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Discussion Starter #1
I came into possession of an 06 Frontier. The previous owner told me it kept overheating and probably had a bad head gasket. I took out the thermostat and checked it, filled the vehicle with fluid and tried to make sure there were no air blockages by removing the rubber cap on the exit hose of the heater core. Started the motor and it ran smooth. Took it for a 9 mile ride and the temp gauge never went past mid point. Just as I pulled into my driveway the motor dropped oil pressure and quit. It would restart for a few seconds and then shut off. I left it sit over night, check the fluid level and put about a quart in the radiator. Did a compression test on the three cylinders on the driver side 145 psi, 150 psi and 155 psi. So I took it for a ride. I made it 11 miles and it did the same thing to me. Oil pressure dropped to nothing and the motor shut off. Would start but instantly stop. Might be a coincidence but both times it did it I had just pulled a hill. All the while the temperature gauge never went past halfway. The motor didn't smell hot but when I removed the recovery tank cap (with a rag and rubber glove) water spewed out of it. When i turn it over with the radiator cap off water belches out of the inlet. My next move is to pull the intake manifold and do a compression test on the three cylinders on the passenger side. I'm a bit lost. Normally I would test the gauge by grounding the wire to the sending unit but I haven't found the sending unit yet. Anybody have any ideas?
 

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Do you have an infrared temperature gun? I suspect your temperature sending unit is bad.
 

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Great truck
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Is there some type of oil level or oil pressure sensor that kills the engine if it reads out of spec?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I can get a temp gun. A friend used one and found everything to be below 180. The top hose was 30 degrees hotter than the bottom hose. I didn't know where to find the sending unit but if I find it I'm going to ground the wire to see what the gauge does. It acts a lot like it goes into a limp mode or some sensor shuts it down because of temperature. The odd thing is how well it runs until it shuts off. The belching water out of the radiator is troublesome though. In a day I'll have shop open and I'll pull it in to check compression on the other side. Is there a good service manual that explains the steps in changing the head gaskets? I've done many US head gaskets but mostly on older engines 70's, 80's and 90's. I'm game to tackle them if I find a bad cylinder. I can't really lose anything simply to pull them and have them checked.
 

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2004 Nissan Frontier XE KC KA24DE
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I have nothing to offer at this point...other than a link to your Factory Service Manual.
 

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2004 Nissan Frontier XE KC KA24DE
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Is the CEL illuminated?
If yes, what are the codes?
 

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This is gonna be a challenge.
First, what do the battery terminals look like? Modern ECM-laden vehicles are very sensitive to dirty battery terminals, my wife's 2012 RAV4 threw a PCM Underperformance code a few weeks back, checked and yupper, the positive post was filthy, cleaned it and covered with batt post protectant spray then cleaned and tightened all the ground points I could find plus the negative battery post for good measure, no more SES.
Several folk on here have had myriad unusual issues traced back to dirty battery posts, the OE Frontier positive post is a nightmare, its a whole low-voltage distribution yard in a box, 6 fuses. Check everything over carefully, including engine and frame grounds.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
I don't remember the CEL light being on when the vehicle was running. I know it lights with the key on. I have an OBD2 code reader but not sure it will work on this vehicle and have not found a plug in location.

The positive battery cable had a great deal of corrosion on it and I cleaned it. I'll check all those grounds and the fuses. It will take a day or two, I have to get my shop bay open to get it in. That happens tomorrow.

Thanks for everyones help. I'll keep coming back with what I find. I appreciate your efforts.
 

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If you crank it with the radiator cap off and the reservoir cap on, it can cause the coolant to blow out of the radiator outlet. The reservoir cap is the pressure cap of the system and should have a spring on the bottom of it. The radiator cap will NOT have a spring on it. Make sure someone didn't swap the two. Raise the front of the vehicle as high as you safely can when purging air out of the system. I usually fill the radiator and cap it and then continue to add coolant to the reservoir until it's about 2/3 to 3/4 full and then I cap it. I'll start the engine and run it at 3000 RPM for at least 10 minutes or longer, if needed, with the heater "on" and at it's hottest setting, until hot (140 degree F.) air comes out of the vents. Then, I'll turn the engine off and lower the front end. I'll double check the level when the engine is completely cooled off.
 
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One time, when I had my transmission cooler lines by-passed, my truck went into limp mode after a good 5 hour drive, including going up the back side of the mountain; which is where it went into limp mode - at the top of a mountain trail, in the middle of nowhere, no cell service, two young boys in the truck under the age of 7. Waited a few minutes, truck fired up again and it has never happened again.
 

