Why Is There White Smoke Coming From The Engine?


Do you have white smoke coming from your engine? If so, it makes sense if you’re feeling a bit alarmed. Fortunately, knowing what might be causing the white smoke can ensure that you address it accordingly.

If thin white smoke is coming from your engine, it is likely just condensation that has built up. As such, you have little to worry about. But If the white smoke is thick, this could be a sign that you have a blown gasket head.

Why Is There Smoke Coming From My Engine?

Your vehicle’s exhaust system is made up of components that work together to make sure that the harmful gases produced by your engine get safely evacuated.

What’s more, your car’s exhaust system is an essential part of keeping your ride performing at a high level. As such, your vehicle’s exhaust helps to ensure that you are getting the best gas mileage possible while protecting the environment.

Not only that, but your exhaust system is responsible for making sure that you don’t breathe in harmful fumes from your engine.

In fact, the exhaust system on vehicles seems to be a common cause of concern more than other component. So if you are worried, you’re not alone. The exhaust is often the go-to point.

Fortunately, you can tell a lot by the color of the smoke. And when you know what to look for, you can better determine the best course of action for addressing your engine.

Since you know that seeing smoke means there is something that needs your attention under the hood, let’s move on to the different colors of smoke and what they mean.

Related: How To Tell If a Catalytic Converter Is Clogged

Colors of Exhaust Smoke and What They Mean

That’s right; smoke isn’t always the same color. In fact, each color usually represents a different problem that needs to be remedied. In the sections below, we will explore these colors to help you figure out why smoke is coming from your vehicle’s engine.

Before we get to white smoke, however, it’s important to understand the other common color of smoke that can come from your engine. This will help you better identify any potential issues in the future so you can fix them accordingly.

1. Black Smoke Coming From Exhaust

The main reason for black black smoke coming from your exhaust is that the car is simply burning way too much oil. If ignored, it could lead to major damage to your car’s components

As such, you should avoid driving your car until you have at least looked at it. Not only is your vehicle unsightly and potentially at risk of major damage, but it can also hurt your engines performance and cause your gas mileage to suffer.

While the most common reason for black smoke coming from exhaust is your car burning too much oil, there could also be other possible culprits behind it.

  • Clogged Air filter:
  • Clogged Fuel Injector.
  • Clogged Fuel Return Line
  • Damaged fuel pressure regulator.

If you have a diesel engine and noticed black smoke coming from the engine, it could mean everything we said above, as well as:

  • Too much fuel/Not enough fuel
  • Too much air/not enough air.

Any of these possible outcomes can be expensive to have replaced, let alone the cost of the labor involved. Still, it’s better than having to replace your entire vehicle. You may have to save up some money for a while in order to get the repair completed successfully, but it will be well worth it to do so.

Remember, black smoke not only means there is a problem as outlined above, but also that you are using more gas than what is needed. You are essentially throwing money down the drain every time you drive your vehicle with black smoke coming from the engine.

The sooner you can get it resolved, the sooner your fuel efficiency will return to normal.

2. White Smoke Coming From Exhaust

Now that you know what black smoke means, it’s time to explore white smoke and its potential implications. In general, white smoke is far less worrisome than black smoke. Any time you see white smoke coming from your engine, it often isn’t smoke at all.

What you are seeing is typically the result of condensation that has built up. This condensation forms in the exhaust itself. So when you start your vehicle, the condensation exits the exhaust, appearing to be white smoke.

You will often see this effect when the temperature is colder outside, such as starting your car early in the morning. If you’ve ever paid attention to the exhaust of vehicles on the road in cold weather, you’ll notice that they all have what looks like white smoke coming out.

With that said, it’s important to differentiate the types of “white smoke” you may see come from an engine. If the smoke appears to be thin and wispy, this is likely nothing more than vapor’s from condensation. As such, you have nothing to worry about, and nothing needs to be repaired or replaced internally.

However, if what’s coming from the exhaust is thick, then you are more than likely seeing true white smoke. This is a problem. White smoke coming from your vehicle’s engine is not anything you want to ignore.

Far often than not, thick white smoke is evidence that your car has blown a head gasket. If this is the case, you’r in for a costly repair. Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, a blown head gasket repair could cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

If you’re driving an older vehicle with a lot of miles, it might be cheaper just to junk your car and buy a new or used one.

Another possible cause of thick white smoke coming from your engine is that of a damaged cylinder. While not nearly as expensive to repair, you could be looking at $200 to $500 for this to get fixed.

The other potential cause of your car’s engine producing white smoke is a cracked engine block. This, too, is a pricey repair to consider. On average, you’re going to be paying around $1,500 to have this issue resolved.

Once again, it might make better financial sense to get a different vehicle altogether. As such, you want to be sure that your vehicle is worth it to invest in a repair of this magnitude. The best way to determine this is to use a free service like Kelley Blue Book.

There, you can see what your car is with based on its age, miles, and other factors.

3. Gray Smoke Coming From Exhaust

Gray smoke coming from exhaust is difficult to pinpoint, but there are a few possible causes behind the smoke of this color coming from your engine. Gray smoke could be nothing more than an issue with the automatic transmission fluid you’re using.

This could have deeper concerns within your engine, but it’s worth trying a new brand of fluid first to see if that resolves your issue.

Other culprits include:

  • A stuck PCV valve
  • Faulty transmission vacuum modulator
  • Bad turbocharger
  • Excessive oil consumption.

4. Blue Smoke Coming From Exhaust

Bluish smoke exhaust

Blue smoke? Yep, there are times when blue smoke comes from the exhaust as well. This is usually the result of your vehicle burning too much engine oil.

As such, you should have your car inspected to make sure there isn’t something serious that needs attention.


Now that you know what the different colors of smoke mean, you can better address your vehicle. At your earliest convenience, you should take your car to a trusted mechanic for a full diagnosis in order to pinpoint the exact cause, or do it yourself. In doing so, you can prevent further damage to your vehicle.

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