Overheating After 20 minutes, check engine light turned on

Tiny
GONZO3721
  • MEMBER
  • 2012 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • 3.5L
  • V6
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 156,000 MILES
I was on my way to work going uphill when the car overheated 20 minutes into the drive. It started to jolt so I pulled over. Check engine light came on. There was no coolant in the reservoir. Mechanic said it boiled out. Towed it to mechanic and it was not head gasket, radiator, or water pump. It passed sniff test and had no hydrocarbons. Mechanic manually pressurized system for 30 minutes. He said it was the thermostat so he replaced it. He test drove it with no problems or overheating. I picked it up and on the way home (10 minutes away) it overheated once again. Multiple mechanics have checked it and have not found the issue. No leaks anywhere. What could it be?

Might not be relevant but ac pump blew out a month ago so it was replaced. Two months ago a hose (not sure which one) was loose in the back of the engine so the mechanic replaced it.
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Friday, June 18th, 2021 AT 10:34 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi,

When it overheats, do you notice any coolant leaking? Does it sound as though the coolant is boiling or bubbling?

I realize those sound like odd questions, but I'm questioning (since everything checks good) if it is actually overheating and not an issue with a faulty coolant temperature sensor.

Do me a favor. Review the two pics I attached below. I realize these things have likely been tested already, but I want to know if anything was missed. Also, if possible, have your mechanic check the radiator temperature with an infrared thermometer when it is overheating to confirm the coolant temp is high.

One last thing. Does it happen regardless of vehicle speed? For example, at highway speeds or only in town driving? Do you hear the cooling fans turn on?

Let me know.

Joe

See pics below.
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Saturday, June 19th, 2021 AT 8:43 PM
Tiny
GONZO3721
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,

My car does not necessarily make a boiling sound but I drove it around to get it to over heat and I did notice vapors coming from the top and bottom of the front of the car. Thinking it might be the radiator. It gets a burnt toasty coolant smell. It has no visible leaks by the heater core or under the radiator. I took the cap off the radiator while running it in park and it kept spilling out. It gets to overheating temp regardless of speed and hill grid. Vapor is more of a clear light smoke nothing white or super visible. Fans operate and cycle. I replaced the relay to be on the safe side but it did not fix it. I have read that the radiator could be clogged or have a hole and that could be why it isn t circulating coolant. Coolant in radiator and reservoir stay the same levels even when hot. Thermostat was replaced but also did not fix it. A month ago the ac pump was replaced so I am wondering if the tensioner pulley could have been put on wrong?
Oil is normal color. I have no clue on what it is now.
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Sunday, June 20th, 2021 AT 3:03 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
If you remove the radiator cap when it's cold and start it, does it spill out cold? Were you able to see the coolant circulating when you had the cap off?

It could be a plugged radiator. Since you have done nearly everything else, it may be a good time to replace it.

If you plan to do it yourself, here is a link that explains how in general it is done. You can use this as a guide.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-replace-a-car-radiator

If you look at the two attachments below, they provide directions specific to this vehicle.

Let me know if this helps or if you have other questions.

Take care,

Joe

See pics below.
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Sunday, June 20th, 2021 AT 7:46 PM

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