Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Antelope Valley Calif
My heart skipped a beat this morning when I drove my '01 Xterra (3.3L) out to go on a hike.
I drove it about 5-10 min or so, parked, looked out my rear view mirror, and what do I see? A tad bit of white vapor coming from the tailpipe. The first thing that popped in my head was... head gasket...
So got out, walked around back and watched the tail pipe for a bit... just a little bit of what looked like water vapor coming out. I revved the car a bit, and it didn't get any more intense, it just stayed about the same. I then got in, drove for a bit longer, came back, and the vapor/smoke was gone. I let it sit a bit longer there idling and then the tailpipe started to drip water (it was dry immediately after I got back from the drive).
I looked under the hood, checked the coolant reservoir - not brown, milky or bubbling; it was green. Looked at the oil dipstick - it looked totally normal. Looked at the oil cap - looked normal too. Engine seems to be running fine.
I haven't driven it around long enough to see if the coolant level is dropping, but I will be doing that. It doesn't appear to be though based on the two times I checked. The car has never been overheated, and the engine is never raced.
So the only things I can come up with are: Excess water in the exhaust turning to steam, water in my fuel tank, or the head gasket. I brought up the first two options because I frequently leave my Xterra parked for long periods of time between drives (~usually a week). I've had the same gas in the tank for over 2 months now.
Any ideas would be welcome! I'm at a fork in the road on whether or not to take a hit and get it fixed, or buy a new car. Thanks!
2001 XE 4WD Manual Mineral Blue
Last edited by ryan_calif; 02-01-2013 at 02:35 PM.