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Nisaan Sentra and blown head gasket

85359 Views 38 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  Melodymom43
Just wanted to know how many other people have had blown head gaskets in their Sentras with mileage between 55,000 and 70,000. I just had to have mine replaced at 62,000 and the dealership could give no explanation for it.
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Very, very common problem on these 1.8 Sentras, just do a "SEARCH"...:)
The explanation is very headgaskets!
We do plenty of headgaskets on 1.8s and 2.5s alike.
So what do you recommend as a good replacement head gasket ?
YEah funny when I searched headgasket i didnt see this.
My wifes 03 sentra 1.8 w/ 56,000 on it is sitting up at the 'stealership' right now.
They want 1100$ I was gonna have AAA tow it down to a local mechanic to do it for 876$

I thought they were maybe trying to rip me off...but if its that common then yeah. maybe it really does need a new headgasket....sux.
Two questions, as I am looking at buying a Sentra with the 1.8. I'm looking at a 2006 model, are the head gaskets in newer models better? Also, if the head gaskets are an issue, has anyone tried adding the organic sealants to the cooling system and did it help? Thanks.
Just wanted to know how many other people have had blown head gaskets in their Sentras with mileage between 55,000 and 70,000. I just had to have mine replaced at 62,000 and the dealership could give no explanation for it.
We just took our 2002 sentra (71,000) to a dealer yesterday because the heater was blowing cold, and they said it's the head gasket. The system had lost coolant and had air in it, so there was no hot water flowing into the core. I've seen other advice on the Internet that this car had a bad head gasket :)mad:), and that they've started selling a better one since then. So I think the thing to do is buy the gasket from the dealer, just in case other outlets don't have the right one.

So I'm blowing the dust off of my tools and getting ready to do this work at home. Not very excited, but OTOH, I can replace the belts and a squeaky idler.

I've asked around if I should change the timing chain, and half of the people say yes, always if you are that deep in the engine, go ahead and change it. The other half says no, it should last as long as the engine. Any one else want to weigh in? It's probably not that much additional work as long as the crankshaft doesn't move and lose its place.
i would say the issue with the previous generation engines GA and SR was the tensioner guides wearing out or the tensioner itself failing, so maybe replace the tensioner.
How many miles are you going to put on this car ?
If under 120 k I would say leave it alone.
I changed the head gasket last weekend. There was antifreeze in cyl 3 when I took the spark plug out. The headgasket seemed to have nothing left of the original sealer, unlike the new one. There was no visible wear on the chain or tensioners, not that I was ready to do a timing chain change. That would have doubled the work. So the job went pretty well, for a guy who does major repairs about once every ten years. I still can't get the bubbles out, but I guess I have to go through that whole procedure. there was one bolt, that holds the driver's side bracket to the exhaust manifold, that was almost impossible to get back in. Took me at least a half-hour of various different methods to get it back in.

Otherwise it all went okay.
My 2005 Sentra blew the head gasket at 53000mi. We got heat after the head gasket was replace.
Well, looks like I'm part of the club now. My '05 1.8 (61,000 miles) just got out of the shop yesterday after getting the head gasket replaced. They sent the cylinder head out to a machine shop, which scoped it for cracks (luckily it was still solid) and milled it to ensure a tight seal. Even without replacing the cylinder head, it still cost nearly $1100 to get it fixed.

I'm pretty certain that in my case, the problem started with a bad thermostat. I noticed earlier on the day the gasket blew that I was only getting hot air out of the heater when I was moving--it blew cold when I was at a stop. Checked the radiator hoses and only the top was hot, so it appears the thermostadt froze up and water that was stuck in the block overheated and blew through the gasket.

I've read horror stories all over the internet about this happening more than once to owners of this model and year.
Should the dealer have caught this??

About 2 weeks ago, I brought my car in to a nissan dealer for its 90,000 mile service charge (2002 nissan sentra). The check engine light had also just come on, so I asked for that to be checked out at the same time. They did the service and told me my check engine light was on because there was a misfire in one of my spark plugs. I decided to have them replaced elsewhere, because the price they quoted me at was unreasonable for the amount of time I was told it would take from a family friend who is a mechanic. Well, a few days later, this person was replacing the spark plugs for me, and they told me that my antifreeze was below the "minimum" line. They filled it up for me. A couple days after this, I checked the antifreeze level to make sure it was still ok, and it was once again below the minimum line!

I called the nissan dealer to make an apointment to have it checked out, since I was told this could be serious if it wasn't a simple leak. WELL, they did a pressure check and told me I had a blown gasket.

My question here is: SHOULD the dealer have known about this possible gasket problem when I brought it in for my 90,000 service charge?? I have been told that two telltale signs should have warned them that something was up: the fact that my antifreeze was below the minimum line, and the fact that one of the spark plugs misfired. NO one there told me that my antifreeze was below the minimum line (supposedly they check fluid levels...) and no one told me there might be more serious problems besides a simple spark plug. Had it not been for the friend who noticed the low antifreeze level, I could have done more serious damage to my engine!!! I am a woman and do not know much about cars... and I feel that I get taken advantage of alot at car repair shops because of this...

Just would like at least one person to tell me I am justified in complaining before I go ahead and make myself look uneducated about this!
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Well I don't have much luck complaining but some things to think about.

1) they may have checked the level and topped it up. It does go down over time due to evaporation.
2) they wouldn't have done more than on the service request, the customer would complain about un-approved charges.
3) they should have their antenna up for head gasket problems as its seems common with this engine, for what ever reason.