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If you crank it with the radiator cap off and the reservoir cap on, it can cause the coolant to blow out of the radiator outlet. The reservoir cap is the pressure cap of the system and should have a spring on the bottom of it. The radiator cap will NOT have a spring on it. Make sure someone didn't swap the two. Raise the front of the vehicle as high as you safely can when purging air out of the system. I usually fill the radiator and cap it and then continue to add coolant to the reservoir until it's about 2/3 to 3/4 full and then I cap it. I'll start the engine and run it at 3000 RPM for at least 10 minutes or longer, if needed, with the heater "on" and at it's hottest setting, until hot (140 degree F.) air comes out of the vents. Then, I'll turn the engine off and lower the front end. I'll double check the level when the engine is completely cooled off.
Hopefully he sees this post.. this probably happens a lot when unsuspecting owners or even mechanics have these off at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I got the truck home, still wouldn't run. Would start, but no throttle. So I disconnected the battery for 5 minutes and it started right up. No CEL lights on except the low air in tire light. I know one of the caps is missing. I pulled it into my shop and shut if off. Checked the overflow tank cap and it is spring loaded, the radiator cap is not. I notice an electric throttle control actuator in the cooling circuit and wonder if the termperature of the water is able to trip the control. All the while the gauge never went past half way. Does anybody know what the appropriate ohms resistance should be in the sending unit when cold? I guess I could buy one and put it in. I'm reluctant to ground the wire to the sending unit like I normally would a motor of the past in order to see if the gauge works correctly. Tomorrow I intend to pull the intake and check the remainder of the cylinders for compression. Tha manual shows a rather complicated formula for appropriate compression and I have not been able to change what they show to psi. I do know that on the driver side I had 145, 150 and 155 psi. I'm hoping I get the same on the passenger side. Has anybody ever had a water pump impeller get so that it doesn't spin on the shaft? I guess I'll know more tomorrow evening.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Today I took the intake off. Wow, they have everything so secured. The wire connections are so much better than the ones I'm used to on american cars. I checked the compression with the battery charged. I took one plug out at a time and spun the motor over on each for 10 seconds. Each cylinder registered 180 psi. Number 5, back one on the passenger side was 185 psi. The others were all 180. My next move is to flow water through the radiator and make sure its open. Then, after that, I'll pull the water pump and see if the impeller, when hot, still turns. The only outlier here is the motor wasn't warm. If warm I suspect a head gasket leak might occur, but it runs great until it stops and that seems to be from the fuel being cut off from a sensor in the cooling system. I'm interested in your thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
bajasam, Help understand what your comment means. Thermal seems to be related to the cooling system and short to ground means that something is with power coming to it is shorted to ground. Something like the sending unit. Is that an example?
 

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If it only happens after getting up to temp(10-11 miles) then cuts out, but will restart after fully cooling down(next morning) you likely have a component or wire that when getting fully heated which makes things grow slightly larger or slightly change shape due to thermal expansion is causing an elect circuit to fail, most likely in the fueling side. Once fully cooled down the circuit returns to normal.Usually it takes much time to track down,but starting with a cold engine and a blow dryer start heating one component at a time to a good heat soak of 170 degrees and briefly see if engine starts, if it does move on to the next component or harness and repeat until you find one that causes engine to not run.I would start at the IPM,ECU, then injectors and their harness.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks Bajasam,
I could easily have that problem but I'm not sure that is why the vehicle overheated. I'm so far into it now mechanically that I think I'm just going to go to the heads and be certain everthing is ok. The lady that had it said it overheated twice on her and it has for me once. I've checked the thermostat and I'll check the water pump before pulling the heads. The radiator is ok. I assume you have to pull the cover off of the timing chain to get the heads out so that's next. If it doesn't overheat and still shuts off on me, i'll come back to your suggestions and use a blow dryer to find my problem.
 

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nothing in your narrative said that you had overheat, all your statements were that it was running below 180,thats normal.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I don't think the sending unit was working for me. The lady that gave me the truck told me the gauge worked for her and it overheated twice. The last time it shut off for me it was belching fluid out of the overflow when I losened the cap. I may have the problem you suggest and I appreciate your help, I may still have to follow your process. Since I have so much already off, I'm not going to put it back together unless I find an overheating issue. The radiator is open, the thermostat opened at 195, I will soon see the water pump and put it in hot water to make sure the impeller doesn't free wheel. Unless I find an issue with the water pump, I'm pulling the heads. Thanks for your reponse, I may still have that problem when everything is back together.
 
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