Ok, I think I see what might be going on. It's a combination of multiple events. Over the last month, I did notice some burning plastic/oil smell through the vents when the fan was on the 'outside air' setting. It's definitely oil. Anyhow, I've always been aware of occasional white chalky anti-freeze drops or splatter in the front area with the smell of anti-freeze after driving. Never could identify a major anti-freeze leak, It never leaked on the ground; just very minor.
But recently, I pulled into work and got white smoke from under the hood right when the car turned over 100,000 miles. I knew it was anti-freeze and I guess a lot of it happen to get onto the manifold area, but had me wondering if I sprung a big leak. I kept my fingers crossed at the end of the day and got the vehicle home without incident, car stayed within perfect temperature range. After it cooled, I took the radiator cap off and saw the cap spring floating in the antifreeze. The antifreeze is nice, clean, and green...no indication of oil in the anti-freeze. Anyhow, I bought a replacement radiator cap that fits Kizashi. Drove the car again the next evening to the gym, and got a little white smoke from the hood at a stoplight along with that familiar 'burning oil smell'. UGH. Not good. At this point I'm thinking there's an oil leak based on the smell, HOWEVER, white smoke indicates antifreeze LOL. UGH. I also did happen to see a few little dribbles of oil on my garage floor. UGH.
So the next day, I took the plastic cover off the engine, and saw oil gunk around the perimeter of the VC. Looked old, but I do remember spilling oil years ago and thought maybe that's what it was from. I bought some "GUNK" and sprayed the engine block area and VC perimeter and hosed off. Later on I realized there was still oil gunk in some tight hard-to-see areas, but left as-is. The next evening I decided to drive the car and see if I could identify the supposed oil leak. Sure enough, after driving, there was a light brown wet oil stream under the manifold right near the metal cube that dripped onto the metal surface below. Valve Cover was dry around the entire perimeter. Still really could not see where this was coming from though. Seemed to be the head gasket because the VC perimeter was fairly clean/dry with nothing dripped from it.
Last night, I cleaned the area with a shop-paper towel so I could drive it again today and try to identify the leak again. I let the car idle 15 minutes, no leak that I could see. Then, I took the car onto the highway and stopped at Home Depot to pick up an item. Drove car back home on highway. Pulled into driveway, checked under hood.....nothing, no leak after a good hot long run. But there was still the usual fresh anti-freeze droplets a few feet below the recovery tank. But no oil leak near the metal cube like I observed nights before. However, the seam of the VC cover was glistening a little. Nothing dripping, but it was glistening a little with oil as I wiped it with my finger.So my tentative determination:
The white smoke was definitely anti-freeze. The new radiator cap might have solved some of the anti-freeze issue, but there still are drops under the recovery tank that I will resolve later. The wet oil stream under the manifold dripping onto metal parts below I noticed when driving the car previously after cleaning/hosing was probably just additional water mixed with gunk from a tight area since the engine probably was not fully dry even though it sat in the garage all week <--somewhat doubtful, but I think after driving some moisture just dripped or blew out of the tight areas that were still wet (because I hosed it off pretty good days before, lots of water). What I think is happening is very very minor oil seepage accumulates under the VC gasket that drips a little from the front & side after time, then stops. But enough to cause burning oil smell. And it's probably been going on for a year or so. I guess VC gaskets don't necessarily just start profusely dripping oil. I think they might just seep a tiny bit without dripping anything, until the seepage just accumulates under the outside VC lip, and then drips a little over time and also dries up into gunk under the VC lip. But of course, over time, the VC gasket gets worse until it finally does leak badly.
So it looks like I've got a VC gasket to change soon and a very minor anti-freeze issue to investigate that's coming from under the recovery tank or tiny hose that connects it to the radiator. Gosh, it sure looked like oil was coming from the head gasket though. Which seemed like such a bummer, because at 100,000 miles, my Kizashi still runs almost as good as new. Engine & CVT run smooth and quiet, idles nicely. Temp gauge stays just below the mid point like it should throughout the entire drive, no heating issues. So we'll see!!!! The jury is still out on this one!! Hopefully this was just a fluke and the head gasket isn't leaking after all.