Exhaust smoke is a real issue, and it’s not just YOUR problem. It’s not normal to have white, blue, or black smoke from your tailpipe. Any condition that causes visible smoke from your tailpipe is an environmental concern. It contributes to air and water pollution and aggravates breathing conditions in susceptible folk.

With smoke from the exhaust, your vehicle won’t pass a smog test. Whenever the exhaust is tainted, that indicates excessive emissions. In many states and counties across the country, you can’t renew your vehicle’s registration if it doesn’t pass a smog test. Consider Illinois alone - nearly 133,000 vehicles won’t pass test in a given year - that’s 7 percent!

What does smoke from the exhaust mean? What does it indicate, and what do you need to do about it?

White Smoke From Exhaust

What Smoke From the Car Exhaust MeansWhite smoke can often be mistaken for normal tailpipe emissions, or exhaust. But if your tailpipe has white smoke billowing from it, and it doesn’t dissipate like the exhaust from other cars’ tailpipes, you have a problem.

When your exhaust is white, that means you have coolant entering the combustion chamber. And if that sounds like it’s abnormal, you’re correct. Engine coolant shouldn’t get into your engine’s cylinders at any time. If it does, you’re in for a whopping repair bill.

Most commonly, a leaking head gasket is the cause of white smoke in your exhaust. It can happen when your engine overheats, warping the cylinder head or burning through the gasket itself. It also means there’s a problem that’s caused your engine to overheat, which should not be overlooked.

Another cause can be a cracked engine block. That’s the kiss of death for an engine, requiring replacement in nearly every instance. Whether your has to replaced or head gasket repaired, repair cost climbs very quickly.

Blue Smoke From Exhaust

Blue smoke from your exhaust is an equally bad condition. When you burn oil in the combustion chamber, your exhaust puffs out in a lingering cloud of blue-white. If this happens, you’re likely to experience a rough run from oil-fouled spark plugs as well as an illuminated Check Engine light.

The cause of blue exhaust, burning oil, is typically due to worn-out engine parts. Particularly, piston rings no longer seal properly or cylinder head valve seals are leaking. You’ll find this condition is more prevalent on older cars, although not exclusively. And if you suspect that an engine rebuild or replacement is necessary to take care of blue exhaust smoke, you’d probably be right.

Black Smoke From Exhaust

What Smoke From Your Car Exhaust MeansIf your tailpipe is spewing out a black cloud of smoke, it can look like a major issue. It’s actually the most easily corrected problem of the three because it’s due to over-fuelling. Your engine has more fuel dumped into the cylinders than it can cleanly burn, so increased levels of hydrocarbons chug out the tailpipe.

The repair for black smoke from your exhaust can range drastically. It can be as simple as a clogged air filter that needs to be replaced badly. It could be a contaminant in your fuel system. It could be a fuel injector is leaking into the cylinder, or it could be an engine timing issue. Whatever the diagnosis, it isn’t likely it will require as extensive a repair as white or blue smoke.

What to Do if You Notice Your Car Smoking

If your car is smoking from the exhaust, it shouldn’t be put off. You should have it inspected by a qualified mechanic in short order. Otherwise, you risk additional damage or repairs, or a breakdown that may occur at the least convenient time.

Repairs can vary in expense and in length of time. It could be a maintenance item like a fuel injection service that corrects black smoke - that’s a same-day visit. .A head gasket replacement for white smoke from the exhaust could be several days or weeks, depending on parts availability and skilled labor. Or, if your engine needs to be rebuilt or replaced, get comfortable on the city bus - it could take weeks and thousands of dollars.

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