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Tri County Collision Center


by admin, February 28, 2022, Tips

What’s that Smoke? Why is Your Car Smoking?

Vehicles usually tell us when something is wrong. Some small and some not so small. With the wear and tear we put on our vehicles daily, it’s a matter of time before we all experience the smoking car that throws us into a panic with rotating dollar signs circling our heads before we even know what is wrong. Sometimes it’s just oil burning off and other times it’s a serious engine issue. Regardless, stop and breathe and take a moment to see how you can assess the issue. There’s a chance you may have to take it into a mechanic. Here are some knowledgably tips to figure out what is going on.


Here are some reasons it may be smoking


White exhaust smoke indications

  • Antifreeze leaking into engine’s combustion chamber due to leaky head gasket
  • Coolant leaks due to cracked engine block or cylinder head
  • Water vapors being expelled from the car components


In diesel engines and other vehicles with an oil-burner engine, white smoke could also indicate:

  • Overheating engine or incorrect timing
  • Faulty injection system
  • The diesel engine is just too cold


Most white smoke is usually the coolant system if there is white smoke coming from your car’s exhaust. Coolant has most likely leaked into the combustion cylinder of the car’s engine. This is caused from over-heating and them smoking and there may be a leak in the gasket. You can fix an over-heating car if you have some sense of how it all works, but the best thing to do is call your local mechanic and ask questions.

Sometimes it’s as simple as water vapor (condensation) that forms inside the car’s tailpipe causing white smoke to spew from the tailpipe. It’s simply burning off. If this issue persists its best to have a routine maintenance check. Better safe than sorry.


Blue exhaust smoke indications

  • Lubricant oil due to an oil leak – Engine is burning its lubricant
  • Engine oil is leaking into fuel tank


This is usually engine oil burning and is releasing smoke through the tailpipe. This can happen when there are worn piston rings or gaskets and you will usually notice it during acceleration.  This is the oil that’s meant to be used to lubricate the car’s powertrain components could be leaking through the pipes it travels through and into the engine or fuel tank, resulting in blue smoke leaving the exhaust. Don’t use your car if this happens because it could result in damaging the spark plugs.


Grey exhaust smoke indications

  • A failing turbocharger causing incomplete combustion
  • Broken or jammed PCV system valve building pressure
  • Auto transmission fluid leaking into the combustion chamber

Grey smoke can be harder to determine the cause. Sometimes it tends to be in between a blue and a white smoke. A broken transmission modulator could be the cause. If automatic transmission fluid is leaking into the engine combustion chambers and then is burning. The main purpose of this is to keep the cars main components lubricated. As we all know if this is leaking and burning off your car may seize up and cause severe damage. It’s best to not keep it running and take it to a mechanic to assess it.

If you have a turbo charger in your car this may also cause grey smoke if it’s a faulty or failing turbine this will cause incomplete combustion.

A broken or jammed valve in the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system could also be an issue for grey smoke. This component is meant to pump air and gas through tubes into the combustion chamber and regulate emissions.


Black exhaust smoke indications – A few systems could be at fault.

  • Typically, this is due to excess carbon emissions
  • Engine could be burning too much fuel
  • Faulty fuel injectors that can result in the excessive injection of fuel
  • Dirty or clogged air filters filling the combustion chamber with dirty air
  • A blocked manifold or fault fuel pressure regulator
  • Incorrect fuel grade used
  • Clogged air filter
  • Leaking oil or an overheating engine (could be black or blue)


Check the vehicles filters to see if it’s clogged. This is what helps your car breathe and prevents the combustion chamber from receiving clean air to mix with the fuel.  Also, Faulty fuel injectors gives false pressure readings, faulty sensors can also cause the injection of excess fuel which leads to smoke. Oil can also burn black and can be deceiving but most of the time is burning a blue smoke which means you may have an oil leak somewhere or if you had a recent oil change it’s just burning off any spilled oil. Diesel vehicles may have different reasons for black smoke.


Be safe and smart. Get your car maintenance regularly and if you see smoke be sure to assess it by its color. If you are unsure listen to your instincts. Don’t let a small problem lead into a larger more expensive one because you neglected it.


Tri County Collision Center wants you to stay safe on the roads. If you need any help please give us a call at 215.322.5350 or just stop in if you’re in need of auto collision services.

Tri County Collision Center is an ASE / I-CAR® GOLD certified auto body shop located in Southampton, PA. Call one of our technicians today to learn more about our collision repair and auto painting services. We are OEM certified collision repair facility for INFINITI, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Acura, Honda, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Dodge and Jeep.

Tri-County Collision Center is conveniently located near the PA turnpike, Route 95 and Street Road, County Line Road and Second Street Pike at Tri County Collision Center’s shop hours are Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, and Saturday by appointment. We would be happy to supply you with an auto repair quote online or over the phone and we always welcome comments and suggestions.

Need a tow or a rental car due an auto collision accident? No worries, Tri County Collision Center also provides services for tow, rental car, and insurance claims assistance. You are in good hands with a trusted collision shop in Southampton, PA.