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Sep 16 2019

Car Exhaust Smoke: What do different kinds and Colors of Smoke Mean?

Are you worried about the smoky exhaust coming out of your car? It should not be that disturbing. You can read this guide about car exhaust and what you need to do about it.

The exhaust of your car sits at the back and continues doing its work – pumping out the spent gases from the engine as you drive along. Most of the time, it does not cause any trouble. Its position keeps it in hiding and it is easy to forget about it.

But, sometimes it can show signs which may make you think. If you have ever seen smoke coming from the exhaust – whether during the driving or at the stationary – there should be something troublesome that something bad has happened. A smoky exhaust may indicate a mechanical problem; it should not be the case with every type of smoky emissions from the car exhaust.

What do you need to know about smoky exhaust? Keep reading to know more.

Diagnosing a Smoky Exhaust: What to Consider

Begin with diagnosing when the smoke comes out of the exhaust? It can indicate different problems related to this.

After identifying it you need to try and determine what kind of smoke it is. Is it like clouds? Is it thick and black? Does it evaporate as soon as it is in the air? There can different kinds of smokes.

The main causes of smoke from an exhaust can be different depending on your car and its condition. If you maintain your car well, then any visible emission should not be worrisome, but it is recommended to check it anyway.

The real issue is with cars that are not maintained properly, as smoke clearly shows the neglect towards maintenance. It can be helpful when buying a used car. A smoky exhaust can tell you about the issues with the car that needs fixing.

The smoke from the car can be caused by different things depending on whether your car has a diesel engine or petrol engine. However, if you drive a hybrid you may see something you are not prepared for.

Here is what each smoke means for your car. You can find the potential problems related to these smokes.

White Smoke from the Exhaust

It should not be the smoke what comes out of the exhaust. The cold engine gets heat up and water vapors are produced as a byproduct. It results in the condensation within the exhaust system which then turns into steam as the water vapor is heated up by the rising temperatures in the engine and the exhaust that follow. 

After a car gets warmed up, the steam soon evaporates completely. The problem arises when the exhaust system does not get completely warm to the exhaust tip. It usually occurs if you use the car for short journeys. If the condensation does not clear, it can corrode the inside of the bare steel of the exhaust leading to rust in the exhaust. 

Blue Smoke from the Exhaust

Blue smoke usually accompanies a burning smell. It means that engine oil, designed to lubricate moving parts, has entered the system somewhere. However, it does not enter the fuel system if the car is running properly.

If the car has been serviced recently, it means too much oil has been put back into the system which is burning off. It could also be that some oil has split into the exhaust while being topped up, which is heated and gets burnt up by the hot exhaust while you are behind the wheels. 

There could be more reasons for blue smoke. You can take the help of a professional. 

Grey Smoke from the Exhaust

Grey oil could mean excessive oil burning somewhere inside the engine. If it is turbocharged, then it requires attention. There could be other problems like a faulty PCV valve. The smoke caused due to PCV failure should be serious. 

Black Smoke from the Exhaust

IF you are experiencing black smoke coming out of the exhaust it could be due to different reasons. However, it varies depending on whether your car is petrol or diesel-powered. In a petrol car, it means too much oil is being burnt. You should check or replace your air filter. If that is fine, the next step is to check whether the fuel injectors are clogged and the fuel pressure regulator is clean. However, it is advised to get it done by a professional mechanic. 

Black smoke in diesel cars could be because of soot build-up from unburnt diesel. 


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