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Nissan Maxima Overheating – What Could Be Wrong?

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Fancy going on a long road trip to the beach or even going for a casual drive to nowhere? However, you suddenly notice that the temperature gauge light of your Nissan Maxima is on. That could mean it is possibly overheating. In this post, we will be helping you diagnose the possible problems with your overheating Nissan Maxima based on the potential causes that our research has identified.

When a Nissan Maxima is overheating, symptoms usually are present with the way your car sounds and performs. Here are some of the reasons why your Nissan Maxima is overheating:

  • Low levels of coolant
  • Broken radiator fan
  • Broken water pump

There are also a few more things that we need to discuss further, such as symptoms of overheating in your Nissan Maxima and possibly other problems related to false temperature readings of your Nissan Maxima. Read further below to gather more information and get your overheating Nissan Maxima back in operation.

Nissan Maxima sport sedan was spotted in a quiet Northwest Washington DC neighborhood, Nissan Maxima Overheating - What Could Be Wrong?

Warning Signs of an Overheating Nissan Maxima

Usually, symptoms accompany your Nissan Maxima when it's not receiving adequate cooling. Just like how our body tells us that we need to cool down a bit, the same goes for your Nissan Maxima. Here are a few symptoms that signify overheating in your vehicle.

Gauge or Temperature Light is on

Engine temperature warning light on car dashboard

The first thing you should check if you're experiencing lousy performance from your Nissan Maxima is your gauge or temperature light. Usually, this warning light will light up to signify that your vehicle is experiencing overheating.

Once you notice that this warning sign is on, immediately get off the road and try to diagnose the problem as soon as possible.

White Smoke Coming from Under the Engine Hood

Man mechanic repair a smoking engine of his overheated car

If you miss the warning sign on the gauge or temperature light, the next thing that should be visible to your car would be smoke coming from under the engine hood. This white smoke is a telltale sign that your vehicle is overheating.

Your Nissan Maxima will signify something's wrong by boiling the coolant; it does this to alleviate some of the pressure from the cooling system preventing severe damage.

Blown-off Head Gasket

The Nissan Maxima will show you the last warning sign by blowing off the head gasket. A blown head gasket means that combustion gas is possibly going into the cooling system, and the combustion gas will perhaps mix with the coolant.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by watching out for the other two symptoms.

Here is an informative video demonstrating how to test if your car has a blow-off head gasket.

Low-Levels of Coolant

Coolant level low warning light on dashboard

A low coolant level means that your vehicle can't cool the system down due to the lack of liquid that will transfer heat away from the engine.

This system works the same way as an air conditioning unit in the vehicle. If your air conditioning unit in the car does not have enough freon (coolant), then you'll immediately experience hot or untreated air coming out of the AC.

How to Check for Coolant Level and How to Refill the Reservoir?

For older models (2006-2012) of the Nissan Maxima, here's how to check for the coolant's level and how to refill the reservoir.

  1. Turn off the engine of the Nissan Maxima.
  2. Pop-open the engine hood.
  3. On the right side, you should see a huge white container; that's the reservoir of the coolant.
  4. Use a screwdriver to move a wire out of the way; you can do this by hand also.
  5. You will see the word "MAX," meaning that it is the max level of a coolant that it can contain.
  6. Remove the cap of the reservoir.
  7. Check if there is still a good amount of coolant; if not, refill the coolant up to the max level.

Here's a video demonstrating the steps listed above for a better reference.

Newer models of Nissan Maxima have almost the same process for checking the coolant level. Regardless, here's a video showing what's under the engine hood of recent Nissan Maxima models:

Which Coolant Fluid is Best for Nissan Maxima?

If you noticed that your Nissan Maxima's coolant is on low levels, then you would want to refill the reservoir. But how would you know which coolant is compatible with your Nissan Maxima?

Amazon's outstanding feature is its ability to recommend compatible coolants with your specific car. When searching for coolants on Amazon, you'll have the option to input your vehicle's make and model. Use that feature appropriately if you have a different year of Nissan Maxima.

Check out this Zerex Dex-Cool Coolant on Amazon.

For now, the Zerex Dex-Cool coolant listed above is specifically for the Nissan Maxima 06-12 year model.

Check out this Peak OET Life Blue Coolant on Amazon.

For the latest model of Nissan Maxima, we have already used Amazon's feature for your convenience. It's best to utilize this tool yourself since your Nissan Maxima may have a different engine, requiring a different type of coolant.

Broken Radiator Fan

A vehicle's engine dissipates heat away from the coolant by attaching a fan to the radiator. The coolant carries heat through radiator pipes, and then the fan blows the heat away from the radiator to the atmosphere. The fan is mechanical; that's why it has a chance of failure after prolonged use.

How would you know if your radiator fan is not working? Here are a few steps to check if your radiator fan is still working:

  1. Open the engine hood of your Nissan Maxima.
  2. From there, you would be able to tell if your fan is still spinning or not, instantly.
  3. If the fan is not spinning, check if any loose cables are powering the fan; usually, those cables are in the engine's front end. Ensure the engine is off and cooled before you adjust wires.
  4. If that basic troubleshooting did not fix the fans, you might have a broken radiator fan.

We highly recommend getting a mechanic over and fixing the radiator fans for you. Changing a radiator fan is a tedious process, and we wouldn't want you to break other parts of the engine while you're fixing your radiator fan.

Here's a helpful video if you still want to push through with changing the radiator fans:

Broken Water Pump

Mechanic holds a centrifugal pump of the car engine cooling system in his hands

A broken water pump can usually lead to overheating of your Nissan Maxima. The water pump works harder as your engine revs up. A great way to test if your water pump is working correctly is through these steps:

  1. Turn on your vehicle's engine.
  2. Put the transmission to neutral.
  3. Step on the gas pedal until you rev up to at least 1000 RPM for a few seconds.
  4. If the temperature decreases, you may have a broken water pump.

One of the traits of a dying pump is it will spin along with an increase in RPM. If that's the case, we highly recommend getting your car checked by a professional mechanic.

Additional Causes of Overheating

Broken Temperature Gauge

Temperature guage of a car

The warning light inside your Nissan Maxima indicates whether your car is overheating or not. It is usually reliable; however, we can't disregard that it may be faulty.

If you have already checked the three components above, and none of them seems to be the problem, then it might be time to ask your mechanic to check your vehicle's temperature gauge.

Broken Thermostat

There's no correct way to tell if your vehicle has a broken thermostat unless you replace it with a new one. Although there is one particular way to check this. Once you start your engine, and you see that the temperature suddenly increases, then it's a sign of a broken thermostat.

Vehicle engines usually take a few minutes to even an hour to increase temperature. Having that sudden increase in temperature means that the thermostat is malfunctioning, and it's time to replace it with a brand new thermostat.

Changing a thermostat is a straightforward process here's a video of how to do it:

We recommend getting an all-around tool kit for emergency purposes for your vehicle. This tool kit ensures that you'll be ready for whatever emergency arises whenever you're driving in the middle of nowhere. Remember to keep this tool kit in the trunk of your vehicle.

Check out this Jar-Owl Home Tool Kit on Amazon.

In Conclusion

The overheating of your Nissan Maxima has a lot of variables. Hopefully, some of these basic fixes that we provided helped you diagnose the possible root cause of the overheating problem you have.

Here are a few more articles to read if you're experiencing the same problem on a different vehicle:

Toyota Camry Overheating – What Could Be Wrong?

Chevy Suburban Overheating – What Could Be Wrong?

What Makes A Car Overheat? [5 Common Reasons]