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Discussion Starter #1
Driving home the other day & was stopped at a light & saw smoke coming from under hood, checked temp gauge & it was 3/4 the way up. Was very close to home so as light turned green I kept going. Temp gauge continued to climb and I was two seconds from pulling over when the temp gauge started to go back down & within 30 seconds had gotten back to normal (a little below halfway). Made it home and popped the hood and saw a good bit of coolant in the engine compartment that was smoking.

After it cooled down, I tried the quick cheap fix & added a sealant to the overflow of the radiator, filled to the 'full' mark with 50/50 & ran the engine with AC blasting. As it was heating up I saw a few leaks that stopped before my eyes (which was gratifying!), however smoke continued to come from the radiator and I thought that there may yet be some holes but it was difficult to tell for sure as a good bit of coolant had gotten out of the leaks and may have just been burning off.

Waited until the next day & a rainstorm had washed everything out and started her up again. As the engine warmed up, a bit of smoke was coming off the radiator but no coolant ever dripped below the engine and the engine never got above it's normal temperature for the entire 1/2 hour that it ran.

The next day I took her out for a drive & after she warmed up to her normal running temperature, the gauge held constant for about 10 minutes during while driving around the neighborhood before it started to rise again & more smoke came from the engine compartment. Immediately stopped the car, opened the hood but could not see any specific coolant leak or source for the smoke. Coolant level was maybe a bit lower, but my mind may be playing tricks on me.

I think the temperature gauge is okay, but don't know whether to just replace the radiator & hope for the best, or if there might be some obstruction which I don't know how to remove.

Help!!!!
 

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2 things I strongly suggest to solve this issue permenantly.
1. Replace your radiator if it is leaking.
2. Replace your thermostat. It sounds like it's getting ready to completly fail. You certainly don't want it stuck in the closed position.
 

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Thanks. Found something else "interesting" (and potentially fatal); checked the oil and found it didn't even register on the dipstick. Took 1 1/2 quarts to get it back to normal level. Found online that the 2003 only takes a little over 4 quarts in total, so was driving around for who knows how long missing 35% of the oil. Do you think this could cause the engine to run so hot that the radiator couldn't keep up? Not sure how the oil got low, haven't noticed any oil spots in the driveway and car has never smelled like an oil burner.
 

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Look all around to see if you can tell if the oil is leaking from some where. My wife's Sentra had started losing oil pretty badly last year and I thought it was screwed. Turned out the Valve cover gasket was bad and the oil was leaking from the back around where the intake manifold is and I couldn't easily see it. There were never any oil spots on the driveway though. $40 later and everything was good.

I don't know about the radiator not keeping up though. I don't have any experience with that so someone more knowledgeable will have to chime in on that. If I had to guess I would say the same thing lycan28 said.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay, changed out the thermostat & radiator is not leaking, but still no dice. (Oil level is just fine too, but will take a closer look as advised-thanks). After changing out thermostat, ran the car on idle with AC blasting & AC was much colder than before and I was feeling good. Decided to drive it around the block & after about 1/4 mile noticed that AC wasn't cold anymore. Another 1/4 mile and gauge showed car getting hot again (2/3 the way up), pulled into our driveway and left the car idling in park to see what happened and was surprised to see the temp going down and went back to normal (little less than 1/2) after being parked for less than 1 minute. However, still could not get AC to cool and also heater to get hot, but I let it idle in park for another 10 minutes and temp was constant. The plot thickens....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Took car to mechanic for pressure check & he found a crack on the top of the radiator. Quoted me $450 for parts and labor for radiator (we live in NJ, the capitol for bend-you-over pricing), so went to pepboys and bought radiator and coolant for total of $140.00 and changed it out myself. Took it for a drive & no overheating. Imagine that, the radiator.....

Thanks!
 

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Cool man. Glad you got it worked out.
 

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A BJ from a hot chick would be one more thing to ask for.







Haha
 
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