I hit a deer going 40+ mph with my 2000 Maxima about a month ago. The deer (a large buck) ran into the front end of the driver’s side, which resulted in a having to replace the front bumper and brackets, grill, fender, hood, headlight, and radiator support. There were no immediate signs of mechanical/engine damage, and the car continued to run and start just fine in both cold and warm weather. Two weeks later, I got the ~$3000 insurance payment and took it to a body shop for repair.
The car ran and started fine until the day that I took it in for repair. That morning, I started noticing an abnormal noise coming from underneath the hood while driving to work (hard to explain, but it wasn’t an alarming, loud, high pitched, or squealing sound). That afternoon, white smoke, which smelled a bit like oil or gas, started pouring out from under the hood on the passenger side. As I stopped to pull over, the car began idling badly and then died. It wasn’t overheating, so I attempted to start it, but it would only crank. After letting it sit for 30 minutes, I was able to start it by revving the engine and turning the key at the same time. I drove it 1/10 mile to the body shop and let them know what happened.
I picked it up a week later, the body looked brand new, everything seemed fine. It wasn’t until three miles down the road that white smoke began appearing followed by rough idling then stalling at a red light. Again, the temp gauge didn’t indicate that the engine was overheating and no warning lights came on. I started it the same way I did last time, but decided to have it towed to a mechanic. After running some tests, they concluded that the problem was a water pump leak, which was causing water to mix with the oil.
I have three questions: 1) Does this sound like a water pump leak? It seems more like a blown head gasket, but I know little about cars. 2) Could the issue be related to the collision with the deer? The impact was on the opposite side, but the forces caused by impact must disperse and travel to parts of the car beyond the point of impact. 3) Is it worth fixing at this point? It seems smarter to sell it as is rather than shelling out another $1000 for a 13-year old car, but I don’t know how to sell nor who would buy a car that doesn’t run.