Hi everyone. I've been lurking on the forums for a while now (and learning a lot). Thanks for all the great info!
And now on to my situation . . .
I have a 2001 3.3 V6 with 147,XXX miles. Last summer I was driving over Independence Pass in Colorado when I noticed that my temp gauge was spiking. I killed the A/C, cranked the heat, and made it to the top of the pass where I let 'er cool down. I made it down to Leadville, CO where I checked the coolant level and found it to be a bit low. I topped it off and drove home without another incident. Drove it around for a few more weeks without another incident, then winter hit, and the X was running fine. Fast-forward to this summer and it started overheating again under any of the following conditions: hot days, city driving, a/c on, or going up-hill. I talked to my mechanic neighbor who recommended I change the thermostat. Did so and the X still overheated. I took it to a shop and they said it was behaving like it had a blown head gasket but they didn't find any chemical indication of this in the coolant. They suspected the radiator (clogged, dirty, blocked, etc) as it felt cool to the touch even after running to normal (and beyond) operating temp. I then changed the fan clutch and installed the thicker radiator from the '02 SC Xterra . . . and it still overheats. I now suspect that the water pump is bad but I'm not completely sure. I've done all of the above work myself (with some help from my dad) but my girlfriend is starting to think I'm spending too much time on the X and not enough time with her (due to all of the above plus I installed new front rotors, pads, and hubs a couple of weeks prior to my cooling system work). So, the question is this: do I try to do the water pump and timing belt (and everything else in the Timing Belt Kit) myself (having never done this job before) or do I take it to shop, tell them what I think it is, and let them do some work?
And finally, if I do decide to take it to a shop, does anyone know of a good mechanic in the Boulder/NW Denver area? I just moved to Westminster and I don't know anyone to take it to for a second opinion.
Any and all suggestions/opinions are welcome! Thanks in advance!