Unless you are sitting around a campfire, smoke, regardless of color, is generally an indicator that something is wrong – especially where your vehicle is concerned. If there is a problem and smoke is coming from your engine or tailpipe, the color of smoke you see could help you determine what may be causing the issue.
Listed below are various colors of smoke that a car can emit, along with a few common issues that could cause that type of smoke. They include (but are not limited to):
- White Vapor: During colder weather, all cars will emit a thin vapor cloud out of the exhaust until the engine gets to its normal operating temperature. If this smoke thickens up and becomes more constant even after the car has warmed up, there may be a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.
- Thick White Smoke: This is what you see billowing out from under the hood of a car that is overheating, possibly caused by coolant that is burning in the combustion chamber. Also known to cause white smoke is a blown head gasket or a cracked engine block – all of which will need immediate attention by a car care professional. For diesel engines, white smoke could also mean there’s a faulty injection system or incorrect timing with the engine.
- Blue Smoke: This can occur when there’s an oil leak somewhere causing oil to burn and smoke in a location where there’s not supposed to be oil. Causes for this could include an oil leak in the combustion chamber, or worn out piston rings, valves, or cylinders. In a diesel engine, it could also mean the oil level is too high.
- Black Smoke: A clogged air filter, or faulty sensors, fuel injectors, or a fuel pressure regulator are all causes of black smoke. These are typically fixes that are less costly than some of your other smoke-causing issues.
- Grey Smoke: Transmission issues are usually the cause of grey smoke, which includes a bad turbocharger, transmission fluid issues, or a faulty transmission vacuum modulator.
Any kind of smoke, other than the normal vapor emitted during cooler weather, is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately by a professional technician. If you are currently driving and begin to see smoke billowing from your car, pull over immediately, exit the vehicle, and call for emergency roadside assistance.
Associated with the smoke could be a number of other dangerous elements like toxic fumes, boiling fluids, and explosive chemicals. Please stay safe and do not attempt open, inspect, or fix a problem like this yourself unless you are a qualified mechanic.
The best way to avoid a smoking vehicle and other catastrophic mechanical problems is to keep your car properly maintained with regular oil changes and preventative maintenance checks by car care professionals like those at your nearest Kwik Kar location. Come in today and let us help you keep your car smoke free and running for as long as possible!