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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, I'm about trade my vehicle for a 2006 Nissan Frontier. Ive been doing a lot of research lately and have been trying to figure out every possible warning sign I can find of Transmission/radiator Cross Contamination to make sure that when I purchase this vehicle it is free of those problems which will alow me to do a bypass to avoid the problems in the future. Here is a few that I have came up with so far. Please add to this thread any signs that I have missed and that would be greatly appreciated. Also, does anyone know if there are any sort of test strips that you can by at a local auto parts store to without a doubt check for cross contamination? Heres what I have so far:


1. Stick long tool into Coolant resovoir. Look for milky stuff when you pull it out.
2. Check the coolant reservoir on the left side of the engine bay for any pink stains.
3. Look at radiator Cap. Is the rubber piece warped? Is there a milky substance or pink color to it? Strawberry Milkshake looking?
4. Check the dipstick for a soupy strawberry milky type fluid.
 

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There's probably an easier way, but here's one way to see if antifreeze is mixing with the ATF.

Take a sample through the dip stick pipe or have the ATF replaced by a shop, before vehicle purchase. Have used ATF analysis performed by Blackstone Lab at Ft. Wayne (or Lab of your choice). Their sample kit has to be used to collect the sample. I use a crankcase vacuum pump and place the small vacuum line in the dip stick pipe on boats to draw motor oil out. Guess an ATF sample could be taken the same way with a "clean" vacuum pump.

Just a couple thoughts. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thats a great Idea! Thanks for your input Bill! However I really would like to hear some quicker solutions then having to send it off to a lab and wait for the results. What are some more ideas?
 

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Look at the radiator. If it stock, an 06 should have 7 years of wear, such as bent fins, black paint flaking or faded, good bug collection, normal wear and tear. If it looks new, then I'd view that as maybe (maybe!) the previous owner had the cross contamination issue, or maybe (maybe) its been in a fender bender. No logical reason to change out a perfectly good radiator right? New hoses could be a sign of good routine maintenance, discolored stock hoses could be an indication they've never been messed with. Any decent shop typically will change out hoses when installing a new radiator on an older vehicle with some miles on it.

I'd be surprised if such "testing strips" even exist, and any lab stuff is IMO going overboard. Your not buying a $100K Bentley. Get the VIN and go to the local Nissan store(s) in your area and see what kind of service history they show for it. If you've bought a CarFax or similar, you can see if it was serviced elsewhere and go that route, assuming the truck isn't native to your area. There are some on here who have found the contamination soon enough that they were able to drain & refill fluids and continue driving. Also, while you are looking at the truck, see if its been bypassed.

Drive it! If when pulling away from a stop it feels like you are going over ruble strips, turn around and park it & walk away. If it drives right, truck is probably fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Excellent information Suzokie. Thank you so much! I just want to take ever precaution necessary before I trade for it. I love everything about it its just the cross contamination thing scares me.
 

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Suzoki, I'm not sure I agree with your logic on the radiator being replaced. Other than the bypass, replacing a perfectly good radiator is the second leading solution on this forum for the issue. I agree that an obviously new radiator is good cause to do some more research on the truck though.

Sent from my SCH-I535
 

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You can also go old school with a hydrometer to test the coolant. If ATF is in there, it should mess up the freeze/boil points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
All good tips guys thanks. Do you think that a mechanic for the most part would be able to tell by looking at it? I might just have him meet me at a local one to have the mechanic reassure me that there is no cross contamination before making the trade.
 

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All good tips guys thanks. Do you think that a mechanic for the most part would be able to tell by looking at it? I might just have him meet me at a local one to have the mechanic reassure me that there is no cross contamination before making the trade.
Simple answer - no. If there was cross contamination, previous owners swapping of the radiator, flushing the cooling system (block included) & flushing the ATF a couple times should remove all evidence of a previous pink milkshake. Your mechanic can only call what he sees. But always a good idea to have a trusted independent mechanic go over the entire truck before you buy.


Side comment - friend of my dads has an 06 and has 275,000 miles on it. He round trip drives from Tulsa to south of Dallas nearly every weekend since new, then drives to various Texas oil fields during the week. I met him for the first time a few weeks ago and asked about his maintenance. Brakes, oil, tires and batteries. He seemed shocked when I asked about the transmission as a co-worker of his also has a maintenance-free Frontier and has well over 200K on his.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Im pretty sure that the current owner is oblivious to the problem so Im not worried about it being fixed previously. Im just curious if it hasnt been tampered with will a mechanic be able to recognize the cross contamination?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Also,If I Take it to a mechanic and they tell me that it doesnt have any cross contamination and I end up trading and notice that it does when I go to do the bypass, will I be able to hold the mechanic I took it too responsible?
 

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Also,If I Take it to a mechanic and they tell me that it doesnt have any cross contamination and I end up trading and notice that it does when I go to do the bypass, will I be able to hold the mechanic I took it too responsible?
No.
 

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The coolant will either look like this:


Or,preferably, like this:



There isn't much of a grey area. Either its fine, or its too late.
 
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