Question about 1995 Nissan Altima
You may have a head gasket in the throes of failing.
Some of the symptoms are coolant loss, rough running when cold (a small amount of water is sucked into a cylinder when it cools down), above average coolant temperature (causing the fan to run on). When checking your oil, pay close attention to any signs of discoloration and sniff the coolant overflow bottle for traces of exhaust fumes.
The gasket can fail between different points; cylinder to water jacket. This causes higher than normal coolant temps and can cause hard starting and rough idle when cold. If this point fails, the combustion can force hot gases into the water jacket and then sucking in some coolant when the motor cools down. The latter can cause cold-starting problems and stalling until warmed up and free of water in a cylinder.
Oil passages to coolant jacket; oil is under higher pressure than coolant which can force some oil into the water jacket. When severe, it can make Jergen's Lotion out of the oil (that doesn't help lubrication) and discolor and lend odor to the coolant.
If you don't mind dirty hands, I would remove each sparkplug from the cold engine and look for signs of rust or even dewy coolant deposits on the base of the plugs; been there, seen that.
Unfortunately, a failing head gasket won't set any error codes until severe enough to cause other problems to monitored areas.
Posted on Sep 07, 2010
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Posted on Jan 02, 2017
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