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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
since i'm not the most post happy person on this forum, i don't want to just ask for help right here and now, sorry if i am breaking the rules by asking for diagnosis help for a car besides a spyder. but im really stumped, and i figured you guys would possibly know whats going on with this car.

so, i apologize in advance for any rules i may be breaking by asking for help.

We have a 97 altima, it has been running with the coolant gauge at 1/4 past cold as the "operating temperature" for as long as she's had this car. last night it made it to half way, and a little past, we added water, and we drove it around the block to diagnose it and it made a metallic rattling noise in drive or reverse when giving it a moderate amount of gas going up towards 2k rpm. we then tried reving it in neutral, brought it to 4,000 no noise. today i went out there to check it out in the light noticed some oil puddle forming beside the heatsheild on the passenger side which i wiped off, but formed again, and light smoke coming from the drivers side of the heat shield. and the oil hasn't been changed since october. when pulling the dipstick there was clear oil all over the dipstick, but then i dipped it back in to check the level, and pulled it out, the dipstick was dry and the dipstick feeder tube had some light smoke rising from it. im assuming that this "clear oil" is the water mixing with the oil and making it look clean, when it would obviously not be clean. the metallic rattling stopped today, we couldn't repeat the noise. i feel as if this could be an internal head gasket leak, but last night i was convinced it was between the water pump, thermostat, radiator, torque converter, or trans cooler. this is one of the most confusing problems i've ever had to deal with. this is my girlfriend, and her moms car, and it needs to be fixed ASAP. i live with them, and the amount of work i put into my car just makes them raise they're eyebrows that i can't figure out what's wrong with their car.

sorry again if this broke a rule, but i just don't know who else to ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Howdy

are you sure it is oil and not coolant?

your oil is low and that can be bad. you talk about adding water and not coolant. do you mean add coolant or water? coolant when mixed with oil looks like this
http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c162/veritamortem/DSC01208.jpg

it would not be clear as because they are not miscible you make an emulsion of two fluids.

I am guess no to head gasket. Did you add more oil??? you should if it was low.

If my first question: was that really oil in the driveway and not coolant is answered by coolant then your water pump would be my guess that could also account for the sound.

most water pumps have a weep hole where you can see coolant leak out as they go bad.

What I would do is confirm you oil is not chalky and that indeed you have oil in the car. Next I would get t under the car, remove any plastic bits that obscure your view of the water pump and T-stat start the car and look for the leak.

If it is coming from the water pump or T-stat replace

check this out
http://www.nissanclub.com/forums/f-q-1993-2001/260688-water-pump.html

hope that helps
that really helps, but im still not certain it's the water pump.
i found a moat on the radiator but this car only has water, no antifreeze/coolant. not a well maintained car, but again, this is not my car. we're currently broke, and i'm in a real tight financial spot. so i did not purchase oil, nor antifreeze. the reason i think the oil looked clear was because it was dirty oil getting diluted by water, thus making it look a little cleaner than just brown or black. and if that's what's going on than i would almost be certain it is a headgasket leak.
there's nothing leaking under the car. this little puddle is forming on a bracket to a motor mount next to the heat shield. i really do appreciate your help though, and thanks for finding that link, just in case it is the water pump. im going to go back outside and take a look for the weep hole in the water pump. thanks again, and if any of that extra information helped, please let me know. thank you!
 

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...i think the oil looked clear was because it was dirty oil getting diluted by water, thus making it look a little cleaner than just brown or black. and if that's what's going on than i would almost be certain it is a headgasket leak...
My experience is - when water gets into the crankcase (assuming the engine has been running) it makes a frothy brown milkshake color. Oil and water won't stay separated inside a running engine. It will become an emulsion like T-bone says.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So I went to look for the weep hole and realized, is this the chalky stuff you're talking about?

The car hasn't run since I checked the oil, I started the car revved up to 2000 twice let it idle 10 seconds, then shut it off, pulled the dipstick...

wiped it off stuck it back in, pulled it out....


