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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I drove out of town today about 73 (1h 15min) miles and truck was fine. I arrive at my destination for my job and at the end of the day I start to drive home, upon waiting at the gas station while talking on my phone ( illegal to talk on phone while driving ) my truck over heated. I shut it off and let it cool for about 30 minutes, and turned the heater on full blast and started to head home half way home the service engine light came on. The temp gauge was at the middle of C and H like normal. I get home and let the truck cool for a few hours and pop the radiator cap and check the reservoir. To my surprise its completely empty, and you can see down into the radiator. I added some coolant to the reservoir maximum level and drove it around town and it started to climb abit again and then level off. I haven't checked the level again as I am letting it cool down.

Have I messed anything up running it without any coolant? It never reached H when I was driving it tonight. However I am concerned how I have absolutely zero coolant and I didn't see any traces off it on the ground or around the engine..

Do I add coolant to the radiator and then the reservoir? I always though to fill the reservoir up and let it pump coolant and add more if needed.

02 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab
80,000 Miles
 

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Top off the radiator first and then the resivour. Running it dry is pretty bad and if it heated up enough, it can warp the heads and cause bearing issues. It may be worth changing the oil soon to ensure that it didn't get burnt.

I would be worried about where the coolant went thou. How does the exhaust look when running?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I just changed the oil not 200 miles ago and didn't notice any blackening. When I filled up the reservoir and then went for a quick ride, it didn't suck anything out of the reservoir and the radiator is still empty.. Do I have to start it with the cap off?

I forgot to mention all the driving was highway, and never once did the temp gauge reach H while driving.

No exhaust smell or liquids dripping out of it. And I can't remember the time I checked the coolant level ( not even when I changed the oil ). :(
 

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You should remove the resivour cap and run it in the driveway for a little bit after you topped off the radiator itself.

I know you changed the oil but I would atleast pull the dip and look at the level. A very bad thing could be that you cracked the block internally and the coolant seeped into the oil so it is still contained but still not a good situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You should remove the resivour cap and run it in the driveway for a little bit after you topped off the radiator itself.

I know you changed the oil but I would atleast pull the dip and look at the level. A very bad thing could be that you cracked the block internally and the coolant seeped into the oil so it is still contained but still not a good situation.
I will run out and check it really fast, do I leave the cap off the reservoir and the radiator, or just the reservoir to fill the radiator?
 

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I will run out and check it really fast, do I leave the cap off the reservoir and the radiator, or just the reservoir to fill the radiator?
Technically you should do both until the radiator burps, then close that but leave the resivour open a little longer. If your resivour cap fails, it may fail closed and will cause a vacuum in the resivour preventing it from feeding the radiator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I opened the cap to both the radiator and the reservoir, and noticed that the radiator is actually filled now.. not sure if it took a small amount from the reservoir on my small trip or what. I'm assuming that the reservoir might have been empty and the light came on to refill it? I left it running for abit to 'burp' the system but didn't notice any bubbles or anything.

I also checked the oil and it looks like fresh oil, no discoloration or anything. I also checked the exhaust again and didn't notice any liquids coming out or any type of smoke. And no puddles under neath the truck.

My service light is still on though..

And I should restate that when it originally reached close to the H it didn't exactly overheat, I just paniced and turned the truck off and let it sit. It never went above the little H section with two bars.
 

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If it is holding coolant and is running right, it may just be a stored code or something. I would stop at AutoZone or Advanced or Napa or etc.. and have them pull the code and possibly clear it for you. If it is a major code, they may not clear it but if it is a coolant related one, they should once you say you filled it up.
 

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My 00 has done this to me in the past, basicly your coolant is dribbling out slowly over time via the over flow/res bottle. Dont panic for now, especialy since there is not oil in the water or water in the oil. And it sounds like it didnt get to hot. Keep and eye on the level and the temp for a couple weeks. Occasianlly look under the hood for small bits of coolant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Is it safe to drive with the light on? I am going to check the level again in the morning after its had ample time to cool just to make sure. I have the same trip to make in the morning, however I don't want to do any damage to the truck. And I will have to leave before an Autozone opens.
 

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As long as you keep coolant in the system and nothing seems to have blended, you should be find to drive with the CEL on. If the truck is acting up and bucking and etc.... then that would be bad.

Heck, the CEL may turn off on your way to work. I would still recommend that you stop and see if any codes pop up just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I checked everything this morning before I left, the reservoir was at between max and min, and last night it was all the way up the max when I filled it. The radiator also still had coolant in it. I made sure the reservoir didn't leak anything by checking around the engine bay and underneath the truck. When I took the cap off the radiator it made a suction sound, which I don't remember it doing last night. So I am hoping everything is in the clear for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Went to autozone this evening. I had two codes, one dealing with my gas cap not fitting correctly. Even though I checked it, the fella mentioned it could be an old cap and not sealing well. Not a big deal and will pick up a spare.

The other code was my Knock Sensor. I'm not sure much information about it so I am going to hit up google about it. This wouldn't happen to be the little blue thing near the airbox that's in the resonator removal guide?

Nothing about coolant and it was holding coolant when I checked it at various times throughout the day.

They reset both the codes and on my way home the light did NOT light back up.
 

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FYI,
The gas cap will set the light but the knock sensor won't. The cap is considered an emissions part. I'm the family mechanic and I get calls all the time saying my light is on. I ask when was the last time you filled up. If it's recent I tell them to make sure the cap is tight. 9 times out 10 that's all it takes. Welcome to bad KS club.
 

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Same two codes I have been getting the last two weeks, new gas cap didn't fix my problem.
 

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Check for cracks or loose vacum lines in the evap and vent lines. Sometimes if it can't get pressurized it will throw the code as well.
 
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