Undoubtedly, Mission Impossible features as the most prominent name in our list of top action films. The chasing scene where Tom Cruise rides the bikes covering the screens in white smoke is our own rush hour moments. But have you ever tried to reason the causes behind that intense smoke that adds to the macho-ness of the rider? Have you come across white smoke from exhaust and not known what to do with it?
Well, that brings you here! The increasing global warming snatches our luxury from us. Being conscious about what we use and what we don’t necessitate our understanding of the causes and effects of the white smoky exhaust.
Normally, your car’s exhaust smoke shouldn’t be a worry if it’s barely visible. That works exactly fine like a kitchen exhaust.
The exhaust smoke occurs due to the combustion process inside the engine. Mixtures of gasoline, air, and resultant gases are normally their constituent elements.
They pass through a catalytic converter. This reduces harmful emissions. They also pass through the muffler, which further reduces the noise. Generally, light white-colored smoke emits. However, different colored smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe is an alarm for a malfunction.
Different Colours of Smoke
While a fair amount of smoke is emitted normally from cars, excessive emission is hazardous for the environment. That is when you should intervene.
Normally, there are three distinct colors of smoke, signs that your car engine might have some trouble.
Black smoke generally indicates a problem with fuel. Blue smoke might be a reason for problems in oil, and often you tend to confuse it with white smoke.
Thus, keep a vigilant eye and spot the difference in colors! White smoke may connect to several problems. But, the most common of them all is because the engine is running hot. This might be related to the problem with the cooling system of your car.
On cold mornings, when you first start your car, you might notice a wispy white smoke. This, however, is not a cause of worry. This is because of temperature differences.
The water inside the exhaust tailpipes condenses into vapor when the vehicle warms up. However, this goes up when the temperature comes to a normal operating level.
When you continue to see white smoke from exhaust on normal sunny warm days, that is abnormal. That is a kind of signal that your car gives to you to get immediate help.
Reasons why you find white smoke from exhaust
There are different reasons behind the white smoke coming out of your exhaust during accelerating. These are:
When the water, which is your car’s coolant, enters the combustion chamber, it gets burned within the block. That is when the thick white smoke is produced from your exhaust.
It may also indicate a blown head gasket or white crack in the engine block even. If you love your engine, then this is the time when you stop being bossy around it. This damage is very costly to repair.
If you want to confirm whether the coolant is leaking within your block, you can check in two places. Firstly, if you see the coolant level is low, you get your point regarding head gasket leak or crack. Also, an engine leak detector helps you detect any contamination in your coolant.
If the coolant leaks out, it may immediately contaminate your engine oil. This is basically the white smoke from the exhaust. This will release a sweet odor smell.
Damaged coolant reservoir tank
Also, if your car’s coolant reservoir tank is damaged, it might lead to a leak. However, this is a much less common scenario. This might happen if the mechanic is fixing some other problem with your car and harms the tank. In that case, you need to replace it without further ado.
Oil leaking out of your piston rings or valve seals might also flow into the internal combustion chamber along with the fuel. The mixture then, however, results in bluish smoke rather than in white smoke.
Defective fuel injector
Your car’s fuel injector, as the name suggests, injects fuel into the internal combustion chamber. Thus, a bad fuel chamber can also emit white smoke due to the lack of proper fuel in the chamber during combustion.
The faulty engine control unit
Even if your car’s fuel injector is perfect, a faulty engine control unit can emit white smoke. Thus, if the white smoke emits for a small time and then disappears, then you are at peace. Otherwise, get ready to undertake a make-over for your car. Also, unburned diesel might be harmful to your eyes and skin. So be careful while examining.
White smoke from exhaust after sitting for a long time
White smoke may also get emitted if your car is sitting idle for a long time. This is different from what you experience from white smoke on start-up. In this case, your combustion chambers might have excess oil inside them. The process burns off the exhaust leading to wasted fuel.
Lockdowns all over the world might deeply impact your driving time. But, take your car out for an evening stroll as and when you may!
White smoke from exhaust when revving
If you find your car emitting white smoke during revving, well, that may indicate your car’s head gasket problem. You have to check if there is any leak visible around the head or the valve corner.
If the leak is not large, this smoke would only occur if the oil pressure is high. Thus, you might not see white smoke while on start-up or accelerating but only on revving.
This is because the oil pressure is high on revving, which then drives the coolant through the leak, causing it to burn and produce smoke.
Difference between white smoke from exhaust in diesel and petrol engines
There might even be a difference between white smoke coming out from exhaust in a diesel engine and a petrol engine.