I feel as if the oil should be really brown or black since it's probably 8-9 months/4k miles overdue
 

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Oil looks good.. Need more of it..

The White Powder Stuff is Water that has been eating the Aluminum engine parts..

Likely the Car was overheating.. that was the Noise

Add water and see if you can make it settle down..

I'll refrain from giving you krap about running water in the Radiator

Needs water in the water place.. needs oil in the oil place..

Cap
 

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Engine will spark knock if it's too hot. You heard the metallic rattling at low rpm in gear, but no rattling in neutral. That is all consistent with overheating.
...
The mysterious dipstick oil/no oil issue is confusing.
Agree, an overheated engine will ping like crazy.

I was always taught to remove the dipstick and wipe it clean before re-inserting to take a reading, because when the engine runs it throws oil all over the crankcase, including up on the dipstick.
So depending on how the OP took the readings, this may not be surprising.
 

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Check to see if the front crank seal is leaking. Its a longshot but possible. It would be behind the crankshaft pulley. See if that is where the oil leak is originating.
 

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I'm not worried about the water only thing- the cooling system in any modern car should be more than sufficient to cool with just water, as long as it's still a "closed" system.

For now- add a surfactant and you should be fine. The most common one is water wetter. The fun one, which we've used in various BMW track cars without issue, is a drop of dish soap. Just a drop. This should drop your stabilized coolant temperatures a surprising bit.

Add oil.

Before winter, buy actual antifreeze.
 

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I like to call oil well mixed with coolant pancake batter. A bit of work to clean up also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Agree, an overheated engine will ping like crazy.

I was always taught to remove the dipstick and wipe it clean before re-inserting to take a reading, because when the engine runs it throws oil all over the crankcase, including up on the dipstick.
So depending on how the OP took the readings, this may not be surprising.
i've been reading it correctly. i was saying how overdue the car was, so the shade of brown was ridiculously clear when the oil is on the dipstick after it runs(assuming internal headgasket leak, an emulsion of a water diluted oil mixture). but when i wipe it, redip it, check it on the dipstick, the tip is dark dark brown and the rest is bone dry. i just added 2 qts of oil to get it back to level, test drove it and it's still overheating. i do believe the lack of coolant/antifreeze may have something to do with this. but there is no loss of coolant! only a loss of oil.
none of the pulleys seem to have coolant around them either. the only sign of fluid loss i see is behind the heatshield and exhaust manifold.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
get some antifreeze water on its own is a horrible coolant

if it is tap water and you have high mineral content then you will corrode you radiator and the other bits of the coolant system.

Add coolant add oil and then see what happens I am guessing your problem will go away.
when i open the radiator cap during overheating, there is no overflow, spraying, bubbling, or expulsion of fluid.
which leads me to a new question.... shouldn't that be happening, as much as we don't want it to?
i thought when a car overheats and you remove the radiator cap, get ready for one hot mess, and possibly a trip to the emergency room.
any thoughts?

EDIT: the radiator looks bone dry when i remove the cap, just a tiny amount of fluid on the cap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
is the car hot when you are opening the system? if you are not getting a pressure release your system is not pressurizing and there is your problem.

fill up the coolant fill up the oil. report back
the oil is at level now, and i dont have money for coolant at the moment, it's also not my car. but the water is at level, it hasn't raised or dropped at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
if you car is full you should be able to start it get it up to temperature and it should not overheat.

if it over heats is the radiator fan coming on?

do you hear hissing or see any fluid leaking?

If you system is full but it is not pressurizing then there should be a leak where steam is escaping.

Is your water pump turning? is there a belt on it?

leak or not circulating water pump would result in a lack or pressure build up. As mentioned if you T-Stat is not working that could also be an issue.
it's full, still starting up, overheating.
fan turns on when its overheating, and stays on when the car is turned off.
i see oil leaking out behind the exhaust manifold on the passenger side.
the steam is escaping behind the exhaust manifold on the drivers side.
the belt and everything is attached, and i see no fluid coming from any of the pulleys.
 
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