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Will an air pocket in the coolant system cause it to overheat or over pressurize on a 2001 Nissan Sentra ?

Recently replaced radiator for a Nissan Sentra and it's over pressurizing the coolant system. Not certain why except I thought maybe an air pocket was the issue. Any ideal other than cracked head gasket into coolant channel.

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Sean Piquet

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1. The radiator cap if working correctly it will release pressure in the system provided the cap you have is the correct pressure setting. If you are having a problem with pressure then replace the cap with a new radiator cap with the correct pressure setting. Do not use a cap with a pressure setting other than the original equipment pressure spec. So you do not go to the parts store and buy any radiator cap on the shelf that fits because they come with different pressure ratings and some of these will be totally unsuitable for your car.

2. If the pressure valve is stuck in the "old" cap the pressure release system will not work.

3. Overheating
Air pockets in the cooling system can definitely cause overheating and can retard coolant flow through the system. If you are draining the radiator to replace the coolant or replacing the radiator you need to follow the correct procedures for bleeding air out of the system for that particular engine after coolant refilling. Some engines have bleeder screws on the cooling system to assist in the air bleeding procedure and some don't.

There are various causes for overheating so don't assume it will necessarily be solved by bleeding any remaining air from the cooling system and replacing the radiator cap with one that works.

Other causes can be...........
1. Faulty cooling system thermostat. (Replace the Thermostat)
2. Faulty water pump, especially if the impellers have corroded away or have disintegrated in the case of those design genius water pumps with plastic impellers. (Replace the water pump)

3. Cooling fans not working and if so the cause needs to be tracked. Check that your fans are kicking in. If the engine is overheating the fans should be running because they will switch on when the coolant reaches a specific temp and well before the coolant gets excessively hot.

4. A partial blockage in the coolant passages inside the engine but not in the radiator if you have a new one. If the coolant is not changed at the required intervals(frequently the case with many owners) or is over diluted with water you can get a build up of debris. If products like stop leak have been used in the system this can create similar problems with partial blockages inside the engine coolant passages.

5. A compression leak into the cooling system.
If you have bled air from the system and have continuous air bubbles in the cooling system I would suspect a compression leak. In that event a basic leak down test will show if you have compression gasses leaking into the cooling system and from which cylinder(s). The spark plug is removed and compressed air is forced into the cylinder via the spark plug fitting and air bubbles will show up in the coolant of there is a leak into the cooling system.
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Have the problem with overheating addressed immediately. Running the engine with an overheat condition will cause expensive engine damage many times the cost of fixing the overheating issue.

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Posted on Dec 29, 2015

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