I recently found out that there was a crack in my radiator in my 2011 Nissan Maxima.

I didn't have the money the day of to get it fixed so I drove home (8 miles away) but I would've never known there was a crack unless they told me because it wasn't leaking that bad.

I did notice a small pool of green liquid under the hood however. I put straight antifreeze in the radiator and it only took a few ounces plus

I've never seen the gauge go into overheat status at all. Nothing more than halfway on the temp meter inside.

I work third so the next day I was going to work like normal at 11pm and nothing out of the ordinary happened. Still barely taking any antifreeze at all.. Everything seemed normal.

I went home from work this morning after driving my car (8 miles) to get home and I noticed a faint white smoke that lasted about 30 seconds to a minute after shutting engine off. Keep in mind that I put more antifreeze in the radiator before leaving work so it was max full (but it barely took any anyways) so I don't understand why the smoke.

Does the smoke mean engine damage?

I immediately had my car towed to a mechanic shop afterwards.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 11:16
  • Your car is warning you of an imminent catastrophic failure. Heed that warning and fix it before you are stranded.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 11:58
  • You are fine, I doubt any engine damage since you kept the radiator full, you did all the right things to prevent damage.
    – Moab
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 12:52
  • You are plating Russian roulette with your car. There is no winner. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


If there's a crack in your radiator, you'd most likely see the steam coming from where the crack is at or if the crack is spraying coolant on hot engine parts. This, considering the situation, would be completely expected. As you stated, though, as long as you've kept the coolant topped off and you've never seen the temp rise above 1/2 way (normal), there should really be no fear of further damage. This is something you're going to have to live with until you can get it fixed. Also be aware your cooling system is living on borrowed time. With it leaking, it will continue to get worse until there is a catastrophic failure, meaning it will no longer hold any coolant. This could happen at any time. Get it fixed as soon as possible, or the vehicle could leave you stranded.

  • @Moab - You are absolutely correct ... don't know why I didn't add that in the first place. Had thought about it after the fact, but didn't update ... it is now, though :o) TY for the add. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 13:28

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