Overheating long drive on highway not in town

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
Hello, I purchased a 2013 Nissan Xterra S with 100,000 miles on it. I have had issues since I bought it this month. I replaced the thermostat and radiator and burped it heavily, but the temp gauge wants to climb on the highway. The car is clean.

Not sure if it's the temperature sensor, fan clutch, or something else. The heater works fine and has tons of heat. Also, the only way to keep the temp down too. It has pep, idles fine, and not burning coolant. This isn't my first Xterra. I still have my first one, but the second generation is different. I need to get this new one to work because the other needs to be retired. My first Gen is 2003, with close to 293,000 miles on her.
 

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TerryD

Total Tease
Supporting Member
Location
Covington, Va
Overheating while moving isn't related to the fan. There should be enough air moving through the radiator to cool the engine while in motion.

Have you popped the cap off the heater core tee to let the air out back at the firewall?
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
So, popped the cap and start the car with the heater on until pressure?

Can the temperature sensor go goofy? As the coolant heats ups causing the spike on the gauge?
 

TerryD

Total Tease
Supporting Member
Location
Covington, Va
No, there's a rubber cap at the firewall. Pull it and fill through the radiator cap (no spring) till it runs out of that nipple then put the cap back on. Then top off radiator and install that cap. Then make sure the level in the degassing jug is correct (jug should have spring on cap.)
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
I couldn't find it. Sorry, I can find everything on my first gen, but not used to this engine layout.
 

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Brunnie

Sliders
Supporting Member
Location
Colorado Springs
I couldn't find it. Sorry, I can find everything on my first gen, but not used to this engine layout.
You don't have a bleeder cap. That's what I've said before.

Your best bet is fill the degaus bottle pretty full, and then see how much it goes down over the next few days as you drive. You can also gently squeeze the upper radiator hose several times while the engine is running and see if you can burp some of the air out.
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
Thanks for the info. and I will try it. I hope it's nothing too serious. I just got the car. The carpet is dry as a bone too and the inlet hoses to the heater core are dry.
 

TerryD

Total Tease
Supporting Member
Location
Covington, Va
Pop the top hose off that heater tee. Just be careful, those get brittle and fail.

Dorman makes a nice, all metal, version of it though and Z1 Offroad makes a bullet version of the other side with a bleeder screw.
 

General_Tarfun

Sliders
Supporting Member
Location
Atlanta, GA
When did they do away with that?

Long time ago. My 06 came with one but the replacement T's haven't come with it for as long as I can remember.

Anyway, if I were you OP I'd get one of those cheap OBD readers to get the actual temp numbers, the spread on the dummy gauge is pretty broad. When it's completely off is the needle dropping down all the way?
 

29erClan

Bought an X
Location
Meh
2nd on the obd tool. Its a good way to monitor both trans temp sensors too. Didn't see it mentioned, is this a manual or auto trans?

Anyway, I had a similar overheating issue while towing at highway speeds. For me it turned out to be the secondary electric fan was unable to start. Gave it a flick by hand to start it going at a rest area and temps came under control. Transmission dumps a lot of heat into the rad under load and that electric fan only kicks on around 210-220 I think. Except in my case it didn't. Replaced the electric fan and haven't thought about it for years.

Sorry that won't help any if you have a manual trans. Worth a check if you have the auto.
 

jsexton

Need Bigger Tires
Supporting Member
Location
Lewis Center, OH
Do you still have heat at idle or does it cool off? If it cools off (temp coming out of the vents) you have an air bubble or are low on coolant. These things are difficult to burp. It’s easiest to just over fill the expansion tank and drive (like an inch over the hot line when it’s cold). If it’s blowing hot at idle, I’d be suspicious of the thermostat got stuck shut somehow. These things typically don’t have cooling issues unless the fan clutch goes bad and at slow speeds in the summer.
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
Cools off at idle. Brand new thermostat two times now. No bubbles in the tank. The shop overfilled it after replacing the radiator.
 

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MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
video of it

I noticed a new hose OEM on the back driver side and a newer temp sensor. I don't see the secondary fan kicking on. Not sure if that's just an AC fan?
 
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29erClan

Bought an X
Location
Meh
The electric fan would normally not be running unless the ECU called for it. If you are running overheated it should definitely be on and trying to get more air flow going through. Already checked for mud, leaves, bugs etc. blocking up the airflow to the front of the radiator? Your new radiator is behind the small trans radiator and thinner a/c condenser, if I remember correctly, and maybe they didn't check/clean those when installing? Dunno, a new radiator behind a blocked up a/c condenser would have trouble getting air.

For burping after a coolant change I point it up a hill and let it idle at full heat for 10-15 minutes. Its maybe a 30-35 degree slope and conveniently right near the barn where I do maintenance.
 

jsexton

Need Bigger Tires
Supporting Member
Location
Lewis Center, OH
E fan kicks on low at 205* when the ac is off IIRC. Shouldn’t need it if the temps are cool enough to need the heat though.