So cut your loses and get your mechanic friend to do this asap. If its not been overheated then you save a lot of cost and grief with warped and or cracked head.
Sentra Head Gasket

I just went through the Sentra head gasket nightmare on my girlfriend's 2004 1.8L Sentra. She had the same symptons I've read everyone else having at 73,000 miles: No heat, low antifreeze, over heating, SES light #2 misfire, etc... I changed the simple things first, thermostat, radiator cap, checked water pump, flushed cooling system with hose, nothing fixed it. I then ripped into the engine in my garage with a FSM on hand. The pistons all looked about the same. #4 had more carbon build up than the rest. I thought the head gasket didn't look too bad until I had a new head gasket from Nissan to compare it too. The sealing material around #2, #3, #4 cylinders was completely blown out in some sections (I have pictures). I took the head to a machine shop in Scottsdale. They said there was a little head warping but not too bad. They removed 0.007" off the head surface. I also had them remove 3 stuck spark plugs. They had to drill and tap #2 & #3 cylinders to remove plugs and install helixcoils. So I got the head on and slapped it all back together. The engine fired right up and now runs like it is new. It cost me about $200 in Nissan parts from the dealer and $200 from the machine shop. My question now is when is it going to fail again? I thought about doing the timing chain while I was in there but I didn't. That chain is 5 links thick. It should last a lot longer than 60k miles.
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Well if done well then you should be good for more than the first go round, say another 100k miles. Head is seasoned now, and flat !!!

I have not read why this engine has a head gasket problem.
Any body know ??

From other cars I have had with head gasket problems, failures can be avoided by:-
better head gasket
better bolts or studs, and torque down at higher spec.
gasket compound... it does seem to work !!

If doing a stock gasket and re-assembly torque down to the max the bolts will take.
If you don't know then spec max + 10% and hope.
the thing to avoid is nominal spec with a torque wrench that's inaccurate on the low side!!

Please remember my advice is based on my experience and is worth what you paid for it !!
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Looking at your photos it looks like they have changed the design of the new gasket around the left top corner in the first photo, the sealer doesn't go around the first hole on the top left anymore.
im pretty sure my 05 sentra has a blown head gasket. its been having a misfire for 3-5 seconds on startup, then runs fine. computer reads code P0300- random misfire. changed plugs, didnt help. ive had to fill it about once a month with coolant, but no visible leaks. would a pressure test of the cooling system tell me anything more?

how long did it take you to replace the head gasket? I have the service manual, so i have the whole procedure. Im pretty good with cars, but i was looking at the whole procedure and Im not sure about the part with taking off the camshaft sprocket. Also, it looks like you are supposed to have some sort of special tool to refill the coolant??

I had the engine misfire codes too. Is your coolant reservoir boiling after about 15 minutes of engine running? Is your thermostat gauge bouncing around? Do you have heat from your vents? I did a pressure test on my engine. It held 22psi without issue. Pressure testing is only good for external leaks I think. The head gasket job took me 9 days working on it at night and on weekends. I waited 4 days waiting for the head to get back from the machineshop. The worse part is removing the catalytic converter bolts (hard to get to/rusty) and pulling the intake camshaft sprocket bolt out. That takes two people because Nissan puts the bolt on so tight and it is hard to get good leverage. As far as removing the intake cam sprocket do it exactly as the manual states using compressed air. I taped the allen wrench to the intake sprocket using duct tape. I was apprehensive about it too but it turned out to be pretty easy. Some other good tips: 1. Use nail polish to mark the camshaft sprocket teeth and timing chaing links. I used a grease pencil and it sucked becuase it would rub off easy. 2. Do not let the timing chain droop and come loose from the crankshaft sprocket. I used zip ties attached to the hood to keep the chain taught as soon as I removed the camshaft sprockets. Have another person hold the chain tight when removing and install the head. 3. After the crank is at top dead center, do not spin it at all after the timing chain is disconnected (duh). 4. After the new gasket and head is installed, turn the engine over by hand with the spark plugs removed. The engine is very easy to turn over. If you feel hard resistance (like a valve hitting) stop and examine your timing marks. Use a wooden dowl in the spark plug hole to see exactly where top dead center is. 5. When filling coolant you don't need a special tool like the manual says (nice venturi design Nissan...not). Park you car on a incline if you have one. Jack up the front of the car as far as you can at the crossmember (Be careful and use wheel chocks/jackstand). Remove the air bleed plug on the thermostat housing (very important!). Begin filling with antifreeze. When a solid stream of antifreeze is coming out of air bleed hole insert the plug. Fill rest of system with antifreeze. Drive car around and let engine cool. Check antifreeze and refill. Repeat a couple times until antifreeze level is stable.
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thanks for the quick reply. what you said is kind of what i thought- that it would take a long time to replace the head gasket. unfortunately, its actually my fiance's car, not mine, and she cant be without a car for that long. I work full time too, so I would only be able to work on it nights/ weekends...also, I dont have a garage to work on it right now, so Id be doing it in her driveway which wouldnt work.

all in all, we'll be taking it to her family mechanic next week. i still think its a blown head gasket, but im going to let him take an unbiased look at it and see what he thinks. whatever it ends up being, it definitely needs to be fixed, and im out of ideas. :(
My car started having the same issues last week:

SES light came on
Code P0303 (Third Cylinder Misfire)
Replaced Plugs and Third coil
Light went off for two days

Replaced the rest of the Coils
Stopped having hot air (freezing cold)
Realized I was out of coolant
Replaced Coolant
Coolant drank
Replaced again
Coolant drank

Saw white smoke out my exhaust, smelled antifreeze.

Found this, saving up for a trip to a good mechanic.
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