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Hello! Just bought my 02 frontier a few months ago & getting to know her. Only issue has been overheating while working the vehicle hard... Long mountain pass climbs here in British Columbia or shorter climbs on dirt roads..

Also when overheating occurs oil leaks out the valve cover gasket causing a lot of smoke.

When I got the vehicle inspected
Valve cover gasket & water pump (water pump due) were two issues I have not yet dealt with.


More recently I have noticed a coolant leak at the thermostat housing.


Attempted to do a radiator flush & thermostat change this past weekend and wasn't able to pop the engine block drain plugs.. the passenger side was rusted over and I could not access the driver side. Is it possible to skip this step for rad flush? Hoping to flush as I change thermostat.but if it's not possible I may just change the thermostat.

I am living in a small town & don't know of any good honest mechanics in my area.

Thanks for any advice.
 

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Hello and welcome, you will find lots of info here
 

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Valve cover gasket & water pump (water pump due) were two issues I have not yet dealt with.

More recently I have noticed a coolant leak at the thermostat housing.

Attempted to do a radiator flush & thermostat change this past weekend and wasn't able to pop the engine block drain plugs.. the passenger side was rusted over and I could not access the driver side. Is it possible to skip this step for rad flush? Hoping to flush as I change thermostat.but if it's not possible I may just change the thermostat.
Is the water pump leaking? If not, I may let that one wait.

Yes, fix first what you KNOW is bad, leak at the thermostat housing. Just drain the coolant by removing the end of the lower radiator hose, and do reconnect and similar for flushing with clean water. Then fill up with coolant, and bleed ALL the air out of the cooling system. This is one of your overheat issues now: if coolant has leaked, then you have some air in your system, Google that.
 
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