Friday, September 11, 2020

Keeping my Nissan Xterra on the Road

 Last Saturday when I got up to our campsite in Tioga County my two friends who I met onsite smelled antifreeze from my 2007 Nissan Xterra after I pulled into camp. My sense of smell sucks, to put it mildly, and I didn't smell anything. We popped the hood and after the engine cooled down, checked the antifreeze level. Sure enough it was low. One of my friends had a gallon of premix so we topped it off. (Given the age of the vehicle I should have been carrying some.)

We also noticed that a hose going from air cleaner to the engine was cracked. I'm now carrying some Rescue Tape (self-fusing silicone tape) in my truck toolkit in case any other hoses crack.

The joys of owning an older vehicle. 😐

Yesterday, I brought the truck to a local mechanic who confirmed that it has a leak, so I had him replace the radiator. It must have been a very small leak since the truck didn't overheat either way on the trip (about 240 miles each way).

I've actually been thinking of getting this done to prevent the Xterra Strawberry Milkshake of Death from happening, anyway. The Xterras were designed with an automatic transmission fluid cooler integrated with the radiator. Unfortunately, sometimes there's a failure which allow cross-contamination between antifreeze and ATF fluid, causing the SMOD, which kills the transmission. It's both a clever and dumb design.

Although my truck is 13 years old it only has 110,000 miles on it, so I'd like to keep it for several more years, therefore replacing the radiator is worth it to me.


Anonymous said...

When I bought my first new vehicle (a Chevy s-10 in 1985) I went to the parts store and bought a full set of belts, a tow strap (by mail - J. C. Whitney, I think), and a block and tackle in case I got stuck - like a game hoist. A gas can came quickly thereafter, and a tool set, a T-handle lug wrench, an electric air pump, and other things eventually joined the supplies.

Except for the jack and T-handle for a flat (once), the only two times I used the tow strap were once to tow me when I drove into a snowdrift in the parking lot (towed by a Volkswagon Bus- how humiliating), and once to to pull a buddy for some unremembered reason.

I don't have the truck anymore, but the strap, pump, tools, t-handle, and a new gas can are still around in my new truck. I have used the gas can a couple of times when I was not paying attention to the gas gauge.

Geoff Powell said...


I sympathise. Here in UK, I run a 2002 Seat Ibiza 1.4 litre (VW Polo, rebadged) and in 2013 I suffered an episode of overheating, to the extent that the radiator boiled dry, Luckily, I'm a member of the Automobile Association, so I could summon assistance. The proximate cause of the problem was a damaged fuse, not making good enough contact, that feeds the electric radiator fan.
Consequential damage ran to £1200-odd to repair, but the car is otherwise fine, even to this day, at an age of 18 years, and 70,000 miles

Geoff Powell, G8KBZ

Dave Markowitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Markowitz said...

Thank you Anonymous, that is all excellent advice.

Geoff, glad to hear you were able to keep it running. I am a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA), which offers roadside assistance. Almost 30 years ago I had to call them for a tow when the clutch on my 1981 Subaru GL died on my way home from university. I was located within Philadelphia and still had to wait about 3 hours. That car wound up being sold for scrap. A 10 year old vehicle in 1991 was a lot "older" than a similarly aged vehicle nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Bought a used 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer as a second vehicle.
Took it on a 90 mile drive to see family. Had a blow out (new tires, go figure).
Went to get the jack and lug wrench. Had a jack, no lug wrench.
Without the lug wrench (and its square hole in the middle of the handle), you cannot operate
the jack. Uh Oh, time to call AAA.

Note to self, upon purchase of a "new to me" vehicle, immediately check all the tire swap gear.

Was an unfun day, but lesson learned.