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2003-2009 Nissan 350Z

Head Gasket

Old 04-06-2019, 11:34 AM
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Jack Maley
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Default Head Gasket

I have been having some white smoke come out of the exhaust when I drive. Is there anything else it could be besides the head gasket?
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Old 04-06-2019, 11:55 AM
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Warped head
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Old 04-06-2019, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack Maley View Post
I have been having some white smoke come out of the exhaust when I drive. Is there anything else it could be besides the head gasket?
Automatic or manual trans? Other white smoke from exhaust could indicate ATF getting into the combustion cycle, usually a leak in the cooling section of the ATF flow. (Which could also be an indicator of a bad head gasket) Suggest a leak down and/or compression test to determine if there's leakage into the combustion chamber.
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Old 04-06-2019, 12:21 PM
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Hi Jack. White exhaust is almost always coolant leaking into the engine. That problem is often accompanied by damage to the camshaft (the cams get "burned" and out of spec). And, as travlee mentions, white exhaust is often associated with a warped head (and, that is why the gasket is failing). It's not pretty.
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:30 PM
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Yeah I just bought one of those combustion testers that goes onto the radiator. Is it expense to replace a warped head?
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:50 PM
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Can you do the work yourself?
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:51 PM
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Sadly no. I can do basic stuff but nothing like taking an engine apart and messing with torque
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Maley View Post
Yeah I just bought one of those combustion testers that goes onto the radiator. Is it expense to replace a warped head?
Repairing a warped head (or just the gasket) can be expensive. There is likely other damage that you will need to repair (e.g., the camshaft itself might be damaged).
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Maley View Post
Sadly no. I can do basic stuff but nothing like taking an engine apart and messing with torque
Then yes....it will be expensive
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Old 04-08-2019, 11:40 AM
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Jack Maley
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Is there anyway to tell if it is a warped head and not a head gasket without taking it all apart?
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Old 04-08-2019, 01:13 PM
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No. You should have the heads checked while doing a head gasket as well.
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Old 04-08-2019, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Maley View Post
Is there anyway to tell if it is a warped head and not a head gasket without taking it all apart?
your head gasket is (or I should say was) fine...you likely warped the heads and thus the gasket cannot seal 100%(between the heads & block) and you're leaking coolant into the combustion.

Since you cannot do this yourself (and no one is blaming you - it's a big task) take the car to a trusted/independent mechanic who can do a compression test and leak down test. The results of these tests will dictate your future and put you on the road to recovery.

As mentioned above - this is an expensive task my napkin sketch estimate -

draining fluids, removing stuff, and pulling the engine 3hrs
removing the timing chain case, components and heads 3hrs
cleaning everything for reassembly 2hrs
reassembly, timing, engine install, hook everything back up 8hrs
Total - 16hrs @ $100/hr = $1600

machining heads - $200
OEM Gaskets $100
Misc Fluids/Seals/etc $100

You're looking at $2000 to $2500.
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Old 04-08-2019, 07:54 PM
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Thanks, this was actually super helpful to see all worked out. When you say machining heads, does that mean they are going to grind them down until level? not quite sure what that term means.
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Old 04-08-2019, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Maley View Post
Thanks, this was actually super helpful to see all worked out. When you say machining heads, does that mean they are going to grind them down until level? not quite sure what that term means.
Yea - they'll mount the heads on a machine that will shave off a very very tiny and precise amount of metal off the heads to make them flat.

I believe its good practice to machine or 'mill' the heads any time they come off the engine. I also only use OEM nissan head gaskets.

If youre going to make this big of a trek into the car consider having the clutch disk replaced($200). I'd also look into having the other items inside the engine such as pistons rings($50), engine bearings($200), front/rear seals($100), water pump ($50), timing chain kit ($300), new rev-up oil pump $250, replaced as well...it's expensive but something to consider.
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Old 04-09-2019, 01:26 PM
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I'm surprised no one mentioned powdered aluminum. If the cooling system flows freely, $8 for Barr's Stop Leak might reduce or eliminate coolant consumption.
(prepares for flames)
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Old 04-09-2019, 03:25 PM
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Has anyone else had success with a liquid sealer?
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Old 04-09-2019, 03:41 PM
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It's like a bandaid on a broken arm imho
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Old 04-09-2019, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Maley View Post
Has anyone else had success with a liquid sealer?
Actually, yes. When I was a broke teenager I had permanent success with small radiator leaks. Travlee is right, it's not the proper way to repair a problem but it may get you by if it's minor.
Word of caution- if you go this route follow directions exactly, and do not use more than recommended. Take your radiator cap off (cold) and run until the thermostat opens. If the water drains down quickly you should be ok. Do not attempt if you have any temp issues with radiator and reservoir topped off, it will likely make things worse.
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Old 04-09-2019, 04:22 PM
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No one mentioned the possibility of a cracked head. If that's the case, it's probably beyond repair. Stop leak will probably work for a leaky head gasket, less likely for a warped head.
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Old 04-12-2019, 06:58 PM
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Jack Maley
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Ok so I just did one of those blue liquid combustion gas tests on my radiator. The test came out clean so I am at a really confused point now. Why would my car smoke out the exhaust but the test come back clean?
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