat is getting hot after running 15 minutes... so I've used bar's leaks before and sometimes it lasts a few weeks...

do you also believe the high temp is being caused by a bad thermostat.. and is it something I can just pull out for now?
Old 07-10-13, 04:26 AM
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I agree with Xsleeper, that you have a blown gasket & coolant is getting into the cylinder(s). This is where your white smoke is generated. The bars leak has sealed OR partially sealed the leak stopping the white smoke for now.
Old 07-10-13, 04:34 AM
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Not sure of the set up on the engine, but if it's a V6 could also be an intake manifold gasket issue.

Head gasket definite possibility. Bars leak, etc. is okay for external radiator leaks, but is not going to last if it's the head gasket. Intake manifold gasket might hold for a while if that's the culprit. I would pull spark plugs and take a look at them. You find one that's clean and white on the center porcelain instead of brownish or tan and you've found the cylinder that's burning water.

Biggest question is whether the rest of the car is worth saving; at that mileage you're pretty much at the decision point of balancing value of car vs repair cost vs how long you intend to keep driving it. Head gasket job could run you $12-1500.

No harm in replacing the t-stat, but don't look for any miracles.

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