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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, I have had my truck for 15 years, started leaking oil a few years ago but very little at a time. Lately however seems to be smelling more like burned oil every time I drive it. I was told it's probably the head gasket that is leaking. Anyone have any ideas of how to diagnose it to check exactly where the leak is. It already has oil all over the bottom of engine. It's a 2001 Nissan frontier XE. I'd appreciate any help or suggestions on how to fix this problem.:frown:
 

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If someone told you that an oil leak comes from a failed head gasket, don't let them work on the vehicle. Given the age of the truck, it's possible it could have multiple leaks. The only way to locate the source is to clean the engine and go from there. If the truck has the 4cyl. you will get water in the spark plug tubes, if you wash the engine. Not a big deal, but it will run poorly until the water is removed. pull the plug wires and using an air compressor, blow the water out of each tube. Let it sit overnight, or longer, if you can. Then put the wires back on and all should be fine.
 

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Oil on bottom of engine doesn't really help to much in saying what or where?. A leaking head gasket check your radiator for oil residue light brown I'd look over valve covers for starters you don't mention how much mileage. My other is rear seal leaking or mention which trans stick or auto tranny you have if stick does it slip? my other is rear seal leakin
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi thanks for your reply. My frontier is a v6 3.3 liter engine so I don't think its water in the spark plugs. I changed them a yea ago and they didn't look that bad. What do you recommend I clean the engine with? I have a degreaser spray but I'm not sure if I can spray it everywhere, don't want to get it into the alternator. Thanks
 

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Add a diagnostic dye to oil that will illuminate the leak source under a blacklight.

Am betting on a valve cover gasket leak as well.

Keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey guys sorry for taking so long to respond. I have been pretty busy and now I just replaced the alternator in my frontier. It turned off on me last week and too it to check alternator and batter and Oreillys told me it was alternator so I replaced it. Seems to be working fine now. Now I can get back to finding out where that oil leak is. Do youall think I can put a degreaser on it then wash it out with water? I noticed when I changed the alternator that there is a lot of oil on the bottom especially on the L side of the bottom of the engine. I cleaned it a bit but I wasn't prepared to degrease it , would have made a mess everywhere. Everyone tells me to buy a new
truck but I think if I can just find a way to stop this oil leak it will be ok. It is 16 years old but only has about 152000 miles. Any ideas? Thanks
 

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The only thing you can do is clean the area that you see oil leakage and then run the engine and look for new oil leakage with a flashlight and telescopic mirror, before anyone can give you any suggestions you need to pinpoint at least the general area, it could be anything and just giving you suggestions would cause you to change things that may not even be leaking

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If the truck has the 4cyl. you will get water in the spark plug tubes, if you wash the engine. Not a big deal, but it will run poorly until the water is removed. pull the plug wires and using an air compressor, blow the water out of each tube. Let it sit overnight, or longer, if you can. Then put the wires back on and all should be fine.
Yes, that is true. Happened to me twice on my '98 Frontier. Won't happen a 3rd time.

Back to original post with the V6 engine: how many miles on this? And how often do you actually have to add oil?

My '98 has 219K on it but does have a small oil leak, and even my mechanic and the radio show mechanic here say not really too successful at fixing oil leaks on vehicles over like 75K. On mine - a 4-cylinder - I've replaced the oil pump, the oil sender, trying to stop an oil leak in that area. Since I only have to add oil every 2K miles or so, I just live with it, because I think mine has multiple areas which are leaking. I'd have to check my log book to see if I've ever replaced the valve cover gasket on it, know I've re-sealed its oil pan. So I just "accept" its oil seepage, just like I do with my 1988 Mazda truck with 212K; just glad that my 2004 Frontier doesn't have such issues (yet), 98K.

Yes, cleaning the engine, using UV dye/light/goggles or talcum powder can "help" to identify the leak(s), that's definitely the first step should your leakage be worth pursuing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone for your help with this oil leak problem. I was able to degrease my engine last weekend and I added an oil dye and checked it with the ultraviolet light. I turn it on for a minute or so and checked for leak. Looks like its coming from driver side, under the engine towards the middle. There is a screw that looked like it's coming from there, but I checked it and it's actually coming from above it. I'm sending a few pictures to see if anyone has any ideas where it's coming from thanks.

The screw in the middle of the pic, you can see the oil about to drip.
 

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Looks like it leaking from the valve cover and by capillary action, draining down and dripping off the exhaust manifold bolt. New set of valve cover gaskets would fix that.

 

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The only place that oil dripping down the exhaust manifold in your picture can be coming from is the valve cover. That's definitely the source of that leak

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I have exactly the same problem by my leak is on the passenger side dripping on the start that I replaced 2 years ago for the same problem. I didn't think there was any oil between those bolts that hold down the exhaust manifold...so the oil must be coming from the valve cover gasket.... an easy enough fix. Just what are the notches on the end of those hold down bolts and what purpose do they serve?
 

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I have exactly the same problem by my leak is on the passenger side dripping on the start that I replaced 2 years ago for the same problem. I didn't think there was any oil between those bolts that hold down the exhaust manifold...so the oil must be coming from the valve cover gasket.... an easy enough fix. Just what are the notches on the end of those hold down bolts and what purpose do they serve?
If I'm guessing correctly about what you are asking about, the ends of the exhaust manifold bolts have a reverse torx which help when installing the bolts into the cylinder head. You can use a ratchet with a reverse torx socket on them.
 

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Well... I've done the job twice now. Still leaks in the same spot, passenger side between the last two bolt. I took everything apart again... cleaned and washed everything grease free... wiped a dozen times with alcohol then put a 1/8 inch bead of form a gasket on both sides of the gasket, first on the head and then a day later on the valve cover. I did a test bead on my work bench so I would be sure it was cured. Next I did the top of the gasket and in the channel of the valve cover.... slow and sure to make certain there were no gaps or bubbles. After a short time I pressed them together and got a perfect fit. I put the bolts in place and tightened them down until contact... then gradually cranked them down over the next few hours.and into the next day. I let everything cure for two more days, then put a 1/16th turn on each bolt to make up for shrinkage of the gasket cement. I started the engine. Leaks more than ever at the same spot. I am 68 years old and have grown very patient and meticulous. I have done dozens of valve covers over the years. Never had a problem.
 

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Well... I've done the job twice now. Still leaks in the same spot, passenger side between the last two bolt. I took everything apart again... cleaned and washed everything grease free... wiped a dozen times with alcohol then put a 1/8 inch bead of form a gasket on both sides of the gasket, first on the head and then a day later on the valve cover. I did a test bead on my work bench so I would be sure it was cured. Next I did the top of the gasket and in the channel of the valve cover.... slow and sure to make certain there were no gaps or bubbles. After a short time I pressed them together and got a perfect fit. I put the bolts in place and tightened them down until contact... then gradually cranked them down over the next few hours.and into the next day. I let everything cure for two more days, then put a 1/16th turn on each bolt to make up for shrinkage of the gasket cement. I started the engine. Leaks more than ever at the same spot. I am 68 years old and have grown very patient and meticulous. I have done dozens of valve covers over the years. Never had a problem.
I had that problem on a different vehicle. The valve cover was warped. Got a new one and it sealed perfectly. Maybe be your cover is warped or has a hairline crack?
 
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