Have you noticed smoke coming from your tailpipe when you start your car in the morning? No need to worry. It's just water vapor from condensation in the exhaust system that has gathered overnight. But if you notice a cloud of smoke billowing from the tailpipe, it should be a cause of concern. Knowing the smell and color of the smoke can help you understand the cause.
Common Cause of Car Smoke
Car smoke can be caused when motor oil or other fluids leak or spill due to a defective seal or gasket onto the hot engine or your car's exhaust system. These other fluids that may leak include engine coolant, transmission, power steering, and brake fluid. Window washer solvent may also leak.
Significance of Different Smoke Colors
White smoke – white smoke could indicate engine trouble. Maybe a cracked engine block, cracked cylinder, a leaking head gasket, or a coolant is getting sprayed onto the combustion chamber. A sweet smell from the coolant usually accompanies the smoke. However, if the smoke smells like fuel, fuel system controls could be the problem.
Blue or gray smoke – this kind of smoke accompanied by a pungent, bitter smell, is a sign that the engine is burning oil. The oil leak could probably result from a plugged PCV valve, worn piston rings, overfilled crankcase, leaking valve seals, failure to change the oil regularly, or using the wrong oil. Gray smoke is produced when a transmission fluid leaks into the intake manifold caused by a defective transmission vacuum modulator.
Black smoke – black smoke indicates that your car is burning raw fuel. Incomplete combustion may be due to a failed engine sensor or ignition components, fuel injector leak, or a damaged fuel pressure regulator. The unburned fuel goes into the exhaust system and out through the tailpipe. This kind of smoke smells like gasoline.
Electrical failure due to short-circuiting can also cause black smoke. It can also interfere with other electrical devices and cause the lights to flicker.
What to Do When Your Car Starts Smoking
You should not continue driving when your car is smoking. Pull over and check the gauges or warning lights to determine if the engine is overheating. This will help you decide whether to drive or go to a repair shop. You are invited to Gowen's Automotive Repairs today for an engine check-up and repairs.