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I have been dealing with an overheating problem on my 1.6 Liter 1996 Sentra for the past 3 weeks. I have done a lot, but the problem remains. I need some ideas.

The problem occurred on a return trip from Florida to Texas. The temp guage showed that it was overheating so I stopped immediately. Water in the overflow tank was boiling. I put on my interior heater and nursed the car back home.

The problem appears as boiling antifreeze in my overflow tank. This is the first symptom. Later it shows as rising temperature on the guage.

Here is what I have tried thus far:

1. Had the radiator checked at the shop. The tech did a flow test with a hose. He forced flow in the upper inlet and watched to see the amount of flow in the lower exit. The tech indicated that he felt the flow was good and that my problem was probably from another source. I brought the radiator home without any work done on it.

2. Checked both fans. They both turned on when the temp show in a higher range. They also turned on when I started up the ac.

3. Changed out the water pump and thermostat. I have a 120k miles on this car.. .so didn't think it would hurt to do these procedures. There was no change after putting in the new units.

4. I changed the head gasket because it seemed that I was getting bubbling in the antifreeze as I watched it with the cap off. Also, it seemed to make sense at this point. I also brought the head to a machinist. He indicated that he didn't think that there was evidence that the antifreeze entered the combustion chambers of the cylinders. Since I had the cylinder head off, I changed the gasket.

I should mention that I learned a lot about timing chains, chain tensioners, gears, and their relationships (ugh!). It took a while but I got it back together and working.

I'd like to know what you would do next. I am beginning to wonder if the radiator is still bad and may need replacement. I would appreciate some thoughts. Thanks.
 

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THINK BLUE
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1,014 Posts
Hmmm with all that you have done to the car, my guess would be the radiator cap. If it isnt holding the correct pressure, the coolant will start to boil and cause overheating problems. I'd check the cap, then all the hoses and clamps if you haven't done so already. The next culprit would be the radiator itself......good luck, I hope you find out the problem.
 

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Mofo
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2,225 Posts
With Wu's suggestion, it probably was your cap. With a leak it has forced air into the system causing a lock of sorts. When you refill your radiator make sure you remove all of the air by bleeding the system. A bubble of air will cause all kinds pf problems.
 

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TwiztidKidd
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807 Posts
I'd start by bleeding the air out of the system like mentioned before, then you'll want to change the oil since your engine was overheated and the existing oil lost most of its additives, then pull your spark plugs out and see if there's any signs of detonation or running too rich since you readjusted timing. Check for any ECU codes then reset it. You're swapping too many parts at one time in your car... this is gonna make it hard for you to diagnose what was wrong with the cooling system in the first place.
 
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