Asked by Jun 23, 2016 at 04:07 PM about the 2003 Nissan Xterra XE

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Our Xterra has been overheating for about 2
years. We've gone through probably close to
$10k and 5 mechanics, including the
dealership. We've had the radiator and
hoses replaced, head gasket sealed and
tested several times, new thermostat, new
fan clutch, and everything else anyone in
person or on the internet has suggested in a
case like this. We even had the EGR Valve
replaced due to emissions last year. We
also just had the transmission rebuilt,
thinking that the overheating problem was
solved by the fan clutch replacement.
However, it is still overheating on the
freeway ( did okay for a few trips and then it
started acting up again). Now the check
engine light is on again, too (which was an
annoyance in the past which our original
mechanic and the dealership blamed on the
light malfunctioning). And no one can figure
out why this stuff is happening. What could
we be missing?

Also, not sure if it's related, but for a long
time before the overheating even started, it
started squealing. The squealing stopped
(we assume from the mechanic repairing it),
and shortly after, it started overheating.

3 Answers


Was it actually overheating? Was coolant disappearing? Did you have the water pump changed? Was the squeal caused by the belt slipping? How many miles on this vehicle? What is the code for the check engine light? We need more information.


I had that problem on my 01 xterra it turned out to be the coolant temp sensor

2 people found this helpful.

yeah it could be a bad sensor, however if the coolant is boiling over into the overflow bottle than you know its really getting hot and not just a false indication on the dash... Best answer I saw so far on this subject is this: "As for the vehicle still overheating, if all of the parts you have replaced are working fine, then you may have an air flow issue through the radiator. If this was the case, the vehicle would still cool at higher speeds and just not around town. If it gets hot at all times, then it may have a clogged radiator, or more commonly a leaking head gasket. I would perform a block test prior to changing anything else. If that fails the test, then the engine will need to be disassembled and repaired. If it passes, then it may need a radiator." -- which i found posted at a site called YourMechanic - response by a certified mechanic by the name of Robert Tomashek. Think about it what he says and it makes sense. My opinion as far as repeated head gaskets going out is whoever is doing the work is doing a poor job of head gasket repair. The heads should always be magnafluxed and inspected by a machine shop for cracks and warping and resurfaced each time the gasket is done. Also likely the repeated unresolved overheating is causing the head gaskets to go bad. So you need to get to the root of the over heating problem. From what I heard on a few sites is a bad radiator cap and overly advanced ignition timing could cause a car to run hot. If you are using your Xterra to do alot of towing and hauling or driving on mountain roads and inclines you should look into getting an external tranny cooler because the stock one is inside the radiator and adds heat loading to the engine cooling system. If you are driving with the A/C on max all the time in hot weather, you should ad an external booster fan in front of the condenser behind the front grille, this should be turned on by relay when the A/C compressor relay energizes. Some Xterra's came with this from the factory. The A/C Condensor blows extra heat into the front of the radiator also so that adds more heat loading to the system. Good luck.

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