In diesel, white smoke is primarily produced due to leaking coolant or water getting into the combustion chamber. However, white smoke on start-up is mostly due to incomplete air and fuel mixture in a petrol engine. This might be caused variously.
A malfunctioning fuel injection system might lead to contamination. This then leads to engine overheating and excessive friction, and a damaged fuel or injection pump. Thus, you will have to be a little bit vigilant while dealing with petrol and diesel engines.
How to fix white smoke from exhaust?
To fix the problem in your car, first, categorically diagnose the troubles. To do so, you need first to open the front hood of your car.
You can do this only when the engine is sufficiently cool. Only then remove the reservoir cap or the radiator cap. If you see your engine is still not cold, wait for approximately an hour to cool before you begin your surveillance.
You must park your car on some flat ground. Then open your car’s coolant reservoir to have a look inside your car’s coolant chamber. Have a look at the markings for observing your coolant level. Fill your car’s reservoir till it’s full. You can also insert a stick inside the reservoir to measure the coolant.
Now, if the coolant is sufficient, check for any leaks. You can also undertake a pressure check in your cooling system to measure what is causing the main leak. Here, you basically need to apply pressure up to the prescribed limit in the radiator cap to check for any external leak.
If it cannot hold the pressure for a minimum of two minutes, there, then, is your leak. Otherwise, your cylinder head can have a crack, else an engine block or head gasket defect.
Before looking for a head gasket, you should check your intake gasket. This gasket transports coolant as well as oxygen to your car’s engine. If this has a crack, the engine gets overheated due to the leaking air, coolant, and gas. However, this is easy to repair. The coat of replacement can be between $190 and $540.
If there is a leak in your car’s head gasket, this should be changed as soon as possible. It’s easier to replace it in parts by scrapping the damaged portion. It costs around $1600 to $2000 to change your car’s head gasket fully. However, each part can individually cost around $720 to $850.
The cylinder heads of the cars comprise of aluminum. Thus, it can easily break when overheating the engine, thus releasing white-colored smoke coming out from the exhaust.
Replacing a cylinder head can range between $500-$1000. Cracks can be repaired either by furnace or flame welding. If it cannot be repaired either way, then the whole cylinder head should be replaced.
The process consumes huge time whereby the engine is removed and thence replaced. This also varies from model to model. For replacement is more or less between $2800 and $3200 while parts only cost between $200 and $500.
Crack in your car’s engine head
If there is a crack in your engine block, you can mend it in three ways. You can re-weld the crack or use any cold-metal strip, or apply cold metal stitching. However, all of these are the works of professional people.
You cannot possibly wake up one fine morning and start playing doctor with these problems. It’s better to replace the engine entirely, costing you around $600 to $1000.
If your car’s fuel injectors come out as defective, if they are clogged, then you can very easily take the help of cleaners of fuel injectors. However, if it is not clogged and its durability is over, then you replace it though it is advisable to remove and replace the whole set of your car’s fuel injectors instead of just the problematic ones. For in the latter case, the engines don’t run properly.
Valve seals and piston rings defect
Sometimes the valve seals and piston rings also become dysfunctional. Replacing a piston ring is very expensive and also time-consuming. However, valve seal replacement costs lesser. This also means you have to disassemble the whole engine till you have reached your car’s valve spring. Hence, professional help is mandatory!
Injector pumping off
Many times it so happens that your car’s injector pump timing is switched off, leading to white smoke coming from the exhaust. For that, you may just reset the program. But if that does not fix the issue, then you might have to change the pump completely.
You can also have to change the camshafts. After replacement, you should be vigilant about the failure of the pump of the fuel injector due to contaminations in diesel. Don’t be stingy while buying diesel. Spend the most (as much as you can) on the best quality diesel from the best-refilling stations. That assures a better life for your car and even for you. Here’s why!
The hazardous effect of exhaust fumes
Exhaust fumes cause danger for people exposed to them without protection. Exhaust fumes from heaters contain carbon monoxide. This gas single-handedly causes most of the environmental pollution. Internal combustion engines emit this gas in trucks, cars, gas heaters, furnaces, kilns, and other equipment.
Also, exhaust gas discharged from diesel engines has Group 1 carcinogen as attested by World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Thus, be careful what you do with your life as well as your car’s sustenance.
The little white smoke from your exhaust may not really seem very worrisome at the beginning. But, all’s well that ends well. So, if you see it linger a bit longer than usual, hurry to your mechanic and fix it.