The lower part of the radiators do get clogged up with mud if it’s used offroad much. I rinse it out from behind until the water starts running clear. It’s possible that the issue, but I’d be surprised. That usually only causes trouble when it’s hot out. I guess if it’s really plugged up.
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
E fan kicks on low at 205* when the ac is off IIRC. Shouldn’t need it if the temps are cool enough to need the heat though.

The lower part of the radiators do get clogged up with mud if it’s used offroad much. I rinse it out from behind until the water starts running clear. It’s possible that the issue, but I’d be surprised. That usually only causes trouble when it’s hot out. I guess if it’s really plugged up.
The radiator is a week old. It's brand new.


I took it to another shop. They're saying it's building too much pressure in the Surge/overflow tank. They want to take it apart and put a new cap on it. Inspect the lines of the tank and the actual tank itself.
 

Brunnie

Sliders
Supporting Member
Location
Colorado Springs
I'm not going to go back through all the posts in this thread, but.... the cap on the degauss bottle has teh spring on it right?? and the cap on the radiator does not have a spring, right? If this isn't the case, then you need to get the right caps and put them on.
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
I'm not going to go back through all the posts in this thread, but.... the cap on the degauss bottle has teh spring on it right?? and the cap on the radiator does not have a spring, right? If this isn't the case, then you need to get the right caps and put them on.
correct, the caps are right.
 

TerryD

Total Tease
Supporting Member
Location
Covington, Va
The degassing bottle is supposed to be pressurized. Replace the cap on it if you feel like it and you can check the lines pretty easily but it sounds like they don't understand the system.

Check to make sure your lower radiator hose isn't collapsing when the RPMs are up. Could be a weak hose.

What brand radiator did you buy?
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
The degassing bottle is supposed to be pressurized. Replace the cap on it if you feel like it and you can check the lines pretty easily but it sounds like they don't understand the system.

Check to make sure your lower radiator hose isn't collapsing when the RPMs are up. Could be a weak hose.

What brand radiator did you buy?
Another shop did it, so no idea about the brand. This shop is waiting for a cap. The freight truck couldn't make it over the pass. They're the best shop in town, and they want to start with the basics, but I will keep it in mind. I felt the last shop was doing a parts cannon approach, which is waste of time and money. Driving away each time with it not fixed and the engine bay smelling like coolant and engine parts covered in white spots by the coolant.

Degassing bottle shouldn't be shooting coolant all over the engine bay, either.
 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
One last question from me.... Are they Nissan caps or aftermarket? I seem to recall that non OEM caps can cause problems.
Guessing aftermarket, but I don't know if the current one is OEM. I bought it from a Honda dealership, and who knows, the cap could be a Honda cap.:D

Hoping for good news, and luckily my 2003 Xterra is my backup car.
 

Brunnie

Sliders
Supporting Member
Location
Colorado Springs
Guessing aftermarket, but I don't know if the current one is OEM. I bought it from a Honda dealership, and who knows, the cap could be a Honda cap.:D

Hoping for good news, and luckily my 2003 Xterra is my backup car.
There is part of your problem. Get OEM caps for both the radiator and the degauss bottle.
 

29erClan

Bought an X
Location
Meh
If you want some:


 

MisterH

Test Drive
Location
Washington State
Okay, so long lesson. 3 shops in total. Any shop or non-Nissan dealership will slap an aftermarket thermostat in the Nissan 4.0 engines. These aftermarket thermostat springs are different, and the shape of the orifice is different too. These engines must have the OEM thermostat

The car ended up with a head gasket tested, a new radiator, a new radiator cap, and degauss bottle cap, 3 aftermarket thermostats, and a new water pump, and after the mechanic nearly gave up, he finally put in the OEM thermostat in for free and fixed the issue. Later this year I will buy a spare OEM thermostat to have on hand.

I still own my 2003 Nissan Xterra and now this 2013. 4.0 engines are better than 3.3, but they're way pickier too.
 

Brunnie

Sliders
Supporting Member
Location
Colorado Springs
Okay, so long lesson. 3 shops in total. Any shop or non-Nissan dealership will slap an aftermarket thermostat in the Nissan 4.0 engines.
No.... Any shop that doesn't know the quirks of various vehicles will do what they think will work. The shop I use knows the quirks of several foreign cars and will only use the proper parts for repairs. Find a shop that knows what they are doing and use only them.
 

westslope

Wheeling
Okay, so long lesson. 3 shops in total. Any shop or non-Nissan dealership will slap an aftermarket thermostat in the Nissan 4.0 engines. These aftermarket thermostat springs are different, and the shape of the orifice is different too. These engines must have the OEM thermostat

The car ended up with a head gasket tested, a new radiator, a new radiator cap, and degauss bottle cap, 3 aftermarket thermostats, and a new water pump, and after the mechanic nearly gave up, he finally put in the OEM thermostat in for free and fixed the issue. Later this year I will buy a spare OEM thermostat to have on hand.

I still own my 2003 Nissan Xterra and now this 2013. 4.0 engines are better than 3.3, but they're way pickier too.
Excellent.

FWIW, I won my personal bet that the problem was the thermostat.
 
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