Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Radiator leaking

I have a 2001 nissan altima. About 4 weeks ago it started over heating, smoke coming from under the hood, not the gauge raising. I took it to my machanic and he replaced the big hose going from the radiator to the engine. I got it back and about 2 days later it started again overheating again, smoke under the hood. Took it back and he said the radiator is leaking it was under a year old so he replaced it, i drove it home on a sunday and monday morning I drove to work 5 miles at 10 am break it had two puddles under it. He said it’s the radiator again, replaced it and we went to pick it up and he said it blew again. Sounds odd to me He finally said they thought it was the fans. The gauge never ran hot only the smoke coming from under the hood. If your looking under the hood it was wet on the left side. Needless to say he has had my car for almost 2 weeks and it’s still not fixed. My question is should I go get it and take it somewhere else. What damage will it do to drive it somewhere else? Thank you

Have it towed somewhere else. Your mechanic is obviously not fixing the problem.

any suggestions to where in florence, ky i have only lived here a couple of years

The nearest Nissan dealership if nothing else…Diagnosing and repairing cooling system leaks is auto-repair 101, not rocket science…Ask your neighbors where they have their cars repaired…

oh im a single parent i cant afford the nissan dealer.

Your present mechanic is either incompetent or dishonest or a little of both…You can drive your car by filling the radiator (not just the overflow tank) and then keeping a keen eye on the temperature gauge. Stop at the FIRST SIGN of overheating…A good place to shop for a new mechanic is an auto-parts store that caters to professionals, (Car-Quest, NAPA)…They will know all the local practitioners…

i agree about the mechanic,i just have a bad feeling. He just went through a divorce and I think he is going broke, but I don’t know for sure. He won’t return my calls and everyday when i finally talk to the girl thats there its it will be done by 5 thats been going on all this week. i have been going to him for 3 years and never have had a problem

Is a new radiator cap being installed with the new radiators? If not, the radiator cap could be failing to relieve the pressure from the cooling system causing the radiator to develop a leak.


@Ronda45 you need to find a new shop or a new mechanic. The next guy needs to check if that radiator was even a decent quality part. The thermostat and cap should have been replaced for any overheating issue. The fans must all be working and coming on under the correct conditions. Has a “block test” been performed to make sure a headgasket isn’t blown? An experienced mechanic will know what I’m talking about when you tell him what you want to test.

Oh yeah, and when it is fixed by the next guy and with the new radiator and whatever else is needed, you need to try to get your money back for the failed radiator.

Thank you DB

I agree with everyone else. You need a new shop.

Diagnosing and solving this type of problem is pretty basic, and there are diagnostic tools and procedures to do so. From the sound of it, your guy is either unable or unwilling to do diagnosis and plans to just keep replacing parts until the problem goes away. With overheating problems, you could easily end up aith a ruined engine before he gets to the right part.

well it will be done art 3:30 today I said what did you fix,oh the girl said Im not sure what they done,ahh ok Ill see you at 3:30

Update on the radiator
I picked it up friday, he wouldn’t even look me in the eye
it drove fine until i got to the bank, started smoking…Took it back home and parked it. Drove it 2 miles to work and back Saturday not a problem Checked under the hood, no smoke, and there was antifreeze in the reserve
Sunday I drove it and it started smoking. Took it back home and started some research. I was kinda thinking it was a water pump, This morning I poped the hood to check the oil and antifreeze, the dipstick looked fine, but when i took the radiator cap off and put the my finger inside it was all OIL…So has it blown the head gasket??

"i took the radiator cap off and put the my finger inside it was all OIL…So has it blown the head gasket?? "

Unfortunately, that oil pretty-well confirms what I had suspected all along.
At this point, it is hard to separate cause and effect, but repeated overheating of a modern engine can lead to warping of the cylinder head, and the next thing that happens is that the head gasket is breached by engine compression. And, when engine compression is put into the cooling system, it can cause a radiator to burst one of its seams.

So–whether radiator problems led to overheating and the overheating led to a head gasket problem, or whether the problem began with a head gasket problem and that led to overheating and radiator problems is almost impossible to determine at this point. The only thing that I can tell you is that you need to decide very quickly whether to have this engine repaired/replaced, or whether it is time for a new vehicle.

Right now, you have oil in the coolant, which is not fatal, but this could rapidly turn into a situation where you also have coolant in your oil, and that will be fatal for the engine after a short period of time. Your personal finances will have to determine the best direction in which to proceed in this situation.

One thing for sure is that, if you decide to repair or replace the engine, this mechanic is not the one who should be doing the work.

Sorry for the bad news!

the rag that i used was clean and after wiping the radiator out, i noticed that there was a strong smell of gasoline coming from inside the radiator. what could be the cause of this? the oil inside the radiator looks like oil ( honey ) but it smells of petrol.

Not only do you need a new shop, but I recommend you replace the radiator cap (it couldn’t hurt) and have the entire cooling system pressure tested.

When you pull the oil stick out, does it smell like gasoline as well?

no. the dipstick does not smell like gas.

Click on ‘mechanics files’ above and look for a new mechanic near you. It worked for me.

You might get lucky and the engine just needs new head gaskets, maybe a shave on the heads to flatten them out, but it could be worse, such as a crack in the block or one of the heads, but you can’t tell until the heads are removed.

You should have all the diagnostics done first though, compression test, cooling system pressure test, etc. How is the engine running, any roughness, hesitation, lack of power, check engine light? If none of these, it is possible that the head gasket only breached between one of the oil passages to a coolant passage at the head gasket. This would mean a new head gasket, but not much else, about $1000 to fix, more or less.

How many miles on this car? If a lot, then you might be better off with a remanufactured engine instead.