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I have a ’99 Nissan Maxima. When I drive it around the city, it’s fine and there’s no smoke. But when I get on the freeway and drive for about 45 minutes to an hour, the car will begin puffing white smoke for two to three minutes and then stop.

I have a ’99 Nissan Maxima. When I drive it around the city, it’s fine and there’s no smoke. But when I get on the freeway and drive for about 45 minutes to an hour, the car will begin puffing white smoke for two to three minutes and then stop.

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You may have the start of a head gasket leak causing coolant to enter a cylinder under high-load conditions. As soon as the exhaust and catalytic converter get very hot, the water may vaporize completely and stop showing up as white smoke. The coolant (ethylene glycol) will solidify and form deposits on front of the catalyst, eventually causing it to overheat and melt down. Have it tested for the head gasket leak first.

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 —Jim O’Neill
Chino Autotech Inc.

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