White Smoke From Car: Should You Worry?

White smoke from a car can be alarming. It could mean your exhaust pipe is clogged or the engine needs some work done, but it’s not always something to worry about.

In most cases, the white steam from an engine should not be a cause for concern. However, if an unusual amount of black smoke accompanies it, there is reason to worry. Usually, that is an indication that there are more severe problems with fuel and emissions systems. Such a problem needs regular repair (or replacement). Anyway, you should have your car checked out by a mechanic if you see white smoke from car, but there are some things to keep in mind before heading down to their garage on this one.

If there are no other visible signs like a sputtering noise when the vehicle tries to start up again, then everything will be okay if we give it some time while driving without accelerating too much.

White smoke from the tailpipe can mean many different problems, so unless you know what the colour and thickness mean, don’t get too excited about getting into another expensive situation when they need maybe $5 worth of oil or coolant.

Why do cars emit white smoke?

Typically, when the car is idling, it will release white smoke. The reason here is that the engine’s hot temperature causes the water in the coolant to boil and produce steam that goes into an airtight cylinder of gas with exhaust valves at each end. When these two gases are put together, they form extra pressure, sending more fuel up through a tube from where it can catch fire and cause energy cycles.

So, this type of white smoke results from normal condensation building up within the exhaust system. Mostly, this type of white smoke is thin and vapour-like. If you see such smoke, there is no cause for alarm  – it will disappear quickly.

However, if the smoke gets thicker, it might mean something serious. Thick smoke might indicate some sort of fault in the engine coolant – if not quickly addressed, it might lead to a more severe problem, including a damaged cylinder head, blown head gasket, etc. These problems are much more expensive; so, don’t ignore them. Always check for coolant leaks  – a tiny leak can cause a grave risk of damage to your car.

In other words, if your car produces white smoke, it means it is running too hot.  If left, it ultimately will lead to serious problems.

Other types of smoke

Blue smoke: when your car’s exhaust produces blue smoke, there is a huge issue. This smoke usually comes with a burning smell. So, it indicates that oil is entering the fuel burning system. The primary cause of this is that too much oil was put back into the system, so the excess oil is burning off.

Grey smoke: this smoke indicates excess oil burning in the engine. If you own a turbocharged, it means it needs to be checked. In most cases, the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve might be faulty. This valve is a basic form of emissions control –  it draws unburnt fuel from the lower part of the engine to the top.

Black smoke: for petrol cars, it means too much petrol is being burnt; so., check and replace the air filters. For diesel cars, it could be soot build up; so, use the diesel particulate filter to tap the unburnt diesel.