Car Exhaust Smokes – What Each Color Means

In general, your car exhaust is one of the least components you have to worry about. You might even forget about it and it will still happily pump out the gases generated by your engine. However, you might get a sense of dread when you accelerate and look in your rear-view mirror, then you see smoke coming from your car’s exhaust. Whether you’re planning to buy used Japanese trucks or brand new sedans, smoky exhausts are some of the problems you have to anticipate.

A smoky exhaust may be a sign of a serious mechanical problem that can be expensive to repair. However, this is not necessarily the case for every type of smoky emission coming from the tail pipe of your vehicle. While identifying the cause of your engine problem is important, it is equally essential to know the reasons behind your smoky exhaust. After all, there can be various causes of pollutants coming from the rear end of your car. As such, we’ve put together this article to help you determine what’s happening with your vehicle depending on the color of the smoke.

Thin White Smoke Color

Thin white or light smoke coming from your exhaust is typically just water vapor. The first time you start your car in a day, you might notice this, especially if the temperature is cold. This occurs when the exhaust naturally collects condensation. Needless to say, thin white or light exhaust smoke is common in cars. So, you shouldn’t worry too much about this.

Gray or Blue Exhaust Smoke

When you see a blue or gray smoke coming from your exhaust, you must be alarmed. It is possible that there is an oil leak and your engine has started to burn oil. In this case, it would be best to bring your vehicle to an auto shop and have a qualified technician check things out. There can be several issues causing the leak. These can include worn cylinder walls, leaking valve seals, or damaged piston rings.

It is worth noting that when you notice blue smoke during acceleration it may mean that your car’s piston rings have been damaged. On the other hand, if you notice blue smoke during deceleration, it may mean that the valve guides of the cylinder heads have been damaged. So, it would be best to have a technician diagnose the problem to have it taken care of immediately.

Black Smoke from Exhaust

You will see black smoke coming from your exhaust when your car is burning too much fuel. There are various reasons why this can happen. It is possible that your car has a malfunctioning fuel injection system, clogged air filter, or a blocked manifold, among many others. Thanks to the automotive technology these days, a clogged air filter won’t necessarily affect your gas mileage. However, this can still cause performance problems on your vehicle. So, when you see black smoke coming from your exhaust, you have to bring your car to a technician. They should be able to determine why your vehicle is burning more fuel than usual.

Thick Gray or White Smoke that’s Persistent

When you see a thick and continuous stream of gray or white smoke coming from your tailpipe, it probably means that your vehicle has a leaking head gasket. What happens is the coolant ends up being heated in the combustion chambers. When the engine starts, it gets blown out of the exhaust. Keep in mind that amidst the summer heat, a leaking coolant can easily lead to overheating in your engine. When your engine overheats, you can get stranded in the middle of your drive.

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