The Nissan 3.3L V6 engine comes with 2 head gaskets (one for each cylinder head). And four tests can be done to find out if a head gasket is blown.
With the help of this tutorial, these are tests that you can do yourself without having to take it to a repair shop.
With your test results you'll be able to find out if you have a head gasket problem or not.
Contents of this tutorial at a glance:
This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:
- 3.3L Infiniti QX-4: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.
- 3.3L Nissan Frontier: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.
- 3.3L Nissan Pathfinder: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000.
- 3.3L Nissan Xterra: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.
Symptoms Of A Blown Head Gasket
Head gaskets usually fail in one of two ways. Either the head gasket fails completely and the engine does not start or the head gasket fails in such a way that the engine starts and runs but overheats.
The following list is a basic list of the symptoms you'll see when the head gasket fails:
- Your Nissan Frontier (Xterra or Pathfinder) is overheating for no apparent reason. All engine cooling system components (like fan motor, water pump, etc.) are working fine.
- White smoke is coming out of the tail-pipe and it smells like anti-freeze being cooked.
- Your Nissan won't start.
- The engine oil is thick and a tan to an off-white color.
TEST 1: Engine Oil The Color Of 'Coffee With Too Much Creamer'
For our first test, we're gonna' check the color of the engine oil and see if it looks like coffee with too much creamer.
We can easily do this by taking a look at the oil that's sticking to the engine oil dipstick.
If the engine oil does like coffee with too much creamer, then you can conclude that one or both of the head gaskets are blown on your 3.3L V6 Nissan Frontier (Xterra or Pathfinder).
Let's get started:
Open your Nissan's hood and pull out the engine oil dipstick.
What you're looking for is to make sure that the engine oil IS NOT mixed with coolant. If the engine oil is mixed with coolant, it'll be the color of 'coffee with too much cream'.
You'll see one of two results
1.) The engine oil looks like coffee with too much creamer.
2.) The engine oil is its usual normal color.
Alright, let's analyze your test result:
CASE 1: The engine oil has the color of coffee with too much creamer. This test result confirms that one or both head gaskets are blown on your 3.3L V6 Nissan Frontier (Xterra or Pathfinder).
CASE 2: The color of the engine oil is normal. This is the correct and expected test result.
Your next step is to go to: TEST 2: Coolant Shooting Out From Open Radiator.